Seeking a united voice against abortion

Seeking a united voice against abortion

A letter urging Christian leaders to demonstrate a united voice on the abortion issue and against the proposed Abortion Legislation Bill

Tracy Kirkley


 

9 March 2020

Dear Leaders,

I am writing this to a collective group because I do not know how else to reach the leaders en masse.  My hope is that it will actually be forwarded and read by YOU, the leadership of the large churches, movements and denominations.  I would love to come and meet with and speak with you directly. I am one of the key people who got “March for Life Auckland” up and running – but I am not writing in that capacity. It is as a fellow believer who is greatly concerned that we are not seeing or hearing a united and collective voice from our church leadership (across the multiple denominations). That is no easy thing, but when was it ever meant to be easy being a follower of Christ? We are trying, but we need leaders to step up.

I attended the Open Heaven NZ event in early Feb.  Church leaders from the larger (Pentecostal/Charismatic) denominations stood up and rallied us to pray – we collectively gathered to pray for our nation. We worshipped. We felt the presence of God. We sang songs declaring ‘’We are an Army“ and I was left thinking… Really? Are we? We certainly don’t act like it on the big issues – the nation shaping events, laws etc.

We are scattered on so many things and when a clear and pressing blatant issue (such as the abortion bill) is right in our faces, we leave it to a few privates, corporals and volunteers to lead on. While our Lord Jesus, the one we all serve, is highlighting this pressing issue. The timing of it – is happening now; a group of Christians across various faith streams joining to make something happen. The many who sent in submissions to the Bill. The many praying, lobbying.  The March for Life Auckland team… We requested your assistance. That the issue could be declared, spoken into, to focus the 10,000 on an issue that is life or death.

We didn’t get it, so we simply handed out all our flyers to the many streaming into the venue. That was effective. The silence and lack of mention of the issue at the event was deafening. I left thinking, “Do these leaders actually truly, deeply care about what happens to families, women and the unborn who are being slaughtered… every day?”

Something was missing. It was a “show” of UNITY…  But the depth and breadth of it translating into an actual tangible… felt lacking. I’m open to having this conversation… Are you?

This nation is facing the reality of an Abortion Law being passed, that will allow abortion – up to birth. So many Christians who care and are acting on this issue are looking to church leaders, those who hold an carry a movement, a large congregation to UNITE and LEAD – demonstrate a voice in this issue of life and death.

We know you care. But if this seems like simply another “thing” to add to a busy schedule or workload. What’s wrong?  Tangible action. UNITED CHURCH LEADERS that our nation can see is what we lack.  And that has weakened the church, many times over, when these issues arise. We don’t see UNITY and a VOICE rise to speak – the collective song sheet being sung loud and clear for our nation. So people like me, and the next-gen, rise up and just get done what needs doing.

We sent out emails to 800 churches in the Auckland Region. We did phone ups and call arounds. We spoke if anyone gave us an opportunity. We blitzed social media. We advertised on radio. We paid a price. We got very mixed responses. We are not radicals or crazy people. We are simply believers who care enough to do something. And those who got the message – responded. Some let their people know it was happening – many didn’t. (We got feedback – it might take people away from a conference, a church thing being organised… it wasn’t something they would speak about.)

Yet, the people came, those who did hear – it was a majority of believers who came. They cared. They marched. They spoke. We prayed. We respected and reflected.  It was initiated by a mostly young team. This was incredibly heartening and humbling to be a part of. No big names, no “known” church leaders or voices,  just people who turned their care, their prayer, their voices into action. And NZ responded.

It may not be your “thing” your passion, something you will speak to from the pulpit. I challenge you. WHY NOT? Are we too afraid of upsetting people? Isn’t Love our goal? Love for the women still grappling with her grief or guilt or shame… for the unborn, the women who would make a different decision, if she knew that whanau, people around her, truly cared and would support her? No condemnation,  no shame. For those in Christ. That is our goal.

If other organisations can band together and sign letters “supporting”  this heinous Bill – why are we not seeing the voice of righteousness from our church leaders in In NZ? The world can do it. So why can’t we?

Organisations sign letter supporting abortion law reform as second reading to begin

A joint effort – across the various faith streams, Baptists, Anglicans, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Catholics… collectively saying ‘NO this is not right for our NATION.’ It gets left for the brave few. So unity is not demonstrated at a leadership level.

