Christmas Camping

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth {John 1:14}

Christmas is celebrated worldwide on 25th December, however we can’t be sure exactly when Jesus, the Son of God, was born or when he was conceived in the virgin Mary’s womb.  However, we can be certain that it did happen! Christ Jesus the Word did become flesh. This is a historical fact.  Jesus, the Living Word, did live on this earth for a time. The word “dwell” in John 1:14 literally means to “pitch a tent”. Jesus Christ came and ‘camped’ on earth in a real human body.  He is the perfect man, full of grace and truth.camping    He spoke the truth, He lived the truth, As the divine one and only Son of God, He is the truth. His name “Jesus” was not chosen by Mary his mother, nor by her fiancé Joseph.  An angel of the Lord had spoken to him about his betrothed: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”{Mathew 1:21}   Jesus saved His people from their sins whilst He “camped” out on earth in a body of flesh and blood, by being full of truthHe lived a perfect life of obedience to God His Father, willingly doing everything asked of Him, including going from the womb of Mary, through His life and onto Calvary. He died on a cross there. However, 3 days later He was raised back to life and extended his time of ‘camping’ here on earth for 40 days until he ascended into heaven.

This Jesus is also full of grace.Grace is undeserved favour given to people like you and me who do not merit anything good from God our Creator. The grace of God is seen in the completed work of Jesus on the cross where He fully and finally paid with His death for the sins of His people.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Are you one of those people today?  This well known Bible verse helps each of us to answer that question.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” {John 3:16}

The gift of eternal life does not come because we make a reasonably good go at living morally upright lives. This undeserved gift comes to those who believe upon Jesus. It comes to those who trust that He lived a perfect life in the flesh on this earth (the kind of life you and I are unable to live). It comes to those who trust that He has paid the penalty for their sins by dying for them. It comes to those who know that Jesus the Word became flesh for them.

This Jesus truly is the Gift of Christmas!

Pastor David Waldron

A Christian View of Environmentalism

Greenpeacei campaigns on a range of environmental issues such as nuclear waste, deforestation, overfishing, genetically modified foodstuffs and oil drilling in the Arctic.

Should Christians also care about the physical environment and resources of this earth? Has the Lord provided us with the earth merely as His means to supply our physical needs? This world is all going to burn anywayii, therefore is caring for the present earth’s environment just like polishing the brass on a sinking ship? Is being ‘green’ a form of pantheistic pagan “tree-hugging” which is inconsistent with a true profession of faith in Christ?

If we are going to answer these questions rightly, we must see what our Lord teaches us in His Word about our relationship to this earth.

A Glorious Environment

In Psalm 8, David bursts forth in praise: “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” The glory of the Lord is reflected and revealed in what He has made. He is the One who has set the moon and stars in place, positioning the celestial bodies with his ‘fingers’. He is the One who fashioned the land creatures: “Sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field”. Think of giraffes, ant-eaters, snow leopards, platypus(es) for example. He is the One who designed the swimming creatures: “Fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.” Think of whales, jellyfish, marlin. He is the One who created the flying creatures: “The birds of the heavens”. Think of albatrosses, hummingbirds, peacocks.

This creation shows the greatness, splendor, majesty and power of the Creator Himself. Have you ever looked up at the stars and thought about this earth spinning in space, suspended in the heavens at just the right distance from the sun to sustain life? The late Neil Armstrong, said after the Apollo mission to the moon:“It suddenly struck me that this tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

How puny is man, how insignificant in size, in power, in influence. We are truly tiny fragments in a giant universe. This humbling reality is expressed by the psalmist {Psalm 8:4-5}. However, even though we are so small when compared to the vastness which God has made, even though we are so lacking in power and authority when compared to majesty and might of our Creator, yet He has made us “a little lower” than Him. Only we, as human beings, amongst the myriads of life-forms, have been made in the image of our Creator. We are different and distinct from all other creatures and have been established by God at the apex of His created order on this planet.

In the beginning, God blessed man by giving the human race a responsible task. He said to our ancestors Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and ruleover the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” {Gen 1:28} This glorious God-given task is often termed the “dominion mandate” or “cultural mandate”. David puts it this way in Psalm 8 “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” God has delegated mastery of the earth to mankind.

