“I just want people to come to know Jesus.”
As Malachi WIlliams and I initially chatted about this interview, those were among his first words.
Though many things may have changed during the more than three quarters of a century – or 77 years – Māori Postal Aotearoa has been following the call of God so far, one thing remains the same.
Its key kaupapa – or principle – is simply reflected in that opening statement – to see people come to know Christ.
Based in Whanganui, Malachi and his wife Char have been Māori Postal Aotearoa’s national directors since 2017.
They and their team want to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread across Aotearoa, influencing people’s lives – and homes – and providing tangata whenua with free Bible-based resources in both Te Reo Māori and English.
Last year, more than 136,000 resources – made up of thousands of monthly Bible lessons, a quarterly full-colour magazine called Tupu Whakarangi – Growing Heavenward – a free bi-monthly children’s magazine called Tamariki A Ihowa – God’s Children – gospel calendars, Super Bible comics and more – were distributed nationally.
I sat down with Malachi and Char as they shared their hearts to resource whānau, tamariki and all tangata whenua in Aotearoa with the Word of God.
Malachi and Char, thanks so much for making time to chat. Some of those reading this may be unfamiliar with Māori Postal Aotearoa. How would you explain it to them?
Simply put, Māori Postal Aotearoa is a mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout our Māori communities and across Aotearoa. We do this by making bilingual Biblical resources available – the majority of which we produce ourselves.
I watched a video about how Māori Postal Aotearoa started. It’s an amazing story. Can you tell me a little bit about the history of the ministry, which was known in its early days as the Māori Postal Sunday School (MPSS)?
Sure! Māori Postal Aotearoa began in 1945. Dargaville’s Arnot Edwards and Marton’s Elsie Severinsen both independently realised that because many children lived in remote areas of the country, they were unable to make it to Sunday School to learn about Jesus. They both had a heart to see the gospel reach these places – so they each began writing children’s Bible lessons which could then be delivered to families.
Arnot soon became aware of Elsie’s work in the Rangitikei district and they subsequently combined their efforts, deciding to make Whanganui the central distribution area. The initial name, Māori Postal Sunday School, simply came about because of that collective desire to simply see tamariki, or children, being able to learn about Jesus through Sunday School material.
In time, the work has expanded from Bible lessons to also include a full colour magazine, Tupu Whakarangi – Growing Heavenward – a free bi-monthly children’s magazine called Tamariki A Ihowa – God’s Children – gospel calendars, tracts, posters and more. What’s the most exciting part of seeing the new opportunities God opens doors to?
It’s simply amazing really. Beginning with children’s Bible lessons, as – over the years – the range of resources we produce and send out has increased, we can now cater for adults too. With our desire to reach all the people of Aotearoa with the gospel of Jesus Christ in mind, our name was altered to Māori Postal Aotearoa.
Last year, we produced and distributed over 136,000 resources. As you mentioned, they include, among others, Bible studies, magazines, bilingual text posters, tracts and a Super Bible comic. When we mail out the Bible studies, we receive up to 400 of them back for marking each month.
What’s the most recent addition to Māori Postal Aotearoa’s resources?
Our children’s magazine Tamariki A Ihowā. Tupu Whakarangi is a family-oriented magazine, though it’s really more suited to older teens and adults. Char decided to trial a bilingual children’s magazine – so Tamariki A Ihowā is now produced every two months. We distribute up to 5000 copies of each issue and we’re currently producing our 30th edition!
In 2020, we were offered a unique opportunity to partner with Wandering Sheep Productions and Reach Beyond New Zealand to both grow the ministry of Māori Postal Aotearoa and, even more so, significantly impact the lives of tāngata whenua in Aotearoa. Work began towards providing the Super Bible comics in Te Reo Māori. Our desire was to make it available for use through a variety of places and avenues around Aotearoa – including correctional facilities, schools, libraries, homes, churches and others. God provided some very generous supporters and a wonderful translator and it’s been amazing being part of the project. The Lord simply brought various people and organisations together in His time and for His glory.
In April, we attended a dawn blessing at Tauwhare to celebrate the first of those ‘ready to be released’ Super Bible comics – Te Tino Kōrero, translated by Dr Tom Roa. The Te Reo Māori project involves translating over 80 high quality comic book Bible stories with characters from both the Old and New Testaments. As the first in the Super Bible series, Te Tino Kōrero tells the story of the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation – 12 of those stories focus on the life of Christ. The comics are presented with high quality graphics, thanks to some of the world’s most experienced animation artists. When printed, they are made available as either a hard copy, or digitally through a branded version of the Super Bible app.