So what does God do? He hands it onto those who are listening – and who will act. It is left to a handful of people who are passionate about the cause to stir, convict, advocate, lobby and make others aware. I am left perplexed why we have had resounding SILENCE at a National level from church leadership.  Do you just leave it to those “other” organisations? What message does that send our society? That the church – the Body of Christ – is not UNITED and cohesive in being a voice, the salt and light we are called to be.

This isn’t a ministry that is trying to promote itself, It isn’t a program to win people to Jesus and into congregations. It is the most vulnerable members of our humanity that we seek to give value to, and a voice for – and protect. It is a reflection of Gods Heart.

The time is NOW… If not… When?

Psalm 139, Proverbs 24.11

It takes ONE leader to do this. I am not a leader of a denomination or church. I am simply a fellow believer who cares deeply enough to ACT. And I challenge you to do the same.  Reach out to other leaders – any who will UNITE and speak as ONE – to send a message to the leaders of our Nation who are taking us down a dark path.

If you know and turn away, doing nothing, it is on your head. Will you respond?

With respect and an openness to meet, to strategise, to stand in prayer – and action.

 

In Christ,

 

 

Tracy Kirkley  |  Team MFL
https://www.facebook.com/MarchforLifeAuckland/


Over three thousand pro-lifers at March for Life in Auckland today.

Saturday 29 February 2020

Three thousand five hundred Kiwis attended the March for Life in Auckland today (Saturday 29 February).

With Parliament just days away from voting on a Bill to liberalise abortion-up-to-birth in New Zealand those who marched made a public stand for the unborn and their often vulnerable mothers.

“We showed Parliament today that unborn life is not without advocates in New Zealand, chanting ‘love them both’ and ‘a person’s a person no matter how small’ throughout the march,” says Emma Rankin, March for Life Auckland spokesperson.

The family friendly and peaceful March for Life finished with speeches at a gathering in Aotea Square.

“One speaker shared about the pain she still experiences from remembering her three abortions, but encouraged those who have had abortions that healing is possible.”

“Another spoke about the shame he carries having driven 14 year olds to get abortions without the girls’ parents knowledge or consent while he worked in the school system, highlighting the fact that this happens frequently across New Zealand”, says Rankin.

Members of Parliament, including Agnes Loheni, Alfred Ngaro, and Simon O’Connor also addressed the thousands present, encouraging them that we as a nation must be the voice for the unborn.

“This Abortion Bill before us in Parliament is a wake-up call. A time for us as a society to sit-up. … This Bill seeks to remove outright what little legal rights are left for the unborn child. Proponents of this Bill will tell you otherwise, but this Bill is effectively abortion on demand up till birth”, said MP Agnes Loheni.

March for Life Auckland was a grassroots event organised by a team of dedicated Kiwis who are passionate about  the  future for our country.

“We all come from a range of different cultures, faith backgrounds, and lived experiences, but we all agree on one thing, that extreme abortion laws are not who we are as Kiwis and that women and children deserve better than abortion,” says Rankin.

Tauranga – OneVoice: City-Wide Prayer and Worship Gathering

Tauranga – OneVoice: City-Wide Prayer and Worship Gathering

Unity and Prayer

For many years praying pastors have met on Thursday mornings with these scriptures in mind, John 17:20-23 “Father make us one……” and Isaiah 62:1-10 “…..for ‘Tauranga’s’ sake, we will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn…..”

So when Stephen Hanson shared the vision of ONEVOICE, there was immediate agreement and support.

James Muir

OneVoice

This initiative saw over four thousand believers from at least 22 churches come together from a number of denominations across our city. This included 5 well attended, Sunday night gatherings. There was a special theme for each night. The feedback through the course of the month, and since, was that a greater sense of unity was cultivated in our times together, and the desire expressed by many to continue to meet in 2018. One pastor said ‘we are growing up in love together’.

One Sunday night we had 11 invited guests representing the people of Tauranga in central government, local government, education, the police, and one of our local iwi. Pastors and leaders gathered around these men and women during the meeting and prayed for each of them. It was an incredible opportunity to bless and encourage these people. We received messages of thanks from a number of them the following week. The final Sunday evening saw dozens of spiritual fathers and mothers individually pray and bless many hundreds of people.

Each week throughout the whole month, we held 3-weekday worship and prayer meetings.

