THE MAGAZINE OF THE EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
Let the Games begin
Inside: God, goalball and Paralympic glory Good question
Should I pray for my team’s victory?
Former Premiership star talks faith and football
A year since the riots – how churches have responded
In your words
60 Seconds with…
On The Job
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Chine Mbubaegbu: In a world of choice, we need to be single-minded in what God has called us to do.
FEATURES 13 Science and wonder Revered scientist and theologian John Polkinghorne tells us what he wishes the Church knew
“Let’s take time to enjoy watching people doing what they are good at.”
20-21 Church and The Games
How churches are letting their light shine during London 2012
Despite being able to hum Vangelis’s epic theme tune to the Oscar-winning classic, I had never seen Chariots of Fire. That is until I was invited to join church leaders at a special screening put on by Damaris Trust in partnership with 20th Century Fox who are releasing a new digitally remastered version which will hit cinemas on 13 July as part of the official London 2012 celebrations. The film tells the story of Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell, who made headlines at the 1924 Olympics after refusing to run on a Sunday because he saw it as compromising his faith. He subsequently switched to the 400m and took home the gold. His is a story of integrity, dedication and honour. Complete Surrender, a biography of Liddell, writes: “He was not particularly clever and not conspicuously able, but he was good. He wasn’t a great leader or an inspired thinker, but he knew what he ought to do and did it.” I wish I was more like him. We need to be single-minded in what God has called each of us to do – whether that is to be an athlete, a church leader, a homemaker or an editor – in a world of choice, distraction and compromise. As the biggest sporting contest begins on our home turf in a few days’ time, may we, the Church, grab the opportunity we have to engage with the world on our doorstep. Make sure you read the Alliance’s latest 21st Century Evangelicals research which takes an in-depth look at how evangelical Christians engage with the world. But let’s also take time to enjoy watching people doing what they are good at; and in the process celebrate with them as they achieve the seemingly impossible. In this sports-themed edition, we’ve spoken to sportsmen and women who are great athletes but who look to something greater than themselves. Our Good Question (p14) asks whether it’s right to pray for sporting success and we look at the theology of sports outreach on p24. There’s also plenty for you if you are not so keen on sport – including an article on science and faith from the legend that is the Rev Dr John Polkinghorne (p13); as well as a look at the Church’s response a year on from the riots (p25).
22-23 Big interview
Team GB goalball star Michael Sharkey opens up about faith, Former Premiership footballer Linvoy disability and The Games Primus just wants to tell his story
25-27 Riot response
A year since anarchy on our streets, how has the Church responded?
REGULARS 4-5 Connect
Find out what the Alliance has been up to
9 On the job
Duncan Green, head of faith services for the Olympics, on London 2012
14 Good Question
Jenny Baker tackles whether 20 we should pray for our teams’ Let the Games begin: how the Church sporting success is letting its light shine for the Olympics
News from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
36-37 In your words idea readers respond
38 Last word
General director Steve Clifford writes…
Few films have captured both failure and success like Chariots of Fire Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel: 020 7207 2100 fax: 020 7207 2150 firstname.lastname@example.org www.eauk.org
damaris.org/chariots Chine Mbubaegbu Editor Flickr
Evangelical Alliance leadership team
RetweetSteve Clifford, Helen Calder, Fred Drummond, Elfed Godding, Krish Kandiah, Dave Landrum, Peter Lynas
We’re on Twitter! Follow us @idea_mag JUL/AUG 2012
Email address changes to email@example.com Northern Ireland Office 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 firstname.lastname@example.org Wales Office 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 email@example.com
32 Scotland Office Evangelical Alliance Scotland has moved: International Christian College, 110 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0PS tel: 0141 548 1555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover image: Copyright Finlay MacKay – National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project
IDEA MAGAZINE / 3
News from the Alliance
Alliance at CRE
Change your life. Transform your church. Love your community.
The Alliance signed up nearly 100 new members at the Christian Resources Exhibition in May – many of whom came to chat with some of the staff and hear about the work that we have been doing.
“Church isn’t there to box us in but we should be living and worshipping as if the church has no walls.” Elaine Storkey. If you’re looking for ideas on how to have a greater impact on your community, Inside Out, a new course developed by the Evangelical Alliance, Tearfund and Livability, could be just what you’re looking for. Inside Out is a six session, DVD-based course designed to be used with church groups. Throughout these sessions you will have the opportunity to explore just how big God’s mission really is and discover what part we each have to play within it. By the end we believe that you and your church will be inspired and equipped to take a fresh look at integrating words and actions to help bring change to your community locally and globally. Every session contains input from well known Bible teachers including Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Chris Wright, Elaine Storkey, J John, Jim Wallis, Timothy Keller and Tom Wright.
Pete Greig, one of the founders of the 24-7 Prayer movement, said: “When the people of God get filled with the Spirit of God we change the world in name and Inside Out will help you do that.” Visit insideoutcourse.org to find out more and buy the Inside Out DVD – which includes a small group guide.
Why I’m a member
We love being part of the Alliance. We have access to fantastic resources, credible studies and articles. Being part of the Alliance which has been representing the Church to the UK for years also means our voice on social issues is louder. Joining the Alliance means coming together in unity and having one, loud voice, instead of many individual ones. This strengthens the relevance and importance of the Church in our society. As part of the Big Society, it’s important for the Church to stand together as we try to live a life that knows God and that wants to make Him known. Dominique John Derby City Church
Andrew Green: The Boris and Ken show gave the Alliance some positive press coverage.
Laughs and caricatures on the mayoral election trail It’s been an exciting few months in the press office and we’re still buzzing from being featured in a Private Eye cartoon… The Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone show – also known as the four-yearly contest to become Mayor of London – gave the Alliance some positive press coverage across a broader-than-usual section of the media. The church hustings for London mayor – one of many in the capital designed to address specific constituents – was as popular as ever. Journalists were squeezed
together with bishops on the front rows at St James’s, Piccadilly, which looked rather tight as there was quite a crowd of hacks following the campaigning candidates around the city. The audience were rewarded with some laughs as they listened to Rev George Pitcher grill the candidates. Tanya Gold wrote in The Spectator: “I was mad to think a church hustings would be dull.” Inevitably the mayor, Boris Johnson was questioned about banning the London bus advert by Core Issues Trust, the Christian group that supports gay people who want to change their sexual preference. Had the advert run, it would have said: “Not gay! Postgay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” Johnson said he took action because he feared an “intense backlash” against Christians. That remark was widely reported by the press, often alongside Johnson’s response to the question: “Do you have the fear of God in
in the media your heart or the fear of man?” He responded: “Fear of my wife far exceeds my fear of man.” Boris also spoke out against banishing Christianity from public life. The Tablet reported his remark that a “secularist agenda was at risk of bringing about perverse results” in society. Alongside national and Christian press were Swiss and Nigerian television crews. But the most unexpected guest was David Ziggy Greene, a cartoonist following the candidates on the hustings trail. He was given a good seat, and a gentle nudge to give the Alliance a plug. His caricature of chair George Pitcher and the four main candidates at the “Evangelical Alliance hustings”, appeared in the following edition of Private Eye.
The world on our doorstep
The latest in the Alliance’s 21st Century Evangelicals research looks at our beliefs and attitudes towards the globe, including the persecuted Church, overseas mission and diversity. eauk.org/snapshot
The Alliance welcomes the following new members CHURCHES ANTIOCH COMMUNITY CHURCH,
Faithways Ministries, Stoke-on-Trent
Restoration of Kingdom – Chapel, Stockwell
Freedom’s Ark, London
Ross-on-Wye Baptist Church,
Bristol Road Baptist Church,
Gateway 2 New Life – Elim,
Calvary Victory Church, Canterbury
Great Harwood Christian Fellowship, Blackburn
Christ Victory Church International, London
House of Faith, London Kings Church Kendal, Cumbria
Christian Lifestyle Ministries,
Kingston Vineyard, Kingston
Christ-In-You Glory Church, London
City Life Church Luton, Luton City of Faith Ministry, Barking Cornerstone, Bristol Derby City Church, Derby Diamonds International Christian Ministries, Croydon Eagles Assembly Church, Mitcham El-Bethel Tamil Church (El-Bethel Ministry), London Equippers Church London City, London
Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in GB, London JUL/AUG 2012
Liberty Christian Church, London Life Ministires, Bolton Maranatha International Prayer Centre, UK, London Open Door Ministries International UK, Mitcham Pentecostal Evangelistic Outreach Ministry International, South Croydon Power of Resurrection Ministries, London Ragged School Evangelical Church, Chesterfield RCCG – New Life Assembly, London RCCG – Rock of Redemption,
The Garden of the Lord, Cardiff The Potters House, Preston Valuelife Chapel International, Southampton Victory Pentecostal Church of God, Aylesbury
ORGANISATIONS Church of the Nazarene British Isles South District, Leeds
Christian Resources Together, Aylesbury
New Generation, Birmingham The Church of Pentecost – UK, Dagenham, Essex The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, Peterborough
Corporate Supporter New Way UK Consultants Ltd, Bournemouth
IDEA MAGAZINE / 5
60 seconds with...
Linvoy Primus: I trust that this is what God wants me to do.
in a car crash and then 9/11 happened. People were in shook, but I stuck by what I believed in. They couldn’t understand how I could believe in someone that I couldn’t see. I was definitely swimming against the tide. After a year the banter changed. I didn’t go preaching. I didn’t ram it down anyone’s neck, I just lived my life the best I could. So what was the highlight of your career? I was in the Championship at Portsmouth and was told that I wasn’t going to play in the season. Someone got injured and then I stayed in the team and at the end of that season I was voted PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. That was the year we got promoted to the Premier League.
Telling my story Linvoy Primus is hanging up his boots for good, leaving the football world behind and hoping that sharing his testimony full-time will inspire others to find faith… by Chine Mbubaegbu Like many Christians, Linvoy Primus’s favourite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” We all love to know that through life’s twists and turns, through the dizzy heights and the desolate lows, that God has it all under control. This truth has been a comfort and the driving force behind the former professional footballer’s career change. The husband and father of three, began his career at Charlton Athletic, moving on to play for Barnet and Reading before joining Portsmouth in 2000. During his nine-year Pompey career, he saw the club promoted to the Premier League and achieve the unthinkable by winning the FA Cup. But there were also some tough times at Fratton Park as the club went into administration and relegation. Linvoy’s role as an ambassador for the club came to an end in November 2011, but rather than be downbeat, he is looking forward to fulfilling what God has called him to. IDEA MAGAZINE / 6
idea: How did you become a Christian? I became a Christian in 2001. Leading up to that, football had been my total focus and once I became a professional at 18 I tried to make as much money as possible and make the first team. By the time I was 26, I started to question what life was all about. When we moved to Portsmouth as a family, we were very lonely. My wife became ill and depressed and was invited to church with some Christian friends. I was very sceptical about it but about six weeks later I had given my life to Christ – a week after she had. How did that go down in the Pompey changing room? I saw being a Christian in the Premier League as an opportunity to share my faith on a bigger stage. Once people want to know you people want to listen. But it was difficult at first. There were two other Christian players at the club, but the rest of the lads really got into me about Christianity. At the beginning there were a load of them who were being quite rude and questioning if it was real. There were a few tragedies and one of the players died
Won’t you miss football? Football has been good to me, but when I found God, He was the one that made everything complete. As much as football used to be my god, it had nothing on Him. I have got a beautiful family and house and cars. Those are not the things that make Linvoy. It’s about loving Jesus first, that’s the one thing that matters. But we as a nation are a bit football crazy, don’t you think? I idolised sport when I was growing up but what you have got to remember is that there’s always going to be things out there to challenge God in terms of idolatry. If God is first, anything else will always be second. Because I put God at the top, everything else takes care of itself. If people choose to worship sport as their god they will find that it will always leave them empty. Football let me down, but God never has. What are you going to do now? I was made redundant from Portsmouth FC last year and have been seeking God. For the past 11 years of being a Christian, I’ve done what I wanted to do, but now I want to do what He wants me to do. He’s put it in my heart to tell my story as a ministry. What God has done for me, He can do for anybody. I’m fortunate enough that I played football and have a platform to tell my story and hope that God will use me. Well, that’s a real leap of faith. Are you worried? What I have totally relied on in the past is my security. I knew when I was training or when my wages were coming in. I should be in a state of panic about this new unknown direction, but I’m not because I trust that this is what God wants me to do. If God’s called me to do it He’s going to make a way. We have just got to totally and utterly trust in Him.
