Unsung Heroes 2017

23 November 2017
NZ Christian Network

Unsung Heroes 2017

by | Nov 23, 2017

Shortly after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, in recognition of the contribution of churches in providing hope and comfort as well as material assistance, NZ Christian Network’s board inaugurated a new award, known as the New Zealand Christian Network Unsung Heroes Awards.

The purpose of these awards is to honour the good work of individuals and groups which has gone largely unrecognised, to encourage others, and to give glory to God who inspired and empowered them.

In an age which has forgotten or never knew the significance of Christianity in our history, and which increasingly does not appreciate the importance of God in our country today, we are grateful for the privilege of being able to hold this event at Parliament and celebrate what God is doing in and through the lives of people. We are thankful also this year to Simon O’Connor MP, who hosted the event.

The awards are presented in categories related to New Zealand Christian Network’s key projects – Secularism,  Value of Life, and Missional Living.  This year we were pleased to also make two special awards for Working for Bi-cultural Understanding and Demonstrating a heart for Mission from within the Local Congregation.

This year’s recipients all received a trophy designed by Karen Sewell especially for our Unsung Heroes, a certificate, a copy of their citation and a gift card from Manna and NZ Christian Network.

Special Categories for 2017

Working for Bi-cultural Understanding

The first award to be presented this evening is in recognition of Working for Bi-cultural Understanding. Dr Alistair Reese is a farmer, historian and public theologian. He enjoys hiking, horse trekking, swimming in the sea and a good coffee.

For many years Alistair has been preoccupied with reconciliation in Aotearoa NZ, with a particular emphasis on Pākehā identity and how we can live in a colonised land. Much of his speaking and writing reflects on Te Tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi as a doorway to reconciliation.

He and his wife Jeannie live near Te Puke in the district of Tapuika/Waitaha on a farm in Paengaroa, Aotearoa New Zealand.  He has postgraduate degrees in Theology, History and Tikanga Māori. His PhD in Public Theology was conferred by the University of Auckland in [2014]. Alistair is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland and his research and speaking interests include post-colonialism, reconciliation and prohetism.  Alistair is involved in local and national efforts to promote reconciliation between Māori and Pākehā and exploring understandings of what an indigenous form of Christianity might look like.

Dr Alistair is a Trustee for the Karuwhā Trust, a registered New Zealand charity that seeks to engage Aotearoa New Zealand in a conversation about identity and history. They do this by facilitating groups to Waitangi. By researching the stories about our shared history and not just the famous stories and running workshops speaking at conferences, hui, seminar or retreat. In asking the question about what this conversation looks like I was struck by Alistair’s response to Mike Hosking cynical view of the Waitangi event as masquerade waiting for trouble or to quote for it to “hit the fan”. I shall read it so that you can hear the heart and the flavour of conversation with Doctor Alistair Reese.

“Discussions both informal and formal were held in Waitangi meeting houses, hotels, marquees and over cups of coffee, fried bread and raw fish. The Constitution, water ownership, the flag, the Treaty itself and the Black Caps’ chances in the World Cup were discussed and debated. People participated in the powhiri at Te Ti Marae, the Dawn Service and the later church service at Te Whare Rūnanga – the nation’s marae on the Treaty grounds. They watched the navy band, the flag being raised and waka being launched. Some bought stuff from the craft markets, Māori bibles from the Bible Society, while others protested in close proximity to those doing bombs off the bridge. Add to this, buskers, Ardijah on the main stage, swimming, sleeping on the beach and political fora against the backdrop of a sparkling Bay of Islands, and a glimpse of our national day can be seen.

“Not a ‘masquerade’, and neither did whatever ‘hit the fan’, but it was a day of significance that provides an opportunity for our nation to commemorate, celebrate and also ponder how the Treaty relationship can be restored. This is a day of conversation that looks back, examines the present, and dreams about the Waitangi aspiration of unity or kotahitanga, spoken of 175 years ago by Lt. Governor Hobson in his famous words: He iwi tahi tātou! We are now one people! Not all the same – no – but all belonging to this land because of the Treaty’s invitation to be here and prosper here, together.”

