Missions have always seen development activities as an essential part of what we do. Schools, hospitals, agricultural programmes, disaster relief activities have been an integral part of mission activity. On a spiritual level, this has been a part of our calling to follow Christ's example of compassion to all people. At a very top level of significance, Christian compassion is sufficient reason in itself for development activity in mission. At another level, it provides an entry and an opportunity for church-based work.
NZBMS has outstanding examples in our history. Dr Charles North building a hospital in Chandpur; B N Eade awarded the Kaisar I Hind medal (the highest award of British India) for his work in the Bengal Famine in the 1940s; Dr Sanson (father of Annie Hilton and Helen McMullan) in the Agartala mission hospital; the rebuilding of the Brahmanbaria school and hospital after the Bangladesh Independence War; setting up the jute handcraft based Cottage Industries in the 1970s; agriculturalists in PNG; current education programmes in Bangladesh; and the Marketplacers Freedom Business ventures in Kolkata. To mention a few among many!
Banzaid has been a very specific expression of this. Most of the above programmes were funded through normal mission fundraising in our New Zealand Baptist Churches. Banzaid was established as a department of NZBMS in order to be able to access a different funding base, specifically the NZ Government Aid Programme funding, but also potentially wider secular funding sources. The key requirement here is maintaining the clear distinction between â religious and development activities and funds in order to meet secular funder requirements.
Problems come when those funding sources change their policies about what and where they will grant funds. A change in government brings changes to Aid Programme funding policies. When that happens what is our response?
This is the challenge currently facing Banzaid. New Zealand Aid Programme funding rules do not now support projects in any of the countries where we are working. There is an emphasis on the Pacific Region, where we have worked in the past, but we don't now have anything. There are opportunities for new programmes with Baptist partners in the Pacific, but we need to be very clear on our direction and commitment before we can get involved in any of these.
At their October meeting, the NZBMS Council agreed to suspend the activity of Banzaid pending a wider review of NZBMS that will take place in 2020. Through this period the website and Facebook pages will continue and will widen their mandate to cover the full scope of NZBMS development activity.
Watch this space!