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It was a day to remember for most of us, especially among leaders here in Auckland Overseas Christian Fellowship. Steve Dunne, a pastor from Richmond Baptist Church, Nelson came to Auckland for a visit and requested specially to have a two hour session with AOCF. AOCF took the opportunity to spend those two hours with him today (Saturday, 19th September 2009).
As stated earlier, Steve is a pastor from a church in Nelson,South Island. He has eight children in total, three of them adopted. He was sharing about his life with his family by showing some pictures and his contagious laughter. He shared about his youngest adopted daughter. Her name is Promise Rose Dunne. She is an Asian girl and she suffered with a hole in the heart, lungs failure and Down syndrome. The doctor said that this girl will only live up to six months after she was born. Also, she was born too early. Many people asked him why would he even bother adopt her when she cannot live for long and it costs quite a fortune to adopt a child. He said 'Yes people has been asking me about it, but three years ago, God spoke to my wife that they will adopt a child which no one will want to do so.' So, both Steve and his wife, Emma adopted her to show how much God loves everyone and He does not discriminate. God's love are shown by people's action. What a miracle, the baby girl is now two years old and living happily with the big family.
He also add one verse in his stories. When we pray, we always state about 3 things, which are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was saying that some of us do forget about the Father. He pointed out a verse on John 16:27. It says 'No, the Father himself loves you because you have love me and believed that I came from God'. He added by saying how our earthly father now loves us. Our heavenly Father says everything's ok if we have done something wrong in our lives. It is also stated in Hebrews 12 about how our Father treats us like His children.
After sharing his stories, he invited all of us to pray together with him. We stood up together with him, closed our eyes and bow our head and pray. He told us to think about our sins, what we did towards people and people towards us, what and why are we so ashamed about ourselves. He asked us to place our two hands and form it like a bowl and think of all the shames and sins that we have commited in our lives. After thinking, we release our hands and said 'Father, please fill me with your love. Please forgive me...' It may sound really simple here, but it was hard to really open up to Him when praying. Some emotions were poured out during the time of prayer. There are so many things that we are so ashamed about ourselves but we do not know how much God really loves us. Sometimes we may dislike ourselves but like stated earlier, our heavenly Father does not discriminate. He loves each and every one of us no matter what we are. It does says in Romans 8:39 that 'neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
It has been a priviledge to have Steve Dunne to join AOCF during his visit here in Auckland. It was really an eye-opening event and a day to remember. Thank you Steve Dunne, and may God bless you always.
Posted by Michelle Ho on 19/09/2009
The Christian Union and International Christian Fellowship just had an amazing weekend away on the topic of Global Reach. We heard teaching from the book of Acts, seminars on cross-cultural mission, Bible translation, social action, early New Zealand missionary endeavour, as well as a cross-cultural missions experience. It was a great highlight having a long-serving Wycliffe missionary with us for the weekend, as well as Saudi Arabian believers from a local Arabic-speaking church. The weekend was deeply challenging to consider how God might use us in his global purposes.
Posted by Scott Mackay on 10/09/2009
Esther Fan is a final year veterinary student at Massey University, and also a member of Palmerston North OCF. In April this year she embarked on a month long vet mission trip to Mongolia as part of her self-arranged externship, and had the opportunity to meet a couple of IFES groups along the way:
In the 13th century, everyone knew the great Chinggis Khaan. Nowadays, were it not for the movie ‘Mongol’ and the influx of all-you-can-eat Mongolian BBQ restaurants, it might seem that the world has forgotten about this country. But God has not forgotten. Earlier this year I had the privilege of witnessing His hand at work amongst the students, veterinarians and herders in Mongolia.
Mongolia Fellowship of Christian Students was started in 1999, and now has sixty student members and seven staff across three of the universities. Great huh? But there is still much work to be done. Mongolia has three hundred and forty universities for a population of 2.8 million! Some universities only have ten students - I have no idea how they are all financially viable.
I was taken straight to the top to meet the National Director of FCS, Shagai, who is the Nigel Pollock of Mongolia. He was excited to learn of New Zealand’s existence and location (at first he thought NZ was part of Asia), and also that there is a thriving IFES organisation there.
FCS’s activities are not dissimilar to ours. Wednesdays comprise of leaders’ meetings and English class. Thursday evenings are the main campus meetings. Scattered throughout the week are cell group Bible studies, and evangelistic Bible studies. The evangelistic Bible studies deserve special mention, because this is where FCS members are made. They are crucial. Virtually all FCS members have been converted through EBS meetings.
Mongolia was under the communist rule of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1989. Only then did Christianity really make an entrance. Do you know what that means? It means that in Mongolia right now, no-one has grown up in Christian homes. There is no such thing as a Christian student who comes to university and links up with FCS. FCS relies on drawing in new believers to continue the work. Can you imagine that?
Here, many of us have grown up in Christian homes. We don’t think of it as a big deal. And I’m sure you would agree with me that virtually every university student has heard of Jesus, at the very least in relation to Christmas, Easter or, sadly, a swear word.
