My wonderful wife

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Tany leaving the NHS to step out in business on her own.

It strikes me, that over the last few years, she’s taken a number of significant steps to enable me to work for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Initially, it was surviving a long commute to Harrow for work. Today, it’s being self-employed, running Liberty Home Physio, in order to maintain a reasonable quality of life at home, especially during the times I need to travel.

Who knows what the next year will hold? We are both incredibly grateful for the way that God has provided for us over this last year but we need Liberty Home Physio to continue to provide while also increasing the number of people supporting us, enabling me to continue to work with Wycliffe.

In the meantime, I’ll just celebrate my wife, friend, mother to my children and self-employed physiotherapist who has survived her first year in business. Well done Tany.

Searching for peace

Yesterday was fascinating. I spent the afternoon in London with a load of mission leaders talking about the theology of risk. The premise being that, the attitude of mission agencies and the western church is risk-averse, yet the areas of the world that could still reasonably called unreached carry a significant risk for Christians that want to work there.

Maybe I can write more about this in the next day or two. But, after the meeting, I headed over to St Paul’s Cathedral for choral evensong. I don’t go very often, but on occasion, I’ve found it provides an hour of calm and space for reflection in the midst of chaos. After the last two weeks of business, today it was welcome.

I arrived slightly late, in the middle of the singing of Psalm 88. Considering the conversations of the day about our attitude to risk, I was left wondering exactly what Heman the Ezrahite was going through to compose this…

Psalms 88 (NLT) 
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out to you by day.
I come to you at night.
Now hear my prayer;
listen to my cry.
For my life is full of troubles,
and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
into the darkest depths.
Your anger weighs me down;
with wave after wave you have engulfed me.

Interlude
You have driven my friends away
by making me repulsive to them.
I am in a trap with no way of escape.
My eyes are blinded by my tears.
Each day I beg for your help, O Lord;
I lift my hands to you for mercy.
Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead?
Do the dead rise up and praise you?

Interlude
Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?
O Lord, I cry out to you.
I will keep on pleading day by day.
O Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you turn your face from me?
I have been sick and close to death since my youth.
I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.
Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
You have taken away my companions and loved ones.
Darkness is my closest friend.

Searching for peace

It has been pretty lousy few days. The car broke and is now at a second garage as they try to diagnose how much damage has been done to the engine.

The car broke and is now at a second garage as they try to diagnose how much damage has been done to the engine.

I’ve had a couple of days of difficult work conversations.

Add to that, there are a few aspects to my work that require all my concentration right now. I’m not sure I have ‘all’ my concentration to give.

So, tired and frustrated, I opened my Bible and read Psalm 34 (NLT).

I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Verse 10 really stuck out, ‘Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.’

I went ice skating with Amy this morning as an early birthday celebration – I’m going to be away for her actual birthday. The kids are fine, healthy and happy. Tany’s doing well, we can encourage and support each other, even when things are tough.

And while work and car issues are frustrating, difficult and costly, we’ve never been left short of what we need. Yes, we’ve been ‘hungry’ for a while, but never completely without.

Holidaybobs

Having not posted for a while, it’s time for a quick family update from the last few weeks.

Let’s start with the church weekend away where we thought about our involvement in the local community, discussed philosophy into the evening, Tany and I went for a jog together (we’ve never been able to do that before), we flew kites (see photo) and climbed through a bouncy castle obstacle course. Of course, this turned into a race and I managed to pull a hamstring, I’ve never done that before, it really hurt.

The next weekend was a trip to Southampton to celebrate my 40th birthday with family and friends.

We had a garden party at my parents’ house with a good number of family members. I’m very blessed to have all these people in my life and the group seems to be growing every year. I remember being a child and coming to these things and playing with my cousins. Now it’s our kids playing.

This was followed by a few hours at the Southwestern Arms with more friends from Above Bar Church.

All this celebrating was swiftly followed by a virus that I couldn’t shake. One moment I was fine, the next I was in bed, for days. I just recovered in time for our family holiday to Norfolk.

We did lots during the week, steam train rides, fish and chips, swimming (in the pool – this was still the UK), ice creams every day, but the best part was watching my girls playing together.

We followed a week away with a week at home. I did some DIY around the home, not as much as I’d planned, and Tany helped with Lighthouse (a local church holiday club) in the morning and worked a little in the afternoon. Amy got to officially go to Lighthouse as she starts school this year, she had a wonderful time, as did Sophie who was in the creche.