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Arrow put mission back at the top of the list. The passion for mission which underpins every module really inspired me to get out there and encourage my congregation to do the same. Having children at the local school gives me a great opportunity to share Jesus’ love with other families, with a weekly event at church after the school run. We’ve also started doing Messy Church, where more people can explore the Bible in fun and creative ways.
Serena Willoughby, vicar, St George’s Weald
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IDEA MAGAZINE / 8
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On the job
Faith in the Olympics Duncan Green, head of the multi-faith chaplaincy service for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, says we’re all in this together… An estimated five million foreign visitors will grace our shores as the world descends on the UK for The Games. Of those visiting and taking part in the contest, many will hold to a number of diverse different faiths; each with various religious requirements which need to be accommodated for. The man in charge of making sure that this all goes smoothly is Canon Duncan Green, an Anglican priest who is head of the multi-faith chaplaincy for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog). It’s his job to cater for the nine different faith traditions represented at The Games – the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jains and followers of the Bahai faith. This is not as straightforward as it may seem. A hilarious scene in the BBC’s Twenty Twelve spoof earlier in the year showed the organising committee descending into chaos as the Algerians threatened to boycott the Games because the Shared Belief Centre did not face Mecca. Duncan, who formed a faith reference group made up of the representatives of the UK’s nine largest religions when he started at Locog four and a half years ago, told idea that everyone was able to laugh at the BBC show’s religious pax. “I can tell you that no such mistake will be made in the real thing,” he said. JUL/AUG 2012
“We haven’t had to build a new wall.” In a world where religious dialogue can be fraught with tension, Duncan said good relationships have been built up with the reference group over the past few years.
For Duncan, formerly rector and dean of Saffron Walden, Essex, and seconded by the Church of England to his Locog post, it’s been a great adventure and very different from his parish life.
“We’re not thinking about what we believe or what we don’t believe, but about how, together, we can serve the Olympic Games and add value to it.” Around 190 chaplains from different faith communities are currently being trained ahead of The Games.
“It’s been a very interesting experience and after The Games, we’ll all be looking for what to do next. Although I have missed my parish, I’ve found that Locog has become my parish. The contact with the people is the same – I’ve counselled and presided over weddings and funerals for colleagues here; and I’ll miss this too.”
Essentially, the contest is an opportunity to break down cultural and religious divides. “Given the diversity of London and the rest of the UK, it is important for us to ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are inclusive and involve all communities,” Duncan said. “All our plans for athletes, media, spectators and our workforce are developed with our Faith Reference Group so that all faiths are represented. Everyone, whatever their religion or ethnic background, should feel they can play a part in the world’s greatest sporting events.” Praising the work of More Than Gold in rallying the Christian community, Duncan said that this was an opportunity for everyone to get stuck in. “A big part of the population of the UK are sports-mad and faith communities should ignore this at their peril. It’s an opportunity to reach out to those people.”
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Leaving your legacy by Chine Mbubaegbu
Money. You can’t take it with you. But planning ahead for the future could ensure that you continue to help advance the gospel in this country long after you’re gone…
ach of us yearns to have made a difference. When we are gone, we hope that our lives would have had some impact here on earth. As Christians, we look forward to the glorious hope we have in Christ and know that death marks not the end, but the beginning of an eternal adventure. However, often, talking about death and planning ahead for the future can make us feel uncomfortable – not all are happy with having to face their mortality. It might be one of the reasons why, according to Premier, seven out of 10 people have not yet made a will. This is a sobering thought when you realise that an estimated 600,000 churchgoers die every year. It seems that Evangelical Alliance members are more prepared than most, with 83 per cent surveyed in our Why Christians Give report in 2010 having made a will and 43 per cent having included a charity in their will. Writing in their report Where There’s a Will There’s A Way, Christian organisation Stewardship said: “Making a will then is an act of both spiritual significance in the face of our own mortality and an act of loving and wise preparation on behalf of our families and those we care for deeply.” While friends and loved ones are rightly the first ones to think about when creating a will, giving to a charity whose work we value can be one way of leaving your legacy; of helping to ensure its future after you are gone. Without legacies left by people who have believed in the charity’s
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cause in their lifetime, some charities would cease to exist. It’s estimated that legacies account for around £2 billion of charitable donations each year. While as Christians we believe that we are not to “store up treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), we recognise that God calls us to be good stewards of the resources He has blessed us with. The UK population as a whole is a charitable nation, with 75 per cent of people giving regularly to charities in our lifetimes. But just seven per cent of people currently leave charitable donations in their wills. Some of this might be down to the fact that people are not updating their wills, just creating them and then leaving them as they are, without taking into account changes in circumstance or new causes they are supporting. A shocking one in three wills in the UK is out of date, according to a report commissioned by Remember a Charity. With the amount left in wills now averaging £160,000 – it’s estimated that around £1.1 trillion worth of assets could be at risk of not reaching the intended recipients. Commenting on the When WILL You Change Yours? report, Rob Cope, director of Remember a Charity, said: “Everyone should have an up-to-date will. It’s your chance to make sure you look after everything you care about, from your friends and family through to your favourite charities. Life is unpredictable, so I would urge people to make sure it’s in order, before it’s too late.”
The reminder is timely as, following the announcement in last year’s budget, a new incentive was introduced in April which means that anyone leaving 10 per cent of their estate to charity in their will benefits from a reduction in inheritance tax from 40 per cent to 36 per cent. Commenting, David Bennett, head of fundraising at the Evangelical Alliance, said: “The government’s changes mean that you can leave a substantial legacy to your church, the Alliance or your favourite charity and they would benefit more than they would have previously, leaving more to distribute to your beneficiaries than if you had paid the higher rate of inheritance tax. “This is why the Alliance has been working with leading Christian solicitors who specialise in legacy work, including the Association of Christian Law Firms, Anthony Collins, Withers and Stone King. They understand the particular issues surrounding the making of wills for Christians and will treat any enquiries from you, as Alliance members, with sensitivity and professionalism.” Above all, we would encourage you to prayerfully consider your plans before making your will. eauk.org/legacy
5 steps to making a will Remember, making a will is a job for a professional and you are strongly advised to visit a solicitor. Making or revising a will is relatively straightforward, and requires only a few hours of your time. There are five simple steps:
1. List your main assets (house, car, bank accounts, savings etc) and liabilities (mortgage, credit and store cards, HP etc).
2. Decide on your preferred executors – the
people who carry out the instructions in your will – usually this includes someone close who is reliable and well-organised from the next generation. They can be joined by an experienced probate professional like a solicitor or bank to cope with the more technical work – or your relatives can employ them to help if necessary. But they will charge professional fees to your estate.
3. Decide who should get what – and how it should be divided and protected.
4. Use a solicitor to discuss the best ways to ensure what you want to happen and then draw up your will and get it witnessed. Most solicitors have fixed charges for most straightforward wills – and they often do special deals for wills that leave a legacy to your favourite charity.
5. Store the original will safely (usually at
the solicitors or at a bank) whilst keeping a copy safely in your personal papers – and let your executors know where it is.
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EXPLORE EVOLUTION What’s the controversy about?
Darwin’s theory is 150 years old and the theory still remains the focus of intense public controversy. Why? Whether you are a student, teacher, lecturer, parent or just an interested lay-person, and are concerned about the uncritical and propagandist nature of Darwinian education, this is a book to open your eyes. It makes a refreshing change from the polarised and often unsubstantiated assertions which characterise the debate. Explore Evolution:
Looks at the biological evidence in detail and is exclusively scientific in content Sets out systematically the evidence for and against Darwinism as popularly understood Encourages critical thinking Written in clear and accessible language Uses striking illustrations Suitable for senior high school students and undergraduates
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2012 INTELLIGENT DESIGN RESIDENTIaL auTumN CoNfERENCE SEPTEMBER 28-29 Malvern, Worcestershire
Real Design? Presentations Workshops Discussions Five sessions including themes: What are biologists saying about Darwinism? Does information theory challenge current biology? Has science replaced philosophy? Why does this debate matter for society?
Prof John Lennox, oxford Professor Professor of of Mathematics Mathematics at at Oxford Oxford University, University, Fellow Fellow in in Mathematics Mathematics and and Philosophy Philosophy of of Science Science at at Green Green Templeton Templeton College, College, Oxford. Oxford. He He is is interested interested in in the the interface interface of of science, science, philosophy philosophy and and theology. theology. He He has has debated debated the the world’s world’s leading leading atheists atheists including including Richard Richard Dawkins, Dawkins, Christopher Christopher Hitchens Hitchens and and Peter Peter Singer. Singer.
Dr Doug axe, Biologic Institute, Seattle, uSa Director Director of of Biologic Biologic Institute Institute Seattle, Seattle, USA. USA. After After aa Caltech Caltech PhD PhD he he held held postdoctoral postdoctoral and and research research scientist scientist positions positions at at the the University University of of Cambridge, Cambridge, the the Cambridge Cambridge Medical Medical Research Research Council Council Centre, Centre, and and the the Babraham Babraham Institute Institute in in Cambridge. Cambridge. His His work work has has been been reviewed reviewed in in the the scientific scientific journal journal Nature. Nature.
Elim Conference Centre, West malvern A spectacular location with superb cuisine and high quality facilities including: En suite bedrooms, heated outdoor swimming pool, fitness gym, tennis and sports pitches
The The weekend weekend begins begins with with dinner dinner on on Friday Friday evening evening 28th 28th at at 6pm 6pm followed followed by by aa plenary plenary session session and and discussions. discussions. Buffet Buffet breakfast breakfast on on Saturday Saturday is is followed followed by by two two sessions sessions // workshops workshops with with mid-morning mid-morning refreshments. refreshments. Lunch Lunch in in dining dining hall hall leads leads into into the the afternoon afternoon sessions sessions concluding concluding at at 4:30pm. 4:30pm. The The speakers speakers invite invite your your questions questions to to shape shape one one workshop. workshop.
For further information email: email@example.com On-line registration: www.c4id.org.uk/Events/Conference2012 http://bit.ly/K8uGJZ http://bit.ly/K8uGJZ IDEA MAGAZINE / 12
WHAT I WISH THE CHURCH KNEW ABOUT...
