In Luke 24:46-49, Jesus tells his disciples to go into ALL the Nations, beginning with Jerusalem. (We are still at the beginning of Luke in the teachings at Hunter Christian Church, so we’re going to skip to the end, hopefully not ruining the surprise.)
Newcastle is our Jerusalem and Hunter Christian Church has been, and continues to minister here in a mighty manner, empowered by God.
In New Zealand, we discovered for all of its civilization continues to be a nation with a high percentage of people who are avoiding God. According to the Joshua Project, New Zealand has 53% of the adult population that call themselves Christian. Of these there 32% Protestants, 23% Anglicans and 23% Catholic, with the rest referring to themselves as “independent”, or “other” .
Doesn’t sound too bad… in some 10-40 window countries we’d see maybe 10% Christian. But look at the other statistic: 40% say they have NO FAITH. Does this motivate you? It isinteresting to us that 40% of a civilized First World Nation is essentially unreached for Jesus.
The report finds that Kiwis are not engaged with other religions, like Hinduism, or Buddhism or Muslim. They are not engaged at all. Work and Sports seem to be the engaging factor to Kiwis, working very hard at things which interest them. But is this short sighted? Richard Pearse of New Zealand was credited with first inventing the aeroplane, predating the Wright Brothers by several years. Yet he did not bother to patent it because he didn’t reckon there would be much of a market for aeroplanes in New Zealand.
During our outreach we found many to be short sighted in their spiritual lives. Not thinking much about spiritual things dismissing the idea of a relationship with Jesus as impossible. We showed them that a relationship with Jesus is not only possible, it’s the exact thing that God wants for us.
We visited five churches and provided support in both physical, as well as spiritual ministry to the pastors there. We also ministered, particularly to young people, at the Tauranga YWAM base and the annual “Parachute” Christian Music Festival in Hamilton.
We had a couple weeks in most places, so we were able to establish relationships which will continue long term. Large evangelical events are a great start, but one on one discipleship is what we find in needed. We can’t expect people to establish a long term relationship with Jesus, if we are not willing to establish and ongoing relationship with them.
We met with church small groups during the week, as well as speaking at Sunday services. We prayed for healing with people. We prayed with ministry leaders for God’s continued blessing on their ministries. We saw several unbelievers make a commitment to Jesus. We even saw one woman who was clinically dead for 20 minutes be restored by God to life! Her husband and daughter were unbelievers, a wonderful witness to them of the goodness of God!
In short, our 10 week ministry outreach to New Zealand was one where we showed the goodness of God by example; we showed the love of Jesus and His desire for relationship by example; and encouraged those who would continue the work which we started after we left.
Short term missions are great! Jan and I have done those a few. But there is something special about making a longer term commitment to a nation or community to see the life changes God will perform over a longer time period. Miracles are instantaneous. Healings sometimes need to be walked out over time. A relationship with Jesus is both, a miracle, a life was instantly changed, and a healing, a long term growth project. It’s like a mine. We’ve got to go deep with Jesus to get the full effect of what HE has for us.
So back here at home, in our Jerusalem, there are many opportunities to form long term “mining” relationships with others in the community. Let’s go do it. We are all to serve as missionaries, whether it’s here or overseas.