Editorial – March 2016

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Editorial – March 2016

Family in Times of Need

Being a new settler in a country of choice has its reward and challenges. Depending on our ability to assimilate we make friends readily and are accepted into the New Zealand community. We settle in and are welcomed by our neighbours, join clubs and societies. Our children assimilate with ease and before we know it, have found their place among classmates, play sport and hang out with friends. But we are different from native Kiwis in one major respect. We are just a nucleus family of parents with children and if we are lucky will be or have been joined by our elders on the grounds of family reunification. What we lack in spite of having found our place in the new country is the support of an extended family. Critical events in our lives make us feel vulnerable, as is the case in the event of a serious illness or accident and the reliance of friends and strangers, who are not blood relations. Those of us, who have formed bonds by marriage are not immune of this feeling of dependency without the advantage of kinship.

While I regard our community of faith like an extended family I am conscious that due to age and infirmity many members of our congregation have first call on the sustenance available from a small cohort of younger parishioners. The frailties of old age make some of us dependent on the goodwill of others, who may already have other commitments within their own families. We have experienced a sequence of health related events in recent times, which have tested our ability to provide mutual aid. It is more distressing when a younger parishioner like Annalie is challenged by a life threatening illness with a lengthy treatment regime. In the absence of a family network and access to spontaneous in kind assistance in support of Paul, Hannah and Christina beyond her elderly parents can serve as an example of the importance of family in Times of Need. I have lived with cancer for the past five years and have experience of the life preserving treatment available to us. But I also share in the harsh consequences thereof with prolonged and sometimes debilitating side effects that diminish the quality of life and our ability to function normally.

This brings me to hospital chaplaincy as an important part in the healing and recovery of seriously ill patients. It ministers in the front line of Christian churches’ mission in our country. Hospital chaplains are on call 24 hours every day, 7 days a week. There are 91 chaplains serving in 29 public hospitals throughout New Zealand and they are in urgent need of our financial assistance. Visiting the sick is a Gospel mandated mission (Matthew 25.36) worthy of our support. Whatever amount we are prepared to contribute will be gratefully received and will be used to sustain, by God’s grace, to build upon this caring Christian ministry. As a contributor I urge my fellow parishioners to include support of the Inter-church Council for Hospital Chaplaincy Aotearoa New Zealand in their charitable giving. A contribution before the end of the month to qualify for a tax rebate this financial year will be gratefully received.

I thank you all for your understanding and support of Annalie and her immediate family and to join me in my prayers for her full recovery.

Ralph