That was supposed to be it. After a busy two weeks, we were going to spend the final weekend of the holiday with Tany’s parents and go out for a quiet meal on Friday evening. Only, Tany had saved a surprise.

We got to the grandparents’ when I was given a card telling me that we were flying off to Dublin that evening. I thought something was going on, maybe a night in London, but this was more than I expected. That wasn’t the end of the surprise though.

I told Tany that my best birthday present would be an evening in a pub with friends, so we could talk, catch up on life, reminisce. So, waiting for me in Dublin was Adam and Kate, Joe and Jenny, friends for years, guys I love more than I can say, who just came to hang out for the weekend.

This wasn’t our first visit to Dublin. Tany and I (with Kate and Neil) were there 12 years ago! We’d just started dating. Clearly, we’ve hardly aged.

 

Searching for love

Last Thursday I was in London, a little under a week after three men went on their crazed attack on London Bridge and around Borough Market.

I wanted to visit the area, to pray for those who had been directly impacted by the violence, to pray for my country as we work out how to respond to yet another act of terror and also to pray for the church in this area, as these communities try to work out how to bring light into a dark situation.

Of course, on Thursday there was still a significant police cordon around Borough Market. Some roads and businesses were closed, as was Sothwark Cathedral which stands right on the edge of the market.

On the opposite side of the road from the market, just where Borough High Street turns into London Bridge, there’s a space that has been covered by flowers. Some from those who were there last Friday, but mostly from people who wanted to express their feelings of sorrow and loss.

Next to the place where the flowers have been laid, there’s a wall that supports a raised pathway. The wall has been covered with multicoloured post-it notes. Short messages of love and hope from people trying to express something of their emotions and hopes.

‘Don’t fear, don’t hate, fight back with LOVE’, says one message. ‘London will come through using love and tolerance’, says another. Yet another says, ‘From Manchester with love’, more striking with it being days since the Manchester Arena bomb attack.

The themes of love and unity come through again and again as people try to process and respond what took place.

I walked on from London Bridge, along the bank of the River Thames, and over the Millennium Bridge and up towards St Paul’s Cathedral.

The dome of the Cathedral stands out above much of London’s skyline. Some of the newer skyscrapers have taken different shapes due to the various protected views that exist to this point in the city. It’s an impressive building that has stood in its present form since 1675.

It has also meant a whole lot to London. During the Blitz, there was a team of fire wardens posted around the Cathedral to protect it in the event of a firestorm. The feeling was, as long as St Paul’s was standing, London would survive.

Across the road, on Sermon Lane, stands the National Firefighters Memorial, a reminder of how much this city suffered during those months of the second world war. Over 40,000 dead, thousands more injured and a whole nation impacted.

For me, walking past this memorial, the Cathedral and various other churches that are dotted around that part of London, put more of the previous week’s events into context.

Disasters, large and small will continue to impact this world. No matter how well policed and protected our cities become, it will not put an end to those who want to do harm and who view death as the ultimate tool to bring about their agenda. How we process these events, reflect on them and consider what death my mean matters more than ever.

A Passion for Mission

Yesterday afternoon I joined a few hundred church and mission leaders at All Souls in central London for Global Connections, Passion for Mission conference.

There were two key elements to this year’s event. The afternoon session hinged on the theme: God’s Mission in a Time of Transition. What is the role of the UK in mission today in a world that has changed so much and continues to change? Before an evening session where we celebrated the contribution of outgoing director Martin Lee and welcomed incoming director, Anna Bishop.

The following write-up is compiled from my sometimes sketchy notes.

Martin Lee opened the conference by emphasising that the UK still has a vital role to play in world mission, but that role is, today, very different from what it has been in the past. He reminded mission leaders that they needed to listen to other voices, including the voices from the margins.

We then had three short presentations from leaders representing different parts of the world. Peter Rowan of OMF, who is from the west; Louisa Evans of All Nations Christian College, who is Malaysian; and Israel Oluwole Olofinjana of Woolwich Central Baptist Church, who is Nigerian.

Peter Rowan – OMF International

Imperatives for missional connectiveness

Peter began by reflecting on the imperative of listening. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it like this, ‘The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.’ So, the first service we owe to mission is to listen to others.

Revelation opens with prophetic messages – the instruction at the end of each message is to all the churches, ‘Whoever has ears let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches’. No single church/mission organisation has a monopoly on the Spirit or the word.

