Overwhelming kindness

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Tena koutou (greetings everyone) South Pacific Division whanau (family).

On behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud), New Zealand, I wish to sincerely thank the global Church for the aroha (love) that was expressed to Adventists living in New Zealand—and particularly our Adventist community in the courageous city of Christchurch. Your words of comfort, and actions of love, in response to the tragic events of Friday, March 15, provided strength and fortitude.

My deep appreciation to Pastor Mike Sikuri (South New Zealand Conference president) and his team for their outstanding ministry to the Christchurch community.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). It is hard to comprehend that 50 Muslim lives were cruelly taken while they were praying in their house of prayer. Many other individuals were injured, in an act of terror that was motivated by an ideology underpinned by hate and bigotry.

However, praise God, for the overwhelming kindness, love and sympathy that have been extended to everyone touched by this violent act. Paradoxically, this scene of generous love in the face of hatred, has forced us to confront an uncomfortable truth.

Racism exists in New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in her first speech following the shooting, strongly stated that New Zealand does not condone racism or extremism. That is the New Zealand we aspire to be. That is the world we all aspire to live in. This is a vision I wholeheartedly support.

So what do I need to do to bring about change? I need to confess thoughts and actions that have perpetuated racism and, by God’s grace, seek humility so that my thoughts, words and actions are not used to place myself above my neighbour.

Pastor Eddie Tupa’i is president of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference.

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