Dr Reese, we honour you this evening for your service to the Kingdom of God…

Dr Alistair Reese

Demonstrating a Heart for Mission from within the Local Congregation

The next award is a joint one and being given to two very deserving candidates. The award is for Demonstrating a Heart for Mission from Within the Local Congregation. We have been thrilled to receive these nominations because they represent the very essence of what Unsung Heroes look like. They are often quite humble people who simply have a sense of God calling them to serve and they do this often faithfully for many years.

Our first award in this category goes to Michael Jenkins. Michael has faithfully worked with International students and immigrant families for many years.

Michael Jenkins was brought up in a Christian home, with an awareness of his forebearers missional work, particularly amongst Maori. He became a Christian in his early teens, and was soon teaching the Bible in a local interdenominational Sunday School, and working with ‘at risk’ young Maori in Ponsonby.

For the last 25 years, he has ministered to young people and particularly International students at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Auckland City.

Michael has given free English coaching and keyboard tuition for many years to international students and has found this is a great way to engage with people, many of whom have had little experience of Christianity and eventually want to learn more by joining in Bible Study Groups.

He is a professional music teacher and has given many hours of free music tuition to promising students in organ, piano and keyboard. Every Saturday morning he sets up 20 keyboards he has purchased himself to give free keyboard lessons: these are open to all.

For decades, he held Friday night gospel services for mostly Asian international students, and immigrant families. He and his team of helpers have served those who came, also leading home groups and undertaking pastoral care. Over the years, they have seen many hundreds became Christians. Starbucks, opposite the church, is Michael’s unofficial headquarters where he has met with students helping them with assignments, and other needs.

Michael has played the organ and led Bible studies for a Korean church who meet in the St Pauls building. Michael has a home in Warkworth that is open to students and families, and he has often accommodated needy people in his home in the city. He is a man with a huge heart who has given a lot to generously serve many people over the years.

Please welcome Michael Jenkins.

Michael Jenkins

This second award in the category of a person who Demonstrates a Heart for Mission from Within the Local Congregation is awarded to Beryl Anderson.

Beryl was born and grew up in Invercargill. She trained as a nurse and began a career of using this professional expertise alongside a pastoral heart to look after others. Early in her career, she served at the Leprosy Mission Hospital in Vanuatu. She married Doug when she returned to New Zealand and furthered her mission endeavours alongside her husband working with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF). Starting out in Singapore, they trained Christian workers from all over the world, and Beryl used her nursing and pastoral skills.

From there a move to Kuala Lumpur, saw Beryl running the Guest House. She trained as a Samaritan phone counsellor and started helping people in crisis.

On returning to New Zealand, Beryl provided pastoral care and support for families at St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Church in Christchurch, where Doug was the minister.  And later at Knox Presbyterian Church, Lower Hutt. During this time she also:

  • Completed a degree in Women’s Studies and Chinese Studies,
  • Trained and served as a chaplain for the Inter-Church Trade and Industrial Mission
  • Worked as a volunteer for Refugee and Migrant Services
  • Initiated Knox’s free Christmas Dinner for more than 100 people from the community, which has continued every year
  • Wrote and published a book titled ‘Opportunity Knocks’, a compilation of stories of people’s struggles and successes when their lives were shattered by early retirement, restructuring, redundancy, bereavement, or medical misadventure.

In 1994, Beryl and Doug moved to Turkey, where Doug pastored a church. Beryl provided hospitality and support to many including migrants and refugees, she was a member of the Istanbul Women’s Conference, and worked amongst street kids where she was awarded a plaque for her services by the group ‘Friends of Street Children Work in Istanbul’.

Part of the citation on the award reads: “You have been a mother to us and the children. We will always remember you and our time together in Istanbul.” On their return to New Zealand, Beryl and Doug have settled at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt.  Beryl is actively involved in the church’s pastoral care committee and in providing a voice for mission organisations, and leading prayer support for persecuted Christians overseas. She has been co-founder and co-leader of a support group for refugees and migrants, she volunteers at the local Citizens Advice Bureau, helps refugees and migrants to learn driving and obtain their driver licences, is ESOL-trained and helps teach English to refugees.

