Loving God – Part 1

By Michael Smith

Today, I want to share some thoughts around connecting with God. Luke 10:27 in the NIV says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”  

There are a few ways that we can do this. The most important one is by having a relationship with Him. There are many ways that we can do this too. So, I remember when I came to CFFD camp a couple of years ago, and I brought my 3 youth boys along, when I was youth leader at Henderson Baptist Church. Seeing them serve made my heart full.  

Loving God with all your soul means loving God on the good days and the bad days. For example, I was going through a rough time, and I stopped going to Church for about 2 months, and when I started to go back to Church, things started to change. To love God with all our strength means to have faith. I remember hearing in Church that loving Him with all our strength is like exercising our faith muscles and mind.  

This is plainly just thinking about how amazing, and extravagant His love for us is. A few months ago, I was asked to pick 3 songs for a day retreat, and I was reminded of the children’s song, Jesus Loves Me, and I said to the people that were attending that retreat on that day that they may have to help me sing the song because, like, I might get choked up while I am trying to sing it. Just think about it, how amazing is it that even before we had the capacity as babies, and children to understand what Jesus did for us on that cross, that still didn’t change the fact that He did it for us. Now that is love, and when we look at it in context, how can we not love God with all our mind? So, what does that mean for us today? It means that we can live our lives knowing that we are loved.  

So, to finish, I just want to encourage you to spend some time with Him, in all seasons of life. Stay connected with God. Place the things that we are struggling to hold onto Him. He faced the most cruelest death in history. He can handle it. I know what it is like to not do this, and I always feel so much more connected to Him when I do.  

 Michael Smith has been a volunteer at our National Camp, Auckland CFFD and Drop-in Centre. He has been working with people with disabilities for several years. 


The Curtain is Torn!

By Kevin Park

Don’t we love connecting with people? I do. I love connecting with people because I receive encouragement from them and I give encouragement. It also gives me a sense that I’m not alone.

Because of our fast-paced culture, people may forget the importance of meeting others and carry on doing their tasks instead. Since I love doing life and faith with people, I always try to contact and catch up with them.

I lost contact with most of my high-school friends. But I am still in touch with my friends, who left New Zealand in 2017 to go to Sydney for work. We often catch up on Zoom to stay connected and see each other whenever they returned to Auckland.

As one of my friends studied journalism at university, she has been helping me with English when editing essays. I have been helping her with theology when she proofreads them. I appreciate our friendship and am grateful for it so much, and they think the same way.

Did you know that another friend is willing to be friends with everyone? His name is Jesus! Although He is not physically present. He loves to be best friends with everyone, no matter who they are, He sacrificed His life on the cross for us so that we may be saved spiritually. For our spiritual selves is wasting away.

There is an idea today that tells us to do everything in our own power to make ourselves righteous people and earn our way to heaven at the end of our physical lives. However, Jesus already made us righteous people worthy to go to heaven at the end of our physical lives and fit into God’s Kingdom while we are still on earth, even though we did nothing by sacrificing Himself on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was torn apart. The temple curtain separated us from God, our heavenly Father. This means that God can be known through Jesus Christ.

As God has loved us so much, He longs to bring us back to have a deep relationship and fellowship with Him through faith in Christ. God even has considered believers His children and predestined them in what they are designed to be even before the world’s creation as fellow participants of His mission.

If we believe in Jesus and pursue God wholeheartedly, He will never disappoint us.

Although following Jesus is challenging, He will always stay with us, even through challenging moments. The power of the Holy Spirit demonstrates this evidence. The Holy Spirit, also known as God’s Spirit, is given to believers in the place of the physical Jesus. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three in one, and they are called the Triune God altogether. Nevertheless, God never forces us to believe in Jesus. The choice is ours. Are you willing to believe in Jesus?


Kevin Park is studying at Carey Baptist College and finds that Christian-writing is God’s calling on his life. He writes articles for Press Service International and he lives with Cerebral Palsy.

