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Launching NZ Mission Internship

heather-morse-dtYKY3uSjUk-unsplash.jpgWednesday 28 July 2021 15:41

In a year like this, one would normally not recommend the launching of new initiatives, much less those involving travelling or long-term planning. However, missions seldom advance according to human expectations or timing and, when God opens a door, all that it takes is a courageous faith to jump through it.

That is what has happened with the new Missions Internship Program at Bishopdale Theological College in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
 
Last year at Bishopdale Theological College (BTC), steps were taken to develop a Diploma of Christian Studies with a Cross Cultural internship focus. As I combined my position as New Zealand Mobiliser for European Christian Mission (ECM) with my other role as lecturer at BTC, the idea of a partnership with ECM was born to provide a unique missions internship for BTC students. Bishopdale College has also developed a similar partnership with the New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS).
 
The purpose of this internship is to offer students a missionary experience of 2 to 3 months in what is becoming one of the neediest mission fields. A stronghold for secularism, atheism and so-called agnosticism, Europe also hosts an increasing Muslim population and is the only continent in the world where Christianity is actually decreasing. What better place to send those whom God is calling to the ministry of the Gospel, to bring Good News to the lost?
 
However, we are not unaware of the challenges of such an initiative in times like these. Still, in our eyes, the benefits widely outweigh the obstacles. First of all, for the students. We believe that God is raising up a generation of future Christian leaders in New Zealand that not only look at the needs of their land, but realise that God’s call reaches out to the ends of the Earth. An internship like that, whether they end up as future missionaries or as Christians ministering in their own country, is a formative experience that will help students to grow in their understanding of God’s plan of salvation to all nations, as well as in their own faith and personal development.
 
In fact, I like to call this a ‘short-term internship for long-term transformation’, because that is our goal. Stepping out in obedience, faith and trust in God, willing to go out of our comfort zone in order to explore God’s biblical call to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, commonly results in God surprising us beyond our expectations. I want our students to experience this. Our ambition is that they will learn, grow and be discipled in the reality of cross-cultural mission, and be transformed by it. For that only, all our efforts would be worth it.
 
But there is more. The raising up of Christian leaders in whom the seed of missions has been planted has the potential to eventually result in the reproduction and multiplication of mission-minded Christians in their churches, their networks, their cities. Only God knows the immeasurable power of a heart surrendered and attentive to His voice, and He can use these students to bring about long-term benefits for the development of kiwi missions. 
Ultimately, we trust it will bless and build up the Chrisitan church in New Zealand. 
 
Finally, I believe these internships with ECM will not only bless the students, or our churches at home, but also the mission fields where they will do their placements. Among possible placement opportunities at this point are Albania, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain or Kosovo, with more to come in the future. There, our students could be ministering to vulnerable communities in Eastern Europe, witnessing from the front row how a church plant grows on the Mediterranean coast, or discovering the warmth of the southern Spanish while sharing a true faith with them that goes beyond tradition, culture or superstition. There, they can bless the lives of lost Europeans who might hear the Gospel from them, encourage the missionaries who will host and mentor them, and support church plants in Europe with their training and skills. I am certain that New Zealand has much to offer as a missions sending force, and, due to our historical and cultural connections to Europe, we may be especially apt for the task of bringing the Gospel to a new generation of non-Christian Europeans. 
 
We are called to unity, to stand together even with those who are oceans away from us. We are called to service, even to those we do not yet know. Exploring partnerships between different generations, organisations and countries is an exciting opportunity to answer that call. This internship opens a door to start building bridges and creating relationships that bring about the Kingdom, and we are expectant to see what God will do through this new partnership between ECM and BTC.

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