To quote the people who nominated Beryl:  She is an inspirational role model of 24-7 Christian faith, including worship, witness, words, and action; someone who brings to mind Paul’s statement “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Please join me in welcoming Beryl Anderson to receive this award.

Beryl Anderson

Key Focus Categories for 2016

Secularism

The scriptures are full of small enterprise, Zebedee, Philemon, Lydia, Paul and even our Lord to name a few. Most of the other names including those of the original apostles that are mentioned in the New Testament are those of working people. It is Greek thinking and non-biblical thinking which separated the church as sacred or spiritual, from business and employment as secular or of the flesh.  God is moving to change this and make all of life, business included, the context for the Lord Jesus to be revealed through us.

Denis and Coralie Clark are the Founders and CEO of Business Edge, a unique support business dedicated to empowering business people to become a positive force within their business, community, and nation from a Christian Worldview….!”  The business world for them is a missional opportunity for the Kingdom of God.

The seeds of Business Edge began in 1989 in their experience of a business failure.  In their own business experience, they have both received spiritual support and not received spiritual support.  They have seen both business success, and failure. They know the joys and the grief. They have employed staff, borrowed, done the selling and the producing.  They understand that as business people they exist not just for themselves but they are an integral part of the city and as Christians called to transform it.

In 2003 Denis and Coralie launched Business Edge believing that no one is more strategically positioned in a city or community than Christian believers operating in the marketplace.  Business Edge, their assignment from God, is to see that you are encouraged, strengthened, equipped, and inspired to succeed in your business or work.

The vision statement of Business Edge is

“To be the business group of choice in our city and nation, unlocking all your potential for good and for God.”

Within the church family, Denis and Coralie found others who experienced a loneliness, lack of understanding and frustrations. So they gathered within their church community a business focused small group. They met, prayed, laughed, cried together and built meaningful relationships with folks who dealt with similar situations every day.

After 2 years when the group had become larger in size, they realised they needed to extend this “budding ministry” to more than a small group and more than just one church. Business people of faith all over the city were needing to be part of something that would encourage and recognize the “calling” that God had placed on their lives to be a beacon of light in the city by doing business God’s way.

Business Edge develops relationship groups, social events, business speakers, educational seminars and workshops, a bi-annual conference day with validated overseas speakers, resources like books, DVDs, CD’s, Pastoral contact, direct prayer within the business, email prayer requests and praise points daily etc.

Denis and Coralie are committed members of a local church. They have 3 married, adult children, and 7 grandchildren. I have the privilege of knowing them, I have attended a number of their events. They are just really good people with a heart for the Kingdom of God.

Denis and Coralie, we honour you this evening for faithful pioneering work encouraging Christian business owners in the mission to which God has called them

Value of Life

Value of Life Joseph {Iosefo} Fa’afiu is a son of two immigrants from the island nation of Samoa – Maloafua and Malologa. He is the second eldest and brother to 2 brothers and 2 sisters. He is the husband to a beautiful lady named Lydia and father to 5 amazing boys. Joseph is Samoan-born, New Zealand raised, Eastsider from South Auckland, New Zealand. He is a proud Christian man.

Joseph’s mission in life has many forms, but in its purest form is to make sure others become all they were born to be. Joseph wants to help them dream,  to design what that might look like and to set about doing it. Joseph Fa’afiu is also a Leader and a Storyteller.

Joseph has served the South Auckland community and New Zealand as a nation for over 15 years in a range of areas from free story times in libraries and schools to working with at-risk youth. He is currently a Duffy Books In School role model.

In 2015 Joseph founded HopeWalk a suicide awareness and prevention movement. They are a community action group which gives individuals, families and communities who have been affected by suicide a place to connect with others who have also lost loved ones to suicide.

HopeWalk was also birthed to highlight the existing organisations and agencies that provide suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention support. Hopewalk organise and lead walks globally in NZ, Australia, USA, Canada and the South Pacific.

Joseph says, “This movement is about giving people a voice which they are told by society they can’t have because its taboo, an unspoken topic and so on. We need to break the shame, stigma and silence around suicide – it starts and ends with us. We need to remember that we are talking about people, not numbers on a piece of paper.” 