How scientists seek truth
Renowned physicist and theologian Professor John Polkinghorne writes about the scientist’s thirst for knowledge…
Doing research in science is quite hard work, with its fair share of routine and also of occasional frustration as the good ideas of yesterday sometimes look less persuasive in the cold light of today. Why do we do it? We do it because we have a thirst to understand and we believe that we can gain truthful understanding through the quest for well-motivated beliefs. Sometimes these beliefs turn out to be very surprising, in a way that we could not have anticipated without the nudge of nature pushing us in a wholly unexpected direction. I worked in quantum physics and in the subatomic quantum world light sometimes behaves like a wave (that is, spread out and flapping) and sometimes like a particle (that is, a little bullet). In terms of everyday thinking that sounds an absurd possibility. Any philosopher in 1899 would have ‘proved’ such behaviour impossible. Nevertheless that is how light actually behaves and after 25 years of intellectual struggle the physicists eventually came to understand it. Because of this surprising character that nature has been found to possess, the natural question for a scientist in quest of understanding to ask about a belief, in science or beyond it, is not ‘Is it reasonable?’, as if we felt we knew beforehand the shape that reason had to take. As I have said, no-one in 1899 would have thought the wave/particle duality of light to be at all reasonable. Instead the natural question for a scientist to ask is a different one, at once more open but more demanding: ‘What makes you think that might be the case?’ It is open, because it does not lay down beforehand the form that the belief has to take, but it is also demanding, in that if a surprising belief is being asserted it will have to be backed up by motivating evidence. I call this sort of thinking ‘bottom-up’ thinking, because it seeks to move from experience to understanding, in comparison with ‘top-down’ thinking, which assumes it knows beforehand the general principles that restrict what is believable. I am very content to approach my Christian beliefs in the same spirit. JUL/AUG 2012
At the heart of Christian belief lies a duality even more surprising and profound than the wave/particle duality of light. It is the duality of humanity and divinity in Jesus Christ. Of course, he was a human being, but when the first Christians came to write in the New Testament about the transforming power of the risen Christ which had come into their lives, they found that they were driven to use divine-sounding language about him – for example, calling Jesus ‘Lord’, a title which belonged to the God of Israel. The Church down the ages has continued to find that it has to speak in this fashion. To do so is not an indulgence in groundless speculation, but a consequence of experience. If Jesus were not human, he would not be of relevance for us; if he were not also divine, he would not be able to be our Saviour. Once more, well-motivated belief has led us to a surprising conclusion. One final thought. I worked in particle physics in the course of a period in which we discovered that nuclear matter is made up of constituents which are called ‘quarks’. Yet no one has ever seen a quark on its own. We believe that they are so tightly bound within the observable particles which they constitute that they can never be driven out. In a word, quarks are unseen realities, whose existence we believe in because it makes sense of great swathes of directly observable physical experience. God is an unseen reality, whose existence makes sense of great swathes of spiritual experience. I believe that science and Christianity are friends and not foes, precisely because both are concerned with the search for truth, a truth to be attained through well-motivated beliefs. cis.org.uk
The Rev Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS was professor of mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968-1979, was ordained in 1982 and was president of Queen’s College, Cambridge, until 1996. He is the author of 26 books on the relationship between science and religion. IDEA MAGAZINE / 13
Jenny Baker: It’s worth exploring our motives for wanting our team to win.
Should I pray for my team’s victory? have a strong sense of identification with the team or athlete they support. The victory of our team becomes a kind of personal achievement; our sense of worth gets a boost not through anything we have done, but vicariously through the exploits of others. In contrast, God invites us to have our identity firmly rooted in who we are in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-14) which is secure regardless of our achievements or those of our team.
My dad was a runner. He won cross-country races at school, and relished the training he got during his national service. His mother, however, thought he was wasting his time. A staunch Brethren woman, she regularly quoted the Bible at him: “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things” (1 Timothy 4:8). In her eyes it was clear; Christians should invest in spiritual things, and not be distracted by worldly things like sport or fitness. Over the centuries Christians have not had a positive view of the body, teaching that what really counts is the soul. We’ve picked up the idea that we are burdened with our bodies while here on earth which tempt us to do all kinds of evil things. Our goal is to escape the limitation of our physical lives when our real self, our soul, gets promoted to heaven. However, that view has more in common with Greek philosophy than with biblical Christianity. Plato believed that the soul was sacred and separate from the body while being imprisoned within it. In contrast, the IDEA MAGAZINE / 14
Bible says that the essential human being is a body into which God breathed life (Genesis 2:7). We don’t ‘have’ bodies, we ‘are’ bodies – holistic human beings who are physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual with no part more important than any other. Paul reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we should honour God with our physical selves (1 Corinthians 6:19). Eric Liddell’s discovery that when he ran he felt God’s pleasure resonates with Christian sportsmen and women everywhere. So a good starting point with this question is to affirm that God created our bodies, and we thrive when we use them well. Sport is part of God’s good creation.
And Jesus was very clear about the upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God, where the first shall be last and the last first and God’s generous grace is lavishly given even to those who least deserve or expect it (Matthew 20:1-16). I think applying those verses to sport to claim that God is not into competition is a misuse of the Bible, but I do think they change our perspective on success and victory. In the Kingdom of God, the widow who gives two small coins is commended for her generosity (Luke 21:1-4) and a child is the model for those who want to join in the work of God (Matthew 19:14). Often we learn most about God in our experiences of loss and desolation where we are more aware of our need for God, rather than in seasons of success. Jesus modelled a servant leadership that did not lord it over others or glory in status, but that did the lowliest tasks with love (John 13:1-5). Finally it’s worth thinking about our priorities in prayer. Although we can pray about anything, as we mature in our faith I think we pray less for life to turn out exactly as we want and more in line with God’s priorities for his world. Paul faced incredible hardships in his ministry, but his prayers were for his fellow believers to grow in their faith rather than for his life to be easier. (Col 1:9-13)
Sport is part of God’s good creation
And if we change the question slightly to ‘Can I pray for my team’s victory?’, then I think the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes!’ God is our loving heavenly father who cares about every detail of our lives (Matthew 10:29-31). Paul encourages us to bring every situation to God in prayer, presenting our requests to him in confidence. (Philippians 4:6) But it’s worth digging a little deeper and exploring our motives for wanting our team to win. Cycling is my favourite sport and every year I’m glued to coverage of the Tour de France. Last year I was ecstatic that Mark Cavendish won the green jersey and gutted that Bradley Wiggins had to drop out with a broken collarbone. Many sports fans
So enjoy the rich sporting opportunities that this summer will provide, get active and enjoy the incredible body that God has given you and ask God to show you His priorities for your prayer life.
Jenny Baker is a marathon runner and cyclist, and works for the Church Urban Fund.
ISSUES OF OLD AGE – Answers to Questions A day of interactive workshops at King’s House Conference Centre, King’s Church, Sidney Street, Manchester M1 7HB 7th November, 2012, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm Workshop Speakers: Roger Hitchings, Maureen Sim, Janet Jacob, Louise Morse, Maria Williams, Dr J Ling. The Crisis in Care: covering the quality of care, the biblical standard and how care providers can provide quality care Responding to early dementia and what caregivers need: This has been requested by a number of people and will look at both the indicators and early stages of dementia, as well as the impact on caregivers. It will obviously seek to be practical in outlining the real impact of a diagnosis of dementia and the support that is needed.
themselves and will set out a series of challenges relating to their own thinking and living. It will also outline ways that families, churches and organisations can facilitate older people serving as well as being served. Legal Issues for Older People: A legal eye on Wills, Power of Attorney, Advance Decisions, Mental Capacity and also spurious legal products.
Developing Usefulness in Old Age: Responding to requests for this topic, which will address the biblical expectations for older people
End of Life Issues: Euthanasia and some of the thorny ethical issues that arise around medical treatment and end of life care in general.
Early bird discount applies to 30th September, 2012. Organisations Non-PFS member Member
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£60, or early bird £50 £50, or early bird £40 £40, or early bird £30
Book via the website, pilgrimsfriend.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org t. 0300 303 1400 (ask for Suzie Leveson, conference organiser). Pilgrims’ Friend Society 175 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AL
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2012: Our Time, Our Place David Smyth, public policy officer
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s slogan and advertising campaign seems to be working. The world and his cousin are flocking here to see the flagship Titanic centre, the Irish Open and the scenery that makes our wee country so special. Last summer a group of us climbed Slieve Binnian where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea. The sun was shining for once and at the summit we could literally see half of County Down. A steep climb, we felt every step along the way but it was only at the top that we could look back and see how far we’d actually travelled. Sitting in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on 9 May 2012 provided me with a powerful reminder of how far we’ve travelled in Northern Ireland even over the last 15 years. Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) Northern Ireland were holding their launch
Over people were murdered in the troubles, this would be the equivalent of more than 127,500 people when compared to the total UK population.
event aimed at ‘inspiring hope for safer communities – healthier families – a shared future.’ On stage were the justice minister David Ford, junior minister and former IRA volunteer Martina Anderson and Matt Baggott, chief constable of the PSNI. A policeman and two politicians standing together on stage may not be newsworthy in any other part of the UK but in the north of Ireland this is still something rather precious. Exactly 15 years before on 9 May 1997 and a mere 200 yards from the Waterfront Hall, a 24-year-old Protestant police officer was shot dead while off duty relaxing in a pub. He was shot by a Republican paramilitary group. Just the day before that, a 25-year-old Catholic man was kicked to death by a Loyalist paramilitary group in one of the most controversial murders of the troubles, allegedly while police officers looked on and did nothing. Fifteen years ago junior minister Martina Anderson was in prison serving what transpired to be a 13-year sentence
“Many communities may not paint their kerb stones or put out flags but prejudice is still there, whispered in golf clubs or behind closed doors at dinner parties.”
Jonathan Bell – junior minister, Democratic Unionist Party 2012
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68% of 18 to 25-year-olds
in Belfast have never had a meaningful conversation with someone from the ‘other side’. Northern Ireland Community Relations Council 2012
for conspiring to cause explosions. Fifteen years ago the police force here was the RUC which faced allegations of institutional sectarianism and collusion with paramilitaries. Fifteen years ago there was no minister for justice and no Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. Policing and justice powers were only devolved here in 2010. In fact 15 years ago some of these three people would have perhaps shared a grave quicker than a public stage. Today we have a new police force, a local minister for justice and a ballot paper alone approach to political reform. We still have a long road to travel together towards a truly shared future. We share universities, healthcare and the same dry sense of humour yet we still largely struggle to share schools, housing developments and even newspapers. We perpetuate the cost of segregation each year, estimated at £1.5 billion, while playing host to some of the most deprived areas in the UK and Ireland. Perhaps worst of all we allow 30ft walls to ‘keep the peace’ in our community rather than being blessed as peacemakers ourselves. I’m convinced that, for those of us who have experienced personal reconciliation with God through Jesus, there is a difficult but necessary peacemaking work to be done. While Protestant forefathers were defending the doors of the Reformed church against Rome, did a silent elephant of sectarianism manage to creep through into some quarters unnoticed? We’re certainly not at the end of the journey yet, but it’s good to stop, look back and remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. Looking forward to this summer as the marching season gets into full swing and old tensions are raised again, how can we as evangelicals respond in a way that is Christ-centred and Christ-like?
“Sectarianism lives in all of us – it is in the choices we make, it is in the words we say, it is even in the friends we make. It lives in our churches and it taints our community life. It makes possible the violent actions which we abhor.” Minister conducting funeral service of troubles murder victim 1996.
Justice, elections and the challenge of evangelical unity
Justice, elections and the challenge of evangelical unity have been among the highlights and challenges of the Alliance’s public policy officer in Scotland, Alistair Stevenson, who left in June… idea: What brought you to the Alliance?
Before university I worked for an MP in Westminster. It was a fantastic opportunity and a privilege to work among those making key decisions about the wellbeing and future of our nation. During my time there I was involved with the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship and the development of 24/7 Prayer and an Alpha course – experiencing the direct interaction between faith and politics. With what I thought was little chance of getting the job, I applied for a role with the Alliance in Scotland as I neared the end of my time at university in Sheffield. The job on offer was to be a voice for evangelicals in the Scottish media, parliament and government and equip the wider Church to be salt and light within their local community. To my complete surprise the Alliance offered me the job and the rest, as they say, is history. What’s been the highlight of your Evangelical Alliance career? One of the advantages of working in Scotland is its relatively small population and therefore the opportunity to build relationships and connections with the majority of key leaders, churches and organisations within the evangelical community and even beyond. From these relationships have come great opportunities to work collaboratively on a number of different initiatives. Just Generation, for example, was a partnership of eight Christian organisations that came together with a vision to raise up a generation of young people who passionate about tackling justice and hearing God’s call to care for the least, the last and the lost in our society. We organised three JUL/AUG 2012
conferences, a few smaller events and built some great friendships along the way.