We should make sure that we don’t concentrate so much on what we are doing that we miss what God is doing in the world. We need to listen to voices on the margins. Those places where we used to serve are where God is at work.

The deep spiritual sickness afflicting the rich north might actually be healed when the voices from the other world are heard and understood – David W Smith.

The imperative of unity

‘Jesus calls the church to missional effectiveness by working for unity’ – Ross Hastings

Reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel – see Ephesians. So what are the social implications of the Gospel of reconciliation? What does this mean for our evangelism and our mission?

Paul wrote to the Romans, wanting to involve those congregations in his mission to Spain. They had to cooperate with each other before they could cooperate with Paul on his mission. They had to love Christians beyond one small circle.

Our churches need to address our attitudes to each other, and our patronising attitudes to the churches in the majority world.

Seeking to maintain Gospel integrity and the unity of the church are not mutually exclusive goals.

The imperative of radical acts of service

Sometimes it takes a radical act for people to start listening to each other.

On July 1st 1997. Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty. In contrast to the pomp and ceremony, the pastors of six congregations held a foot washing service at St Andrews church.

‘Rev. John Aldis, senior pastor of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church – the largest English-speaking congregation in Hong Kong – wept as he read a statement of repentance to Chinese pastor Jonathan Chan. Speaking as a representative of Britain to the Hong Kong Chinese people, Aldis asked for forgiven ess for “our injustice, our pride and our isolation.”’ – Read the full story on OMF’s website

Followers of Jesus are called to take courageous steps to embody the gospel. This needs to start with mission leaders, between churches and between agencies. Are there missional connections of a peacemaking kind that need to begin, even here, today?

Louisa Evans – All Nations

In an Asian culture, there is…

A holistic view of Christianity

This applies to the whole family – Family orientation in the global south means that once saved, the saved person will not stop praying for the family. Acts 16:31

The whole nation

The whole person

The spirit man – we live in a context where spiritual encounters are commonplace. Yet some of Louisa’s most common spiritual encounters were in London. The devil is alive and well in the UK but few Christians in the UK believe in the work of him and know what to do.

Suffering

Louisa had to go to church secretly for two years because of parents (non-religious Buddhists). When she did tell them she had become a Christian she only went to church when they allowed her to.

The freedom to worship is not appreciated here in the UK.

One M man’s father tried to kill him in his sleep. In Malaysia, Allah is claimed for Muslims only. Christians cannot read the Bible in their own language because of this.

One Christian pastor was kidnapped in broad daylight – and the police said that they had no information about what happened.

What should be our response?

We need to pray – but our assumption is that persecution is out there and not here. Can we continue to assume that?

The opposition that we see is a reminder that this world is not our home and suffering for our faith is a reminder that we live in the end times.

She also reflected on the fact that often, when we pray for persecuted Christians, we pray for ‘them’. Shouldn’t we think about the language we use when we pray for our brothers and sisters?

Friendship as a way forward

Friendship in mission is the only way forward. It’s true that Global South Christians were looked down upon. But now, some global south Christians have built up their own superiority.

We need to acknowledge our mutual need of each other.

Move from a posture of learning from to learning with. This is only possible if we are friends, so we need to ask how can we build true cross-cultural friendships.

We need to be intentional in the building of cross-cultural friendships.

Frequently, coffee breaks and meal tables at Christian events in the UK are segregated. To build cross-cultural friendships we need to do the uncomfortable thing of reaching out to those who are different to us, this that are from different cultures. Not just nationalities, but those of different statuses.

  • As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. – John 13:35

Israel Oluwole Olofinjana – Woolwich Central Baptist Church

Learning from the Global South, he would prefer the term ‘Majority world’.

We need to learn from people in other continents, but we can also learn from those that have come to the UK. And this doesn’t mean that people from the global south have it sorted.

Building bridges and tunnels in our relationship

Relationship is very, very important. We have to be intentional in our networking. Who are your closest friends? Are they people like you?

We need to build both bridges and tunnels. Bridges are obvious, tunnels aren’t. The tunnels are the times behind the scenes. Can we eat together? Can we sit and relax together? It is when we relax together that we work things out. Our friendships should not be reduced to activities.

Turning our ideas into reality

There’s been talk about the centre of gravity of Christianity having shifted, this talk can remain as lip service. How has that informed and shaped our practices? How does it inform and shape how we do things?

Be intentional in our organisations to reflect the Global Church

We need to look at how our structures can change to reflect the reality.

