Oranga Tamariki and Hillsong
Good Morning and Welcome to this week’s Gospel and Culture update, by Alan Vink
Oranga Tamariki and Hillsong
Tuesday 5th October 2021
Oranga Tamariki Review
Currently there are more than 6000 children in State Care in NZ. A damning review has found that Oranga Tamariki is a "weak, disconnected and unfit" agency - and the Government says it will cease the current controversial process of child uplifts.
“The issues facing the agency came to a head in 2019 after Newsroom published a video of the uplift of a week-old Māori baby in Hastings. That event led to no less than five damning reviews of Oranga Tamariki and its child uplift practices: an internal review, and inquiries by Whānau Ora, the Chief Ombudsman, the Children's Commissioner, and the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Waitangi Tribunal, in its report He Pāharakeke released in April, called on the Crown to step down after finding Oranga Tamariki to be a "foundation of structural racism".
POV. It’s a vexing issue. About 6 months after we were married Jeanette and I fostered a teenage girl through the Christian Foster Care Organisation called Open Home Foundation. This youngster was 14 years old, a ‘ward of the state’ and had been in 11 different ‘homes’. We were home number 12. This is tough…..very tough whichever way you look at it. The Department of Social Welfare as it was known back then was doing it’s best. But the State is not set up to be a good parent. I have come to the conclusion it can’t be. Sadly, it has become a huge institution and institutions can’t care for children especially not vulnerable children. What they can do, however, is ‘fund’ foster families to care for children who can’t for whatever reason stay with their biological parents or extended families. And there are many reasons why this is the case and they are always sad.
Fostering children is a wonderful ministry for Christian families. It’s not easy but it can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Fostering or supporting vulnerable children is a ministry right on all our door steps and I recommend it. I want to also highly recommend Open Home Foundation as an excellent agency to work with.
POV. The documentary on the Sunday Programme two nights ago called ‘Hillsong Hell’ is hard to watch. It’s also very sad. No abuse should ever happen in a Christian church……never. But sadly it does and while high profile churches are subject to stinging public exposures like we see here it would be wrong to conclude that this is a ‘megachurch problem only’. It by no means is.
Churches are also subject to the fall. A crucial task of pastors and elders is to discern where fallenness and the consequences of the fall (sin) has ‘crept into the pew’. Sometimes it has crept into the pastorate. When this happens Jesus and the Apostle Paul give us very clear teaching as to how we should deal with it. And deal with it we must because churches are supposed to be the safest places on earth for every person that attends and at all times irrespective of the baggage a person brings with them.
There is another question that we should wrestle with. How big should churches become? I hold the view that when a church gets to big (let’s say over 1000 members) it moves more towards a corporation rather than a body, a flock (of sheep) or a family. I don’t think churches were ever intended to be run like corporations. But that is another subject for another time.
I don’t know the full story of what happened at Hillsong…..none of us do. I just wish it never happened.
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.