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Recently I had the privilege of journeying with Andrew Diprose around a number of South Island churches in our network. It was an encouraging time. Andrew shared his vision and work among immigrants in Rome while I shared about GC3 and prayer needs and updates from a number of our mission partners that we have recently visited in South East Asia. I am constantly encouraged by the faith and resourcefulness of our mission partners who are at work in situations that are challenging. They bring a message of hope and life to communities longing for transformation.

Our churches in New Zealand are changing. Some are struggling, but most are seeking to make a difference and have something unique they are contributing in terms of sharing the wonderful life changing message of the gospel. Yes, there are sad stories and difficult journeys both among our churches and our mission partners, but these journeys are not ones we take alone.

The journey on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24) by a couple of followers of Jesus happens after what seems like a crisis. Jesus has been crucified. There is a sense of loss, of uncertainty, even of abandonment. Wasn't this meant to end in triumph? Strangely enough, Jesus' body was missing from his tomb. Jesus begins to accompany them and listen to their hearts. He keeps them from knowing who he is, while at the same time explaining the Scriptures to them. He explained that suffering was the route through which the Messiah would achieve his purposes.

 The beauty about this passage is the way Jesus models accompaniment. Jesus is with these followers on their journey. He enters into their world and participates in their discussion. The followers beg Jesus to stay with them and he does. He goes home with them, eats with them and then they recognise him. It seems to me that discipling is about these things. Its about being with others on their journey, opening the Bible, being at home with them, eating with them, relaxing together, discussing things that matter. In these spaces, places and times God reveals himself. We may not have Jesus with us in person, yet in Luke 24:49 Jesus says, "I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised". In John 14 we discover that the completed work of Christ enables us to have the gift of the Holy Spirit, an advocate who is present with his followers. He leads his followers into all truth. He is our companion on our journey. We are not abandoned. We are guided and strengthened on our journey. God, through his Spirit accompanies us, enters into our struggles and thoughts, leads us into wonderful truths, feeds us and reveals himself to us. These are simple, yet wonderful truths.

This month I will be travelling with Barrywan and Josepha Tuwai around some of our North Island network of churches. Barrywan is the General Secretary of the Christian Brethren Churches (CBC) in PNG. It is such a delight to have them here to share how thankful our PNG brothers and sisters are for the many years of partnership New Zealand churches have had with them. They will share about new opportunities for engaging in mission together in PNG. They are in another phase of mission and still need partnership at new points of engagement. Our New Zealand churches will be encouraged by their faith and their journey. They will hear of their struggles and needs, yet also of how God has blessed over many years.

Our Papua New Guinea brothers and sisters are beginning to reach out into Indonesia which is on their border. They have opportunities to partner with them in this. Contact Russell or Sefton about these opportunities and we can get you into contact with Barrywan Tuwai.

If you are interested in opportunities to serve in PNG some of these are listed here.

In March 2014 GC3 will be holding three regional mission summits with the theme- Embracing the Ends of the Earth. Our focus will be a fresh push to unreached groups that are not too far from new Zealand. Indonesia is one of those places.

Put these dates in your calendar now:

  • Christchurch (Bryndwr) 15th March
  • Palmerston North (Crossroads) 22nd March
  • Hamilton (Northgate) 29th March

Bring a team from your church for the day (9:00 AM- 5:00 PM) and be challenged by fresh opportunities.

May you find strength and direction for the journey as the Holy Spirit accompanies you in joining God in his mission to the world.

Russell Thorp
Missions Director GC3 and Board Member GCiM

Tags: accompaniment | CBC Churches | Discipleship | embrace the unreached | General Secretary | journey | mission | Papua New Guinea

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