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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
As 2020 gathers momentum, warm greetings from the NZCN leadership team.
The Lord alone knows what a year may bring: what calamities, what challenges, and what encouragements and breakthroughs.
Our world continues to be troubled by conflict, oppression, tyranny, greed, corruption, poverty, and a deepening climate crisis. And now a possible pandemic. In many countries, there is active persecution and violence against Christian minorities.
In Aotearoa, secularism has contributed to a diminished societal awareness of the true and living God, and a growing indifference towards Christianity. Many New Zealand Christians appear to lack full confidence in Christ and the Gospel, have privatised their faith, and seem preoccupied with less important things. Deep prayerfulness appears not as prevalent as it should be. Some churches are doing fairly well, but many are not. The whole New Zealand church appears to need a fresh spiritual renewing and reinvigoration.
In September New Zealanders will vote on referendums about legalising marijuana and allowing voluntary euthanasia. Parliament will shortly be voting on significantly liberalised abortion legislation which contains no regard for protecting the life of an unborn child.
So, all in all, is this a year in which Christians should plan to be complacent, and live and act just the same as before? Would a better starting point be to ask: what can we each do differently – individually and together – to make a real difference?
Also included in this newsletter are:
Resources about Waitangi, which reflected significant Christian influences
Waitangi Day isn’t just a national holiday. It marks the birth of our nation. Although the Treaty remains a mystery to many, it appears that people are starting to realise that knowing about the history of Aotearoa-New Zealand is fundamental to calling ourselves New Zealanders. Last September, the government announced that NZ history will be taught in all schools by 2022 and will be compulsory from years 1-10, and from year 11, schools will choose which subjects their students are required to take.
How much of NZ’s history are we acquainted with? Particularly our Christian heritage and the role the church and early missionaries played in helping form this nation. See our special Waitangi section below, with links to some articles and resources you may wish to peruse.
Top musical Māori artists joined forces to produce a visual album showcasing the live recording of eight moving and uplifting waiata whakamoemiti (gospel songs).
Information on many opportunities, invitations and events coming up soon
Rounding out the newsletter is an extensive list of opportunities, invitations and events coming up soon. Please take the time to check them out. There is something for everyone, including those in ministry, and information about some critical matters currently before Parliament.