‘This is gospel renewal’ is a regular column (starting today) where your faith community can encourage New Zealand Baptists with the good news of gospel renewal to your people and places. We hope to see what God is doing in your community next! Send your photos and stories to [email protected]

Rachel Sangster from Riccarton Baptist Church, Christchurch, shares what gospel renewal looked like in Riccarton on Sunday. 

Brunch Church is a monthly event where we eat brunch and connect with each other and God around the table. This month, the youth prepared, served, and washed all the dishes! 

Sam gave thanks for the food. 

This is the first gospel renewal I want to mention. Our youth group had dwindled, and we decided to put it on pause in the middle of 2023. Since then, we have seen God bring many more families to Riccarton, and we are starting the youth group again. The youth are representative of our faith community – very multicultural! 

Next Sunday, we have six youths and some adults getting baptised. (And there may be more! At the time of writing this, there are a number still to confirm) 

Following brunch, Avodah (our addiction recovery group) led worship and shared about the parable of The Prodigal Son. 

Anya courageously and vulnerably shared her story of trauma, abuse, addiction and God’s incredible transformative power and love. 

She spoke of going from believing she was unworthy, unloved and unlovable, from a weak, deeply wounded, damaged and broken beyond repair person to a child of God, worthy of being loved, strong, and part of His family. She testified to the amazing, unconditional love of the Father. She knew His arms around her as she came off meth addiction. Even though she has fallen a few times in her recovery, God has never changed, never abandoned her; He has been there every step of the way like the good Father that He is. 

Anya and the other members of Avodah are living witnesses to gospel renewal and the incredible transformational power of Jesus Christ. They also witness the importance of a loving and supportive faith community. Of course, other recovery groups help many people and do a great job, but alongside this, we, as the Church, have a unique part to play. As a community of believers committed to one another no matter what, spurring one another on in the faith, we come alongside each other, love each other through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, and be the unconditional loving arms of Jesus for each other. 

Photos: Supplied by Rachel Sangster

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