Another example was Churches Vote. In the run-up to the May 2011 Scottish parliament elections, we worked with the major church denominations to encourage and equip the Christian populace to engage in the election, run hustings and ultimately vote. The Churches Vote initiative and website provided numerous resources and included videos from the main party leaders answering critical questions on the role of the church in society. For me initiatives such as these fulfil a critical role of the Alliance – bringing people together and creating a space for collaborative mission and the building of God’s Kingdom. What has been the toughest challenge? The Alliance works with the breadth and depth of evangelism. This is a great strength, but it can also be a real challenge. Bringing people together – uniting churches and leaders – is notoriously difficult, especially when we often come with our own preconceptions. There have been times when our collaboration with one group has undermined our standing with another. In some ways this is inevitable but it makes our relationships and trust with key individuals crucial.
We need to see God’s people coming together as one body to radically infuse our society with the values of the Kingdom. What will you take away from your time here? Working for the Alliance has, at times, been extremely humbling. As mentioned above, we all fall into the trap of making assumptions and judgements about others when we have little justification to do so. I think I will therefore take away a willingness to learn and listen to all those I engage with even if I disagree with them on some key issue – whether theological, political or social. I have also had so many fantastic opportunities to speak in churches and at conferences across the country. This experience will no doubt be vital as I take the next step in my journey.
So, where are you going? My wife and I are moving back to Sheffield where I was at university. I will be working as youth and young adult minister for All Saints Ecclesall, leading their Uncut Project – a fresh expression of church aimed at youth and young adults. It’s a really exciting opportunity with huge potential to see God at work in the lives of young people. What is your hope for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland in the next five years? As look back on my five years I have to ask myself, has the work of the Alliance in Scotland advanced God’s Kingdom? And this would continue to be my hope and prayer for the next five years. I have definitely experienced a renewed willingness across churches and Christian organisations to work together to build God’s Kingdom. The Alliance has played a key role in this and will hopefully continue to do so in the future. The Alliance, more than any other organisation, has the ability to build a movement of Christians who come together for holistic mission – creating networks of believers across all areas of society, whether that’s politics, education, health care or more traditional forms of evangelism. We need to see God’s people coming together as one body to radically infuse our society with the values of the Kingdom. I believe the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland can and should be driving this vision. IDEA MAGAZINE / 17
Right royal visit to Wales As part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Queen recently paid a two-day visit to Wales. Her tour of the nation commenced with a service of thanksgiving at Llandaff Cathedral on Thursday, 26 April. Evangelical Alliance Wales’s Elfed Godding and Jim Stewart represented the evangelical constituency in Wales as the organisation has a seat on the Faith Communities Forum which is convened and chaired by the first minister. The Cathedral choir sang hymns in Welsh and English and the first minister, Carwyn Jones read from the book of Proverbs. Leaders from other faith communities read prayers of intercession and thanksgiving for the Queen in both languages. The Archbishop of Wales, Rev Dr Barry Morgan, commended the Queen for her faithful service to the nation over 60 years and made specific reference to her
Partnering in mission in Wrexham
In 1996, Christians in Wrexham made a bold decision. They decided to work together. And what began as a spur to local mission now defines the way that most of the town’s churches engage with each other and their north Wales community. Initial inspiration came from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and a local Presbyterian minister, Bryn Williams. But the movement known as Mission Wrexham has been buoyed along by prayer, vision and a determination to collaborate. Another key factor in Mission Wrexham’s longevity has been its commitment to the historic creeds of the Church without getting bogged down in formal constitutions. This has created a broad sense of partnership across Christians in the town and promoted IDEA MAGAZINE / 18
outstanding speech last Christmas in which she articulated her personal commitment to following Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Lord. Elfed Godding, national director of Evangelical Alliance Wales, said: “Welsh people are often divided over their views about the royal family, but there is a great sense of loyalty to the Queen. She represents values that are timeless and is seen as a figure of hope in a cynical world. “This admiration was particularly visible on her visit to Aberfan on the following day. This was the scene of a terrible tragedy 46 years earlier and her presence there was poignant.” strong relationships between churches and their leaders. According to Art Ellinson, one of the founders of Mission Wrexham, outreach has always been a feature of this partnership. “Anyone wiling to share the Lord has been welcome. Mission Wrexham has attracted visionaries from the beginning and many of these ideas have been realised.” Since 1996, hundreds of Christians in the town have trained as counsellors, street pastors, foodbank workers, debt relief advisers and evangelists. Prayer however is the heartbeat of this 26-year-old mission. In its earlier years, many of the town’s Christians gathered to pray together each day. This is now a weekly rather than a daily practice, although once a year a week of non-stop prayer is organised. The focus of last year’s prayer week was the Royal National Eisteddfod which had visited the area and 14,000 bilingual evangelistic booklets were published. This year’s event will have more of an international flavour as the Olympic torch will pass through the town during the week of prayer.
Stay the night in Newport
It all started with Teen Challenge visiting Newport in a bus. Volunteers for this coffee house on wheels then saw another need - a night shelter for the city and district. Many of the homeless people they encountered were forced to sleep exposed to the elements. In the winter months, this was not only uncomfortable but also dangerous. In 2009, a small group of local people resolved to address this problem, despite having no previous experience of running a night shelter. They visited night shelters in London, adapting what they saw to create a model for Newport. Now the shelter is open for the coldest months of the year. It is co-ordinated by Stuart Johnson and Jade Holtham, both of Teen Challenge Newport. Fourteen local churches and more than 300 volunteers are also involved. The guests are provided with a hot meal in the evening and breakfast in the morning. Each church in the programme hosts the shelter once a week for two months. Partnerships have been developed with drug agencies, housing officers, and others, who identify those in need of accommodation and refer them to the shelter. The impact has been dramatic. Over the two-year period before the shelter was started, 14 people in Newport died of exposure to the cold. However, since the programme began, there have been no deaths due to exposure. Reflecting on the shelter’s success, Stuart said: “With the night shelter, you’re stopping someone from dying on the streets in the coldest winter. That’s what it is – it’s life and death.” In 2011, 121 guests were referred to the shelter. But this collaborative project has also had a dynamic impact on the volunteers who are involved. “It has done as much for the churches and the volunteers as it has for the guests, enabling congregations that have been behind closed doors for so long to get involved in serving the community,” said Stuart. There are now similar night shelters in Swansea, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff. newportnightshelter.wordpress.com email@example.com
Andy Reed: I want the whole country to use sport for the Kingdom.
Thinking sport Former Labour MP for Loughborough and Evangelical Alliance Council member Andy Reed explains why he has helped set up the Sports Think Tank. Anybody who knows me will usually be overwhelmed by my passion for sport, not just playing but what positive impact I believe it can have on society. Many would say I am too passionate. After losing at the last general election I was unsure how God wanted to use the previous calling in my life. I always understood my calling around issues of international development but always wondered how my passion for sport would be used for the Kingdom. My prayers were answered in two ways. First, I had been responsible for drawing together the Sport Manifesto by the prime minister for the 2010 election. I had started to realise that poor and short-term policymaking was part of the problem with the political system. I saw this in my 15 years at the heart of sport policymaking. After the election I was speaking to my friend, Nick King, who had been behind the Tory party manifesto on sport and we shared our frustrations with the whole process. I realised I had not been thorough using all the evidence-based research available when writing the manifesto. He said he felt the same. So we set about making our idea come to life. The idea of a think tank for sport was not new – it just needed the energy and the right people to make it happen. So in 2011 we tested the idea and set it up ready to launch in 2012 – the Olympic year. We have as our patrons Lord Coe and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and wide support in the sport landscape. All we aim to do is bring sense to the making of policy in Westminster and Whitehall and provide a public space where people can voice their views and share their experiences. I am sure like in many walks of life people get fed up with people re-inventing the wheel every two to three years.
As Seb has said in his endorsement: “A sports think tank would be a great legacy from the 2012 games, enabling future generations to benefit from long-term, well-researched, and evidence-based sports policy making in the UK.” We are not just about dry sports policy in Westminster. One of our first projects is to join with Theos to look at the claims made for sport as being a common good and to challenge those assumptions in the Olympic year. Our report and findings are being launched at the end of June, just before the Games start. We have already brought together theologians interested in sport with practitioners for a round table event earlier in the year.
I am excited to be working for them in the Olympic year to grow this really important area of ministry. Sport can reach groups of people in their environment that would otherwise be untouched by so many churches. I want the whole country to use sport for the Kingdom. Kick London and the Sports Think Tank are just part of the wide portfolio Andy has undertaken since he established SajeImpact. sajeimpact.net
My passion for what sport can do is not necessarily shared by everybody – and at the Sports Think Tank we want to produce the evidence to show our claims are valid – for reducing obesity, increasing health, increasing educational attainment, increasing self-esteem, learning respect and discipline as well as reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. There is so much sport can do in hard-to-reach communities and there are serious lessons for the Church. We hope they use the evidence too. The final part of the jigsaw fell into place when I was approached by Kick London – a Christian charity that uses the power of sport to engage with young people and to transform lives. My new life really started to make sense. Their aims are to “transform young people’s lives with God’s love through football”, combining football and life skills, underpinned by Christian values.
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Shining a light during the Games
The world’s premier sporting event will be in the UK this summer, with almost 15,000 athletes from 205 countries competing. Every city, town and village has been caught up in the fervour, so how have Christians responded to this unprecedented opportunity? Claire Musters writes…
Lessons learned Here are some of the lessons churches indicated they have learned working with local organisations. • Cover your initiatives in prayer and ask for favour – then don’t be surprised when it happens! • Council cuts can result in a deep appreciation for initiatives churches run. • Be professional. • Spend time building your reputation. If you want to do something big, think about doing smaller events first to gain trust and favour. • Be patient – there are a lot of council departments that need to be involved in large events. • In light of the above start your planning early! It can take months of preparation to put on an event. • Communication can sometimes be an issue. • Be gracious and open to learning – they may have more knowledge than you about putting on events. • Don’t be afraid to take the lead if they ask you to.
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Equipping the Church
ore Than Gold was set up by all the main denominations to help churches make the most of The Games. A spokesperson indicated that at least 5,000 churches are grabbing this opportunity and almost 2,000 people will have attended training events either directly through More Than Gold or through their denominations. This has equipped churches to engage with their communities through holding big-screen festivals, sports quizzes, providing hospitality and much more. David Willson, CEO of More Than Gold, said: “This is by far the largest ever response by the churches to a major international sports event. This is true not only regarding the number of churches involved but also the breadth of the churches. In addition, over 60 agencies have played their part in producing resources and creating the programmes and training.” More Than Gold has orchestrated what is possibly the widest ever co-operation between denominations and churches, both locally and nationally, and other organisations, such as Scripture Union, Bible Society, the Salvation Army and Christians in Sport, have produced resources and training. In the capital, the2012, a Diocese of London initiative, has been mobilising young people to volunteer and serve the
range of Olympic initiatives planned by local churches and groups.
A new approach What has been a significant change during 2012 is how groups of churches have been able to partner with their local authorities, rather than solely organising their own events. As Peter Meadows, communications director for More Than Gold, said: “The traditional approach to community engagement by churches has been to do our own thing and hope we will get noticed. The 2012 Games – and the Queen’s Jubilee before them – have shown the value of joining in with what the community plan or providing leadership for it. This has made it possible for churches to let their light shine and for their lives to be seen. It is a powerful lesson and a very hopeful sign for the future. “Many groups of churches have been wonderfully surprised at the welcome they have been given by their local authority when offering help and resources. This has forged new and positive relationships.”