A Damaged Environment

When Adam fell into sin, everything became very difficult, dominion became a struggle. God said: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”{Genesis 3:17b-19a}. These words describe our presently groaning terrestrial environment. If you are in any doubt, just ask NZ kiwifruit growers whose vines are affected by the spreading bacterium pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (psa). Alternativelytalk to New Zealand beekeepers about the parasitic varroa mite which is destroying beehives across our land. Anyone who has a vegetable garden knows about the battle of keeping weeds and pests at bay.

When man ceased to honour and obey God, he also ceased to properly understand his relationship to this creation, despite the evident reality that the universe itself clearly displays the power and divinity of Godiii. The darkened heart of man leads to foolish living where this creation is not viewed as being an instrument to glorify God. Instead, nature is seen merely as a tool or a toy to serve mankind. When natural resources are unwisely plundered to support unsustainable lifestyles the results include over-fishing, deforestation, species extinction, pollution, topsoil erosion and desertification. Productive farmland is turned into urban house sections and toxic waste dumps proliferate. Greedy over-consumption of resources fuels the idolatry of self-centred materialism. The dominion mandate is abused and the name of the Lord dishonoured.

This mandate has been used by some people to blame Christians for environmental degradation through excessive exploitation. The “Lynn White Thesis”iv linked the technological advances of medieval Christianity to the emergence of an aggressively exploitative attitude towards nature. White proposed that Christianity therefore bore “a great burden of guilt” for the current environmental crisis.

Celtic Christianity, together with the Benedictine and Cistercian monastic movements certainly developed technology which liberated time for spiritual pursuits. However the ‘dark satanic mills’v of the industrial revolution and the pollution of the environment are more a function of ungodly greed than faithful Christian living. It is true that some Christians see care for our physical environment as a low priority or even irrelevant to a life of faith.

However, pollution and a lack of concern for the environment have been features of many cultures in history. Environmental damage through human activity is by no means restricted to the western industrialised world.

A Christian Environment

Scripture provides us with principles for exercising God-glorifying dominion in a post-fall world. Here are some of the axioms for Christian environmentalism which are revealed in the Bible.

Firstly, this world does not belong to us; God is the ownervi. We are stewards of everything we have been given dominion overvii. God therefore expects us to use the resources which he has entrusted to us wisely. Francis Schaeffer said “If I love the Lover, I love what the Lover has made”viii. Farming, mining, drilling for oil, fishing, hunting for food, or pest control are all permissible activities for mankind. However the reaping of earth resources must be performed in such a way that due care is taken of the creationix. Greed, which is idolatryx, has often led to exploitation and abuse of the creation.

Secondly, God highly values all the flora and fauna with which He has populated His world. God cares for all the creatures He has made. He knows when even a single sparrow falls to the groundxi. Think, for example, of the compassion of the Lord for the cattle in Ninevehxii. All plants and animals receive their food and drink from Godxiii. He clothes the grass of the fieldxiv. The diversity of species on the planet gives glory to God, as well as providing essential ecosystems for the ongoing survival of His many varied creatures. Biodiversity should be preserved if at all possiblexv.

Thirdly, our dominion over animals is never to be ruthless and uncaring, but should reflect the concern which God has for what He has madexvi. We are to rule Creation in such a way that God is glorified in, and through, our faithful dominionxvii.

Fourthly, we are not to worship the creationxviii. The New Age movement and much of ‘green politics’ has elevated the creation to be a pantheistic god. Mankind is seen by some as being equal in status to all other creatures. John Davis, editor of Earth First Journal, has said “Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” Some people even elevate animals above men and women, who have been created in the image of God.

The purpose of creation is neither to be man’s servant, nor man’s equal, nor man’s superior but primarily to give glory to God. Therefore Christians should be involved in environmental concerns. Christians should speak out against cruelty to animals. Christians should use precious resources wisely until the Lord returns. Christians should lead the way in showing the right relationship between man and his environment. Christians should be known as those who care for God’s creation, not as those who abuse what God has made.

However, no matter how well we care for this terrestrial globe, all our faithful efforts for the care of the environment will not save the planet. This world is not our permanent home, but a temporary dwelling place for all mankind.