These were followed up with fellowship and teaching sessions. Some of the intercessors from different churches have continued to meet weekly to pray for the city. Others have been sharing the gospel and praying for people in the streets.

One of our goals was to prayer walk all the streets in Tauranga. We came close to covering the whole city, whole suburbs that have been covered, with a few areas across the city left.

We’re greatly encouraged by what is taking place in our city among the Body of Christ, and consider it a tremendous blessing and privilege to serve our city in this way.

Stephen and Rechelle Hanson

Click the fullscreen button on the video when watching the vertical formatted clip as parts of the image are automatically cropped otherwise.

Prayer Walk

One of our goals was to prayer walk all the streets in Tauranga. We came close to covering the whole city, whole suburbs that have been covered, with a few areas across the city left.

City by City exists to help encourage unity, prayer and transformation throughout New Zealand.

How good it is to see Christians in each town or city worshipping and praying together regularly.

How good it is to see Churches honouring one another, seeking to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of their locality together.

Colin & Grace Shaw

His Beautiful Face

His Beautiful Face

His Beautiful Face‘ first appeared on the City-by-City website and is re-published here with permission from the author.

Hi again. A number of years ago I had the privilege of facilitating a leader’s 3-day prayer summit in the Philippine island of Mindanao. It was a wonderful time of praying and sharing with leaders from different streams in the Body of Christ there. At the debriefing in the afternoon of the final day, a dear lady from one of the barrios exclaimed, ‘Now I understand, if the body does not come together the head has nowhere to sit.’ Simple but profound!

My mind went to Deut. 33:5 which says And He was King in Israel when the leaders of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.’ (Emphasis mine) Making oneness a priority in our towns, cities and regions as the body of Christ of that locality is essential to giving Jesus His rightful place in our midst.

It is a blight on the church, and leaders in particular, when we do not discern and love fervently the Body of Christ in our locality. God intends for there to be a visible expression of Christ in our towns, cities and nations. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said. ‘Jesus was God made concrete on earth, the church is to be Jesus made concrete in our communities. In other words, Jesus made visible through His ‘together’ body.

‘The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined – could it be that the obstacle to the salvation of the world is not in the world but in the church.’           Max Lucado, author

A well known Bible scholar and conference speaker, Dr Ern Baxter said ‘The Christian community is the reproving headquarters of the Holy Spirit, therefore fragmentation of the Body of Christ is probably the greatest sin against the Holy Spirit.’

In the late 1990’s I listened to a pastor who had recently found an intimate relationship with the Lord and had joined other pastors from different denominations at a four-day prayer summit. On the first night before sleeping, with his new found zeal for God, he prayed ‘Lord please show me your face’. That night, instead of the Lord’s face, he was shown the Lord’s nail-pierced feet. The following night he prayed the same prayer only to be shown the Lord’s feet and legs. The third night after praying the same prayer he found himself standing with the Lord in the midst of the pastors who had met the previous day. He was told to look around the circle and into the faces of all those present. The Lord then spoke to him and said, ‘As you have looked into all those faces you have seen My face’.

May we too discern the beautiful face of Jesus in the faces of other believers in our locality no matter what their church or church culture.

Until next time. God bless. Colin

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”

– so how are New Zealand churches going on that?


It is no secret that Jesus told his followers to “love another”, that he prayed that believers “all may be one”, and that he indicated such unity would be a great witness to a watching world. Also, Ephesians 4 reminds us that we all share the same Lord and are all part of the same worldwide spiritual body of Christ: “There is one body and one Spirit, …one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all”.

The principles of unity are clear enough. In reality, though, seeing and practising that unity is a lot more difficult. So the scriptures also say to us that we have to work hard at getting on well together. They also constantly teach us about humility and gentleness, forgiveness and reconciliation, respect and encouragement – attitudes and behaviours which reflect the mind of Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As it also says in Ephesians 4:Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”, and “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”, and “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you”.

The main obstacle to Christian unity is not that we lack a biblical theology of unity, but our failure to live it out. Human nature is intrinsically self-centered. Even as Christian believers we do our own thing and don’t necessarily care too much about others.

So what are some of the obstacles to Christian unity in Aotearoa New Zealand today?

OUR OWN BUSYNESS

We are generally too busy coping with our own concerns and all the demands of our own ministries to be investing time and energy into relating to Christians beyond our immediate circles and context.