Building relationships Churches have also been serving their communities by running large-scale festivals, with many seeing this as part of an ongoing process. The Opening Ceremony is a great opportunity to provide an all-age
celebration. In Dagenham, churches are working together to show the Opening Ceremony on a big screen in a park as part of their Festival Central. They have spent 18 months working with the local council and police to plan the event, and an estimated 50,000 people will attend. One of the churches involved, Bethel, has a history of working with the council and, for the last 10 years, has held an annual outdoor service on council land. Members believe it was this previous relationship that helped them gain favour, and also resulted in the council asking them to throw a party for the Torch Relay. Many other churches have found they have been asked to play their part in Torch Relay celebrations too. Loughborough Churches Partnership, which is holding its own events during the Games, is also working with Charnwood Council and Charnwood Arts. Keith Munro explains: “Our local council has been very helpful. They have been prepared to lend us loads of equipment and have also given us lots of advice. “We have also been working with Charnwood Arts on their Picnic in the Park. This event has been put on in the past and when churches have tried to get involved they’ve been on the fringe. This time we approached them and offered help and funding at an earlier stage, and have been warmly received and have had input into
the planning. Our part is now much more at the centre of the event.” The co-operation with those outside the church has not been limited to local authorities. Croydon churches are working with Crystal Palace Football Club (CPFC). Again, relationships had already been built. When Crystal Palace’s future was saved by a consortium of businessmen they wanted to forge closer links with the community. This tied in with the Croydon churches desire to put on community events so they joined forces to create ‘In It Together’. Chief executive of the club, Phil Alexander, said: “We are excited as Croydon’s local league club to be able to partner with an active group like the local churches.” A pilot event held last year paved the way for this year’s More Than Gold-themed event, which included a marquee on the pitch for the main stage and a ‘street festival’ in the club’s large car park. Steve Clifford, the Alliance’s general director, said: “It is great to hear how churches have been grabbing this once-ina-lifetime opportunity. The combination of the Games and the wonderful Jubilee celebrations have made this a significant year for the Church and I’m so pleased to see how we’ve risen to the occasion. I hope and pray that the relationships forged during this time will go from strength to strength in future years too.”
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Michael Sharkey: I have learnt to trust that God has provided me with the things I have needed.
THE BIG INTERVIEW
Of God and goalball Michael Sharkey is visually impaired, but this summer he’ll be representing Great Britain in the little-known game of goalball. He talks to Chine Mbubaegbu about faith, failure and the Paralympics. Michael Sharkey with his sister Anna – both part of Team GB’s goalball squad. Photo credit: © Finlay MacKay – National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project
Ever heard of goalball? Neither had I. It’s one of the less-well-known sports that will form part of the Paralympic Games in a few weeks’ time. This game for visually impaired people is fast-paced and heroic. The idea of the game is that the players are totally reliant on their ability to orientate themselves around the court, track where the ball is, and get it into the opposing team’s net, while defending their own – mainly by hurling your body in front of the ball. Michael Sharkey is a 27-year-old Christian who has a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. He started playing the game 11 years ago while at a boarding school for the visually impaired; and this summer he will be representing Team GB in the Games. “I love goalball. I love its fast pace and that you have to be totally reliant on your reflexes and all the other senses apart from your sight.” As well as donning elbow and kneepads, a goalball player’s equipment includes eyeshades which mean none of the players – including those who have some sight – can see anything. “I love the fact that it’s a team sport and that we can all compete on an equal footing,” says Michael. Very few of us will get the opportunity to represent our country at doing the thing we love most. But with the bright lights of the IDEA MAGAZINE / 22
Paralympics comes an enormous amount of pressure. “We train a lot of weekends together as a squad. We have to eat the right foods, prepare mentally and physically. I’ve also never played in front of more than 200 people before because the sport is so unknown, but during The Games we’ll be playing in a 7,000-seater.” But for Michael, a devoted Christian who attends a Newfrontiers church in Uxbridge, the spiritual preparation is the most important. “In sport, competitiveness and performance mean everything. But that’s the total opposite of our Christian beliefs which show us that it doesn’t matter how we perform, there’s salvation for everyone. “In this place of competitiveness, however, it’s quite hard to stay focused on God. If I’m spending more time being able to pray or study, or am able to go to house group then it makes it easier and is a helpful reminder of what’s most important. When I’m away a lot, I miss out on church and it becomes something that I have to be self-disciplined about. I try to remember that I’m not doing things in my own strength, but in God’s. I want to use everything I do to glorify God as much as possible. Some people can sing beautifully; some can write beautiful poetry. I can throw a goalball very hard.”
But the better you are at something, the higher the stakes are for failure. Like all the athletes heading to London 2012, Michael will have to deal with the prospect of not doing very well and letting the country down. But he doesn’t see it like that. “I have had plenty of practice at dealing with failure. There were a few years where we pretty much lost every game and didn’t know whether we would continue. It helps when I understand that there’s a bigger picture – a higher purpose to things. Dealing with bad results or not performing well is definitely easier if you give it over to God.” What may be less easy, from the outside looking in, is how Michael deals with relating his disability to his faith. “My condition – retinitis pigmentosa – is such that the more light there is, the better I can see. In the daytime and in sunshine I can see signs and shops. But at night I can’t see anything other than street lights. I expect that my sight will have gone completely by the time I’m 40.” Rather than spend each day in utter despair at the prospect of going completely blind in a decade’s time, Michael leads a full and active life. When away from the goalball court, he works as a paediatric physiotherapist and was married just under a year ago. But he admits that he hasn’t always been as comfortable with his situation as he is now. “When I was 13, I made a concerted effort to pray to have my eyesight healed. Obviously it didn’t work, but it had a great affect on me. I have learnt to trust that God has provided me with the things I have needed rather than what I have wanted – and better things have come of it. “If I had sight, then I wouldn’t be going to the Paralympics. If I had sight then I wouldn’t have met my wife [She attended the same school for the visually impaired]. Me having a visual impairment can also be an encouragement to other people – though some might take this as condescending. But I’ve found that if others have truly been encouraged then that’s a good thing. I think my impairment helps other people to get a perspective on their own troubles sometimes. “I’m glad I didn’t get my sight back. I think God has been really good to me and you can see all the blessings. Who knows, maybe I will be healed or cured with all the advancements in medicine taking place.”
Opportunity Michael is buzzing at the opportunity he has to represent his country in the Paralympics, and will also be cheering his sister Anna – a member of Team GB’s women’s goalball squad. “It’s a great time to be involved. There are many fantastic athletes who have made their marks on history; but not many of them have had the opportunity to do it in their own country. I’m hoping the home support will be worth a goal or two in each game.” But it’s also a great opportunity for the UK Church to open its doors. “In a few weeks’ time, there’s going to be a million people in London who aren’t normally in London. There’s going to be an opportunity to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds, who will relish the opportunity to take in some of the British culture. This is an opportunity for the Church to actually get out there and show how wonderful the grace of God is. And we can do that through serving people.” The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project is capturing the journey towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and, working with internationally-renowned photographers, is creating a lasting record of the people who are contributing to these exciting events. From world-class athletes and those working behind the scenes, to people living and working in the host boroughs for the 2012 Games, the project celebrates stories of inspirational achievement. roadto2012.npg.org.uk
Goalball: the rules
A game is played by two teams of three players with a maximum of three substitutes on each team. The game is conducted on the floor of a gymnasium within a rectangular court which is divided into two halves by a centre line. Goals are erected at either end. The game is to be played with a bell ball. The object of the game is for each team to roll the ball across the opponent’s goal line while the other team attempts to prevent this from happening. Taken from the International Blind Sport Federation
49.61 seconds with Christine Ohuruogu Gold medallist and Team GB sprinter Christine Ohuruogu MBE took the gold medal in the 400m at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She spent a few seconds with us ahead of her London 2012 preparation. Read our interview with her online. eauk.org/ohuruogu
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Andrew Parker: The Victorian period saw sport become part of church life, but not all denominations followed suit.
port and Christianity: S Past and present Professor Andrew Parker gives some insight into the ways in which sport, as a form of outreach and ministry, continues to flourish. How, we might ask, are sport and Christianity connected? The fact is that, in Britain at least, these two cultural practices share a good deal of common ground primarily as a consequence of the role of the Church in the development of sport in Victorian times. Recent years have witnessed an increasing amount of discussion and debate around the sport-religion relationship. A popular argument surrounding the relationship between sport and Christianity in Britain is that during the mid-19th century certain sporting activities were transformed from a collection of unruly pastimes into a series of codified games via the English public schools. This transformation primarily took place through the work of a man named Thomas Arnold, who was headteacher at Rugby school between 1828 and 1841. He saw sport as an ideal companion to Christian teaching in shaping the physical and moral development of his young charges. Word of Arnold’s ideas travelled fast and came to be known as ‘muscular Christianity’, a term encapsulating qualities and values such as fair play, respect, perseverance, discipline, loyalty, self-control, self-sacrifice, endurance and courage. An example of how some of these attributes might come together can be seen in the 1980 film Chariots of Fire, where athlete Eric Liddell (a committed Christian) refuses to enter the 100 metres event at the 1924 Olympics because the heats are set to take place on a Sunday. Liddell went on to win bronze and gold medals in the 200 and 400 metres finals respectively. Likewise, such values are evident in the underlying ethos of the Olympic Games themselves. Indeed, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and of the modern Olympics, was said to be heavily influenced by the work of Thomas Arnold. The Victorian period also saw sport become part and parcel of church life but not all denominations followed suit. Some, for example, were concerned about the more negative values and practices which sport promoted; its potential as a distraction to church attendance being a key concern. By the early 1900s church leaders had largely become accepting of sport but as time went on enthusiasm waned. Indeed, by the 1970s many congregations in Britain had little, if any, involvement in what was one of the most popular leisure-time choices for young people in secular settings. Over the last 40 years, however, there has been a resurgence in the relationship between sport and the Church and today there are around 35 different Christian sports ministry organisations in the UK alone, many of which are affiliated to the collective UK Sports Ministries. One such organisation is Sports Chaplaincy UK (formerly SCORE) which specialises in promoting chaplaincy services among IDEA MAGAZINE / 24
professional/elite and amateur athletes both by supporting those in specific sports and by offering chaplaincy to major events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Indeed, a particularly significant development, in recent years, has been the increasing recognition of the potential of such events as evangelistic opportunities. Mega-event ministry (as it is known today) effectively began in 1988 at the summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea and at the winter Games in Calgary, Canada. The initial focus was on the competitors themselves, along with those who came to watch. In time the vision spread to encouraging the local church to use the interest generated in major events in their vicinity as a bridge to minister to the wider public. The largest Christian campaign to take place thus far at a major sports event was at the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games when approximately 45 denominations and para-church ministry groups participated, (along with 700 churches), to stage outreach across Australia. Similar work is currently evident in and through More than Gold. What then of the future? The popularity of sport – especially as an aspect of youth culture – continues to grow and, in this sense, one of the greatest challenges facing sports ministry workers is to provide a quality of service which competes with and surpasses all that the secular world has to offer. Indeed, keeping pace with secular sporting provision (and the expectations of its participants), while distancing itself from the moral dissonance which it often promotes, is arguably the most pressing challenge for modern-day sports ministry. Andrew Parker is professor of sport and Christian outreach and director of the Centre for Sport, Spirituality and Religion (CSSR) in the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Gloucestershire glos.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/scm uksportsministries.org sportschaplaincy.org.uk morethangold.org.uk
Riot response: In the aftermath of the riots, the Church quickly mobilised.
