Over New Year 2020, the NZBMS staff conference, held in Hoi An, Vietnam, brought together our NZBMS family for a time of reflection, inspiration and relationship building. Working overseas can sometimes be rather isolating and, for some of those attending, this was the first time they had met members of the NZBMS team based in other countries.

Each day’s programme began with songs of praise and a message from Carey lecturer, George Wieland. The team were then given the opportunity to share the ways in which they see God working within their communities—a time of true inspiration and encouragement.

Each overseas team member was prayed for by a teammate from another context—a practice that greatly affirmed and showcased the friendships created over the time spent together. Time was also given to provide feedback on, and pray for, NZBMS as a whole.

Thank you to all those who prayed for and supported the conference. Below, three conference attendees share what the conference meant to them.

From Cindy in South Asia

The NZBMS Staff Conference was a chance to feel part of the larger NZBMS team and community. I especially wanted to see the New Zealand staff and Mission Council to talk about some things. I so appreciated that opportunity, and their willingness to listen. I’m sure the work will be better if we are in good community and relationship with each other.

It was good to be warm for a little while (so cold here this winter) and breathe some cleaner air again. I struggled with the luxuriousness of it all at first, but it seemed churlish not to enjoy it, so I did! I cracked a rib though, so perhaps the health benefits were mixed!

It’s always good to sense and experience a little more of what New Zealand is doing and maturing into, so for me, the focus on the bicultural journey was very positive.

It was so good to have Tsao and Ginny there. They’ve been working with us and Tranzsend for nearly 20 years, so having them as part of the community felt complete and right. I loved catching up with Priya again and hearing her dedication and passion, sensing what is happening in Thailand, catching Peter’s warmth, and hearing what God is doing through each team member. I love that part of the retreats.

The service of the New Zealand team was a blessing to the spirit. They’d put in a lot of thought and work—I just finished the Gingernuts so the blessings carried on back into the work!

From Sophie in South Asia

As relative newcomers to the field, attending the NZBMS Staff Conference was a great unknown. We’re getting used to unknowns by now, and have adjusted to holding our expectations lightly.

To our pleasant surprise, we found Vietnam felt comfortingly familiar to our adopted home, yet we were there to share in a very Kiwi experience that was rich in elements of our birth land’s culture. We sang waiata, connected with some of the rich history of Aotearoa, ate Gingernuts and Whittaker’s chocolate, and spent time with a host of familiar faces.

Throughout the day we mingled with others who experience many of the same joys and struggles that we face—it was freeing to be with a bunch of people who just ‘get it’.

Some of the attendees were long‑serving cross-cultural workers. The stories they shared were humbling and inspiring. Their years of experience are a precious resource, and one that I’d be wise to draw on in future.

Until the daily sessions started, we didn’t realise how thirsty we were for teaching. We were treated to well‑researched, encouraging presentations that spoke directly to our lived experiences of mission. I was so inspired that I’ve enrolled in a Carey webinar series, eager to dive deeper into that great wealth of knowledge that I found so sustaining at conference.

From Winston, Baptist National Administrator

Kia ora whānau, i whakamānawa ki au ki noho me whanaungatanga me hui me Te Iwi Kaikawe Rongopai o Ngā Hāhi Iriiri o Aotearoa. It was an honour to sit with, gather with and hang out with the NZBMS team.

It was inspiring to listen to our overseas workers share stories of their mission and how they were working hard learning languages. To hear how they are making the gospel relevant to the people they were reaching and doing life within their communities.

Our workers embrace different ways of living, speaking, eating and relating to others. They do church differently. They show God’s love to his people, putting the interests of others far ahead of their own. They are doing unto others and valuing others far above themselves, all for the sake of the gospel.

As Baptist leadership discuss giving up our rights for the sake of others and Mark 10:43-44, I heard and saw clear, living examples in the lives of our mission representatives. What a blessing to be part of this, and how blessed are we to have God working so clearly through our NZBMS team.