Baraka kwa famalia yetu ya kanisa, (Blessings to you, our church family),
It’s now been three months since Rod and I returned from Tanzania and while my Kiswahili may be getting a little rusty, I still find myself often about to respond with an “asante” (thank you) or “karibu!” (welcome) at various times. Old habits die hard as they say.
We have been so encouraged to see the old habits of church isolation and independence dying in our city though. There is an interesting perspective that you get when you’ve been away for a length of time and we have come back into Tauranga and seen such a move towards unity between the churches here. We very much enjoyed going to Wellington with a van full of wonderful people from various churches for New Zealand’s first Movement Day. There were so many incredible stories shared from all over the country at that conference about how churches, large and small, were joining forces to make an impact in their communities. They shared about how their cities were being changed by the people of God showing love through their unity with each other. Resources, time, finances and commitments were shared between them, releasing a much larger impact than could have been effected with a single church struggling on by itself.
The One Voice service and One Heart Ladies conference also reflected this in our own city – incredible strides are being made towards building unity between us as members of the one Body. A weekly prayer meeting for our city with pastors in Tauranga is also very encouraging.
In our own church, I have also been encouraged as I have participated in some of the various programmes that we run, (Mainly Music and 65+). Both of these reach out into our community and require a huge commitment from our own people who offer themselves so lovingly and willingly. This in itself speaks of the unity we enjoy in our own church body and I want to say thank you to all of you who each week give yourselves to helping out in some way towards either the running of various programmes or the general upkeep/functioning of our church. We are indeed all different, have different giftings and can offer different abilities but we do so need each other!
I’ll leave you with this passage from Ephesians 4:2-6 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Mungu awabariki, (God bless you all)