What is the secret to effective community ministry? Keep turning up and show you care.

"It's not rocket science - it's all about relationships."

Howard Webb

20 March 2016

Ray Carter-Selwood of Waiuku can hardly be accused of taking things easy, even if he is technically retired.

Originally from Wales, he and his Kiwi wife Linda worship at Cornerstone Christian Church where they serve on the oversight and worship teams. In fact they had just recorded a couple of songs as part of the Christian band “Unchained” just the day before we spoke.

However, it is Ray’s role as the church’s CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Debt Centre Manager combined with his God-given ability to build relationships that has opened other doors to the community for him and his church.  Cornerstone Christian Church has always been passionate about CAP and the Leadership and congregation give support in so many ways.

One such opportunity was at the WISE Guys Rehabilitation Centre in the old Kingseat Hospital grounds. Ray had a CAP client sign on there, and despite this unpredictable environment Ray just kept showing up. After a year this client who was debt-free and Ray had built solid relationships with the directors of the centre.

When Ray needed to find places to do his internship for the chaplaincy training he was undertaking, WISE Guys sprang to mind.

“I was at the refuge and was about to get back in my van after an interview with my CAP client when the thought came to me, ‘Why not ask the manager if I can do an internship here?’ I went back inside, saw the director and after chatting for a while we got into this deep theological discussion. He is an agnostic and is open. It seemed like an opportunity so I just said, ‘I’m studying to be a chaplain, I was wondering if it would be possible to do an internship here?’ He just looked at me and said, ‘Man, we’ve been looking for somebody for a year!’ laughs Ray.

A similar chain of events unfolded at the Waiuku Medical Centre. Ray had clients there and over time he had built relationships and trust with the managers and staff at the Centre. When he approached them with the possibility of serving there as a community chaplain the practice manager said ‘I think that would be a great idea!’ Ray even has recognition on their website as a chaplain.

So what does being a chaplain look like for Ray?

“At the WISE Guys centre I just do whatever is needed – if I see a need I just do it. If I am there and some of the guys need to get into Pukekohe, I will give them a lift or fetch stuff for them.

“Every Wednesday we have a little bible get-together and I will bring coffee and biscuits and we have a chat. It’s basically just doing stuff and being prepared to do what is necessary. There is no formula,” says Ray.

“With chaplaincy we talk all the time about it being a presence ministry. Wherever you are you take the presence of God with you. I go into dark places and bring the presence of God there. If there’s a need and you can meet that need, it opens doors whether you are a Christian or not. CAP is overtly Christian so I can go in with my faith which has allowed me to bring chaplaincy to places where even non-believers see the good in it. The world knows there’s a need even if they don’t know what it is!”

Does Ray have some practical tips for building relationships in the community?

“You need to keep turning up,” says Ray. “They need to know that you are faithful and are going to be there for the long run.”