A Future Environment

The phrase “Son of man” inPsalm 8 points to the ultimate environmental fix, even though when the psalmist wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he did not personally know the Man who would bring that solution. That God-man is Christ Jesus, who when he took on human flesh, became part of the physical universe which had been created through Him and for Himxix.

Jesus Christ has abolished the last enemy death. All things are in subjection under his feetxx. At the time when Christ returns, this present earth will be burnedxxi. This first earth will pass awayxxii and a new earth will be formed. The new physical environment will no longer be cursedxxiii, but will be a home which we, the children of God by grace, can joyfully care for as we fulfill the original purpose of our dominion mandate in the very presence of our Saviour.

ii 2 Peter 3:10
iii Romans 1:20-21
iv White, Lynn, Jr. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science 155, whole no. 3767 (March 10, 1967), 1203-12.
v A line from a short poem by William Blake epitomising the environmental effects of the English industrial revolution, later incorporated into the anthem “Jerusalem” with music by Hubert Parry (1916)
vi Psalm 24:1
vii Matthew 25:14-30
viii Francis Schaeffer “Pollution and the Death of Man”, Hodder and Stoughton, 1970.
ix An example of this principle would be the sabbatical year provision for the land to remain fallow every seven years (Lev 25:3-4)
x Colossians 3:5
xi Matthew 10:29
xii Jonah 4:11
xiii Psalm 104:14
xiv Matthew 6:30
xv Genesis 6:19
xvi e.g. Exodus 23:5; Proverbs 12:10
xvii 1 Corinthians 10:31
xviii Exodus 20.3
xix Colossians 1:16
xx 1 Corinthians 15:27a
xxi 2 Peter 3:7
xxii Revelation 21:1
xxiii Revelation 22:3

The following is a letter to the Editor in response to “Family Diversity” article in Hawkes Bay Today 15/09/12

In our society we have a wide variety of relationships and family situations. Some children live in very difficult home environments without the benefit of two parents who care for each other and for their children. All families, whatever their composition, need the love, grace and prayers of the church.

The Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill currently before our parliament, if passed, will affect our society here in New Zealand. The real issue with this bill is not a question of family diversity, nor of equality, nor of what constitutes a loving relationship, nor of the weight of public opinion, nor even of sexual orientation.

The key question we must ask is: who has authority over the institution of marriage; the God who created us or the state under whose civil rule we live? The Bible, God’s Word, is very clear on this matter as the tendency of mankind to undermine marriage is not a new problem.

When questioned about divorce, Jesus pointed back to the original creation of our human race saying “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:40). Christ then quoted from the book of Genesis, which he clearly understood to be literal historical fact, saying “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”.

God has defined marriage as a life long relationship between one man and one woman in which the husband and wife are joined together and become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no person separate. No human government has the authority to take on the role of God. In past world history, whenever the state has sought to control that which is outside of its legitimate jurisdiction, the result has been increasing tyranny and widespread moral decline. May our parliamentary representatives have the wisdom to spare our country from this fate.


The Factual Bible

Do you think that Christian faith has nothing to do with facts? Some people do. They believe that science deals with facts and that the Bible is a religious book for people who want to suspend their intelligence in favour of believing in a creating, saving God; without any supporting evidence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All science deals with theories based upon observations. These theories develop as further data sharpens thinking and leads to better explanations about the world around us.

Many film documentaries and books teach that the universe is almost 14 billion years old and that it all began with a huge explosion. What is not usually made clear is that this is just one theory about the age and origin of the cosmos. The ‘Big Bang Theory’ is incomplete because it doesn’t explain what caused everything to begin, nor what existed before that beginning.

Most schools and universities teach that human beings have evolved through a series of gradual mutations which have propelled us up from primordial slime, through ape-like bipeds, to emerge as rational moral people. This evolutionary theory does not explain the incredibly large number of ‘missing links’ in the fossil record, nor the astounding complexity of living creatures which television documentaries routinely refer to as “nature’s design”, nor does it address our own awareness of right and wrong.

