Stimulus Volume 22 Issue 3 - Nov 2015

Table of Contents

What does it mean to be well? The Bible and the Challenge of Being Well
Rod Thompson

What does it mean to be well? A Tale of Three Cities and More Besides
Andrew Howie

What does it mean to be well? A Pastor and his Wife's Journey with Bipolar Disorder
Imoa and Amelia Setefano

Mental Illness and Leprosy
Christine Welten

The Voice: How Now Shall We Live?
Geoff New

Burning the Candle at Both Ends
Malcolm Dickson

Katie Thomas and Ruth McConnell

Immanuel Koks

Vision: Still Alice
Fiona Sherwin

St Imulus

Faith has its Reasonings in New Zealand
Bob Robinson

Book Reviews


In 2012/13 the New Zealand Health survey found that one in six New Zealand adults (16% or approximately 582,000) had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some time in their lives.1 Mental health is no longer hidden away from society as it once was. People are recognising the struggles of those living will mental health challenges and are inviting conversation. Celebrities are openly talking about their struggles; John Kirwan is the face of depression support, advocating for those who would not ordinarily ask for help.2 In June 2015 Laidlaw College, recognising that a lot of churches had hurting, struggling folks in their congregation, ran a two-day conference: “Being Well… and Mental Health Challenges.” This issue of Stimulus has been brought together because of that conference.

Rod Thompson explores the challenge of a biblical perspective of what it means to be well – accepting our weaknesses and allowing God to glorify himself in the weak, his power made perfect and his grace revealed. Andrew Howie, a clinical psychologist takes us on a journey through “three cities”, where we come to understand the meaning of “wellness”. He explains the definition given by the World Health Organisation, then reaches back to philosophical notions that have influenced thought and finally theological ideas on what being a Christian means through an imaginary dialogue between three theologians, with additional case studies illustrating the principal ideas.

Two articles are bedded in lived experience. Very few Pasifika Christian voices are heard in the mental health areas. Imoa and Amelia Setefano share from their encounter with Bipolar disorder. Imoa speaks from his diagnosis and what that has meant for him and Amelia.

Christine Welton adds a further personal perspective, suggesting that the historical stigma associated with Leprosy suggests much about common attitudes to Mental Health.

We have asked each of the regular columnists to write their pieces with the theme of the issue in mind. Geoff New in The Voice, shares his story of hearing the news of his nephew’s suicide, Geoff pronounced the committal of Ben at his funeral and then goes to explore how we should live in the light of despair. Immanuel Koks is the contributor for the School of Theology column, which he has entitled “Solidarity” He uses Jürgen Moltmann’s writings to understand suffering and hope in the midst of darkness. Katie Thomas, a recent Laidlaw counselling graduate and Ruth McConnell have written this issue’s Synergeo. The topic of burnout amongst Pastors is discussed. Even St Imulus adopts a different tone as this important theme is explored.

On different lines altogether, we also include an extensive review article by Bob Robinson. Taking a recent New Zealand publication as his starting point, Bob surveys what is currently available for those seeking creative and helpful ways to engage the culture with the Gospel.

This is a very personal, at times personally searching, issue of Stimulus. We hope it opens further conversations and enhances opportunities for healing.

Fiona Sherwin