Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Northy 5

During a mission on the Chatham Islands, Sister North may have been an unusual sight, being a woman in ministry. When questioned about this, she replied, "They probably thought the Church Army was a bit mad anyway, and were sure to do funny things."

I'd like to think that people still us that way, but I fear we have become tame and domesticated, trying to fit in and be accepted rather than to dare to be different - prophetic even. WE have a friend in UK who defines a typical CA evangelist as "odd". Fools for Christ anyone?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kind of Northy

I heard this quote from Joyce Meyer on the radio earlier today.

"Passion is not a feeling; it is a deep commitment to press on to the finish."

I think Sisters North and Childs would approve - it is, after all, how they lived their whole lives.

Northy 4

The apprentice model of training is becoming increasingly popular once more. But for this to work, it needs the 'apprentice' to be obedient to 'the master'! I mentioned Felcie Childs and her offer to work with Sister North - well she did just that. But Felcie didn't find it easy!
"I asked Felcie to read the lessons or to take part in the prayers, or to give a short talk, and to her it was agony. She was a very, very shy girl and when she got up to read she really suffered...and to read was painful. What she said often bore very little resemblance to what was in the Bible, or what she was reading."
I am pretty sure that at this point we would give up on our apprentice, and suggest that this life and ministry just was not for them. But in true Church Army fashion, Northy cruelly insisted that Felcie carry on!
And over time, Felcie improved. "As time went on, she was so conscious of the call of God that she didn't care whether she looked silly. She very quickly improved her reading and her manner...she was commissioned and I got golden reports of her work...she never looked back, and it all stemmed from the fact that she had been called of God, and if that meant a hard struggle then she would undertake that hard struggle."
I pray for those in CANZ to have such spiritual toughness and determination, and for God's call on our lives to be so clear and powerful that we will never give up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Northy 3

It is said that you are only a leader if someone is following! Even before Church Army was formally established in New Zealand (which happened in 1935), Sister North was approached by a young lady who felt called to serve with Church Army.

Northy explained that at that stage, there was no guarantee that Church Army would ever operate fully in New Zealand, that some of the bishops had so far not given their approval, and "if you give up your work now and come to me, the time might come when your work will come to and end and you will have to go back to whatever you can find in the world."

2011 will see CANZ launch a new initiative/movement whereby people will gather in missional/incarnational communities, to radically share Jesus, live as contagious disciples, and offer life-sharing community. We will offer training and equipping, mentoring and ongoing support, resources, and some help with hospitality costs initially - but it is unlikely that we will ever offer a 'salary'. The call is a dangerous one, with few guarantees, and we expect few will have the faith, courage and passion to join us.

Felcie Childs responded to Northy's discouraging comments with these words - "I have laid down my life at the foot of the cross, and whatever that means, I will do it."

Loving God, please bring such people to serve along side Church Army NZ

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Northy 2

Having survived her training period, and a position she faithfully endured rather than enjoyed, Sister North felt very much at home on a caravan. Before long she was asked to be in charge of her won van - a task she found daunting "it was all very well to go out and visit and give small talks and do as I was told buy the Sister in charge, but to be in charge, and have another Sister under me was quite different."

But surely, despite what she said, Northy could cope? "I remember when I first got to that van...just crying my heart out because I felt I just couldn't do it." Being out of your depth, knowing the task is beyond you, that you don't have the skills, knowledge, abilities to complete the mission - this is a familiar feeling to all those who achieve great tasks in God;s name. because of course God knows our limitations only too well, and once we throw ourselves on his mercy, as Northy said "as time went by I found that with the help of God - I could do it."

Don't just attempt the things you know you can do - put yourself in a position where you have to rely on God. And then watch what he will do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Northy 1

History could have been so different! Sister North applied first of all to CMS to work as a missionary, but was turned down as "my standard of eduction was not good enough." Instead she was advised to work with Church Army for two years, and then re-apply.
Church Army, interestingly "accepted me without any difficulty."
Northy decided at the end of the two years to stick with Church Army, who after all "had taken me young and new and raw and everything...just as I was...they had given me good training and accepted me warts and all."
This reminds me of someone else, who took under his wing hot-headed fishermen, cheating tax-collectors, women of dubious reputation and known rebels. The only suitable candidate - educated, responsible, good with figures, careful with money - didn't turn out so well.
I hope Church Army NZ will continue to take risks in the people we welcome, train, equip, send out and support. John Wesley said "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth". I say the same, perhaps replacing the word 'preachers' for 'local missionaries'

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I am currently reading the transcript of an interview Lorraine Lloyd held with Sister Kathleen North, who arrived from UK in 1933, and died here in 1992. It is thrilling and inspirational, and over the coming days I shall be sharing portions of "Northy's" story.
Prepare to be amazed, moved, delighted and deeply challenged by the story of one on whose shoulders we are privileged to stand.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"82% of short-term missions today go to countries in the most-Christian third of the world. Only 2% land in the Middle East."

Robert J. Priest
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are “vacationaries.” Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates." Steve Addison