But in Mongolia, there isn’t a single person coming to university who has heard of Christ before. And many will leave without hearing of him too. This explains why FCS is such a crucial movement, and why the staff and students are so passionate about their ministry.
How passionate are we about our ministry? How many NZ students also leave our seven universities without hearing the gospel? How much do we appreciate our Christian upbringings or heritage?
What is your idea of ‘mission’? When I say that I’m interested in vet-mission work, it’s not uncommon to get this response: ‘you’re going to evangelise all the animals?’
The organisation I went with was V.E.T. Net Mongolia – a Christian non-government organisation that is involved in a variety of activities, including providing continuing education and quality drugs to Mongolian vets, education facilities to children of remote herders and community development projects.
The first week I spent in the capital, Ulaan Baatar, preparing some continuing education material for the 2010 teaching curriculum. The next 16 days were spent travelling in a team around the countryside of Bayanhongor province. Our purpose was to visit the local vets and herders (equivalent of NZ farmers), teaching and distributing drugs.
I could tell you how much fun it was. I could tell you of the lack of flush toilets and vegetables and abundance of mutton dumplings and salty tea. I could explain how if it weren’t for the little TVs, huge satellite dishes to get a channel or solar panels to power them, I could’ve imagined I was back somewhere in Bible times.
But I want to tell you about our teaching. I was given the glamorous topic of treating diarrhoea in lambs and kids, to be presented through a laptop and a translator. I thoroughly enjoyed it - ‘good works’ should make anyone feel good, right? However, if it weren’t for sharing the gospel and distribution of Bibles, it would have been less than satisfying. You realise that these people need so much, and all we could do was pass them a bit of vet knowledge and a selection of the drugs we had in our van. No-one could give them all they need - but what a comfort it is that we know the God who can. So I felt that if I gave them all the veterinary information in the world and all the drugs in the world, but neglected to give the good news, I’d be short changing them.
This is the heart of vet mission – or any mission, for that matter. That whether we be giving out antibiotics or a morning milo, we’d be given the opportunity to tell of the One who can fulfil every need.
Esther is a Vet student at Massey University, Palmerston North. She is part of the Massey Vets Christian Fellowship, which is part of TSCF and Vet Christian Mission.
What can I do? Pray for Mongolia FCS, you’ll find some prayer requests in the Winter edition of Prayer Matters.
Posted by Mel Mylvaganam on 04/09/2009
The Catalyst conference is a significant milestone in the life of Catalyst. It was wonderful to see this first gathering of people who are already involved in our ministry to graduates and academics, or who had heard about the vision and wanted to find out more.
Nigel Pollock gave the keynote address from Daniel, and separate tracks were held for postgraduates, academics and graduates in the workplace. Some of New Zealand’s key contributors on these subjects led discussions including Bev Norsworthy, Jonathan Boston, and Wayne Kirkland and gave each delegate the opportunity to share encouragements and challenges with others in their field.
Many delegates left the conference having thought more deeply about how their faith integrates with their work, others were encouraged just by having met with others in their same profession.
Pete Brown, an environmental engineer who took part in the workplace track said that he found it encouraging to hear speakers talk about how work is more than just an opportunity for evangelism, and also to see how work fits into the whole story of the Bible.
Paul Stock, on the academics track, said “It was wonderful to be reminded that there is no dichotomy between the scared and the secular, and to look at that in the context of academic scholarship.”
For me, the weekend was summed up well by Aled Griffiths, who was leading the workplace track, “I believe in the vision of Catalyst because it’s hard to be a Christian on your own in the workplace.” It’s that simple – being a Christian in the workplace isn’t easy. It takes, effort, courage and perseverance. We need to work hard at integrating our faith with our work, and engaging with the issues in our workplaces. These things are made easier when we share them with other people, and that is the heart of Catalyst: to bring people together to bring the gospel to the heart of the workplace and the faculty.
As the weekend concluded many delegates left considering the opportunity to lead or join ‘Catalyst groups’ – groups of Christians in a church, region, field or workplace who meet together to encourage one another to live for Christ in their workplace.
Posted by Mark Grace on 04/09/2009
Conferences are a wonderful time to dig deep into God’s Word, to spend time mulling over big ideas and to reflect on what is going on in our lives. Undivided life is always a central theme at our conferences as we try to help students apply the whole gospel to the whole of life.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Livin’ the Dream’ – working out and living out God’s dreams for every part of our lives. Over five days we studied the book of Daniel together, looking at how God worked through him in as he lived a life of integrity and faithfulness in a foreign land. This ‘foreign land’ was a land that encouraged Daniel to forget his heritage, to worship idols and to assimilate to the values of the culture. We considered how our universities are ‘foreign lands’ that encourage us to forget our King, to pledge our allegiance to other gods, and to assimilate our values and behaviour to that of those around us.