Māori Postal Aotearoa’s resources are so professionally and creatively presented. Do you enjoy combining that clear gifting you have with your overarching desire to share Jesus?
Can I just say, I think Char’s the creative one!
Is that true Char?
Well, I’m really not that creative to be honest! I truly believe it’s just a case of me – and the others in our team of course – continually praying “…okay God, would you lead and guide us and help bring things together in Your strength, timing and ability?” As we trust HIm, I always find it so exciting to look back at how God has ultimately directed the process. It’s an honour to be able to use our giftings to serve Him with a heart to see others come to Jesus.
Also, given that – in everything – we’re trusting Him, I’m always so encouraged when people come back to us and say things like, “… of all the Bible stories you could have picked, that’s the one we’re learning about right at the moment.” Feedback like that makes me think, “…yes, that timing just has to be God…”
Okay, on a similar note, with Māori Postal Aotearoa resources now reaching thousands of people every month, how does it impact you when people tell you how those resources influenced their lives and pointed them to Jesus?
It’s just so encouraging and heart-warming to receive that feedback. We have to say, we’re just a vessel, our heart is to make ourselves available to be used by God to distribute His Word. But, what a privilege to be used like that. God has, and continues to, supply our every need. And this simply means we can provide the majority of our resources at no cost. God’s gift of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ, is the most amazing gift we can ever receive. All Char and I and our team can say is what an amazing, God-given opportunity we have to play a part in telling people about that gift as we reach out into communities all around Aotearoa New Zealand with the gospel message.
Anything done at that scale takes a massive team effort – you guys must have some amazing volunteers!
We do, and they’re wonderful. I think too, that because our resources are free, it helps to open doors for even more people to make use of them and spread the resources even further. People often share with us the key reason they’re able to make use of Māori Postal Aotearoa resources is simply because they are free.
Can I ask, given that the work of the ministry is financed by donations – or koha – from various sources, what’s it like to reflect on the ways in which the Lord has continually directed, provided for and supplied your various needs over the years?
As we mentioned, the Lord continually provides for our every need. We’ve recently been revamping and tidying up the building and we’ve been coming across some of the old resources and material which document our history. It’s actually hard to put into words in a way, but we’re constantly overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness as we reflect on everything He’s brought us through that’s led us to today. Reflecting on our history also gives us confidence for the future. God has provided in the past – and proven Himself faithful – so many times, and He’ll continue to do so as we keep our eyes, and our focus, on Him. In that sense, provision isn’t really a concern of ours, we trust God with that. It’s a door only He can open and keep open. Collectively, our heart’s desire is simple – we’ll just keep making ourselves available by simply saying, “…here we are Lord, use and guide us.”
Malachi, during our initial chats you mentioned Char has an amazing – and long standing – whānau connection with Māori Postal Aotearoa. Char, can you tell me about that?
Sure! My mum and dad – Graham and Evelyn Batson – served as superintendents for 35 years from 1982 to 2017. Back then, Dad printed all the resources – and there were volunteers who came in as well. When my sister and I were kids, we were among those who got roped in from time to help too. We didn’t mind at all though!
Dad was a preacher, so he also travelled around a lot. Looking back, it was an amazing time – and as a family, we got to go to places around New Zealand we probably never would have otherwise. As you get older, you begin to realise what an awesome privilege our upbringing was. It really is an amazing legacy.
And I absolutely remember coming back into the Māori Postal Aotearoa building when I was older. I’d moved away and been living elsewhere for a time and I remember God began to speak to me with a sense that I’d be back involved with the ministry. And here we are – Malachi and I have been the national directors since 2017.
Can I ask, how was it that you guys each came to know Christ personally? Char, can you start?
Sure. I think for me, there isn’t one particular moment, as such. I obviously grew up in a Christian home – I knew about Jesus and had a relationship with him. Before God brought Malachi into my life – he and I married in 2016 – I was previously married for nearly 23 years. That marriage ended up being quite an unhealthy relationship, and during the last few years of that, I’d say I didn’t depend on God like I should have. I think I tried to find ‘help’ in my own strength to ‘escape’ the situation I was in. Looking back now, that obviously wasn’t good. As I sit here sharing that part of my story now, I do so because I can see that in submitting every area of my life to God, He’s clearly revealed to me not only how He led my family and I through that season, but also how much more He has for us, in Him, now. Trust Him, not our own strength or abilities, because in trusting Him, we can allow God to use our story to reach others.