Welcome to the Audio Encourager Magazine No. 176

  1. Welcome to Encourager Magazine No.176 0:23
  2. Welcome by Kirsty Armitage 2:41
  3. Excel in Prayer - Devotion by Margie Willers 2:39
  4. Announcement - Disability Awareness Sunday 0:17
  5. Margie Willers – From Pain to Pearls Elevate Christian Disability Trust 18:04
  6. Technology opens up a new world for Marci 3:40
  7. Volunteer Spotlight - Heather Major 4:29
  8. Get Involved 4:03
  9. National Camp 2023 Come Celebrate 2:11
  10. Hear some Good News Elevate Christian Disability Trust 2:39

Encourager Magazine No. 176, March 2023

The Encourager Magazine No. 176, March 2023 is now available.

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Connecting to Jesus

By Jean Griffith

I have heard from people that on waking they must have their first cup of coffee before they can start the day. That zap of caffeine is what seems to connect them to become fully awake. No doubt while they’re having that stimulus, they turn on their devices to connect to the world.  These days devices have become their lifeline, they cannot function without it.  As this devotion is about Connection, it made me think about how much we rely on connecting with many things to help us in our daily lives. 

When we were in lockdown, okay, these devices did have their place, but after a while, they weren’t a means to an end. People wanted to connect to a real person face to face. The joy of doing things together, sharing laughter and food together, having a hug from someone, playing board games together and the many things that connect us when we are with each other, that is what makes us happy and alive because it’s real. 

Mark 5: 25-34 is about the woman with the issue of blood. She had a medical bleeding condition which she had had for 12yrs. She had sought healing from physicians and spent all she had. According to Jewish laws, if she touched anybody, that person would have also been deemed unclean. I can imagine that ostracized stigma would have been far more painful than the condition itself. When she heard Jesus was in town, she knew what she had to do. She wasn’t going to allow her low social status to stop what she so desired. She was pushed and scuffled along with the crowds but had only one thing on her mind. She was focused on Jesus. She was determined to reach out towards him.  

The woman’s desperation propelled her forward, she persevered, and her faith was unwavering. She became a risk taker because she was going against the rules of her time. She thrust her way through the crowds, although she could have been crushed to death.  She focused on her goal; she was trusting Jesus for her healing with outstretched arms. She wasn’t going to give up… 

 One touch of that garment was all it needed. Then it happened… she touched the source of the healing power; her faith was activated. 

 Jesus responded! Suddenly he felt power zap from him. There had been a connection with the woman who had touched him, where she had great faith that he was the one who could heal her. He responded to her faith and restored her to wholeness. 

Wow what a lesson for us to learn! How desperate are we to connect with God? Jesus is our ultimate power source that can get us going in the morning, he is the one we can reach out to and to guide us through the day. He is the one who restores us, gives us fulfilment and complete wholeness! 


Jean Griffiths is a wonderful volunteer based in Auckland. She’s the communication liaison for CFFD branches as well as serving on Auckland CFFD committee.

We Need Each Other

By Manuele Teofilo 

I enjoy meeting up with other Christians. Either at a small group, connect group or even just a coffee catch-up. These are always wonderful opportunities to share encouragement to build each other up. Or to listen to the hardships that our friend is going through and to pray for them.

In my late teenage years, I was weighed down with a big question.  How do I serve? Seeing everyone at church serving in practical ways, I didn’t feel like I could do anything to serve my church community. Blinded by thinking that practical acts of service were the only way to serve, I couldn’t see how I fitted into the body of the church.

My friends and I had discussions about how I was feeling and about the question that plagued me.  They first empathised with me in my confusion. Then they started to tell me how I blessed them. My courage to give things a go and praying for others were some ways I encouraged them. I began to see that even the little things can be a big encouragement to others.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:12 “Both of us need help. I can help make your faith strong and you can do the same for me. We need each other.” Paul! The guy who wrote a number of letters in the New Testament. He needed help!

Don’t underestimate how you can encourage another believer. Even if they have a major role in the church. Or if you feel you don’t give as much practically or spiritually as them. The Church in Rome, like us today, looked up to Paul as a great teacher. However, he welcomed encouragement from other believers. We may feel our way of serving is insignificant compared to others. Yet, we don’t know what impact we have on people with even just a smile.

Like Paul, we should let others support and encourage us in our faith. At the same time, we need to support and build others up in their faith.


Manuele Teofilo is Communications Coordinator at the Elevate National Support Office. He attends Gracecity Church in Auckland and lives with Cerebral Palsy.