Students had an opportunity to think about the subject of money through an ‘interactive experience’ in which they role-played scenarios that saw them cast as families in the developing world who had to make shoes in order to feed their families – they suffered under the whims of greedy bankers and the demands of the market, and failure meant losing a family member.
There was also time to focus on students’ areas of study, meeting in groups to consider how the gospel relates to their subject areas. The bookstall gave students the opportunity to carry on thinking these things through once they got home by providing books on a wide range of subject areas from an evangelical worldview.
Returning home to new semesters, exam results, inboxes full of emails, family, church and work commitments, our prayer was that students might live lives that glorify God in every area, through every commitment, relationship and desire.
Posted by Rachel Turner on 04/09/2009
In August Wellington CU and ICF joined together to put on a joint event – The Cultural Marketplace. The purpose of the event was three-fold: to raise awareness of the work on campus, to raise funds in order to support our work, and to build relationships with the churches and wider Christian family in Wellington. With a variety of culturally-themed food stalls and activity stalls such as Chinese calligraphy, henna painting, poi making and sari tying, cultural performances the evening was thoroughly enjoyed by more than 500 people. Although we did not raise much money, we felt that the relationships amongst our group were deepened through the effort of organising such a big event, and we also built up our relationships with the local churches in Wellington.
Posted by Charlotte Kirby on 04/09/2009
During the mid-year holidays, Lincoln University Christian Fellowship, with youth from Lincoln Baptist Church, sent a team of 12 people to Fiji for a two-week mission trip.
The aim for our team was both for personal development as well as providing physical and spiritual help for the Fijian people. Throughout the trip we were immersed in the culture and placed outside of our comfort zones. At schools, prisons, youth groups and a home for disabled children we gave talks, testimonies, sang songs, told Bible stories and played games with the children. The bulk of the trip, however, was spent working for and with the Fijians in practical building and agricultural-based projects.
In particular, we spent two days at an organisation called Homes of Hope. Based in Suva, Homes of Hope is run by its founders, an American couple whose focus is removing young girls from the street and prostitution and rehabilitating them into society. Hard hit by the economic downtown and current political disorder, Homes of Hope is seeking to become self sufficient in food production by growing crops on their 40 Ha of land. We were able to help them plant crops including dalo, sweet potato, beans and cassava, as well as clearing scrubland for their use.
As many of our group had studied agriculture, this allowed us to use some of our expertise to advise them. We also visited the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture’s research centre to discuss appropriate plants and other cropping techniques. With information obtained from there and with extra research, we hope to be able to help them to grow the right crops and to use appropriate crop hygiene and management to ensure they can successfully feed themselves and persist in their work.
The trip really opened our eyes to the world outside of New Zealand. The poverty also put into perspective our culture’s reliance on material possessions and self gain at the sacrifice of our relationships with people.
Nathan Paton, Ministry Intern in Lincoln
Posted by Nathan Paton on 04/09/2009
IFES International Food Night at Massey University Palmerston North was definitely a night to remember! It was overwhelming to have 180 people come to an evening of wonderful food and fellowship. Some brilliant songs were sung by a group from the Massey University Malaysian Association (MUMSA) and the Japan for Jesus group (J2), the best part being that they had the lyrics up so we could all sing along with them. Then to top it off, Ravi David gave an evangelistic talk, reminding us of God’s language of love, hope and unity.
Adam Richards, MUCF Student
Posted by Mel Mylvaganam on 04/09/2009
Michael has recently joined the Auckland team as Associate Staff. Michael was first part of TSCF as President of the Auckland Teachers College EU in 1966. Now as an Associate his focus is on working with Manukau Institute of Technology students, especially the MIT South Campus Christian Fellowship. Each week this group meets for prayer and Bible study on campus and in Michael and Priscilla’s home.
Most of Michael’s working life has been in Christian School and church planting ministries. He and his wife Priscilla have four adult children; and they have five grandchildren (at the time of writing, two are yet to be born!). He takes enjoys photography, gardening and collecting carnivorous plants. His greatest passion is making Christ known and the Bible understood in a way that gives vitality to everything students do.
Posted by Rachel Turner on 04/09/2009
Does the news of Jesus stand up to public scrutiny? That was the question addressed by 'Jesus in the Ring' - this year’s Christian Union Events Week at the University of Canterbury. The aim of the week was to encourage people to move beyond their preconceptions about Jesus, and investigate Him for themselves in the eyewitness accounts. Dunedin-based TSCF staff worker Nick Brennan gave a series of public talks that commended Jesus clearly and persuasively and CANTA magazine (the official magazine of the University of Canterbury Students’ Association) featured an article by staff worker Scott Mackay encouraging students to examine the life of Jesus and evaluate the evidence for themselves. The CU hosted dialogue evenings in several residential halls and student flats. A giant bouncy boxing-ring on campus was a great means of publicity, and was also used to raise funds for the Christchurch City Mission.
You can read Scott’s article on the CANTA website www.canta.co.nz/features/jesus-christ
Posted by Scott Mackay on 04/09/2009