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He Comes For Us

"I te aonga ake ka mea a Ihu kia haere ki Kariri, a ka kite i a Piripi: a ka mea a Ihu ki a ia, E aru i ahau."

"The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.'"

"O le isi aso, na finagalo ai Iesu e maliu atu i Kalilaia. Na maua e ia Filipo, ma fetalai atu ‘iā te ia, 'Mulimuli mai ‘iā te a‘u.'"

—John 1:43

Historian and author Tom Holland studied Ancient Greece and Rome for years. He makes a striking observation: those ancient cultures had no sense of the fact that the poor or the weak might have even the slightest intrinsic value.

In the Roman world, ordinary people—people who were not rich, people who had ordinary jobs, people who were part of the lower classes—simply mattered less. The idea that they might have the same value as anyone else just wouldn’t compute. The concept was unheard of.

Where does that idea come from?

Ultimately, that idea comes from God. It comes from his revelation, recorded in the Bible. It comes about through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus recorded in the gospels.

This counter-intuitive concept is found clearly in John chapter one. He talks about a lamb, the lamb of God. But this isn't the first time a symbolic lamb has been talked about in Scripture.

In Genesis, there was a lamb that God himself provided. Instead of sacrificing his son Isaac, God gave Abraham a lamb as a substitute.

In Exodus, there was a lamb, sacrificed as a substitute during the feast of Passover. The lamb's blood was painted on the doors of the Israelites' homes, rescuing them from God’s judgement upon the Egyptians.

In Leviticus, there was a lamb, sacrificed as a substitute for the sin of an Israelite.

In Isaiah, there was lamb. It was prophesied about as being led to the slaughter, ready to be shorn.

Now, in the book of John, John the Baptist points to Jesus and says: he is that lamb. He is the Lamb, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

But John goes further than that. He says:

Jesus is the Lamb, the one who is God, and was with God in the beginning.

Jesus is the Lamb, who was born after John, but who existed before him.

Jesus is the Lamb, the one whom John is not worthy to serve.

Jesus is the Lamb, validated and verified by the very Spirit of God.

And then comes the great reversal.

The Lamb came looking for the lowly. He came looking for ordinary people like you and me. He didn't come for the rich, or for the important people, or for the influential people.

He comes for Andrew, Simon, and Phillip from Bethsaida. Ordinary people from ordinary places.

He comes for Erin, and Rodney, and Jason, from Manurewa or Manawarū.

These ordinary people leading ordinary lives aren't less important. They are taken seriously by John because Jesus takes them seriously. They have immense value because Jesus values them.

I am grateful that the Christ comes for the ordinary. He comes for us.

I am grateful that we are a movement of ordinary people, saved by the Lamb, looking to encourage others with his incredibly good news.

Cyclone Response in Havelock North

We appreciated hearing from Pastor Matthew Johnston from Riverbend Bible Church in Havelock North about their response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

After checking in on and assisting their church members, they began reaching out into their local community. The church offered practical assistance to families recovering from the destruction, including the preparation of food in their church kitchen.  

They have also been helping other churches with their response efforts by hosting them on their property.  

The women's ministry at Riverbend Bible Church recently assembled and distributed fifty care packages to the wider community, and they have plans to distribute fifty more! 

Each package included vouchers for Mitre 10, groceries, and fuelas well as a contact card, an invitation to church, and some gospel resources. These care packages were a wonderful initiative made possible by a grant from the GC3 NZ Disaster Relief Fund.  

Thank you to the many churches and individuals who have contributed so generously to this fund, which now totals over $150,000. It is enabling churches like Riverbend Bible Church to share God’s grace and truth in meaningful ways amidst this crisis.

Update on the GC3 Flood and Cyclone Relief Fund

GC3 Executive Director, Michael Hanson, writes:

People have given generously to disaster recovery efforts following the devastation caused by the flooding in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, and Gisborne regions.

Here are some examples of the projects that have been supported by the GC3 fund:

Hot meals and a place to sleep for those not able to live in their homes (Auckland).

Generators for people who were in their homes but were without power (Hawkes Bay)

Food parcels for those that are in financial need due to the effects of the flooding (Auckland)

Community care packages for those in the community affected by the cyclone (Hawkes Bay)

Support for workplaces affected by the cyclone, by supporting their workers' mental wellbeing (Hawkes Bay)

Here is a response from one of the groups that received funding immediately after the flooding in Auckland:

"The recent floods in Auckland and now Cyclone Gabrielle have left a huge mark on our families who have been displaced from their homes.

"Although we are still in a state of emergency, we are slowly moving into flood recovery. This means we will start to see more families and individuals coming forward for the support of food, clothing, bedding, and hygiene packs."

Your donation means we can perform the smallest but most important acts of love, whether that be in the form of a hot meal or a food parcel.

We are constantly working on being innovative and working to find solutions alongside other agencies, community groups, and local churches like Kelston Community Church to reach and help more people who are still traumatised by recent events.

GCAid continues to support our communities in the recovery from the floods and cyclone. If you would like to donate, or if you need funds, please see GC3 | NZ Disaster Relief for more details.

Churches Work Together to Reach Children and Their Families

On Saturday, 18th of March, thirty leaders of all ages from Church Street Bible Chapel, Glentunnel Chapel and Rutland Street Church gathered at Rutland Street Church for the Canterbury regional Rally training day.

The churches are seeking to reach children and families in their communities through Rally.

We are grateful for new leaders, Brodie and Heather De Gouw from Church Street Bible Chapel (above left) and delighted to see the multigenerational nature of leadership developing in Rally.

Jonathan Green from Glentunnel Chapel and Pathways intern Lizzie Wood of Rutland Street Church battled it out while learning a new game to play in their Rallies (above right).

Back row, left to right: Caleb (Rutland Street), James (Glentunnel), Emily (Rutland Street), Chevalyn (Rutland Street), Sarah (Rutland Street), and Tahlia (Rutland Street)

Front row, left to right: Josh (Rutland Street), Will (Rutland Street), Jonty (Rutland Street), and Chelsea (Rutland Street)

It was super exciting to see younger leaders (above), growing in grace and truth as they reach their peers with the gospel. It was great to see so many youth serving as part of their church's outreach to children and families through Rally.

Most of the leaders attended Rally themselves as younger children and are progressing along the leadership path.

A big thank you to all our young leaders for pointing your peers to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures.

Working Bee

On Saturday the church family from Mafutaga Au Uso Kerisiano Church/Samoan Open Brethren Otara in Auckland got stuck in to a working bee around the church buildings.


Church Planting News

We are excited to see Clark Road Chapel praying for and encouraging Lighthouse Church as they become fully independent. Praise God for how he is growing his church in the Northland!

The Lighthouse Church team writes:

“We had a wonderful day celebrating an awesome milestone for Lighthouse Church.

"The church as a whole, along with the leadership team, were prayed for and encouraged by Andrew and Herman, from Clark Road Chapel, as we became fully independent.

"This is such a wonderful blessing from God and we give Him all the glory, as it has only been by his guidance and leading. He has truly led us this far by his grace."

"We celebrated afterwards by having a barbecue lunch and delicious dessert. Thanks to all those who came along and celebrated with us.

"'For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.'—Ephesian 2:8”


National Prayer Gathering

On Wednesday evening, people from twenty churches across the movement gathered for an hour of prayer together.

It was a delight to hear the Scriptures read in Spanish, Te Reo, Samoan, Portuguese and English.

It was a privilege to praise God for his goodness and grace and a blessing to seek him as we work together as churches, campsites, and support ministries to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the scriptures.

A huge thank you to all those who participated!



 

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