In 2017 Joseph was acknowledged for his work by being the runner-up for the Maori/Pacific Ministry of Health Volunteer of the Year 2017 and recipient of a LifeKeepers Award for work in suicide prevention.

Joseph served on the Counties South PoIice Pacific Advisory Unit in 2016 and was also the recipient of a Kiwibank New Zealander of the year local hero medal two years in a row in 2017 and 2018 for his ongoing work in the community. In 2017 Joseph was awarded Sunpix Pacific Community Leader of the year.

Joseph was educated in Glen Innes and Lives in Mangere, South Auckland with his beautiful supportive wife Lydia and 5 sons. Joseph’s favourite quote is from the movie Gladiator “What you do in this life echoes in eternity”.

Joseph, we are privileged to honour you and Lydia in your service and ministry.

Missional Living

Missional Living Lui and Ane Ponifasio: Lui – Pastor,  entrepreneur and founder of  Samoa MultiMedia Group and Radio Samoa, Chairman of Pacific2Nations, and the Senior Pastor for LifeChurch in South and West Auckland and internationally West Papua.  Ps Ane – currently the Managing Director for Radio Samoa,  Senior Pastor for LifeChurch South, West Auckland and West Papua.

LifeChurch is a flourishing church community, committed to seeing the gospel declared in this nation and internationally. Lui is one of the international leaders of the Pacific to the Nations Movement (P2N). Pacific to the Nations seeks to mobilise the Pacific people into missions from across New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific and beyond. Lui also has a significant leadership role in the Samoan Brethren Churches in New Zealand and Australia.

The genesis of the Pacific2Nations movement began several years before the first meeting was held, as the Holy Spirit started stirring the hearts of several Pacific ministers and leaders in Auckland and the Pacific Islands to mobilise Pacific people for global missions.

The first group of pastors and mission organisation leaders gathered in September 2012 to discuss how they could mobilise Pacific people for world missions. There has been a sense and evidence of sovereign connections taking place to achieve this vision. There was a recognition that Pacific peoples had taken Missions very seriously after they first received the Gospel through European Missionaries. Many went from Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands, and travelled west to Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with the good news.

Many were martyred and died of sickness and disease, but when the news of someone losing their lives reached the country they had been sent from, then in many cases others quickly volunteered to take the place of those that had lost their lives. The Pacific2Nations movement wants to stir this legacy again in the hearts of Pacific Island peoples, especially the younger generation, so that a fresh wave of Pacific people may be sent into the nations of the world. This is principally a Church-centred thrust, but also has tremendous support and input from Missions Interlink and several member organisations that actively support the Pacific2Nations vision.

A wide variety of Churches are already involved, from all spectrums of the body of Christ, including Mainline, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches. All of them recognize that the time is right to re-engage Polynesians, Micronesians and Melanesians in a new wave of Missions in its various forms. Leader of the Pacific2Nations Movement, Pastor Lui Ponifasio says,  “We are not trying to recreate what our forefathers did in the 1800s and early 1900s, but we feel that they have handed over to us a strong legacy and a mandate to fulfil the heart of God by going to the nations, to unreached people groups as they did. This is our time.”

Pacific2Nations held its inaugural conference at the Vodafone Events Centre Auckland, on the 8th and 9th of November 2013. A second event was held in September 2015. Over 3000 people attended both events. In May 2017 Pacific2Nations was held in Sydney Australia. Similar mission events are planned for the USA and the Pacific Islands in 2017 and beyond. P2N500 is an initiative to reach 50 countries with the gospel in 2017. Over 500 missionaries will be sent from over 100 churches in short-term teams with an emphasis to reach unreached people groups.

A supporter of the P2Nation movement writes “I believe ‘The Pacifc2Nations’ is a (movement of people) – whereby ‘people’ can share resources in doing Christian mission together. It is in sharing resources and networking and connection that people can be encouraged to do mission. For the purpose of evangelising and discipling people towards the great commission.”

Lui and Ane, we acknowledge you for your vision and passion to mobilise the Pacific people into missions.

Lui & Ane Ponifasio

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