The Bible is a very large source of information, composed of 66 different books, written by approximately 40 different authors over a period of about 1500 years. The Holy Scriptures describe a universe with purpose and meaning, created by an all-powerful God who first populated this earth with one man and one woman. The Bible explains how the universe began, why the world is now in a mess, and where we are all heading in the future.

Whilst the Bible is not a scientific textbook, it does contain factual observations from which good scientific theories have been developed. Many scientists with firm faith in the factual accuracy of the Bible have based their ground-breaking theories on what they understood to be the truth in the Holy Scriptures. Space in this short article does not permit me to expand on the work of scientists like Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Carl Linnaeus, Louis Pasteur, Blaise Pascal, Adam Sedgwick, James Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday or Johannes Kepler.

There are robust scientific theories which are consistent with all the observations recorded in the Bible and with the data which we collect from the world around us today. These theories offer better explanations about the origin of the universe and our own species than alternative views.

The Bible is factual, but it is more than mere fact. This book is God Himself speaking to us. Speaking to you about your past, present and future; inviting you to humbly come to His Son Jesus Christ and believe that what He has said is indeed true.


The Perfect Time

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” {Galatians 4:4-5}

This article has the date it was loaded onto the Reformed Church of Hastings website stamped on the top. Today will be the same date or later. Yesterday was the day before today and tomorrow never comes! Time is an inescapable part of human existence. If you don’t believe me, look in the mirror to remind yourself of this relentless reality! We all have a date of birth defining the day, month and year on which we were born.

The calendar we now use was invented by a Roman monk called Dionysius in 526AD. His idea was to make 0AD the year of the birth of the Jesus Christ, but he made a mistake of several years. The best guess we have for Jesus’ birth is the spring of 6BC.   So why do many people remember Christ’s birth on the 25th December? There is no evidence that the birth of Christ was celebrated by the early church. It was not until the 4th century AD that there was a celebration on what we now call “Christmas day”. Many historians think that this date was chosen to coincide with the winter solstice, incorporating the pagan rituals of Mithra, the Iranian god of light, and the Roman wild merry making which took place during the festival of ‘Saturnalia’. Historians suggest that some church leaders hoped that by encouraging the celebration of the birth of Christ at the same time as the winter solstice they would be able to better promote Christianity.

The Bible contains many ‘date-stamps’, but does not give us Christ’s birth date. The Bible references the well-documented historic period of Augustus Caesar’s reign over the Roman Empire as being the period in which Jesus was born; ‘when Quirinius was governor of Syria’. The birth of the Christ had been anticipated for some 4,000 years beforehand. At that time our common ancestor Adam broke the law of God in the garden of Eden and God promised that a descendent of Eve would conquer Satan. Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophets Isaiah and Micah foretold that He would be born to a virgin in a place called Bethlehem.

The significance of the birth of Jesus is not the exact date when He was born, but that He was born “when the fullness of time had come”; that is, at precisely the right time. When Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, God, in the person of His Son, became flesh; without ever ceasing to be divine. When Jesus was born, God the Father required of Him {just as He does for every man, woman and child} that he obey God’s holy law.

Unlike you and me, Jesus did this perfectly. He died as the only truly innocent person who has ever lived. It is because of this historic fact that Jesus makes it possible for all those who believe on him to be adopted by God as sons and daughters. Now that is something to celebrate, whatever the time of the year!

Christmas Meditation

Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.” {Psalm 40:7-8}

About 3000 years ago an ex-shepherd boy became a great king. In Psalm 40, this great king makes a promise to be ruled by someone far greater than himself: God. He promises to obey God’s law, which was written down in the scroll of the Old Testament scriptures. David committed to do what God wanted, not because he had to, but because it was his delight to please God.

King David’s intentions were good. Sadly however, he did not deliver on his desire to obey God. Later in his reign this king took another man’s wife for his own and then had her husband killed as he tried to cover his treacherous tracks. In general, King David was a good king, but he couldn’t do what God wanted him to do all the time; anymore than you or I can.

About 2000 years ago a carpenter’s adopted son became the greatest of all Kings. Jesus Christ came into this world in a unique supernatural event. He was born to a virgin woman but had no human father. God, in the person of the Son, became man, without ever ceasing to be God.