Having one or two people from the global south in our structures is good, but we shouldn’t stop there.

We also need to read books by global south practitioners. We need to listen to their ideas.

Martin Lee – Global Connections

The world is a different place – even our maps were down by people from the north and west.

The old power blocks are changing. We are seeing the rise of nationalism and the rise of religious fanaticism.

The global church is still in a time of transition. Europe and North America is no longer the place of power.

If you are Pentecostal – you are probably young, female, poor and from either Africa, Asia or South America, and you are the real face of world Christianity today.

We look at our falling church attendance and see churches that have abandoned global mission, and usually operate from a come and see point-of-view.

There is a vital role for global mission in the UK church – it’s just a different role to what it used to be. God hasn’t asked us to abandon his call. The issue is that it needs to be different.

What could it look like:

Even in a globalised world there are many places where Christ is not known or not heard

There are a large number of Christians in Asia compared to 100 years ago, but as a percentage of population it is very small at just 8%

There are still vast numbers of people in the Middle East, Asia and Central Asia who have not heard of Christ. There aren’t Christians in Saudi because you are killed.

Yet 85% of Christian mission is aimed at other Christians. We are still trying to sustain the growth of churches in Africa, Asia and South America. Many Hindus and Buddhists still don’t know a Christian.

What abmiddle-classlass Buddhists in Japan? It’s still difficult to raise support for those working in business communities.

In an urbanised world people are everywhere, and we need to be going and telling them.

Places where Christ is not known

There are more people alive today that do not know of Christ or who have ever met a Christian. We cannot ignore this and something needs to change

Is ensuring we serve the hard places a key part of the UK Church’s strategy?

How can we genuinely partner with the church in the global south?

‘We need to tackle our inherent national pride. We need to shift that we need more from the global south.’

‘British Christians prayed for revival and when it came they did not recognise it because it was black.’

It’s hard for a westerner – we are used to power and money. Our response is that we’ve got all the resource. So maybe we try to assimilate others into our structures. And that makes us look like we are doing well. Yet it’s often the structures that get in the way of us reaching the hard to reach places.

‘Much of the Muslim world is hostile to Christian witness; the forms of mission that we have been used to for generations won’t work in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait – we need creative approaches to have access in these situations.

Not only that, but much of the Muslim world is hostile to people from Western countries; let’s face it, we’ve not done much to win their friendship over the last few decades. However, the church is no longer mainly Western; perhaps it is a generation of Chinese, Philippine, African and Latin believers who will take the Gospel to the Muslim world.

Lastly in the heightened antagonistic atmosphere of the early 21 century, witnessing to Jesus in the Muslim world can be a dangerous enterprise. People have died taking the Gospel into the Muslim world and in all likelihood it will cost the lives of many more believers before we see large numbers of Muslims coming to Christ. We need a generation of Christians who believe in something bigger than their own lives, who are willing to live and work in hostile situations, perhaps seeing very little tangible fruit for their work and who are willing ultimately to lay down their lives. In a risk averse, litigious society it is hard to find people and organisations willing to put lives on the line in this way, but it must be done.’ – kouya.net

Global south missionaries are not using our structures and systems but they are taking the gospel with them. They tend to come from less affluent countries and understand poverty and suffering, and don’t come from a background of global dominance.

So how do we partner with them?

Mutual respect and collaboration

We need to be flexible and bent out of shape. There’s no magic formula for partnership.

What place does the western church and mission movements have as part of the new worldwide church?

Can the church engage in the mission of God in new ways?

‘Together we can be a new community – 100 places learning from each other, with no one single centre or single type of mission activity’ – Andrew Walls

What does a learning relationship look like?

God is interested in character as we transition leadership

It comes down to our character and how god has changed us.

In the majority world we often see more prayer, depth in relationships, etc. Yes, there are issues even here. The church in the global south is sinful, just as we are in the west.

However, there’s a huge contrast in the spiritual poverty of the churches in the west to those in the majority world.  The western church could be described as ‘one inch wide and not even an inch deep’.

Where’s the power of god in my life and my dependency on him?

The UK church needs to have more commitment to prayer. a discovery of a deeper spirituality. We can learn much of this from global south churches. Prayer and fasting is a normal part of a church congregation.

We need a dose of radical discipleship and service ourselves. We need to learn.

Integrity

Whatever we do, God is ultimately interested in the character of us. Integrity is key. Whatever plans, strategies, meetings… God is interested in our integrity and faithfulness.

