NZCN | News 1 May

NZCN | News 1 May

Dear Friend,

What are we learning (or re-learning) from this current COVID-19 crisis?

  • That our lives are not as safe or as predictable as we presume to think
  • That our only enduring anchor and hope is God
  • That crises can usefully prompt us to reflect
  • That basic human relationships of marriage, family and friendship really matter
  • That the church also matters, both for Christ’s message and the community of his people
  • That both work and rest are important (many of us rush around too much, and some time-out at home is good for us)
  • That leadership makes a difference, and that Christians remain called to pray for those in authority
  • That God is able to work for good in all circumstances
  • That many churches have rediscovered basic pastoral care
  • That the core tasks of the church do not depend on glitzy performances and outstanding facilities, but on faith, hope, love, the Gospel, the word,
  • Prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit
  • That many in the church have been moved by this crisis to a greater prayerfulness
  • That on-line church can reach a lot of previously unreached people
  • That many people seem to have greater openness to God in this time

Pray As One NZ

The wonderful ZOOM-based nation-wide prayer gatherings which began last month, and which many hundreds of people participated in, begin again this Monday night, with a weekly 8.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. prayer gathering.

The New Zealand Christian Network team were heavily involved in the formation of the Pray As one NZ prayer movement, and have been very pleased to be associated with it. A wider advisory group (including representatives of other prayer networks) will continue and has accepted NZCN’s offer to take overall responsibility for Pray As One NZ.

NZCN|News – Easter

NZCN|News – Easter

Easter points us to the bigger picture

There is no denying the current significant health and economic threats to societies all around the world, especially in many less well-resourced nations. In the past, societies and churches have many times suffered catastrophes, through war, famine, natural disasters, plagues, and persecution. The season of Easter, though, is a great time to recall and celebrate Christ’s redeeming death and life-giving resurrection.

These Easter events usefully remind us of a bigger, more enduring picture than COVID-19. That God remains our everlasting Rock. That on the Cross, God in Christ has demonstrated his great love for us, and made possible our salvation. That God has granted his Spirit to all who believe. That God is always watching over us. That one day God will restore his broken creation, and make all things new.  May God inspire us afresh as we focus on him, this coming weekend – and beyond.

 

 

It has been so very encouraging for the New Zealand Christian Network to be very closely involved in the new Pray As One NZ initiative, which began last Tuesday (1 April) with a 12-hour national on-line day of prayer for New Zealand and a special one-hour national prayer and worship service live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook followed by eight consecutive prayer sessions, from 8.00 to 9.00 pm.

What has been so pleasing is the gathering of hundreds of Christian believers from every corner of New Zealand, and from many different church denominations and flavours, and the thousands of faithful, passionate prayers for Aotearoa New Zealand. On average, there have been 140 people online at any one time. The two overarching themes have been the COVID-19 crisis and the spiritual health and wellbeing of New Zealand.

This series of prayer gatherings end tonight (Thursday 9 April, 8.00 pm). It is not too late to participate. If you would like to join, visit Pray As One NZ for details. Almost certainly, Pray as One prayer gatherings will resume on some basis, sometime after Easter.
Watch this space…

Which is the deeper problem: the spiritual blindness and sins of secular New Zealand society as a whole, or the blind spots and spiritual listlessness of the New Zealand church?

I posed this question during devotions in Pray As One NZ earlier this week, before reading that magnificent prayer of repentance, Psalm 51.

Read the transcript here >

NZCN|News – 28 March

NZCN|News – 28 March

PRAYING AS ONE FOR NEW ZEALAND

These are unprecedented times for Aotearoa, and indeed for the world. More than ever we need Christian believers to unite in prayer!

New Zealand Christian Network is delighted to announce that it has been able to work with a number of groups (NZCN, Move NZ, Rhema Broadcasting, Intercessors for NZ, Missions Interlink, and the World Evangelical Alliance) to pull together Pray As One NZ, a 9-day initiative intended to unite Christians all over NZ in prayer and fasting for our nation. We are inviting leaders from all over NZ to join us in leading this initiative.

This will begin with national day of prayer on Wed. 1 April, with a full day (5:45am – 6pm) Zoom prayer conference, followed by an evening live-streamed prayer and worship service (8-9pm).

Days 2-9 will consist of a nightly 1-hour interactive Zoom prayer conference, from 8-9 pm.

Please go to the Pray As One NZ website and get the word out to your church and other Christian friends by sharing this with others.

Further details about Wednesday and the 8 days following will be uploaded on to the website.

Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

…I have come into this world, so that the blind will see…

– Jesus, John 9:39

Imagine being blind and isolated, unable to be with your loved ones, and having to fend for yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eyesight is something we often take for granted. Yet there are many people in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are needlessly blind.

With a Covid-19 lockdown in PNG, many people with disabilities cannot access the services they need and others risk having their life-changing surgeries delayed or cancelled.

But there is good news. Because most of cbm New Zealand’s projects are medical, they are essential services and can go ahead. cbm will adapt their work to help with the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 and to offer care and treatment.