We remember the coming of God’s Only Son at Christmas time. Born, as previously predicted, in king David’s birthplace; Bethlehem. Born to live in perfect obedience to the will of God His Father amidst a life of temptation, suffering and trouble. Born to be a greater king than his human ancestor David. Born to die a truly innocent man. The Christ of Christmas is the Christ of Easter.

The good news of great joy that the angel announced at the birth of Jesus was not that another flawed king like David had arrived, but that a perfect King, a Saviour, had come into the world. The good news is that God promises to save from death everyone who believes in His Son Jesus Christ.

To believe in Christ is to turn to God and seek his forgiveness for not doing His will and to firmly trust that Jesus Christ has fully paid the price for all that you have done against God’s perfect law. If you are such a person this Christmas, give glory to God in the highest. If you are not, seek the Christ of Christmas today!

Growing Old

Life is short and many people seem to spend the first half looking forward with hopes and plans and the second half looking back, sometimes with fond memories, sometimes with shattered dreams. As I am now into the second phase of life, I have wished that I’d read a brochure entitled “the things they don’t tell you about growing old” to prepare me ahead of time.

In my earlier years I often wondered why senior gents wore singlets under their shirts, why older people found background noise distracting and why those with grey hair tend to prefer the familiar over the novel and new. Now being post-mid-life, I’m starting to find these things out by experience! I’ve also realized that I had already been told about growing old in the Bible. A wise writer in this Book describes aging this way:

“When the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets”. {Ecclesiastes 12:3-6}   Here is a vivid description of what it is like to grow older with weaker muscles, failing eyesight, loss of teeth, impaired hearing, erratic sleeping, fear of this dangerous world, white hair, unsteady walking, reduced appetites and finally death. This is not a pretty picture; one which the writer says ends with “the dust returning to the ground it came from”.

Even though advances in modern medicine have somewhat eased the pain and discomfort of the aging process, physical death remains unavoidable. The writer of Ecclesiastes penned this miserable, but accurate, description of aging because he wanted to provide some vital wisdom:

‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”’ {Ecclesiastes 12:1}

Reader of this article; whatever age you are, this is timeless good advice. God has created us all, and whether or not you and I reach the advanced stages of life with its many challenges, we will all meet our Maker one day. Now is the time to remember Him and to ask yourself “Am I at peace with my Creator today?”

The only way to be right with God and to conquer the debilitating aging process forever is through Jesus Christ, in whom death is swallowed up in victory. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” John 3:36a.

The Missing Link – Found!

The “Missing Link” refers to the lack of evidence for a bridge, or link, between one species and another. For example, the theory of evolution says that the origin of the land-based cow is to be found in the ocean-going whale which has gradually changed through many mutations into the animal upon which the New Zealand dairy industry now relies. If this whale-to-cow transition had occurred, we would expect to find numerous fossils showing life forms which were part-whale and part-cow in varying proportions. They are ‘missing’. {Not only from the fossil record, but also from the mind of any sensible person trying to think of how a part-whale/part-cow would function with a transitional hybrid anatomy}.

Likewise, if we, as human beings, evolved from apes, then there should be many examples of the progression from ape through ape-man to man. Many attempts have been made to find such fossils. Perhaps the most famous was the discovery in 1974 of the skeleton of “Lucy”, classified as an australopith {southern ape}. Her skull is so incomplete that it has been described as being mostly ‘imagination made of plaster of paris’. The examples of partial skeletons and bone fragments which have been presented as evidence of the ‘missing link’ between ape and man are extremely few (e.g. AL 129-1, Karabo, Selam, STS 5,14,71, Taung child).

Evolutionists don’t tend to speak about ‘missing links’ anymore; because most have accepted that these transitional fossil forms simply don’t exist. Evolutionary theory itself has evolved into the idea of rapid, punctuated, change. The suggestion now is that species jump from one stable form to another, leaving no record of the change made. This conveniently removes the need to find the missing link, but leaves an even bigger problem: no evidence that one species has actually become another species. What remains then, is the obvious conclusion that whales have always been whales, cows cows, apes apes and people people; each species reproducing only after its kind. This is exactly what the Bible teaches and it fits the facts more simply and more accurately than any evolutionary theory yet devised by man.