IN THE THICK OF IT
A year since the riots
The Games may be here, but nearly a year ago, the nation was reeling from the shock of the riots which rocked our cities. Riyaza Rodriguez looks at the Church’s continued response to the devastating scenes of anarchy and looting… Last year’s August riots were some of the worst scenes of lawlessness this country has ever witnessed. Many London boroughs, and towns and cities across England, experienced widespread arson, looting and violence that saw many people burnt out of their homes, and shops and businesses looted and destroyed. It is estimated that there was around £200 million worth of damage to public property. Many of those involved were repeat offenders, many were in gangs, and pretty much all identified as being ‘at the bottom of society’, struggling socially and economically. As we look back at the Church’s involvement in the year that’s gone by since the riots, an inspiring picture emerges of an institution at the heart of its community, one that is far from irrelevant to today’s society, as many would have us believe. What also emerges is a challenge to the
Church that harks back to the very reason we are here.
A visible presence In the immediate wake of the riots, as local police and public authorities were stretched to capacity trying to cope, the Church quickly mobilised. Prayer meetings were held up and down the country. St Paul’s in Salford – an area which was badly hit by the riots, held an evening prayer meeting together with a number of evangelical churches in the town. The Birmingham Christian Centre coordinated prayers for the city alongside the Bishop of Birmingham and other evangelical leaders, while in Wolverhampton, as well as giving hands-on practical support in their riot-affected areas, churches joined together to hold prayer meetings. Steve Uppal from the All Nations Christian Centre in
Wolverhampton, which regularly holds prayer meetings for the town, said: “We had a greater response than usual and a very strong sense of solidarity amongst the churches.” Pastoral care spilled onto the streets too. Literally. A report published by the Faith to Engage project that looked at the Church’s response to the riots found that clergy from a range of churches took to the streets offering ‘a listening ear’ for those in shock or troubled by the violence. The report, published in January this year, said: “Many people on the streets in the Tottenham area were keen to let someone know how they felt and just talk to a sympathetic, listening ear. The presence of the Church on the streets provided an alternative uniformed presence to that of the police.” It goes on to say: “The visibility of clergy on the street appears to have been picked up by the local councils and acknowledged with thanks by IDEA MAGAZINE / 25
IN THE THICK OF IT
local traders. One local person commented ‘You were here when no-one else was’.”
and shop keepers whose homes and properties had been burnt down.
Elsewhere in London, another local council also identified the Church’s effectiveness.
“The Borough Commander of the Met police told residents that night ‘if you want to know what’s going on, go to the church pastors’. Senior church leaders were being emailed with updates of local incidents as they happened. Within minutes we were being notified of facts and were able to quickly dispel rumours.
Paul Barratt, leader of Jubilee Church in Croydon, and this year’s chair of the Croydon Churches Forum, told us: “During the riots, Croydon Council came to the Church because they saw us as mediators with the community. “On the night after the riots broke out, I was asked to chair a meeting between the borough police and fire services, local councillors, the local press and residents IDEA MAGAZINE / 26
“The police saw that they could speak to residents through the network of churches. They saw that we have a relationship with the local people, that they trust us.”
MPs will come and go, but the Church is part of the fabric of every community.
No quick-fix: We cannot parachute in solutions.
IN THE THICK OF IT
Moving forward: relationship and trust In the months following the riots, as the government and local authorities started to ask why the riots happened and what should be done to prevent them ever happening again, it became clear that long-term relationships and trust were at the heart of the debate. XLP, a Christian youth charity, have worked with young people and their families over the last 15 years. CEO Patrick Regan told idea: “Many of the young people that rioted were angry, isolated, and on the edge of society. They don’t trust the police, the education system or social services; some of them don’t even trust their own parents.
No quick-fixes While many in the government and local authorities are looking to the official recommendations made and named projects as evidence of action, both Jubilee Church and XLP leaders believe that there are no quick-fix solutions to the problems that the August riots identified. “We cannot parachute in solutions,” said Patrick. “What our communities need are tailor-made solutions that are borne out of relationship.” “Local people need to know you are in for the long haul,” Paul said.
The riots resulted in many reports written and suggestions made as to why they happened and how to stop them ever happening again, and rightly so. But instead of ‘shoe-horning’ in new “One of the first steps in our mentoring scheme is to show them that we are members government initiatives that are only a sticking-plaster of a solution, perhaps the of their own community – many of our mentors live and work right alongside them. Church should be going to the government and the local authorities and showing Every week we work with around 1,000 them our credentials: relationships, young people. We work to support facilities, a local workforce and them and help them make the a heart to serve. As many of right lifestyle choices.” those convicted of offences He goes onto say: “You have during the riots are about to to be committed to the long-haul. finish prison sentences, a new MPs will come and go, but the challenge emerges. How do we Church is part of the fabric of help them to integrate into Watch this video every community – and we are society with a sense that they about the great not going anywhere.” have a stake in it? How do we work of XLP Paul Barratt echoes this by saying: help answer that sense of “As churches, we work at the ground level hopelessness that led them to violence in of the community: we have relationships, the first place? As a Church, it is clear that we have buildings and facilities, and we we are uniquely positioned to help answer have a local workforce. We are in a unique some of these questions. position to serve the community.”
“The police saw that they could speak to residents through the network of churches. They saw that we have a relationship with Evangelical Alliance IDEA:186mm x 64mm 16/05/2012 22:30 Page 1 the local people, that they trust us.”
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Jonathan Langley looks at the issues of disability and inclusivity, and how lives and attitudes are being changed around the world. Blamed on demons “The Church needs a lot of educating on disability issues,” says Anne WafulaStrike – and she should know. After contracting polio as a young girl in Kenya, she experienced prejudice and stigma first-hand in an African Christian context. “People said I was bewitched,” she says. “Others said God was punishing my family.” Even well-meaning Christian leaders made her feel excluded rather than
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loved. “Every time I went to church I would want to sing in the choir, but the pastor would ask for me to be brought forward to be prayed for because they believed I was possessed. They thought my disability was blamed on demons.” Attitudes like these were bound to affect Anne’s faith. “I resented God,” she says. “I wasn’t happy with who I was, because I knew I wasn’t a full person. I wasn’t a proper human being in the eyes of man, so I did not think God valued me.”
Healing for athletes? Today, Anne knows that isn’t true. She’s a world-class wheelchair sprinter who was the first East African to compete in the Paralympic Games and who has spoken in parliament on the subject of disability and poverty. She publicly proclaims her faith in the God who loves her with her disability, not in spite of it. “My faith has grown a lot as I come to understand how the Lord looks at me with my disability,” she says. “I believe God can use me the way I am to glorify his name.”
Now resident in the UK, Anne is one of a few elite athletes hoping to represent Great Britain in the 2012 Paralympic Games. But she still comes across Christians who only want to pray for her healing. “As a disabled woman and a Christian, I believe healing is very important. But I believe God will only heal an individual for His own glory.” Anne’s story is one of triumph, but she is aware that most people from her background will not have the same opportunities she did when she was ‘discovered’ trying to lose baby-weight in a UK gym. Her sprinting wheelchair costs almost as much as a second-hand car in her native Kenya. “I have facilities, support, a trainer and a gym,” she says. Many people with disabilities similar to Anne’s will have trouble affording regular wheelchairs, never mind specially designed racing chairs, and they certainly will not have Anne’s access to psychologists, nutritionists and physiotherapists if their villages don’t even have flat, maintained roads suitable for training.
“As a disabled woman and a Christian, I believe healing is very important. But I believe God will only heal an individual for His own glory.”
“Disability does not mean inability. Believe in yourself. All is not lost.”
Go home, wait to die The situation for disabled people elsewhere is similar. When basic dignity and material survival hang in the balance, dreams of an international athletic career seem distant and strange. Shiva was in his early 40s when he fell from a tree while collecting feed for his animals in rural Nepal. He was left unable to sit up in bed or control the most basic of bodily functions and also left his family without a breadwinner. The doctors at his local hospital told him: “Go home and wait to die.” Thankfully, BMS World Mission occupational therapist Megan Barker was able to help him. Through her interventions, and with the help of BMS partner the International Nepal Fellowship, Shiva can now walk short distances and wheel himself to his new shop, where he earns money to provide for his family. It’s something international mission agencies like BMS say a lot, but Shiva’s life really has been utterly transformed. JUL/AUG 2012
In Haiti there are similar stories. The 2010 earthquake buried countless people under the rubble of their houses. The lucky ones survived, but many were left with serious spinal injuries. Leon was one of them. Leon’s wife and eight children were killed in Haiti’s earthquake and he was left unable to walk because of the spinal injuries he sustained. But, again, Christians like BMS supported partner worker Carwyn Hill, founder of Haiti Hospital Appeal, have been on hand to help. Leon has rediscovered hope. These days he spends most of his time training with BMS partners to be the first Paralympic athlete to compete as a wheelchair racer for Haiti. Thanks to a BMS grant, he even competed in the Parapan American Games in Mexico last year. Back in England, Anne Wafula-Strike says she has known how it feels to long for those three things, but she has this advice for disabled people: “Disability does not mean inability. Believe in yourself. All is not lost.” And she is, of course, right.
