"Kia whakakitea atu ai e ahau, kia rite ai taku korero ki te mea i tika."
"Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should."
"Ina ia ou faailoa atu ai, faapei ona tatau ona ou tautala atu ai. "
When Paul wrote those words, he was in prison.
It’s likely that he was thrown in prison for speaking the gospel. Now, his ability to proclaim the gospel is radically reduced.
But faced with profound restrictions and limitations, it’s fascinating what he asks the Colossians for in chapter 4:2-4.
He writes: "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should."
Two things are remarkable about this. First, he asks the Colossian church to speak to God.
It's profound—he asks a tiny group of Christians, in a small church, in a city over two thousand kilometres away, to pray to the Living God. He doesn't ask them for help, or money, or to begin a petition. He asks them to pray.
Why? Because Rome is not the centre of power in the universe. God is. Paul knows the powers and principalities that rule in Rome are not the ultimate source of Power. God is.
Then we see the second remarkable thing: Paul asks the church to pray that the message would still go out.
Paul doesn't ask them to pray that his chains would be broken. He doesn't ask them to pray for his freedom. He asks the Colossians to pray that God would open a door for the message of the gospel.
Paul knows that his ability to move freely and proclaim the gospel is not the most important issue. He knows that the proclamation of the gospel is what matters most. Paul asks them to pray because he knows God will make a way for his Word.
Paul asks the Colossians to speak to God so that when he opens the door, Paul will speak out the gospel. Paul’s focus is not his news, it is God's good news of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Paul knows that he is the messenger; but the message is what is truly life-changing.
These verses struck me because it can feel like the public ‘space’ for speaking the gospel is reducing in New Zealand.
Colossians 4:2-4 shows us remarkable things: we ought to pray that the door would be opened. We can be confident that God will make a way for his good news to be proclaimed throughout our nation.
Right at the moment when we think Paul’s ‘space’ to speak the gospel is radically reduced, we see that he sees the world radically differently than us.
In this very space, God is opening the doors for his good news to be spoken.
News from the Churches
One of the highlights of last week was speaking to David Christensen from Heretaunga Christian Centre in Wellington.
Dave was ringing to offer his time and the use of his digger to clear properties affected by the cyclone in the Hawkes Bay. He asked if I knew with whom he should get in touch.
We are deeply grateful for all the ways people across the movement are using what they have, where they are to support those impacted by the recent flooding and cyclone.
Above, left to right: Bruce Ellis, Jonathan Hely, Graham Black, Sarah, Kathy Stedman, Lincoln Rout, Angela and Tony Foster, Sheryl O'neil, Brock Ellis, Rob Morton and Heather Rout.
I really enjoyed participating in the monthly pie day at Rutland Street Church in Christchurch on Wednesday.
Volunteers, interns, Rally staff, and other church family members, along with elders and church staff have a monthly lunch together.
I have got to say—that was the best pie I have had in a very, very, very long time! (The pies were from Kidds Cakes and Bakery, on Cranford Street in Christchurch.)
I love seeing how churches are serving schools to point children, parents, and staff to Jesus.
Sarah Chalmers from Hillcrest Chapel in Hamilton writes:
"We have this amazing ministry called Atawhai. Twice a year, a survey is sent to our local school, Silverdale Normal School, asking about what practical support our church can offer whānau.
"This term we had 17 families reach out to us with requests for kids' clothing, which is the most we’ve ever had. It reflects the growing need out there.
"The teacher who picked up all the parcels commented on how meaningful it was to the families involved and how excited she was to be able to give them out."
Above: Brooklyn Manaole Sao-Mafiti (centre, front) was baptised
I loved hearing this news from the recent Auckland newsletter:
Kolokota Sao-Mafiti from Otahuhu Gospel Hall is seeing God at work in their young people. Pastor Kolokota (above, right) and their church family celebrated a baptism at Eastern Beach one Sunday in March.
They have also had a name change. The new registered name of the church is Family Worship Otahuhu.
Two weekends ago the dining hall in the Willow Park Convention Center was full. Lunch and afternoon tea proved to be popular times for two church groups to meet.
Manurewa Bible Church's family camp, along with thirteen Howick Community Church leaders who were connecting for their governance training workshop were hosted by the camp staff.
Four of the HCC leaders are pictured above. Graham Luey (far right), chair of the elders, said, “We are three boards aiming in one direction." Next to Graham are Brigitte Crowe, and Bronwyn and Richard Muggleston.
Camps and Churches Working Together
Stewards Executive. Left to right: Graham Anderson (Bryndwr Chapel), Malcolm Davie (Vivian Street Gospel Hall), Glenys Yeoman (Eden Community Church) Murray Frost (Rutland Street Church), Jeff Simpson (New Plymouth Community Church), Phil Humphries (Manurewa Bible Church), Stephen Munn (Northcross Church), John Robinson (Northcross Church), Greg Eden (Auckland Bible Church) Cameron Bennett (Whitiora Bible Church), Gordon Fountain (Eden Community Church), Ruth Early ( Johnsonville, joined via Zoom).
On Saturday, CCCNZ Board Chair Gordon Fountain and I spent time with the Stewards Executive in Auckland.
We are grateful for the work Stewards do as trustees of many of the movement's properties.
It was a blessing to share our heart to see churches working together through church planting to point people to Jesus through the gospel from the Scriptures.
A big thank you to Murray Frost and all the Stewards team for all that you are doing.