Did you know that in addition to the Bible teaching us about species, the Word of God also speaks about The Missing Link? Not an imaginary bridge between different species, but the living connection between God and new man. This link has been missing since man, the creature, rebelled against God, the Creator. The good news is that this link can be found! The bridge is not a bunch of dead ape/man bones, but a living God/man: Jesus Christ. He is The Missing Link. He is real. He does exist. He may be found. The starting place for discovering Him is not in a fossil-dig, but in a unique book: the Bible. “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near”. {Isaiah 55:5}

True Freedom

Inmates in our prisons have lost their freedom. They are behind bars because they have broken the law and their time in jail is a consequence of just law enforcement through our court system. Without justice all societies degenerate into lawless chaos.

Almost everyone has some natural understanding of justice and understands that some actions are definitely right and others are certainly wrong. This is true even in a world where many people deny that there is such a thing as absolute truth or universal morality. The coldblooded taking of so many lives recently by bomber/gunman Anders Behring Breivik was understandably met with universal disgust. This man broke a moral principle more fundamental than the Norweigian law.

All moral laws have their foundation in God, who is the ultimate moral law-maker. In the Old Testament we read of how Israel repeatedly broke His law and they suffered the consequences of being held captive by a foreign nation. It was then that God brought His people hope through the prophet Isaiah who spoke of a special servant. This Person would come to “bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom for the captives”.

Over 500 years later, Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth and read these same words. The people in his village didn’t believe that this local carpenter’s son could possibly bring liberty from their oppression under the foreign rule of the Romans. They didn’t understand the nature of their own true loss of freedom. The deeper problem they had was that they were held captive to their own rebellion against God. They were all breakers of God’s perfect law.

You and I are like the people of Nazareth. Naturally we are just the same as all people everywhere on this planet. Naturally we are all held captive to our own rebellion against our Maker. You don’t have to be behind bars to be a breaker of God’s law.

The good news is that Jesus Christ provided the way for law breakers, people like you and me, to be released from eternal captivity. He did this by paying the penalty for our rebellion against God. He didn’t spend time in prison, He died on a cross. Then He rose from the dead.

Some people only come to understand the reality of their true captivity when they are physically behind bars. Ken Gartner, a New Zealand Maori, is one such person. Whilst he was an inmate, he came to understand the freedom that only Christ Jesus can bring to a captive. He stopped desiring to offend God and became a follower of Christ. He was truly released from imprisonment.

Ken is due to speak at the Reformed Church of Hastings, 1234 Howard Street, on Tuesday August 16th at 7:30p.m. Everyone is most welcome to come and hear him talk and sing about his time behind bars and his release into the true freedom that only Christ can bring.

As most of you will know each year the Missions Committee is allocated a budget from which some is spent on local mission work and some on mission fields around the world. We have just sent $500.00 to the Bible Society New Zealand for spreading God’s Word in Africa, below is just one story of the work among those suffering from HIV/AIDS, please add this vital work to your prayer list.


Across Sub Saharan Africa Bible Societies are helping people fight the deadly HIV/AIDS virus with a specially developed Bible-based programme. The Good Samaritan programme, which is based on the well known Bible parable of the same name, offers a message of hope for the suffering and compassion towards the ill and the dying.

It promotes abstinence before marriage and faithfulness to a life long partner to combat the spread of the virus.

It fights against stigmatization and discrimination for those who have the virus. It overcomes superstition. It enables HIV positive people to face their future with fresh hope. It does this using Bible based materials including scripture booklets, DVDs, flipcharts and training workshops for both adults and youth.

One person who has found hope is Mukarubega from Tanzania. To escape the poverty she and her family lived in, Mukarubega turned to prostitution. She contracted HIV/AIDS. Her husband became HIV positive. Her only child died. Grief stricken, Mukarubega lost all hope in life. But then she heard the message of the Bible. Now she is facing life with renewed hope, even joy.   She has adopted seven orphaned children, three of whom have HIV/AIDS, to give them the love and support they need.   She is learning new skills, making cloth bags to support her family. Mukarubega’s life has been transformed by our Lord through the work of the Good Samaritanprogramme. Please check the ‘Missions’ board for more information about the Bible society or visit their webpage:

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