West Papua Internet shut down

Amnesty International is reporting that – “The Indonesian Government has imposed a total internet access shut down for mobile cellular networks in the Papua and West Papua provinces until further notice. This is an appalling attack on people’s right to freedom of expression.”

As a church we and the Baptist churches of NZ have been watching and concerned about the liberties of the people of West Papua under Indonesian rule. This latest shut down of the internet limits news of the people of West Papua and undermines their freedoms of communication and speech.

Please read more and add your concern here.

Advisory

Last week the church Elders brought together a small advisory group of experienced and skilled people to help us navigate our on going relationships with Muslim families, the Muslim community and leaders at the mosques. We asked Richard Smith who has worked in Bangladesh for many years, Diane Goodman who worked in Chad and Pakistan plus Murray Robertson to form this group. This advisory group will be available to help communities connecting with Muslim families, the church Elders and will help resource the church as a whole. I met with them today and we talked about bringing together resources to help groups and individuals in our understanding of how we as followers of Jesus can connect with Muslim believers. Specifically, what are our points of commonality, connection and positive conversation. We are keen to build bridges with the Muslim community and further support and connect with the Muslim families we already have strong relationships with.

We are planning to bring together a brief information sheet for our church newsletter in a couple of weeks time and are planning for two information gatherings. At these information gatherings you will be able to ask questions and explore understandings with our advisory group. The first of these times will probably be around lunch on Sunday April 28. More details to follow.

Could you move to Australia and become our Prime Minister

Jacinda Adern was recently sent a letter from a 13 year old Australian born Muslim girl in which she ends saying – “I’m sure you will remain Prime Minister of New Zealand for a long time. But if not, do you think maybe you could move to Australia and become our Prime Minister? That would be a dream come true.”

Many world leaders, like this 13yr old, have rightly praised Jacinda on her leadership through this tragedy. But it isn’t just Jacinda.  This response is part of the best of New Zealanders. If the National party was now in government, then Bill English would have been Prime Minister through this time. I am very sure that Bill and his wife Mary would have shown the same shared humanity, depth of compassion and care for the Muslim community. Regardless of our politics let’s encourage the very best responses from ourselves and others. You can read the full and very inspiring letter here.

Speaking of the very best response, how will the leaders of the Crusaders respond to the very real concerns around the continued use of the Crusaders name for our local rugby team? Recently Dave Andrews, who spoke here a couple of years ago, wrote to the Crusaders team saying:

Dear Canterbury Crusaders

It is with great respect I write to you, as I acknowledge you are the most successful professional club rugby team in the world and in 23 years of Super Rugby you have won 9 titles, been finalists 14 times, semi finalists 18 times – and the only Super Rugby team to complete a whole season undefeated.

I note with great interest that, in the light of the recent ‘Crusade’, that resulted in the slaughter of 50 defenceless Muslims in Christchurch, as a Christchurch team, you are considering renouncing your name as the ‘Crusaders’.

If you were to do so, this would be a decision, that be gladly welcomed, not only by Muslims in Christchurch, but also Muslims all around the world – and people like myself, who are working for peace between the Christian and Muslim communities.

While the word ‘Crusader’ has a heroic ring in Christian ears, our Muslim brothers and sisters hear the word ‘Crusader’ and fear it represents a bloody harbinger of mass slaughter.

In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a ‘Crusade’, or ‘Holy War’, to be led by ‘Christian Knights’, who would take up arms and sally forth to fight against the ‘enemies of Christ’. ‘Cursed be the man who holds back his sword from shedding blood!’ was the blood-curdling cry of Pope Gregory VII ringing in the ears of the dedicated ‘Soldier of Christ’. So, away they went. And, the Crusaders threw themselves, body and soul, into the task of killing so called ‘heretics’ and ‘heathens’ – mainly Muslims.

In 1096 the People’s Crusade sacked Belgrade, which next to Constantinople, was the greatest non-Catholic Orthodox City in the world. And, in 1204, the Crusaders attacked Constantinople itself – raping, pillaging and plundering this great Christian City, in the name of Christ, without mercy.

In the meantime, the Crusaders also managed to assault the Holy City of Jerusalem, and slaughter its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants. It was a massacre. Nicetas Choniates, a Byzantine historian, wrote at the time, with evident distress, that ‘even the Saracens are merciful …compared these men who bear the Cross of Christ on their shoulders’.

But Raymond of Aguilers enthusiastically eulogized the massacre as ‘a just and marvelous judgment of God’: ‘Wonderful things were to be seen. Numbers of Saracens were beheaded …. Others were shot with arrows, or forced to jump from towers; others were tortured for several days, then burned with flames. In the streets were seen piles of heads and hands and feet. One rode about everywhere amid the corpses of men and horses. In the Temple of Solomon, the horses waded in blood up to their knees, nay, up to their bridle. It was a just and marvelous judgment of God, that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers. ’

Over the course of two centuries, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Muslims were slaughtered in the Crusades. And Muslims have not forgotten these Crusades. In fact many Muslims refer to the invasion of Iraq, in which more than a hundred thousand innocent civilians have been slaughtered, as the Tenth Crusade.

For you to renounce the name ‘Crusader’, because of its association, for our Muslim brothers and sisters, with the slaughter that they have been subjected to once again, would be a courageous act of reconciliation worthy of the world’s leading rugby club.

Your sincerely, Dave Andrews

National Remembrance Service

It has been announced this week that a National Remembrance Service for the victims of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and all those affected by it, will be held at 10am this Friday. This service will take place in Hagley Park and will be jointly led by the Government of New Zealand, the city of Christchurch, Ngāi Tahu and the Muslim community.

