I’ve sat on both sides of the fence and I’m amazed at how different the views are. For a while I watched from the pew then, for almost 20 years, I looked out from behind the pulpit before relocating to the pew once more.
Now that I’m back in the pews I’m aware of how ‘out of the Baptist loop’ many church members must feel.
As a pastor I received regular updates from both The Baptist Union and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS). If I didn’t know what was going on it was my fault because I was kept well informed. But most of you aren’t privy to such information and may not even realise what you’ve missed out on.
This thinking was further fuelled by a comment I heard when visiting a Baptist church recently. The pastor said, “We don’t have any people serving as missionaries overseas.”
I wanted to leap from my seat and expose this misconception. His church, as with all Baptist churches, has a sizable number of people serving in various countries overseas simply by virtue of their being part of the Baptist Union of Churches.
I wondered how many other Baptist folk don’t realise that NZBMS is our mission – yours and mine. And that it’s an organisation we can be proud of because we’re making a very real difference in the world, leading the way in many areas of mission.
Here are a few NZBMS facts to rejoice over:
• NZBMS (sometimes referred to as New Zealand Baptists Reaching the World) has four entities: tranzsend, our sending agency; BANZAid, our aid and development arm; MPIL, the umbrella for the businesses we run overseas; and MISSION WORLD, linking mission agencies within New Zealand who have Baptists within them serving overseas.
• tranzsend has 35 adults plus their families serving in six countries throughout Asia. Many are working amongst people who are poor and marginalised. All seek to involve nationals (people from the home country) in their work and bring a holistic approach to presenting and being Christ. You can read more about tranzsend’s work at www.tranzsend.org.nz.
• BANZAid is highly regarded in the secular and governmental spheres because of work completed in times of crisis,such as a new school in post-tsunami Samoa – a project that was completed on time and under budget using local community support and New Zealand Baptist work teams. You can read more about BANZAid’s work at www.banzaid.org.nz.
• Throughout the world we are considered to have special expertise in the area of utilising business as a portal to do mission. MPIL is the umbrella organisation for our businesses overseas, which seek to use ethical business principles to transform every marketplace in which they are involved. You can read more about MPIL’s work at www.marketplacers.co.nz.
• Through MISSION WORLD we have successfully brought together nine of the country’s larger mission agencies to work collaboratively and promote mission to the wider church in New Zealand. You can read more about MISSION WORLD’s work at www.missionworld.org.nz.
So, there it is – if you go to a Baptist Church, you’re involved in overseas mission. In fact, you’re involved in one of New Zealand’s leading mission agencies and, little by little, with your help, we’re making a very real difference in this world of ours.
Greg Knowles is the Chairperson of Mission Council, the governing body of NZBMS. He was a Baptist pastor for 23 years and now works as a freelance writer.