2014 celebrates 200 years since the gospel was first declared in New Zealand, on a beach in the Bay of Islands by Samuel Marsden in December 1814. The impact of these early pioneer missionaries has been a topic of much interest for Owen Griffiths, who serves as an elder in Bays Baptist Church, Kohimarama, Auckland. Overlooked, dismissed as of little relevance and stereotyped as paving the way for colonial take-over – the real story of these courageous men with deep conviction in the sovereign purposes of God and their impact on the history and development of this nation needs to be recaptured.
Owen kindly shared a few thoughts about the importance of learning about New Zealand’s rich Christian history.
1. Briefly share with us how you became a Christian.
Having been brought up in a Christian home and cruised through church life – in my early teens through a sermon on Judas the Lord suddenly brought home that here was someone who participated in the right circles, like me, but was never really a true follower of Jesus. God had begun a work of conviction and eventually brought me to a place of personal faith in Christ.
2. Why do you think what you’re teaching on is an important topic?
With the current disregard for the relevance of the Christian message we need to realise what an important part the bringing of the Gospel had on the development of our nation. With the misinformation on the activities of early missionaries we need to rediscover the great men that God used in the laying the foundation.
3. What do you hope will be filling people’s minds and hearts as they walk away from your message(s)?
Appreciation of power of the Gospel, and prayer that God would again bring revival to our nation.
4. Is there any passage of Scripture that sums up what you’ll be sharing?
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope."
This is what God the LORDsays-
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
"I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you."
5. Can you expound on one point that you’ll be making in your seminar?
The faithful testimony of the Gospel alone and its outworking in a culture has power under God to transform a nation.
6. How has what you’re going to speak on affected your own life?
Knowing more about how God used these pioneer missionaries has given me confidence that God is able change the state of a nation, no matter how hopeless it seems. I pray that God would do it again in NZ.
7. Why are you looking forward to this year’s conference?
Here is good Bible reliant, Christ centred ministry – it will be worth attending!
Note: Due to space limitations, we’re not able to take any more registrations for this year’s conference – sorry! Please follow us on Facebook for the latest updates about the conference, and check back on this website where we will make available recordings from all sessions and seminars (Lord willing!).