“The Big Happy”

When good news arrived in New Zealand

Imagine you had never heard the Christmas story of a Saviour’s birth. How would your life be different?

For the shepherds living in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night, an ordinary work shift turned into an extraordinary event that changed their lives. Here in New Zealand, it is only very recently that the Christmas story and the Christian message came to our islands.

On Christmas Day in 1814, a man named Samuel Marsden (who incidentally was from my home village in Yorkshire, England) arrived in New Zealand and brought the message of Jesus’ birth to these islands for the first time. Encountering the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, he used the words of Luke 2:10 to preach the first Christian sermon in New Zealand:

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all people!”

His translator used the Maori word ‘Rongopai’ to share the Christmas message. Rongopai literally means ‘the big happy’, or what we more commonly know as ‘the gospel’. The Christian message is good news. It is of great joy. It is for all people.

Like the shepherds just over 2000 years ago, and like the Maori of New Zealand just over 200 years ago, today, we are privileged to have heard this good news of great joy of the Saviour’s birth. It is now our privilege and responsibility to share it with all people. Imagine the difference it could make in their lives.

Ben Carswell, Head of Student Ministries, TSCF New Zealand (originally from Yorkshire, England)

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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