Caring for disabled people is not about charity or pity. It’s about justice. It’s about making sure that every human being made in God’s image has access to the fullness of life that is the birth-right of every man, woman and child. It might be through singing and a pint in your local pub, or through the roar of the crowd in a sporting stadium. It might be through just a loving touch for a child forgotten by society or through giving to a ministry of mercy. But we can all make a difference, all improve our attitudes, all make inclusivity and justice for disabled people a priority. With God as our help and representatives here and overseas, we can make the world a place where all people, regardless of their disability, have a reason to sing. Jonathan Langley is BMS World Mission’s features writer and a regular blogger for The Huffington Post This article first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Engage, the magazine from BMS World Mission. bmsworldmission.org/engage
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Feeding a nation
Feeding a nation – God’s way
by Chine Mbubaegbu
“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.” If the Church in Zimbabwe stands unified and committed to God’s way of doing things, they can feed a nation. That’s the belief of Trumpet Call! – Agriculture – an initiative of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) in partnership with Foundations for Farming which is mobilising churches in the southern African country to stand together and take the fate of the country’s food crisis into their own hands. The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. Away from the beauty of the Victoria Falls is a nation that has for years been racked by hyper-inflation and poverty. In 2008, inflation was estimated at over a million percent per annum – numbers that we cannot even begin to comprehend. At present, Zimbabwe has abandoned its own currency and is using others. This year it is estimated that ‘Zim’ will suffer a one million tonne maize deficit because of drought and crop failure. For pastor Scott Marques and the EFZ general secretary Reverend Lindani Dube, the leaders of Trumpet Call – Agriculture! – the grim situation is an opportunity for the Church to step in. “Where all else has failed, we have a message that never fails – the Church has solutions founded on the Word of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. As we put our trust in God and not in man or worldly kingdoms, God is able to transform our hearts and our nation… and we are demonstrating this here with agriculture.” The situation in Zimbabwe is widely acknowledged and some £80 million of taxpayers’ money from the UK alone is given to the country each year through the Department for International Development IDEA MAGAZINE / 30
Watch this video of Scott Marques and Lindani Dube of the Evangelical Fellowship Zimbabwe talking about Trumpet Call
(DfID). But throwing money at the problem does little to relieve what the Trumpet Call – Agriculture! leaders believe is a spiritual issue that only the Church and God can help with. “What’s happening in Zimbabwe is endemic of what’s happening in Africa. The continent has 32 per cent of the world’s natural resources and yet contributes only two per cent of the world’s production. We believe that the problem of poverty is essentially a spiritual issue. We have got to address the hearts of people.” As with all spiritual issues, there is a practical outworking. Trumpet Call! Agriculture advocates the Foundations for Farming methods of “farming God’s way” and has seen miraculous growth when the ethos of “on time, to standard, without wastage, with joy” are employed. “Our national tendency of being late, using sub-standard farming practice, not working together and not caring for the poorest is where the Church can very clearly demonstrate the kingdom of God, bringing material and spiritual transformation,” says Scott. In the 2010/11 season, an independent survey measured more than 10,000 farmers linked to Trumpet Call! - Agriculture – and of these, each had averaged just under 10 times the national average yield. If every Christian household planted maize this year using the Foundations for Farming methods, this could yield an increase of 1.2 million tonnes – enough to wipe out the food deficit predicted. This message needs to be heard, and has benefited from a renewed sense of unity among the different denominations in
Zimbabwe coming together to advocate the message. Trumpet Call! - Agriculture has been fully endorsed by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, incorporating the Protestant mainline denominations. “God’s people need to get hold of God’s way of doing things. This is not about any individual man or organisation, but this is about fitting in with God’s pattern. We no longer want to conform to the pattern of this world – looking to man and money for our salvation – which is keeping us in poverty….we want to genuinely look to Jesus’ for His answers to our situation. Imagine what a story it would be if the Church – mobilised together - feeds the nation. It would mean that we could go on to transform education and health as well. God is taking our five fish and two loaves and feeding a multitude. “We would love the evangelical Church in the UK to participate with the Church in Zim – in prayer and in whatever practical way most appropriate. We believe that the plans God has for this nation are not only for this nation, but for the demonstration of His glory far beyond Zimbabwe.” For more information, or to see how you can help, visit trumpetcallzimbabwe.org Elaine Storkey and Katei Kirby recently visited Teafund’s See For Yourself communities in Uganda; looking at how the Church is radically changing the community and lives of local people. Read accounts of their visit. eauk.org/idea
The books our leaders will be taking on holiday
We asked Christian leaders: what’s on your summer reading list? Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance I’ve just finished The Case for Civility by Os Guinness – a brilliant challenge to all those serious about engaging in the public square. How do we handle and respect our differences while holding onto our convictions with dignity? Can we learn to disagree agreeably? I’m just about to start Tom Wright’s new book How God Became King. Tom is a world class theologian who is always a challenge whether you agree with him or not. Ben Niblett, head
of campaigns, Tearfund I’m looking forward to a family week by the sea. I’ll read something escapist like PG Wodehouse or Ursula Le Guin to start with, and once my brain has unwound a bit I like to rewire it with something thoughtprovoking. This summer I’ve got Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. I’m hoping to understand better how ideas spread in society. And it should send me back to work fired up for more climate change campaigning. I might dip into Adrian Hastings’ History of English Christianity 1920-1985 too. I know I won’t have time to read all of it but he writes brilliantly and I like being gently challenged by his non-evangelical point of view.
Wales national director, Evangelical Alliance Having just re-read The Challenge of Jesus my plan is to explore Tom Wright’s new work How God Became King. I’m sometimes perplexed but always stretched, challenged and inspired by the consummate professionalism of this historian and theologian. I will also catch up on my backlog of recent Campolo offerings including Red Letter Christians – his writing, like his preaching, reassures me that love for God’s Word and pentecostal fervour are soul mates.
Leaders’ questions Elizabeth Hunter,
director, Theos I have several fat books on leadership and culture which I need to find time to read, but if you’re talking holiday reading it will be none of those. Instead I’ll immerse myself in literary novels, usually a selection off the Booker Prize shortlist. I find I need to give my imagination a holiday too and spending time in other worlds and other lives is the quickest way to get refreshed.
Helen Calder, head of finance and services, Evangelical Alliance I’ll be reading the latest No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel by Alexander McCall Smith The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection. I’ve read the whole series and they remind me of my visit to Botswana. I find them both poignant and amusing. I love the way good always triumphs over evil in the end. I was given a copy for my birthday so now I just need a deckchair and some sunshine!
Charis Gibson, head of media,
Evangelical Alliance As a mum of an active 14-month-old, I’ve half-read about six parenting books which I’ll hopefully end up finishing this summer! Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel, is especially inspirational. My colleagues are raving about Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, so that’s next on my list. And if I manage to get through all those, I’ve got my eye on The Hunger Games trilogy for some not-so-light relief.
Dave Landrum, director of advocacy, Evangelical Alliance I’ll be reading Sacred Causes: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al Qaeda. It’s a timely read. As Europe continues to disintegrate under the weight of a century of largely bad ideas, this book charts how secularists are actually religious extremists. It also identifies that, beyond mere trade and economics, the only positive historical glue for a common European identity is Christianity – and despite the fact that our humanist liberal elites don’t like it or want it, it represents the only future for the continent. IDEA MAGAZINE / 31
Eric Liddell : As far as he’s concerned, what’s at stake is far more than medals and glory – it’s his very dignity as a human being.
Few films have captured both failure and success like Chariots of Fire which is released in July, writes Sophie Lister…
We will be inundated, this summer, with images of winners and losers. There is little room for any middle ground in athletics. Either you’re the first to cross the line, or you aren’t – not many people set out to win a silver medal. Sport demands passion, commitment, and the strength of character to face both failure and success. Few films have captured this quite like Chariots of Fire. First released in 1981, the winner of a clutch of Oscars, it is now widely acknowledged as a British classic. It may be more than 30 years old, and based on events which took place in the 1920s, but it remains both entertaining and moving. Now, a timely cinematic re-release will give audiences the chance to experience the story all over again, or maybe discover it for the first time. At the heart of the film are Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), two very different British runners. Eric, a Scot, is a devout Christian, and wrestles with the spiritual implications of competing. Meanwhile, Harold – the son of a Jewish immigrant – runs to prove his worth in the face of prejudice. As the two young men train for the Paris 1924 Olympics, they must push themselves to their limits, and decide what it is they really stand for.
In pursuit Harold is driven by a painful compulsion, so strong that he confesses himself an ‘addict’ to running. A lifelong outsider, he sees winning as a deeply serious business. As far as he’s concerned, what’s at stake is far more than medals and glory – it’s his very dignity as a human being. The intensity of his drive might seem extreme. But his philosophy is far from uncommon. Our culture increasingly values people on the basis of what they do, or produce, as opposed to recognising their intrinsic worth. We find it natural to evaluate IDEA MAGAZINE / 32
Eric Liddell celebrates his win in the 1981 classic Chariots of Fire. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
His journey isn’t free from conflict, as he struggles to reconcile his faith with the demands placed upon him.
Chariots of Fire is re-released in cinemas on 13 July.
ourselves in the same way, basing our self-esteem on what we have achieved, and on whether we have ‘outrun’ the others around us. As Harold learns, it’s an addictive way to live. But it also has a flipside. If justifying our existence on earth is entirely our own responsibility, then failure is devastating. When Harold loses a race, he symbolically loses everything. And even when he wins, victory clearly feels strange to him, even anticlimactic. It hasn’t done for him what he hoped it would. “I’m forever in pursuit,” he confesses to the more contented Aubrey (Nicholas Farrell), “and I don’t even know what I am chasing.” Each win is only a temporary reprieve, failing to provide him with the peace that he craves.
Another possibility Eric’s running technique appears odd and almost laughable – body tilted backwards, mouth open, face to the sky. But it’s a symptom of what is happening in his heart as he races. He looks upwards instead of forwards because reaching the finish line is almost incidental. He simply loves to run, because he knows that it’s what God made him to do. His journey isn’t free from conflict, as he struggles to reconcile his faith with the demands placed upon him. Neither is his approach to running by any means tranquil, or painless. But it’s clear, simply from the way he conducts himself, that he’s free from the crushing pressure which Harold experiences. Eric doesn’t need to run in order to feel complete – he wants to run, because he already is.
Sophie Lister is a researcher and writer for The Damaris Trust. Chariots of Fire is re-released in cinemas on 13 July. See damaris.org/chariots for free church and community resources. culturewatch.org toolsfortalks.com JUL/AUG 2012
The contrast between these two men touches on something profound about the human experience. And it’s for this reason, perhaps, that Chariots of Fire has such enduring appeal. Each one of us is Harold, striving with all of our strength to be acceptable, finding that we can never quite make it. But as we look at Eric, we wonder whether somewhere, beyond the equally unforgiving categories of ‘winner’ and ‘loser’, there might be another possibility. The message of grace is surprising and subversive because it cuts right through our attempts to create our own worth. First, it asks us to take the painful step of surrendering these attempts – and then it offers us, as a free gift, the assurance we were fighting for all along. IDEA MAGAZINE / 33
Top 5 Olympic moments by Nathan Jones
Jesse Owens… and Luz Long (Berlin, 1936) Most people will have heard of Jesse Owens, the black US athlete who won four gold medals. But what’s less wellknown is that he was one jump away from failing to qualify for the long jump final until Luz Long, a blond-haired blue-eyed German, star of Hitler’s propaganda films and Owens’s main rival, noticed a problem with Owens’s run-up. Owens adjusted and qualified for the final, where he broke Long’s Olympic record as Long finished tied for third.
Derek Redmond’s dad (Barcelona, 1992)
Usain Bolt (Beijing, 2008)
Britain’s fastest 400m runner, Derek Redmond shot out of the blocks in his semi-final. 200m later he collapsed in agony, holding his hamstring. As Redmond hobbled towards the finish line, his father jumped out of the crowd to help him – Redmond sobbing on his shoulder – creating one Watch this of the most poignant iconic moment Olympic moments.
It shouldn’t happen in professional sport any more. Everyone is so well-honed, trained, conditioned that the margins are infinitesimally small, photo finishes separating winner and loser by the width of a vest. The 2008 Beijing Olympics 100m final was a little different. Usain Bolt, a 21 year old who wasn’t even sure he’d run the 100m a fortnight previously, destroyed the field. The race was over at 60m; Bolt started celebrating 15m from the finish line and still broke the world record.
Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Black Power (Mexico City, 1968) The Olympics has always been about more than sport, no more so than when two black US sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, stood on the podium after winning 200m gold and bronze respectively and responded to the Star Spangled Banner by giving the Black Power salute in protest at US segregation.
John Stephen Akhwari’s marathon (Mexico City, 1968)
Often overshadowed by Black Power is the remarkable story of Akhwari, the Tanzanian marathon runner who finished after the sun had set, over an hour behind the winner. When asked why he carried on while so far behind, Akhwari replied: “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
Showing Films If you are showing film scenes or entire films in your church activities then you are likely to need copyright licences from CCLI.
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Registered in England & Wales: 2580472. VAT No. 583 6735 03. Registered Office: Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), Chantry House, 22 Upperton Road, Eastbourne, BN21 1BF IDEA MAGAZINE / 34
Reviews THERE ARE NO STRONG PEOPLE by Jeff Lucas (CWR) Jeff Lucas takes a look at the life of Samson and encourages us to think again about how we judge him. Not excusing his sometimes dubious behaviour, or providing a defence of mass death by jaw bone, the book presses a clear central message that the story of a strong man teaches us that there is in fact no such thing. Lucas points out that it was the source of Samson’s strength that was his downfall, and the exercise of his strength that brought about his end. The book hammers home this central point with force and with humour. Some of the untangling of Samson’s sexual antics may seem a bit crude, but it emphasises the point that while he had strengths, Samson was not a strong person. It is a book that prompts you to consider whether your security comes from your strengths, or whether your strength comes from your security in God.