John the Baptist ‘I must decrease that he may increase’

Nothing is more important than God’s mission.

As the power base in the church transitions, the west no longer has power, only influence. Let’s influence through character, not misuse of power.

Can the UK church become a christlike in it’s attitudes, thinking or others more than ourselves.

Thame Hustings

I’ve never been to a hustings event before. It’s when local candidates turn up to answer questions in the run-up to an election. We had five candidates:

  • John Howell – Conservative and local MP since 2008.
  • Oliver Kavanagh – Labour, currently works as a lawyer.
  • Laura Coyle – Liberal Democrats, currently works as a housing solicitor.
  • Robin Bennett – Green Party, guitarist for St Etienne (one of the bands that got me through university) and The Dreaming Spires. Also mentioned during the course of the evening that he’s a school governor and wife works in NHS.
  • Patrick Gray – Radical Party, who didn’t say much about what he does now, but you can read it here. This is the first election where they are fielding a candidate.
  • The UKIP candidate was unable to make it.

The event was billed as a Question Time style event, with questions coming from the audience and candidates being given the opportunity to respond.

I took as many notes as I could but was typing on my phone and couldn’t keep up with everything, but here are some highlights:

Question on funding for schools 

There seemed to be some doubt as to whether the Conservatives pledge to increase funding would actually work out, especially when population increases were taken into consideration. Lib Dems and Labour were pledging a funding increase. Green Party candidate gave a good response based on first hand experience as a school governor.

Radical Party gave some interesting statistics but also pointed out that we shouldn’t be following the US systems on education, but looking to learn from Scandinavian and German systems.

Question around the issue that, for the first time in years, the UK child mortality rate has increased

Conservatives said that we are still sorting out the Labour mess and that getting us out of the deficit was the priority. Greens, Labour and Liberal candidates were all able to say from direct experience, that the current system isn’t working, Liberals mentioning that as a housing lawyer she sees the first hand effects on families as a result of these cost cutting measures.

Radical Party candidate says that we rank 22 out of 24 on equality and it’s the people that don’t have a voice that suffer most. Also pointed out that our economic crisis was not caused by our spending but by our money being gambled by traders in London and New York – yet the ones paying are those at the bottom of the tree.

Question: How can Teresa May be trusted with Policing when she’s overseen a cut of 20,000 police officers. 

Conservatives are concentrating on moving Police from the kind of roles that deal with crimes like burglary, where incidents are decreasing, to surveillance and intelligence roles.

Lib Dems say that community Police are needed to build trust within communities and gain the intelligence.

Labour wanted to be judged on their values of compassion, rather than on the misquoting of figures by Diane Abbott

Greens questioned why we’d trade with Saudi Arabia where there are links to terrorists.

Radical Party said that the public wouldn’t cut the number of Police.

Question on the future of EU migrants, from one who has lived here for 36 years working in the NHS

Conservatives say that they are pushing for a reciprocal agreement for British living overseas, but this won’t happen until we start negotiations over Brexit deal.

All other parties basically said that they should guarantee the rights of those already living here and not use them as a bargaining chip in the upcoming negotiations. The Radical Party went as far as to point out that young people are a huge asset to this party, and the Green candidate noted that for many young people they have grown up as EU citizens, it’s part of their identity.

Liberals pointed out that 10% of our doctors come fro the EU.

There was a question on affordable housing

Current ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable.

There was broad recognition that more joined up thinking was needed.

How will you help refugees

Conservatives are prioritising those in Syria.

Liberals pledge 50000 over the next five years and say that we should be proud to be helping. They also want a 28 day limit on people being put in detention centres.

Labour cannot shy away from our commitment to refugees

Greens, that decency and morality are key values and we should live up to these.

Radicals, we owe a lot to previous generations of refugees and we do owe something to our government for what they do overseas. We also need to collaborate more with international groups.

 

Then there were closing statements:

Labour guy said that we have an important national choice. Though, he was clearly campaigning to come second.

Radicals said that all the problems stem from those that have the power, that government needs reform.

Greens pointed out that we are the world’s second biggest arms dealer and yet we can’t help refugees or support the vulnerable. Community is one of their central themes.

Conservatives are proud of what they have done for the economy and the NHS.

Liberals want to send a message that there was a vote on EU membership, not a vote on how we would leave. They are open and tolerant.

 

What do I think:

John Howell is a smart guy. The Conservatives clearly think that they still have to sort out the debt before they can start spending seriously on all the local programmes that we need. To be fair, I’m impressed by how calm he was given that the Conservatives were clearly not the popular party this evening.

