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A Picture of Strong Partnership

Serving in partnership is at the core of the work of CMS. In this article International Director Peter Rodgers writes about the joy of partnership under God, highlighting our relationship with the growing church in Nepal.

I recently visited our workers and partners in Nepal. It was a joyful time!

The Nepali church is one of the fastest growing churches in the world: from no known Christians living in Nepal in 1952, to more than a million today. New believers suffered, but the Lord blessed their faith, prayer, and courage and grew his Church.

Since 1959, CMS has been sending workers to serve with and alongside Nepali Christians. They have provided much-needed skills in the areas of medicine and allied health, engineering, and education. We have supported and walked alongside our Nepali brothers and sisters, and together with them played an active part in witnessing to the love of Christ.

Co-Mission Partners: side-by-side in gospel work

Today, CMS continues to send long-term workers to Nepal. In addition, through the ‘Co-Mission Partner’ program we are now supporting local people in ministries in Nepal, Indonesia, South Africa, Italy and North Australia. In Nepal alone, we have seven Co-Mission Partners in four new ministries covering theological education, university student ministry, evangelism and social outreach.

Our work in Nepal is a great example of multi-cultural mission and the joy of working in partnership. During my visit, we gathered all 22 of our workers in Nepal for a retreat. Almost half were Nepali. This is the new face of mission, working together, and learning from each other for the sake of God’s glory.

A picture of partnership in Nepal

Partnerships are more than the people we send, but also the churches and Christian organisations we work alongside. CMS has over 100 such partnerships around the world.

In Nepal, several of our workers attend Nayagaun church in Pokhara, under the leadership of Pastor Grishma. Grishma came to faith as a young adult. He visited a Christian hospital, hoping to accuse Christians of proselytising, but instead experienced a love that he had never known before and gave his life to Jesus. Today, Nayagaun Church has a membership of over 1000 people, with 11 daughter churches. We are thrilled to partner with Nayagaun church in ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership training and social welfare. Some of our new Co-Mission Partners also come from Nayagaun church.

 “…we gathered all 22 of our workers in Nepal for a retreat. Almost half were Nepali. This is the new face of mission, working together, and learning from each other for the sake of God’s glory.”

Pastor Grishma invited me to attend their weekly staff meeting and share a message from the Scriptures. Workers G and R were my very capable translators. We looked at Colossians as an example of what partnership might look like between the Australian church and Nayagaun church, despite the geographical distance.

A picture of partnership in Colossae

Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine how it is possible to partner with Christians in another part of the world. Given that Paul had neither planted the Colossian church, nor ever visited them, it seemed that this letter may have direct application.

1. Partnership is expressed in prayer

In Colossians 1:9 Paul wrote, “For this reason since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” When Paul heard of their faith, love and hope that was bearing fruit for Christ, he prayed. In a similar way, we should pray in response to the testimony of our brothers and sisters throughout the world—whether it be the good news of church growth, or sadder news of conflict and persecution. We are not passive listeners, but brothers and sisters in a global church and prayer binds us together in partnership.

Prayer is two-way. In Colossians 4:2-3 Paul also asks the church to pray for him. Through prayer the Colossians are invited to be active partners in Paul’s ministry of evangelism. Prayer transcends geographical distances. Prayer links us into active involvement in the joys and struggles of brothers and sisters across the world. Prayer joins us together and is a proper expression of our unity in Christ.

2. Partnership is expressed in relationship

There is a depth of affection and longing throughout all Paul’s letters, even for those whom he had never met. This rings out loud and clear in the final greetings in Colossians 4:7-18. We can often skip over these verses and fail to notice the depth of mutual love, deep concern, heartfelt thankfulness and practical sharing that existed across the scattered churches in the Roman empire. They even travelled long distances to physically express their love and concern in practical ways. Paul was thankful for those who had come from Colossae, like Epaphras, to support him in his imprisonment. He also sent others to Colossae, like Tychicus and Onesimus, to encourage the believers in their faith.

The New Testament describes partnerships that are not constrained by geographical distance. Through the ministry of CMS, it is our desire to build bridges of genuine, heartfelt partnership between the church in Australia with brothers and sisters across the world.

A ‘Colossian’ partnership today

Our partnership with Nayagaun church and Pastor Grishma is a great example of a ‘Colossian’ partnership. Through the missionaries you have sent, Christians in Australia have a direct involvement in the work of this church. Our CMS workers have been warmly embraced and found opportunities to serve in a range of different ministries including aged care, youth, leading Bible studies, discipling and mentoring.

The partnership is also two-way. This coming January, Pastor Grishma and his wife Laxmi will attend our CMS Summer Conferences. We will be blessed as we hear his testimony and his report of what the Lord is doing in Nepal. His visit will inspire our prayers for Nepal and deepen further the partnership we enjoy with his church.

“We are… brothers and sisters in a global church and prayer binds us together in partnership.”

Partnering around the world invites Christians in Australia to be part of ministries that we never imagined. It relates us to the many ways God is working to build his global church.

Two years ago, CMS accepted Jasan[1] as Co-Mission Partner to support his work with an organisation in Nepal. G and R have known Jasan and his family at Nayaguan church since he was a boy. On my recent visit, I had the joy of meeting Jasan’s father who planted this ministry. In 1996 Jasan’s father was completely paralysed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. While he lay in his hospital bed, the Lord gave him a vision that he would plant churches amongst the Tibetan people in the Himalayan mountains. When he began to recover, he went with his friend to evangelise the hill tribes. I asked how he managed climbing the mountains when he was still recovering from his paralysis. He said “when I couldn’t walk, I crawled, and when I could no longer crawl, my friend carried me on his back”. They formed a mission and have planted over 50 churches. Jasan is continuing this work and now we have the joy of partnering with him in this exciting ministry.

Partnerships around the world

Under God, CMS is building many wonderful long-term partnerships around the world. Nepal is just one example. Another example is our work in North Australia. For many decades, we have been committed to training Indigenous leaders at Nungalinya College in Darwin. As well as numerous others over the years, CMS missionaries Wayne Oldfield and Mandy Jones have been on staff since 2012, and Ian and Jenny Wood will be joining them next year.

Recently we expanded that partnership by accepting three Indigenous Co-Mission Partners, James, Marlene and Mandy, first as trainee teachers, and in time as fully qualified teachers. Please pray with us that God will hasten the day when missionaries can serve at Nungalinya College under the leadership of Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

We have also grown strong university student ministry partnerships around the world. In places like Japan, Argentina and France those partnerships are decades old and our friendship and service has had lasting and strategic impact. More recently we have had the joy of a growing partnership with GBU in Italy. On my recent pastoral visit I had the joy of meeting with our missionaries—Gillian in Rome, Simon and Jess in Bari, and Naomi in Padua—as well as visiting Johan, the General Secretary of GBU Italy, to discuss how we can better partner together. I also met up with Andrea, our latest Co-Mission Partner. Andrea was discipled by former CMS missionaries Andrew and Sarah Lubbock, then supported by CMS to study at Cornhill in England. Now we have the joy of supporting him as a GBU staff worker in his own country.

Through the work of our missionaries, and the relationships that we develop with global brothers and sisters, CMS is building partnerships between the Australian church with churches and Christian organisations around the world.

Our unity is not defined by proximity, but our fellowship in the Lord Jesus. Prayer transcends all boundaries and unites us as one body in Christ. But without relationships it can be impossible to know who or what to pray for. Effective mission is built on relationships. CMS is committed to connecting Christians in Australia to God’s work in the world, and to the joy and privilege of serving and supporting brothers and sisters in his global mission.

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[1] Not his real name