It’s March 15 in Christchurch. People are going about their daily routines as usual. This included Muslims gathering at two mosques near the city centre. Suddenly, a gunman begins shooting at those who had gathered to pray. At the end of the day, 50 were left dead, 50 injured in hospital and our nation changed forever.
I was deeply affected by what happened. This happened in Aotearoa NZ! A little country at the bottom of the world of no global significance.
This could not have happened in New Zealand twenty years ago! Simply, we didn’t have many Muslims living here or mosques built. This event showed how New Zealand has changed as a nation.
In 1983 when we first went to serve in the Philippines, we had only ever met two Filipinos. Now there are over 40,000 Filipinos living in Aotearoa NZ.
The Christchurch event reminded me how terrible sin is and how we are all affected by it. No one individual, or nation, is exempt from the effects of sin. I grieved for those killed. Unless anyone was a secret believer in Jesus, they had all gone to an eternity without Christ.
The hard-hearted attitude of some Christians disturbed me. Facebook posts were lamenting the media attention given to the Christchurch shootings and none given to Christians suffering violence in Africa. Everyone needs compassion. Subsequent bombings of churches in Sri Lanka have been well-covered by the secular press in Aotearoa NZ.
New Zealand is a secular society. At times, it shows intolerance and even hostility towards Christians and the message of the Bible. However, we are not to react with hostility. Yes, we passionately tand for what is right. But we do it with respect, humility and gentleness.
Muslims aren’t our enemies. Secular Kiwis aren’t our enemies. They are all people for whom Christ died, just like me. Read Ephesians 6:12 to see who our real enemy is.
The nations have come to New Zealand. We have an awesome opportunity to befriend people different to us. Let’s continue to believe that Matthew 28:18-20 also applies within our island nation.
At GC3, our primary focus and passion is the part that New Zealanders have in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. We do this by praying for and assisting those who have been called by God to participate in the unfinished task of making disciples f all the nations. While New Zealand has changed, so has the rest of the world. With an exploding population, there are billions of people who will never have the opportunity to hear the gospel unless someone intentionally goes to their place. Might that someone be you? Millions are living in poverty, slavery and exploitation. Is there a cause worth you pursuing to make a difference for Christ’s sake?
In 1980, a young Kiwi couple went to a small tribe in the jungles of the Southern Philippines. They lived among the tribe, learnt the language and started teaching them the Scriptures, beginning at Genesis. Today there is a church in this tribe and this couple, young no longer, are still there, translating the Scriptures into the believers’ language. Because of an ordinary Kiwi couple, there will be Tala-andig people in heaven. There are still tribal groups who have never had anyone tell them the gospel story. There are still languages that have no Scriptures translated into them.
Recently, a young woman, studied linguistics at university in Dunedin. She learnt the language of the Tau-buid people in the Philippines and today is translating Genesis into that language. It is hard work preparing yourself for this ministry. There are no shortcuts, only years of study. Is this something you would be willing to do?
How can they call on the name of the Lord if no one tells them?
Jesus made it clear that we are to love those who consider themselves our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Karen Brookes | GC3 Board Member