Oliver Kavanagh gave a good performance for Labour. I was disappointed that he was so clearly fighting for second place in the local election as this is such a safe Tory seat. Even if that’s what you think, you don’t say it. He clearly cares about the local community, which is good to see.

Laura Coyle was the most passionate of the bunch. Not just in the prepared bits at the beginning and end, but also when talking about local services and the needs of the community.

Robin Bennett gave a fine performance for the Greens. They seem to have lost some of the truly mad policies of the last election campaign and have some realistic ideas for this one. I was really impressed at how well he spoke on issues of schooling and health.

Patrick Gray did well for the Radical Party, they’ve got some really good ideas and know why they are standing. It was useful to have his clear, well thought out views tonight.

Pray for the media *today*

Today is the day of prayer for all those involved in the media, so please give some time to praying for those that work in this industry today. If you’re short of ideas of what to pray, take a look at The Media Net website.

While you’re at it, could you also pray for those of us that work in the media teams of mission organisations? Large and small, we have the privilege of a wonderful story to tell, the story of what God is doing in this world.

Pray that we would do this job well, for the glory of God. That we would steer clear from hyperbole and exaggeration and that we would be kept safe and healthy, especially when we travel.

Thank you

Day of prayer for the media

I have a print photograph from the same place as the digital image accompanying this post. It’s from the Newseum in Washington DC, where there’s a memorial to journalists who have been killed in the process of doing their job. My photo is from 17 or 18 years ago. There were a lot of names on the memorial then, but the thing that struck me was that there was also a lot of blank space. They expected journalists to continue dying in the course of doing their work.

This Sunday, the Media Net are asking Christians to pray for all those who work in the media. Not just journalists, but all those in the media; the sound guys, photographers, writers, producers… Honestly, I can’t think of a time when this is more needed.

We maybe don’t realise how significantly the media influences our culture. It shapes the way we see the world, not just in the stories that hit the headlines, but in the choice of storylines in EastEnders or through the images that fill the advertising space at the bus stop.

And yet, for years Christians were encouraged to avoid media jobs because, ‘they require you to work on Sunday’, or, ‘because your morals will be eroded away’. At least, those were the reasons I remember being given for why I shouldn’t pursue a media career. I think we are now seeing the result of this advice – take the Christian influence out of a community and see where it ends up.

Only our media aren’t going anywhere. TV, radio, magazines and adverts shape our culture and we need to encourage and support the Christians working in this environment to shine like a city on a hill.

But, the day of prayer for the media isn’t just about the Christians. We need to be praying for others in the industry to strive for truth and wisdom in the stories they are involved in telling.

So, what do you pray and who can you pray for?

The Media Net website has a page full of good ideas. You can also sign up to join in the Thunderclap on the 28th May.

Personally, I’m going to Tweet some people that I have contact with in the media and ask them what I can pray for them. Some are Christians, others aren’t, but it’s not bad to ask.

If you need more inspiration, the following audio clip is Hazel Southam on the Signal podcast. She’s a Christian and a journalist who works for a host of outlets. In this, she explains why this prayer is important for her. Hazel worked with me five years ago when we were involved in Biblefresh.

The video below is from the Media Net. Why not share it now on social media or use it in your service on Sunday when you encourage others to pray.

Header image by Ross Catrow from Richmond – James V. Walker, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36930260

When you need a giggle: Mark Thomas on demonstrating

Yesterday was a down day. Nothing especially bad, but by the time I got to bed I was tired, feeling flat and my body hurt from various bumps and scrapes. I needed something to make me giggle again.

Quite a few years ago, I was walking through Southampton one evening listening to the radio, when I caught this radio programme, Mark Thomas: My Life in Serious Organised Crime. I remember laughing so hard that I had to go and hide in the park next to the magistrate’s court to save my embarrassment.

The scene is set when a new law comes into force, saying that individuals need to get permission from the police to demonstrate in Parliament Square (a park opposite the Palace of Westminster, London, where the UK government is based). Mark’s friend, Sian, fell foul of the new law when having a picnic in Parliament Square and the police noticed her cake with the word ‘Peace’ iced on the top. That, they said, was a demonstration.

Mark said, ‘Any law that means we can be arrested over a cake, we must play with’. The whole story is now on YouTube.

For those of you unfamiliar with London, a copy of the map showing the area this law applies to is available here.