“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)
The great mystery of Christmas – the birth of a vulnerable, helpless infant – was the beginning of the wholistic transformation of the world — for it to become the home of God, and all that was created in God’s authentic way of love.
With another year filled with the realisation of how broken we are, and how much we need Jesus’ transforming love, I am grateful for the lives and communities that have been able to be touched by the people of Interserve Te Riu Whakaoreore – that includes you!
Our missional engagement among the peoples of Asia, Aotearoa NZ, and the Arab World, has been and continues to be motivated by the incarnate life of Christ, and the message of his Gospel. Our vision to see lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ is the heart of our work. For over 200 years, we have reached out to people across the globe who are marginalised because of their ethnicity, faith, education, and gender.
I wanted to share a few little stories of what God has done in and through the people of Interserve Te Riu Whakaoreore in 2021.
In August 2021 we witnessed the withdrawal of Western forces and the paramilitary overthrow of the Central Asian country where we have been present for many years. We gathered for many hours to pray and uplift the situation and the people of this land, who have experienced much suffering. In the midst of that, friends of mine here in Auckland, whose families still live in the midst of the unfolding humanitarian crisis, were deeply concerned. Yet, my text messages to share that people across the globe were praying for their families were received with so much gratitude and humility. My friends shared: “You’re going above and beyond by praying for our people and our country! Thank you so much, this means so much to us. You are very special.”
A few months before August, I sat with our partner Paul in a Sunday service praying for and with two refugee women from this country. They wept. They hugged us. One of them shared with us that she feels ‘safe’ to join this gathering because we know Jesus. Just a couple of weeks ago, we received a text message from her saying “Please pray for me. I want to be a perfect Christian, and I want to do things for Jesus Christ’s church family – it is my dream.” This woman with me, the first time has taken communion I met her at this gathering. She wept in my arms… she had been journeyed with by one of our partners who served in her country for many years. When I shared with this partner that we had just taken communion with the women, our partner replied: “Susie, what a joy you have brought me tonight as I have read your text. Both women have been part of my life here in NZ since my return from overseas. M took communion beside me in July and I sat overcome with emotion. The first person from this country in my 25 years of involvement…I will keep praying!”
Here are two more stories I recently read from Allen and Liz, who serve among refugees in Glasgow:
“One Wednesday, soon after we arrived, a Syrian father came looking for help. His gas supply had stopped working three days prior and he didn’t know why. His family was COLD! To complicate matters he speaks almost no English. What was needed was someone to sit with him and work out which supplier his falt was connected to; someone who can talk to the supplier on his behalf, and someone who is willing to advocate for him until the matter is resolved. This takes time and patience, a lot of backward and forwards interpretation, and sometimes being insistent when the person on the phone tries to deflect responsibility. After a full day of multiple phone calls, the gas supply to his flat was finally reinstated at 11 PM. The following week the entire process was repeated for his electricity supply.”
“While in Glasgow, our Birmingham friends are not forgotten. We call our closest friends every week. During the lockdown, one of Liz’s friends asked if she can read the New Testament (Injeel) with Liz on Zoom. Most Muslims recite the Qu’ran in Arabic and may not understand all they read. For the first time in her fifties, this woman is learning to comprehend and question God’s word as she reads. It is a delight to see her excitement when she understands and retells the story in her own words. She can’t wait to share the stories with her family too.”
I trust these stories of hope fill you with delight and faith, and that in the midst of the challenges and the brokenness we experience and witness, God is on the move…transforming lives and drawing His people towards the truth.
As we celebrate Christmas may the video of John 1 in the languages of our people around the globe strengthen your faith in God’s love, and affirm your commitment to support our vision to lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ.
Meri Kirihimete ki a koe me te whānau.
Tumu Whakarae | National Leader
Interserve Te Riu Whakaoreore