And that’s my heart. Since working at Māori Postal Aotearoa, I’ve had such a God-given desire for children to come to know Christ. I’d say that was my ultimate aim in starting Tamariki A Ihowā – to let our tamariki know that when things aren’t good, or they’re not going well – and when you feel like you have nobody in those times – Jesus is there and He loves you. We simply want to tell the children, and of course adults, in Aotearoa that Jesus is our Hope. Even when life is hard, we don’t have to do it on our own – come to Christ, submit your life to Him and He will walk alongside you and give you His strength.
And for you Malachi?
Jeremy, I was a bit older when I realised the first person I saw displaying Jesus to me was my great-grandmother, Mihinui. She absolutely loved the Lord. Growing up, there were all sorts of abuses that I witnessed, and I was also fatherless. Yet, I was always reminded by my great-grandmother that God was, and is, ultimately my Father. I’ve always remembered that. She taught me the Lord’s prayer in Te Reo Māori even before I could speak English. When living with my great grandmother, we went to church – it was held in different homes in the community of Rātana Pā, where I lived.
As a teenager, I began to rebel and as I got older I went way off track. I married young, but had no idea how to be a husband, or a father. I left the marriage after a couple of years, although I kept in contact with my children. My wife suffered health problems and sadly passed away a few years before I met Char.
And, God has absolutely given me Char – she’s an amazing blessing. Things in my life – sin – were essentially getting worse and worse until, one day, I remembered once again a key part of what my great-grandmother had taught me – that Jesus loved me and died for me. I simply cried out to God in desperation and broken-heartedness,“…Lord, take over…” He brought me back to the cross and as I asked for His forgiveness, it was as though a big weight was lifted off – all my hurt, pain and suffering.
I sensed His love and understood the incredible sacrifice He’d made on my behalf. From that moment, life has never been the same. That was the beginning of my journey. And, that’s not to say either that I haven’t made mistakes at times since then, and since Char’s been in my life. But regardless, in asking for His forgiveness, the Lord has been teaching me that it’s simply about keeping our eyes on Jesus, asking for forgiveness when I make mistakes and continuing to walk in relationship with Him. His grace is sufficient.
How amazing that the Lord brought you together for such a time as this, to steward the ministry of Māori Postal Aotearoa together! As we’ve said, the work has such an amazing tāhuhu kōrero, or history. What do you both like most about your roles as national directors at this time?
It really is a privilege. Sometimes, we can get a little bit caught up with what we’re doing here and, at times, wonder about the extent of the difference we’re making for Jesus. Yet, as we said earlier, even if we hear from one or two people how our resources have helped them, it’s worth it. It’s a ripple effect really and we may never know the full extent of the influence the resources are having. We often hear too how people are using a number of our resources in different ways as an outreach tool in various parts of Aotearoa. That’s amazing.
Can you tell me a bit about your whānau?
We are a blended whānau, with 12 children. The kids are on different journeys when it comes to their walk with the Lord. Many of them know Jesus, are walking in relationship with Him and are well connected to the local church we go to.
For those of our kids who don’t yet know the Lord, we are of course continually praying that they will all come to know Him. At this stage, they all know ‘about’ Him, but our prayer is that they come to know Jesus personally and begin to walk in relationship with Him.
Also, we have 17 grandchildren all up!
Wow. So, you guys have very full plates in terms of various work and family commitments then. What intentional decisions do you make to ensure you steward and balance all that’s required of you well?
We’re so blessed. When we get overloaded here, we actually call on some of the kids to help us out. One of our daughters works with us here as a part time graphic designer. There’s a real desire to reach people. God’s grace on our family has kept us in His hand. For us, a key thing is also having them planted in a local church. There, they’re all surrounded by people their own age who also love Jesus. Particularly when your kids are teeneagers, their friends and peers play a huge, influential role in their lives. We’re blessed to be part of a very community-minded, intentional church family.
I was interested to ask, while the core of the resources you produce are sent out in the mail, in today’s day and age, what role does technology like the internet and social media play in complimenting the work already being done to see the gospel spread throughout Aotearoa?
