Last month, in answering the question, “What have I observed, as I have led NZBMS, that I wish to communicate to New Zealand Baptists?” I described a couple of my observations from the last eight years.
First I wrote about the need for mission to adapt to a fiercely changing global stage, then about the need to stop measuring Kingdom effectiveness as a return on investment where we compare the number of baptisms we can notch up with the amount of money we give.
This month I want to share I further three reflections.
Thirdly, and please forgive me if this sounds like I’m having a go at Church leaders, has the Church forgotten how to disciple? It’s become a bit of constant source of lament for me over the last few years. One thing we have noticed with enquirers and applicants to NZBMS, is that seeing others become fully devoted followers of Jesus is often not at the top of their list of reasons for serving God overseas. Sure, if you dig around in an interview they will eventually agree that this is a good idea, but it’s not the first thing that comes to mind. Why is that?
The danger is that we could add programme after programme that further our aim of just being nice! The apostle Paul is quick to state that our mission role is for one purpose and one purpose only, “…so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22b NIV). Being nice doesn’t necessarily save anyone for the Kingdom.
Fourthly, can I once again invite you as an individual and as a church, to think about the mission task God has for us in his world. In a number of forums over the past eight years I have sought to envision a clarion call of mission to our churches, but we struggle to respond.
When it comes to resources, New Zealand has more than enough. Let’s rise up and send more people to desolate places in the world and give them a chance to also have enough. Enough food, enough water, enough clothing, enough education, enough medical assistance, enough earning capability, enough bible teaching and enough discipleship.
If, over the next five years, every Church sent one person or family, just one, that would be over 240 people serving God in revealing His Kingdom and discipling others to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Some churches can afford to support more than one – if that’s your church, help the closest Baptist Church near you to send someone.
How is your maths? When our constituency numbers were around the 20,000 mark, New Zealand Baptists had over 600 people serving God in the world. Now, with almost 40,000 we have 300 people serving. That 300 should be 1200.
I often heard Paul Windsor, former Principal of Carey Baptist College, say, “give away your best for the sake of the rest.” I urge you, please consider God’s world that is in need and the resources you and your church can bring to seeing the Kingdom revealed.
Finally, a word to those who have heard the clarion call to walk in obedience when human logic says you are crazy, to leave all you have behind and go out in to a dark and dangerous world taking your weaknesses and humbly offering them to God to do His thing and disciple you along the way.
Neil Perry often talks about the three ‘M’s to being a missionary. You have to be a little bit missionary, a little bit mercenary, and a little bit misfit. When you have all three, he says, you will possibly make a good missionary. However, we can all too often use that as an excuse for some of our behaviour in the “field”.
Overseas workers will be the first to confess this; they are not perfect. As people they can sometimes be a real challenge, not only to teammates and home office, but also to the very people they have been sent to serve.
In my observations over the years in doing this job the real difference between effective and less effective overseas workers is not capability; it is spirituality.
It is their ability to walk close with God in the busyness of ministry and life that provides them with the deep reservoir to be able to join God in His mission.
The spiritual life of an overseas worker is often a series of regrets and restarts. It’s often in the deepest despair of bad situations or decisions or in relationship breakdowns that we look to God. My prayer is that a spiritual life is the centre of your life, nothing more and nothing less. What you do in mission is God’s, not yours. All you are being asked to do is be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. And when that is the centre, God is able to do His work through you.
In concluding my articles to World Reach let me say that leading NZBMS, a true treasure of the Kingdom, has been a privilege and a calling. I was only able to reach this finishing line because of His grace and abiding, and the prayers of so many of you. I am but a broken human being, saved by grace, to do all I can to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. I am humbled that he has helped me get this far and humbled further that He has called me to a new work for which I must invest my remaining energy. I am always encouraged by my companion life verse and leave it with you as I close…
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NIV)
Peter Mihaere is the former General Director of The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS) [2005-2014] – New Zealand Baptists Reaching the World. This is part two of a two part series on Final Reflections before Peter begins fulltime work with Stand Against Slavery. He concludes with NZBMS on March 28, 2014. Part one of Final Reflections was in last month’s World Reach.