A couple of years ago, I did some research work for Church Army NZ. As part of my research I traveled to Wellington, interviewing members Urban Vision – a missional order to the poor. This is a group that I really respect and resonate with.
I was privileged also to spend a few hours talking with the founders Justin and Jenny Duckworth. They are a wealth of knowledge in Christian community development, intentional living and theology.
I’m so excited to learn that Justin has recently been appointed Bishop of Wellington! It’s fantastic news for the Diocese of Wellington and for the Anglican Church in New Zealand. This is definitely reminiscent of the passage in 1 Samuel 16:17 “….The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
You can watch his interview here:
I love how Jesus is incredibly cryptic as He described the Kingdom of God to the multitudes. “It’s like a precious stone, a lost coin, missing farm animals and farming in general…. It’s also like wayward children returning home.” How bizarre it is that seemingly unimportant circumstances describe a Kingdom! A way of living, with its own norms and values… and of course a King.
On Friday afternoon, I gathered with friends on the back porch of one of the worst streets in Avondale. Waiting expectantly as a wayward son prepared to come home. My good friends Phil and Monica Clark from Church Army New Zealand have been sharing the hope of this new kingdom in and around Avondale. Along with a group of young interns, they have struck up interesting conversations with residents, learning about the spiritual beliefs of the neighbourhood. In the course of discussions they have been able to share the hope that they have in Christ and invited the listeners to join them on the journey. One person who responded with enthusiasm to their invitation was Brian.
Brian aged 37, has had a colourful past with drugs, criminal convictions and the like. MS eventually led him to become wheelchair-bound. It just so happened that the day Phil and Monica approached him; he had been reflecting on his life and spirituality, thinking seriously about Christ. He had tried different religions, but knew that none of them were really “home”. He was aware of his wayward past and desperate for an opportunity to come his real home – the Kingdom of God.
Fast forward four weeks and Brian was ready to make a public declaration of his home-coming. He was ready to let the world know that he was leaving the old ways behind and follow Christ. So as the 11 of us stood around his back-yard watching as Phil splashed water on his head, it was amazing to know that this was the Kingdom in action. This is what the Kingdom of God is like.
This year, IJM is celebrating 15 years of bring justice and hope for the poor! I’m so grateful for the work they have done over the years and continue to do. I’m also very grateful to have been a small cog in their wheel – lending a hand in a small way to make a difference in people’s lives. For those of you who were my financial supporters and prayer warriors last year – THANK YOU!
Check out their celebration article. Keep an eye out for the picture that I took of one of IJM Kenya’s Illegal Detention clients on the YouTube video!
Keep the faith everyone – the mountain is high, but with small steps and helping out in small ways we CAN help the most vulnerable get justice. 🙂
Note: I know I’ve written a post like this before, but it seems to be a recurring theme of late.
It is only in the last few years that I have grown to appreciate my status as a “Third Culture
Kid Individual”. When I’m in a foreign land, my English-Nigerian-Kiwi-ness makes for interesting dialogues between local culture and expatriate culture. As if I’m some sort of bridge… The nuances and complexities of the foreign culture are an exciting adventure.
However when it comes to “my” cultures – particularly my Nigerian-ness, it’s as if I not only take off my rose tinted glasses, but I proceed to jump on them vigourously. For some reason, my tolerance level diminishes at an increasing rate. I feel less willing to compromise and accept the “differences” between general Nigerian thought patterns and my own. It’s a strange, if not disturbing paradox. Maybe it’s because it hits closer to home – instead of a stranger or at the very most a friend agreeing to “interesting” societal norms (i.e. a woman should be beaten if she doesn’t watch her mouth); it’s my own family. Rather than receiving grace because “after all, she’s a foreigner”, I get “she ought to know the culture, if she carries on this way…”. Hmm… Then to be constantly reminded about it in the land of the long white cloud is less than pleasant. Parents have interesting way of suddenly awakening cultural attitudes that lay dormant for the good part of 3 decades.
Definitely there is work to be done on my part. If I really love Sub-Saharan Africa as much as I say I do, I need to learn her love language. Varied, perplexing, painful and dynamic as it is.
In the mean time, how do I hold onto myself whilst the winds of culture bash about me?