HIGH HEELS AND HOLINESS by Jo Saxton with Sally Breen (Hodder & Stoughton) Like an older sister holding your hand and guiding you through the joys and trials of womanhood, High Heels and Holiness is a must-read for real Christian women. I read it in one sitting – precisely because it was scratching where I was itching, as it were. It deals with the issues that most women are concerned with – the mirror, men, money and marriage. It combines social commentary with real-life experiences, anecdotes and theology to advise readers about what it means to be a faithful female disciple in a modern world which dictates what women should be. It’s refreshing to read a Christian book which doesn’t sweep the uncomfortable truths under the carpet, but confronts them honestly, while still taking time to make us laugh at ourselves. Many Christian women will be crying out for this smart girl’s guide to living life well. Reviewed by Chine Mbubaegbu
Reviewed by Daniel Webster
THE CUTTING EDGE YEARS
MUD, SWEAT & TEARS
by Bear Grylls
The Cutting Edge albums were the first CDs my family bought, even before we owned a CD player. Perhaps it was a prophetic insight; maybe a sign for what was to come. Maybe that symbolises the journey that Delirious? took from scrappy insurgency on the south coast of England to the authors of some of the most widely sung worship songs of the past two decades. These are the songs which many will remember Delirious? for. Despite their later success and global profile, these recordings capture the songs written before the fame, songs which were the soundtrack to a generation, to a movement. In the words of Martin Smith, “a movement that sang in the streets and saw the mountains tremble”. This 20th anniversary edition pulls together the Cutting Edge tapes, released on cassette one a year from 1993-96, with Live & In The Can, their first live album, and a DVD packed with film footage from their final gig and an interview with front man Martin Smith.
Just in case you’re not one of the 1.2billion people who watch his TV show Born Survivor, some background: Bear (no it’s not, it’s actually Edward) Grylls is an adventurer, TV presenter and motivational speaker, recently voted the most admired man in Britain. His autobiography focuses on a few major events: his struggle to pass SAS Selection, the skydiving accident which left him almost paralysed and his subsequent recovery to scale Mount Everest, aged only 23. Incredible stories, all of them, but described simply; the book reads like one of Grylls’ motivational talks dragged out at length, especially as he isn’t the greatest writer. I longed for more realism and depth; there’s almost 150 pages on how he successfully gained SAS selection, but the death of his father – clearly a huge inspiration – is covered in a page. What does shine through is Grylls’ inspirational character – his openness about his Christian faith combined with his mental and physical fortitude could be encouraging for a generation of young Christians.
Reviewed by Daniel Webster
Reviewed by Nathan Jones
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IDEA MAGAZINE / 35
IN YOUR WORDS
Letters: Have your say
In your words
We love hearing from you, so have your say on any of the issues raised in idea or any comments about the Evangelical Alliance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org COLLECTIVE WORSHIP
I note from your article (May/June issue) that it is claimed that collective worship in schools is “unpopular with parents, children, and teachers”. As a teacher for some 30 years I am sorry to say that it is unpopular with me. Not as unpopular as with one of my colleagues who declined to attend on the grounds that he was a Christian! One way that I encouraged my pupils to attend church was to assure them that it bore no resemblance to school assemblies. Unless led by a committed Christian with a clear aim of presenting the message in a relevant way, school assemblies are a great tool for putting children off Christianity, or at least church. Thirty years ago at a seminar on
school worship, we all came to the same conclusion. There can be no such thing as a compulsory act of worship. True worship comes from the heart and cannot be forced, only encouraged. Remember the US, with its high church attendance, does not allow worship in its state schools. Bill Bartle, Barnard Castle Methodists
ONLY MEN ALLOWED? The May/June edition highlighted the meeting of senior Alliance staff with key leaders from the now closed ACEA. I wish the discussions well as all concerned seek to map out a strategy on how best to “reflect our diverse community” – as their statement proclaimed. But I note all 16 people in the accompanying photograph were men! Are there no women among the upper echelons of the Evangelical Alliance and the senior leaders of the black majority churches? Philip JS Crome, via email
NO EASY ANSWER What a disappointing article from Krish Kandiah – God in the Tsunami (May/ June). Indeed, this is a question that has challenged many thinking Christians, and to which there is no easy answer, but Krish did little to help those of us who do struggle
with situations like the two major tsunamis we’ve experienced recently. To say that God’s perfect creation has been spoiled by mankind’s rebellion against God is indeed true but I don’t think that the tsunamis were caused by man’s sin – there are geological reasons relating to movements in the earth’s crust and to faults in certain strata of rocks. Why this should happen may have a geological explanation, but it’s not so easy to fit this in with God’s creating a perfect universe! I don’t think that Krish’s tidy three points in his article begin to tackle these issues: I would have preferred a much more open article, admitting that the tsunamis have caused Christians to ask questions, but reminding us that one day God will establish His perfect Kingdom on this earth. David Edgington, Harpenden
NUCLEAR FAMILY Nick Clegg says David Cameron should not ‘hark back’ to the 1950s nuclear family. However, the secure stable families of the 1950s created children who treated adults with respect. There was very little ‘binge drinking’ by the young, much lower rates of youth crime, no drug culture and very low unmarried teenage pregnancy. Sounds good to me! Ann Wills, Middlesex
Best of the web 1) A sense of story
4) Poll of the week
As the Olympic torch relay began its journey around the UK, Phil Green, reflected on the idea of story. eauk.org/fnt
Each week on eauk.org we are posting a question for you to vote on. Previous questions have included whether Tony Blair is a good leader, what people are most looking forward to in the 2) Church on TV summer and whether you are proud of the union flag. Visit eauk.org every BBC One filmed a church service live from member church Church of Christ the Tuesday for the latest question. King as part of Pentecost celebrations. 5) Jubilee New Testaments eauk.org/church/stories As the country celebrated Her Majesty’s 3) Tony Blair talks 60-year reign, HOPE Together, Biblica to church leaders and the Church of England came together to provide Diamond Jubilee The former prime minister attended New Testaments to be given away at the Holy Trinity Brompton Leadership street parties. More than 600,000 conference where he definitely did were ordered. ‘do God’. eauk.org/stories eauk.org/church/stories
IDEA MAGAZINE / 36
Heard in tweets @kingsxlilley: @EAUKnews Patrick Dixon bigging up the EA at #htbleadershipconf @garethcare: A cracking piece on riches and poverty from Friday Night Theology @EAUKNews @bluepigcreative: @idea_mag love the new look of your mag, good mix of articles too Join the conversation. Follow @idea_mag and @EAUKnews on Twitter.
Editor Chine Mbubaegbu – email@example.com Consulting editors Steve Morris, Krish Kandiah Contributing writers Claire Musters, Nathan Jones, Sophie Lister
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idea is published in accordance with the Alliance’s Basis of Faith, although it is impossible in every article to articulate each detail and nuance of belief held by Alliance members. Articles in idea may therefore express views on which there is a divergence of opinion or understanding among evangelicals. Letters and story ideas from members are welcome, and will be considered by the editorial board, which reserves the right to edit letters and stories for length and style. We regret that we are unable to engage in personal correspondence. Unsolicited material will only be returned if accompanied by a stamped, selfaddressed envelope.
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Issue 1 available to order
Steve Clifford: The general director writes…
An opportunity to open our arms
One of the great joys of my job is discovering the Church at work all over the country; God’s people expressing God’s love in their communities.
Recently I visited Latymer Christian Centre, a small church in north Kensington. Although a tough area, this relatively small group has been faithful for years and is the hub for many activities in the community. Alongside Alpha and Journey are English conversation classes, line-dancing, cooking and craft courses – you name it, this church is offering it. However, one initiative caught my attention. They were recently joined by an Eden team led by Jamie and Beccie. They really missed their family Sunday lunches. Rather than feeling miserable they invited the teenagers they were working with to join them for a sit-down Sunday lunch and were amazed by the response. The table quickly filled up and the ‘kids’ behaved and participated in the ‘God slot’ between courses. It was such a success that these lunches have become a regular occurrence. On hearing this I was profoundly moved. Here was the family of God extending its boundaries, including others at the table to hear the story of God. Family life across the UK is, for many, in a state of crisis. Every statistic represents real people facing often traumatic events with significant implications for their wellbeing. Some 3.15 million children live in single-parent families (that’s 1.9 million families, 23 per cent of all families in the country); one in three children live without their father. Often the social services have to intervene and 46,000 children were ‘looked after’ by the state in 2010/11. Sadly being ‘looked after’ as a child means you are likely to continue being ‘looked after’ in the prison service, with 26 per cent of prisoners having been in care as children and almost a third of rough sleepers. The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood report concluded that the UK had “the worst record of family breakdown in Europe”, with 500,000 children describing themselves as ‘unhappy’. What an indictment against civilised society. The Church across the country has responded making some great resources available to support parents. The National Parenting Initiative (NPI) website has material available for many situations. In writing this article I am aware that family life in 21st century Britain is complex and comes in all shapes and sizes. My father was killed by a drunk driver when I was five and I was brought up in a single-parent family. As I reflect, however, although the loss of our father was an enormous thing for my brother and I, other relationships began to connect with our family – uncles, aunties, friends and our church all rallied round to support, love, and befriend. I am convinced God loves family; it is part of his plan for all of us. Psalm 68 says: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” As Church we are called both to model the renewed family of God by the power of the Holy Spirit and also to open our arms and include others. IDEA MAGAZINE / 38
For Ann and I and our two children, it has meant welcoming others to live with us. It started in the first year of marriage with a young Muslim friend who faced conflict in his family over an arranged marriage. It continued over the years with more than 50 people who have lived as part of what we call our extended household. For most it has been for two to three years. The record is someone who came for three months and stayed for nine years! Sometimes our children were asked what it was like living with ‘strangers’. For them the answer was easy, having never known anything else, it was normal. It might not always have been easy but looking back I realise how they have benefited from this way of life. Not every family is able or called to live as we have lived. Going back to the small church in Kensington, I loved the way the church invited others to sit around the table with them. How we do this, as a Church, as a family will look different but as we ‘include’ others perhaps we play our part in God’s mission to set the lonely into families. In the coming months you are going to hear a lot from us on adoption and fostering. This is the UK Church’s opportunity to open our arms and include some of the most vulnerable into our families. My prayer is that not only individual families but whole church communities will say ‘we respond together in this, we will provide the back-up and support to make it possible for those who are opening their homes to foster and adopt’. thenpi.org.uk
Find out more about fostering and adoption eauk.org/church/ campaigns/ fostering-andadoption.cfm
S TORY .
EXPERI EN CE
HE L P YO UR C HUR C H G R O W A N D HAV E A G R E ATE R I M PAC T THE STORY is an exciting new church-wide experience that unites and equips participants as they engage the Bible. Reading like a novel, THE STORY offers a seamless, compelling narrative. Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, using corresponding curriculum resources, THE STORY sweeps readers into an unfolding chronological progression of Bible characters and events. Your church members will come to understand God’s story, how their stories connect with it and how to share it with others.
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eels? whistle ING. ANYTH Harry can you with Say, “Abraham and his wife, Sarah, wanted children. Abraham prayed, and God said that if Grandpa can help , but my whistle Abraham moved, God would give him a family. If you think Abraham should obey God and move, stand up. If he should not move, sit down.” After children respond, have everyone stand up. se I can’t ng? Becau Like whistli Say, “Abraham chose to obey God. Abraham, Sarah, and everyone in their household moved.”
Have children sit on the floor on one side of the room.
Have children walk with you to the other side of the room and sit down.
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Affordable, flexible and easy to use, churches are using The Story not only as a powerful church-wide experience, but also in individual ministries, such as small groups, Sunday School, kids’ clubs and in youth ministry.
For more information and a free sampler DVD, visit www.ExperienceTheStory.co.uk MAY/JUN 2012
AVA ILA BLE 1 S T JU LY 2012 BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Leaders in the world of Bible engagement resources IDEA MAGAZINE / 39
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Published on Jun 30, 2012
idea: the magazine from the Evangelical Alliance. In this edition: Linvoy Primus tells his story, Duncan Green talks about "Faith in the Oly...