Well, as one example, both the Māori Postal Aotearoa mobile app and the website are currently in development. There will be an area of that site specifically for the online distribution of things like the Super Comics, which we spoke of before, as well as our Bible lessons and studies for both children and adults. This opens up our resources, via online viewing, to anyone who has access to mobile phones, tablets and computers.
We’ll obviously continue to mail out our resources, but at the same time, we’re also really prayerful about our online presence, because it potentially gives us a whole new God-given audience, which can be world wide. One thing we’d love to see too – as part of that online presence – is something like a live chat component.
Maybe while the lessons are being completed online, our team could then be available live on the website to answer any questions people have. That could be one great way of having a personal interaction with people who utilise our resources. Many years ago, Māori Postal Aotearoa had more than 60 leaders, or representatives, around Aotearoa – they were all responsible for groups in their own communities and went and regularly visited families. The purpose was to simply build relationships with people who were receiving our resources and do life with them. In some ways, that dynamic has changed over the years – so with the Lord’s direction and guidance, an online presence is a way of utilising technology in a positive way for His glory and to compliment the hard copy work we’re doing. At the same time, it’s simply another way of connecting with people and letting them know we’re here and we care.
You raise an interesting point. Though the world may look different in many ways when compared with 75 years ago, our nation’s need for Jesus remains the same. What’s the value of our nation’s tamariki, and tangata whenua, both knowing – and having access to – the gospel and other Christ-centred resources to help anchor them in Jesus?
It’s certainly easy to look around and see how the world is different – and has changed – since the early days when Māori Postal Aotearoa began. And, while many methods in terms of the way in which we communicate and reach people today may be different, the message of Jesus is not. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and people simply need Him just as much now as they did 75 years ago.
I read the exciting news that as of June – thanks to collective support and generous donations – you reached an $82,000 fundraising goal for a new printer. Awesome! How will that new addition help improve the work of the ministry?
The ways in which God provides for our every need are just incredible. To give you some context, in the last five years – from 2017 to this year, 2022, demand for resources has been steadily increasing. In fact, the number of resources distributed in 2021 that we mentioned – 136,295 – marked an increase of about 60,000 resources when compared to the 77,786 we distributed in 2017. Not only does the new printer handle that resource increase more efficiently, it also trims and produces a completed end product – meaning we’ll be able to produce and distribute resources faster.
Again, it’s another example of God’s provision, in His timing. We are so grateful to God for that provision and also, of course, for the generous koha – or donations – and financial support from so many. That support simply means we can continue in our mission to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread across Aotearoa. Our calculations show that, based on the cost savings we’ll make, the new printer will have paid for itself within the next five years. As we speak, we’re preparing space in our building here in Whanganui for the new printer and it will be installed and in use printing resources by later on in September.
Finally, as you look to the future, what’s a simple message of encouragement you’d have for readers when it comes to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and genuinely and authentically living out our daily walk with Him?
Perhaps one of the most important thoughts comes from words found in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV). Just keep looking to Jesus – don’t take your eyes off Him. Our walks with the Lord should display authenticity to others and the fact that we genuinely care for them. I think people notice if we’re not being authentic. Perhaps if having a genuine heart of love towards others is something you struggle with – or would like the Lord to develop more in your life – pray that God would give you a soft heart. Because He will.
So often, actions speak louder than words – even if you feel like you’re maybe not getting anywhere, you may never know the full impact – and extent – of your actions as you are a Christ-like example. Then, when people have questions, maybe you can be a person to whom they come? Honestly, we don’t know what people are going through, or what’s happening in their lives, yet our role is to trust God and point people to Jesus. Ultimately, He’s the hope they’re looking for. Our overarching desire should be to help others take steps towards not only coming to know Jesus, and then also being discipled in their walk in relationship with Him. Jesus said in John 14:6, ““I am the way and the truth and the life…” (NIV). Outside of Christ, there’s nothing – everything we are looking for is found in Him.
Malachi and Char, thanks so much!
- Though most Māori Postal Aotearoa resources are provided free, there is a cost associated with producing and distributing them. To find out more about Māori Postal Aotearoa’s work – or how you can prayerfully make a donation – or koha – visit www.maoripostal.co.nz
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About the author
Jeremy Smith is editor of, and one of the writers for, Authentic Magazine.
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