From: Anglican Taonga
Words: Julanne Clark-Morris / Photos: John Setter
On Waitangi Day this year, the Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) commissioned the first six participants for its ‘Better World’ – a new social justice gap year aimed to inspire and equip young adults in mission.
Six young Christians from Auckland, Wellington and Waiapu signed on for a ten-month ‘Better World’ mission experience in a service at Wellington Cathedral this Waitangi Day.
The newly formed group will take part in the ‘Better World’ gap year, which will centre their time and attention on four categories of social justice: urban poverty, ethical consumption, climate change and refugee and migrant issues.
Backed by CMS staff and connected with churches, community organisations and NGOs in New Zealand, Fiji and Cambodia, the group will study together, live in community and follow a pattern of daily prayer.
Guy Benton, who fronts the online promo for ‘Better World’ is one of the CMS team who came up with the gap year plan. Both he and his wife Summer are CMS Mission Mobilisers who until recently served as missionaries in Cambodia.
According to Guy, when he, Summer and the family arrived to work for NZCMS in Aotearoa, they were surprised by the difference between Christians here and there.
“We met a lot of young Christians who were at uni, because that’s what you do, but who didn’t really know what they wanted to do with their lives.” said Guy.
Summer found that young Christians here were often skeptical about mission, or had a limited idea of what it might mean.
“When we arrived in New Zealand we quickly started to realize how much of a missionary bubble we had been living in.
“We looked around and saw an entire generation of young people who thought global missions were misguided, paternalistic and outdated.”
Guy and Summer got together with a group at CMS to nut out how a hands-on mission experience might challenge the secular gap years on offer and satisfy the need for adventure, work and volunteer service, but bring those things together with an understanding of where God might be leading a young person’s life.
That’s how the Better World gap year came to connect young adults with places and people who are not only passionate about serving human needs – but who are driven by their love of Jesus and a desire to bring his light into the world.
In Fiji, the group will work with the Diocese of Polynesia on climate change responses and with CMS Fiji representatives. In Cambodia they will connect with the social justice work of Christian and secular NGOs, and in Wellington, Diocesan Advocacy Enabler Kate Day will lead the Better World team on a journey of discovery and action in all four zones of social justice work.
According to Guy, the Better World gap year is a great opportunity to learn how to respond to need and heal the hurt in the world, but mostly it’s an opportunity for young people to learn about themselves.
“We hope that by doing this, we’re going to give young people a springboard into life, to figure out what they’re passionate about, what they’re going to do. And a chance to stand up and be counted.” he said.
In 2019 the Better World gap year participants are: Anna Smart, Briana King, Ella Neal, Jessica Hedge, Katherine Bonne and Teana MacDonald. Also taking part fulltime in better World are Luca Duckworth and Sam Tovey, and the Better World team will be supported by Summer and Guy Benton in Wellington and Auckland-based CMS mission mobiliser Kirstin Cant.
For more information or to apply for 2020 go to the Better World website.