headshot of Nathan Hughes, local Pathways mission coach in Nelson

Nathan Hughes

Local Mission Coach

With experience as a diocesan social services enabler, youth pastor and cross-cultural missionary, Nathan works as a local mission coach in Nelson.

Embrace your place

Nathan Hughes

Local Mission Coach

With experience as a diocesan social services enabler, youth pastor and cross-cultural missionary, Nathan works as a local mission coach in Nelson.

Embrace your place

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

This is a radical piece of scripture.

Jeremiah is writing to the Israelite people in exile in the great and "wicked" city of Babylon. This perception of wickedness was so strong that all these years later, the name "Babylon" still conjures up images of depravity.

Jerusalem has been sacked, and the temple has been destroyed. Up until now, the Jews have only known God within the confines of their own small nation. Now, they are racked with fear of the unknown. Does God care about them? Are they still able to pray and worship God in this unholy place? Should they attempt to keep themselves completely separate from their neighbours?

And God's response through Jeremiah comes as a huge surprise. Firstly, God isn’t restricted to the defines of the temple or even the borders of Israel. "I am the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.” In other words, “I am God over the whole creation. You are in Babylon, but I am still your God, and you are still my people”.  

Secondly, you’ll be there for a while, so plant gardens, build houses, etc.

But then thirdly, and most surprisingly: “Seek the welfare of your city... pray to the Lord on its behalf.”

What?! Pray for Babylon?

So many years after Jeremiah's day, I feel like these words echo down through the ages. The church in New Zealand, perceived by many to be irrelevant and out of touch, has often seized upon exilic imagery.

We, too, live surrounded by neighbours who do not share our faith. Our culture is growing increasingly secular and can sometimes be actively hostile to the Christian message.

The temptation for the church today is the same as it was for the Jews in Babylon: to keep to ourselves, to associate with our own, and to spend our time and attention on the values, agendas, and demands of our own people.

But God wants us to seek the welfare of the places we live. God is not just the Lord of the church. He is the Lord of hosts.

God is not restricted to the confines of our homes or churches. God deeply loves our places and the people in our places.

Incredibly, and regardless of whether or not we join him, God is already at work in our neighbourhoods.

Is the idea that God loves "your place" a strange or radical one to you?

Who are your people?

Where is your place?

Read more of Nathan's work in his blog, Dear local legend...

Check out other articles in the

series below.

More articles in the

series are to come.

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We have invited these writers to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in the hope that these will provoke thought, challenge you to go deeper and inspire you to put your faith into action. These articles should not be taken as the official view of the Nelson Diocese on any particular matter.

Embrace your place

Nathan Hughes

Local Mission Coach

With experience as a diocesan social services enabler, youth pastor and cross-cultural missionary, Nathan works as a local mission coach in Nelson.

Embrace your place

Nathan Hughes

Local Mission Coach

With experience as a diocesan social services enabler, youth pastor and cross-cultural missionary, Nathan works as a local mission coach in Nelson.

Embrace your place

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

This is a radical piece of scripture.

Jeremiah is writing to the Israelite people in exile in the great and "wicked" city of Babylon. This perception of wickedness was so strong that all these years later, the name "Babylon" still conjures up images of depravity.

Jerusalem has been sacked, and the temple has been destroyed. Up until now, the Jews have only known God within the confines of their own small nation. Now, they are racked with fear of the unknown. Does God care about them? Are they still able to pray and worship God in this unholy place? Should they attempt to keep themselves completely separate from their neighbours?

And God's response through Jeremiah comes as a huge surprise. Firstly, God isn’t restricted to the defines of the temple or even the borders of Israel. "I am the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.” In other words, “I am God over the whole creation. You are in Babylon, but I am still your God, and you are still my people”.  

Secondly, you’ll be there for a while, so plant gardens, build houses, etc.

But then thirdly, and most surprisingly: “Seek the welfare of your city... pray to the Lord on its behalf.”

What?! Pray for Babylon?

So many years after Jeremiah's day, I feel like these words echo down through the ages. The church in New Zealand, perceived by many to be irrelevant and out of touch, has often seized upon exilic imagery.

We, too, live surrounded by neighbours who do not share our faith. Our culture is growing increasingly secular and can sometimes be actively hostile to the Christian message.

The temptation for the church today is the same as it was for the Jews in Babylon: to keep to ourselves, to associate with our own, and to spend our time and attention on the values, agendas, and demands of our own people.

But God wants us to seek the welfare of the places we live. God is not just the Lord of the church. He is the Lord of hosts.

God is not restricted to the confines of our homes or churches. God deeply loves our places and the people in our places.

Incredibly, and regardless of whether or not we join him, God is already at work in our neighbourhoods.

Is the idea that God loves "your place" a strange or radical one to you?

Who are your people?

Where is your place?

Read more of Nathan's work in his blog, Dear local legend...

Check out other articles in the

series below.

More articles in the

series are to come.