If you are able, I’d strongly encourage you to be there. The world will be watching – this is an opportunity to display love and unity.

Our faiths – 22 March 2019

I went, with thousands of others, to Hagley Park at 1:30 today. It was a very moving time of silence and listening to the Imam. As you have probably seen and heard, he spoke of peace, of unity, of the good will of New Zealanders. He thanked every day New Zealanders, the police, our Prime Minister and government and he spoke of forgiveness and being one country. It was a very unifying and moving speech. The Islamic community prayed and we sat in silence. I prayed for them. Yes, for peace and unity and forgiveness. I too am grateful for our country and the leadership of our Prime Minister, but I also prayed for the revelation of the love and fullness of Christ to be there for everyone who was gathered.

Whoever we are, there is always more of the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ to experience, to see and to come to understand. Many Muslim people too have experienced visions and experiences of Christ. Let’s pray for more here and around the world through this tragedy and our response.

Our humanity and compassion, our desire for peace and appreciation of each other unites us. As does our support for everyone to worship and pray in their own way with respect and protection. Yet our faiths are different.  Our ways of worship are unique. Christians worship Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and that is distinctive. For us, Easter is decisive. For at Easter God suffered and died. God bore the pain, brokenness and sin of the world in human time and human form and then God rose victorious over every enemy, power and principality in all eternity. This the heart of the Christian faith that we hold with humility and gentleness.

If you want to ponder more on the relationship between Christians and Muslims go and listen to what Bob Robinson said last year at one of our Sunday services – https://www.swbc.org.nz/gatherings/media/podcast-messages/?sapurl=Lys0M2U0L2xiL21pLys2N2czbWh4P2VtYmVkPXRydWU=

Remember the words of Micah – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6 v 8)

Update – Thursday 21 March

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18)

There is a very good clip of the prime minister speaking to Cashmere High students. See – https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12214719
She shares in a very caring and empathetic way sound advice for us all. The clip ends showing the prime minister in a moving hug with one of the students who is also a SWBC youth group member. Just prior to this the student asked the Prime Minister – How are you?  This is a very important question which we need to keep asking and answering honestly.

We are being supported by Tearfund in our care of those directly affected by this tragedy. Tearfund has put three staff behind our local community teams to help them for the next two weeks. This has enabled us to bring together comprehensive care plans and trauma plans and do our bit to support our people and communities and assist more widely in the city.

Arahura Counselling centre and a refugee advisory group are running trauma information sessions with our local communities, church and ministry leaders and staff next week.

Your Needs and Help
If anyone has any specific needs or are aware of others arising from Friday’s tragedy
OR
Is able to help in any way (eg gardening, meals, childcare, transport etc),

Please email swbcresponse@swbc.org.nz with your contact details and some details about your needs or offers of assistance.

2 minute silence tomorrow
Maybe we could be part of this country wide remembrance. If you’re a woman and you’re in a public space for the 2 minute silence please consider wearing a head scarf as a small act of solidarity with the Muslim Community.

Also, a message from Nick (Our refugee resettlement co-ordinator)
What a crazy time, and I really appreciate the way everyone has stepped forward to do what has to be done. I sense now that we are moving out of the crisis phase and into long-term recovery. So please take time to do what floats your boat, get some rest, and start healing yourself.

Update 20 March

Today Khaled and Hamza were buried side by side. The funerals were held this afternoon and some of their neighbourhood community and Hisham were able to be there. Please continue to pray for Salwa, Zaid and Zina tonight. I cannot even begin to imagine what they must be feeling after the journey they have travelled from Syria to Jordan to Christchurch to burying their husband and father, their brother and son.

Care Plans
We have created care plans for the next few days for our refugee families, for other families who have lost family members connected to our Neighbourhood Communities and for people who have friends, work mates, school friends etc that need support. If you are one of these who needs some personal support or resources to help support the families you are supporting please get in touch with our Pastoral Care team on 03 3384163 or pastoralcare@swbc.org.nz.

Muslim Families Support Fund
We have created this fund as a short-term account to provide financial support focused on supporting those affected by this disaster and strengthening our refugee work in response to this tragedy.
If you would like to contribute to this fund, the details are as follows:
Bank: BNZ
Branch: Riccarton
Name of Account: South West Baptist Church
Account Number: 02-0820-0247412-00
Particulars: MuslimFamily
Code: Donation#### (put your donation number here if applicable)
We will be able to issue a donation receipt for these donations, please include your donation number if you have one.

Our Youth
For many teenagers this is a vulnerable time. Every school will be looking out for their kids, Youth workers, 24/7 teams, teachers and counsellors are all doing their bit but we also need people to pray and support families.

Let’s join Paul today in a new awareness of his prayer
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3 v 10-12)

Keith Green – Calling Conviction and Commitment

Melody Green
(from message 30 Dec 2018)
In this mornings message I mentioned two clips:

An Interview with Melody about the death of Keith and her on going call (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2_1VrO-Ems )

And Keith singing ‘Oh Lord Your Beautiful’ the week he wrote the song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVgPQm06g2c).

Resettlement Programme Proposal

On November 12 we presented a Proposal to the Minister of Immigration. The Proposal is an invitation to the Government to work with us to design a permanent resettlement programme for former refugees. We presented it on behalf of a newly formed Core Community Partnership. This is the Anglican church of New Zealand, Baptist churches of New Zealand, and Caritas Aotearoa/New Zealand. Supporting that group is a list of forty-seven groups that represent one million everyday New Zealanders. This is gaining momentum!

To read the full proposal and find out more, check out our Resettlement Programme webpage.