Having access to vital sight-saving surgery is an incredible blessing. Many people in PNG have never seen a doctor before. Approximately 86% of the population live in rural areas, however, most health services and specialists’ practices are located in larger towns, this results in many people being deeply affected by avoidable blindness. In fact, 1-in-15 men and 1-in-10 women in the remote Highlands struggle with blindness.

Blindness is often met with suspicion, as those who are blind are usually stigmatised and become victims of human rights abuse. Isolation is commonplace. But thankfully, there is hope…

cbm New Zealand is an international Christian development organisation who have been working in PNG for the past forty years, delivering sight-saving cataract surgeries and other services. The aim is to reduce avoidable blindness, and build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!


One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Jack before surgery
Jack’s gratitude after receiving life- changing cataract surgery

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!


cbm New Zealand is continuing to transform the lives of many others like Jack. While Covid-19 has changed so much, cbm is grateful for the generous gifts from its supporters to be able to continue this vital work.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential, please visit www.cbmnz.org.nz

NZCN|News – 21 March 2020

NZCN|News – 21 March 2020

Dear Friend,

This week two very significant things have happened in New Zealand…

Covid 19 precautionary measures are tightened up

The Covid 19 threat, which is causing so much chaos and alarm around the globe, has led the Government in the last few days to take the wise step of banning inside meetings of over 100 people. It is also strongly advising “social distancing” to be practised at all times, even in small groups, as a means of impeding community transmission of the virus.

All this has huge implications for churches. Many churches are urgently cancelling worship services, arranging live streams, establishing more house groups, reviewing the safety of all their activities, and working out how they can best serve those people who are self-isolating, locked down, sick, or fearful and downcast.

Will this crisis and the sudden changes it has brought discourage and scatter the people of God, and weaken churches? Will it be hard to gather people back together, when the pandemic is over? Will some drift away? Or will these circumstances shake up the churches so that they become more faith-filled, more active, more prayerful, more compassionate, more engaged with others, more Christlike?

The New Zealand Christian Network urges churches to be both scrupulous and caring in the way they respond to the threat of this virus, and for the sake of our people and the wider society to observe the very best practices of protecting our people.

At the same time, we should be covering our nation in prayer, and asking the Lord to comfort and uplift the anxious, and to turn many people in our society from self-possession to humility and faith before the living God, who is alone our eternal hope.

See links below for many helpful resources on how churches may respond well to the challenges of COVID-19.

The Abortion Law Reform Bill was passed.

We regret the passing of this very unbalanced bill, which unjustly erased the human rights of unwanted unborn, and has removed all protection for them. The Abortion Law Reform Bill “decriminalised” abortion, but we believe it is tantamount to crime against nature, humanity, and God. We applaud all those who made a stand. We urge prayer for this nation, and for the underlying moral and spiritual myopia of which this is but another symptom.

NZCN|News – March 2020

NZCN|News – March 2020

Life and death

The next week or so is a very critical time for our nation, with major life and death implications for generations to come. The New Zealand Parliament is in the final stages of voting on the Abortion Law Reform Bill, a bill which further liberalises New Zealand’s laws on abortion. The aim of the Bill is to make abortion simply a medical procedure for the mother.

The Bill gives no consideration at all to valuing the life of unborn babies, or to protecting them. The protections in the current legislation (which have proved weak) are swept away. The Bill assumes that unborn babies have no inherent human worth, and no human rights. The Bill would establish abortion on demand up to 20 weeks gestation. From 21 weeks through to birth, all that is required is the agreement of the medical practitioner (the one about to conduct an abortion) that an abortion is “reasonable” with regards to the health of the mother – but with no regard to the life of the baby. Presumably “health” will include her emotional wellbeing. Will this apply to cases of Downs Syndrome, or the wrong sex? Even a baby born alive after a failed abortion will not be safe: MPs have voted down an amendment that would have required the baby to be given medical care, rather than left to die.

Most Christian people do not oppose abortion under all circumstances, and feel compassion towards those women who have been in a very difficult situation and have agonisingly decided to have their baby aborted.

The New Zealand public needs to understand, however, that this Bill is very unbalanced: it entirely takes the side of the pro-abortion lobby, and completely disregards the intrinsic value of unborn human life. Regardless of whether or not unborn human babies are currently recognised in our society’s laws as fully-fledged “human beings”, they are still unquestionably human babies. Respect for the value of all human life is a basic building block of a safe society. Justice and compassion call out for the protection of the powerless and the voiceless. Christians – and many others – see every human life as a sacred gift of God, and the destruction of innocent lives as a terrible stain upon our nation.

We strongly encourage all Christian people to shake off apathy, to be constant in prayer, and to urgently contact members of Parliament and make known their deep concerns (be courteous, clear, well-informed, and brief).

  1. MPs names and email addresses can be found here
  2. Church leaders also need to speak out
  3. Listen to a good sermon on abortion from last Sunday

15 March anniversary

Our nation recalls with sadness the appalling 2019 terrorist attacks on Muslim people gathered to worship. Christians continue to extend their love and sympathy, and utterly reject all hatred, racism, and violence. We believe that all faith communities should be able to gather freely, and without fear. We thank God that these horrible events generally helped strengthen our society’s commitment to living in peace.