Welcome to the Audio Encourager Magazine No. 175

  1. Welcome to The Encourager No.175 Elevate Christian Disability Trust 0:09
  2. Three Images on the Front Cover Elevate Christian Disability Trust 0:38
  3. Welcome by Kirsty Armitage Elevate Christian Disability Trust 2:47
  4. God Calls Us to Work Together - A Devotion by Jan Bridgman Elevate Christian Disability Trust 3:55
  5. An Experience I Will Never Forget by Blair Woolley Elevate Christian Disability Trust 6:03
  6. Stronger Together Elevate Christian Disability Trust 6:17
  7. Reflections on Prayer Elevate Christian Disability Trust 5:27
  8. Kevin Park's Communication Ministry Elevate Christian Disability Trust 5:17
  9. Volunteer Spotlight - Dave Palmer Elevate Christian Disability Trust 4:25
  10. The Anchor - Jenny Hook's Poetry Book Elevate Christian Disability Trust 4:18
  11. Hear some Good News Elevate Christian Disability Trust 2:39

The Wise Men Went Together

By Manuele Teofilo 

In Matthew 2 it tells us the story about the wise men following the star that led them to the new-born baby. Verse 10 and 11 read, “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

They journeyed together! In this short passage of scripture, the word “they” is mentioned multiple times. “They saw”, “they entered”, they worshipped and they gave gifts to the new-born King! If a wise man travelled alone, he wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Or, have no one to encourage him to keep going when he felt like giving up.

There’s something about doing things together. There’s more excitement and more strength. The group could carry more gifts. It was easier to face up to a king who didn’t like the news about a new king with others beside them.

The Joy and excitement of the wise men when they finally saw baby Jesus would’ve been so great! The group would’ve been celebrating together for making it to Bethlehem after a long trip. But also filled with hope and joy to see the Saviour of the world right before their eyes.

Who are you celebrating Christmas with this year? With your family, friends or church community. If you don’t have anyone to celebrate and remember the birth of Christ with, I encourage you to reach out. Or, you may know someone that has no family to be with on Christmas day. Please consider inviting them to your celebrations.

Whatever you do to remember Jesus this Christmas make sure you do it with others. Because celebrating the birth of our Saviour is way better together!

Manuele Teofilo is Communications Coordinator at the Elevate National Support Office. He attends Gracecity Church in Auckland and lives with Cerebral Palsy.

Encourager Magazine No. 175, November 2022

The Encourager Magazine No. 175, November 2022 is now available.

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My Sheep Know My Voice

By Sarah Houston

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them,  and they follow me” (NIV)

I was walking in Cornwall Park enjoying seeing the new lambs in the fields, so carefree and content having their mother close by their side. This reminded me I have a Good Shepherd too, who takes good care of me. He is loving, caring, patient, kind, my helper, friend, protector

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (ESV)

Luke 12:32 “Fear not little flock” (ESV). Jesus has promised that he will always take good care of us.

In the bible, we read passages about sheep, lambs, flocks, and the good shepherd. Many times, we are liken to sheep.

Below are some examples:

  1. Sheep don’t have any sense of direction they will just follow each other. That’s why we need a shepherd to guide us.

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray” (ESV)

  1. Sheep are helpless, they need a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (NIV)

Sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.”

  1. Sheep cannot carry heavy loads.

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.” (ESV)

  1. Sheep will take the easiest way, not necessarily the right path.

Psalm 23:4 “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

  1. Sheep cannot look after themselves when hurt.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” (NIV)

  1. Sheep are valuable to the shepherd; they provide for all his needs.

John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (ESV)

Jesus has provided a way to heaven for us through His sacrificial death on the cross. Remember to give thanks today for our gentle and loving Good Shepherd, and to always stay close by His side.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name. When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd, filling a stadium or flooding a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans, a flock of faces. That’s what we see. But not so with The Shepherd. To him every face is different. Every face is a story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. The one with the sad eyes, that’s Sally. The old fellow with one eyebrow up and the other down, Harry’s his name. And the young one with the limp? He’s an orphan with no brothers, that’s Joey.

The Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows each one by name. The Shepherd knows you. He knows your name. And he will never forget it. “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” – Isaiah 49:16 (NLT).

Sarah Houston is the Activity Coordinator at our Drop-in Centre in Auckland. She brings great amounts of wisdom and amazing bible teachings to the Drop-in Centre meetings.