My New Zealand Reflections – Rt Rev Mwita Akiri, PhDIn July 2011 I was able to visit New Zealand. The Anglican Board of Missions of the Anglican Church in New Zealand invited me to participate in the ‘Common Life Mission Conference’, and lead two workshops on world mission. The conference was a golden moment for world leaders and New Zealand Christians to reflect together on world mission. Thereafter I visited churches in the Diocese of Wellington and visited the Bishop of Wellington and his staff at the Anglican Centre. My memories of New Zealand are still fresh. The opportunity to share with many Christians was rewarding and challenging. A live encounter with the best of the Maori culture and spirituality was exciting. The generosity of my hosts who provided hospitality and of the Anglican Christians in the Diocese of Wellington whom I met was humbling. The enthusiastic response by individuals to the call to support mission in Tarime was very encouraging. New Zealanders were touched when they learnt that $5 was enough to buy a bed net that protects child from mosquito bites and malaria and save that child from death. It is a long time since I saw people making spontaneous donations immediately after listening to a talk on world mission especially in the developed world (the West). The last time I witnessed it happen was when I was making a presentation to the Virginia Beach business community in the US in June 2006 on the need for an Anglican University to enhance the opportunities for university education in Tanzania as part of the policy of ‘higher education as mission’. I was moved when I saw Christians in New Zealand, congregation after congregation, making spontaneous donations or pledges for malaria bed nets, giving what they could, and giving it with loving hearts. This looked very unusual especially in this age of global financial crisis and economic meltdown where people are very cautious about giving for God’s work, locally and overseas. In one church, the Rector allowed his parishioners to ask questions, engage with me, and get clarifications before I left the pulpit! In the last 23 years or so I have been traveling to the West and giving talks or preaching, yet I could not believe this happening. A senior diocesan official who attends one of the churches where I preached undertook to organize further donations so that we could distribute more bed nets. What initiative! New Zealand was a blessing in every way. My heart goes to the leaders of the Church in New Zealand – the Anglican Board Missions, Church Missionary Society (NZ) and the Diocese of Wellington. They realize that world mission can only succeed if we put mission high on the agenda of our local churches and give the ordinary member of our congregations a chance to engage in mission. Bringing world leaders and people from other contexts to our local contexts can encourage those involved in mission, and kindle the interest of the onlookers and the skeptics. Yet it is a two way learning process. Delegates who attended the Common Life Mission Conference went back blessed also. I went back to Tarime feeling blessed and encouraged.
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