DENOMINATIONALISM

Our denominations tend to confine us as Christians into narrower boundaries. Too easily we idolise denominational distinctives, and make them more important than relating across the body of Christ. The church in New Zealand appears increasingly fragmented.

THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES

While most Christians would affirm the same basic tenets of faith, such as there is one triune God and Christ is Lord and Saviour and risen from the dead, and most would assent to the Apostles Creed, there are nevertheless some profound differences of belief and practice among Christians. Some may hold loosely to biblical orthodoxy, and many others may emphasise points of the faith that are secondary. The Church in New Zealand has various overlapping streams: liberal, traditional, liturgical, mainline, evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal, and many people in each of those streams are not particularly eager to have much to do with those Christians who are in other streams, and regard them as suspect or defective in some way. There is some distrust between these different Christian streams of faith and practice.

TRIBALISM

Human beings are incurably tribal. We like to mix with people like us and do things our own way. That is why the dreams of Church union (which climaxed in the 1960’s plan for mergers to create a mega denomination) all came to nothing.

EXCLUSIVITY

Various attempts at creating national inter-church bodies in New Zealand have all struggled because, theologically and ecclesiastically, they failed to be sufficiently inclusive. The National Council of Churches and the Conference of Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand, for instance, did not include Pentecostals or smaller evangelical denominations, and the new National Council for Christian Unity includes just four denominations.

FUNDING

Denominations all agree unity is good, but are unwilling to give funding to support organisations working for Christian unity.

GEOGRAPHY

New Zealand is a long thin country and it is not easy to maintain relationality across the length of the whole nation.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

New Zealand is a mix of many different cultures and traditions and these add to the fragmentation of our Church. There are many churches in New Zealand which reflect migrant groups that, very understandably, prefer to worship together in their own way.

Unity is not just a matter of institutions and structures and mergers. It’s primarily an attitude of the heart and a work of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, all believers are called to unity, unity of spirit, which is something we are not always doing well. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” gives us what we need to do. How can we rise to that challenge?


Dr Stuart Lange, interim National Director, NZCN
Adapted from reflections shared with the National Church Leader’s meeting, September 2018.

City Church Not a One Trick Pony

City Church Not a One Trick Pony

OneTrickPony_notEver since the concept of “city church” was explored as a major theme at the 2008 NZ Christian Network Congress, I have become even more convinced about its importance for New Zealand.  Jesus’ prayer for unity “that the world will know …” has a clear application among churches in a city (or town or nation) as well as within the individual churches themselves.

But I am equally convinced about the importance of pastors, ministers, and other Christian leaders (e.g. local government, business, and education), discerning how God might work this out in their particular town or city, rather than trying to apply any one prescription or formula.

We have put a lot of emphasis to date on city-wide prayer summits and regional roundtables.  These are still important and we look forward to many more in months and years to come.

But God can always be doing different things with different groups, so it is useful to consider alternatives.

Two alternatives which emerged in forums at the end of 2008 are strategic planning and conversations. Some groups are “primed for action”. This doesn’t mean they don’t pray or converse together.  It may be that they feel they already do these in other settings.  Or maybe they are wired to sense or outwork the presence of God in different ways.  Whatever the reason, they are groups ready to think through issues of strategic planning, and move to action.

Other groups may need to grow relationships through conversation. This is a highly focused activity where significant topics are addressed (personal, church, or theology), usually with the help of a facilitator, in a way which builds trust and intimacy within a group.

The common focus in all these is growing relationships rather than a fixed idea of what the group might do.  NZ Christian Network is able to point groups to a number of gifted people who can assist in any of these areas. Of course, groups of ministers in a town or city do not exist in isolation.  Most ministers are part of a denominational or network structure and bring something of this tradition into their local grouping.

There are also parallel groups of Christian leaders called by God to specialise in particular areas such as disabilities, sport, prayer, marketplace, or politics (to name just a few).  God is at work in these activities as well as in the “city church”, so it is good for all these groups to look for ways to be connected with each other (cf. “the hand cannot say to the eye ‘I don’t need you’”).

I believe there is also a need for practitioners and theologians to be working closely together.  Theology not grounded in real lives and experience can fall prey to abstractness and irrelevance.  But activity not grounded in good theology can also fall well short of the mark.

Let us pray that God will continue to guide all those involved in leadership in this area, “so that the world will know …”

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