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Giving in a recession Reconciliation in Rwanda Return to Narnia

The Bible changed my life

Word power eauk.org/idea • november/december 2010


Help your church to be inspired afresh by the Bible The E100 Bible Reading Challenge is an initiative to encourage more individuals and churches to become inspired to meet God every day through the Bible – not just for the period of the challenge but beyond. The challenge is based around 100 carefully selected Bible readings (50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament) designed to give participants a good understanding of the overall Bible story from Genesis to Revelation. The ‘E’ stands for Essential and each of the Essential 100 readings ranges from a few verses to a few chapters.

To find out more visit:

www.e100challenge.org.uk The E100 challenge is an initiative of The Bible Societies and Scripture Union movements of Britain and Ireland, along with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

• Buy locally at your Christian book shop • Buy direct 0845 07 06 006 • Buy online www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop


idea

november/december 2010 eauk.org/idea

16

contents

When enemies forgive

Editor’s Note

J

ust being told by experts that the recession is over doesn't make us feel better. The nation is still gripped with uncertainty due to inflation, joblessness and painful belttightening both at home and in the government. After six and a half years, this is my last issue as editor of idea. I've enjoyed all 39 of the issues I've worked on, and I look forward to working with the new editor next month with my 40th. This is due to a restructuring at the Alliance, and I don't have a clue what I'll do next. But I know I'm not alone in this predicament. I also know that the central theme of this issue is no accident. The Biblefresh initiative runs through 2011 and kicks off here with a photo gallery (p19) of people showing how the Bible has changed their lives. This concludes with an essay (p24) on how Scripture is relevant to a society that thinks it's obsolete. And this transformative focus continues in reports on forgiveness in Rwanda (p16) and biblical-themed stories on film (p28) and television (p30). Plus, returning to my original topic, there’s a look at how to be generous during a recession (p26). To be honest, I'm not the kind of person who turns to the Bible in times of trouble. I grew up in a strong Christian home and have studied God's Word my whole life. It is engraved on my heart, guiding every decision I make. I don't have to turn to it because it's always with me, the voice of God speaking to me every day. So in the light of an uncertain future, if I was making a sign to hold up in front of me for one of these Biblefresh photos, this is what I'd write: “Now I know I don't need to panic.”

24 19

Is the Bible still relevant?

Word power

The central theme of this issue is no accident

28

On an adventure

Features 16 When enemies forgive Reconciliation in Rwanda

19 Cover story: Word power The Bible changed my life

24 Essay: Is the Bible still relevant? Taking on Stephen Hawking

26 How to give even when it hurts Generosity in a recession

30 Interview: Tony Jordan Bringing the Nativity to the BBC

General Director Steve Clifford Finance & Services Executive Director Helen Calder Registered Charity No.212325

Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel 020 7207 2100 fax 020 7207 2150 info@eauk.org • www.eauk.org

Churches in Mission Executive Director Krish Kandiah Conference room bookings conference@eauk.org Email address changes to members@eauk.org

30

The most beautiful story

Regulars 4 Your voice idea readers talk back

7 A voice in Parliament Big issues that need Christian attention

28 Talking points Pop culture that sparks discussion

31 Hot topics Help with everyday theology

34 Last word General Director Steve Clifford writes...

Northern Ireland Director Rev Stephen Cave 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 • nireland@eauk.org Scotland Director Rev Fred Drummond 29 Canal Street, Glasgow G4 0AD tel 0141 332 8700 • scotland@eauk.org Wales Director Rev Elfed Godding 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 • wales@eauk.org

Cover image: Bible translator Michael Nhonya photographed by Clare Kendall for Bible Society.

idea nov/dec 2010 • 3


write to us at idea@eauk.org

your voice To God be the glory In reference to the article How to Help People Along Their Faith Journeys (Sep/Oct), surely evangelicals have always realised that, however sudden someone’s conversion may seem to be (like Paul on the Damascus Road), there will also have been some preparation (Paul witnessing the martyrdom of Stephen). I feel concerned that too much emphasis on “journeys”, could lead to a drift away from justification by faith, and into justification by journey time travelled ("God will surely accept me now I've been travelling so long"). This ends up eventually as justification by works. Arthur Robinson, Liverpool

who are not so obsessed. In fact, there are a lot of people who, for many reasons, feel that the way in which the game is treated as a religion needs to be addressed with some urgency. Laura Hicks, Weymouth

Don’t chicken out In your article How to Engage with a Secular Society (Jul/Aug), two sides of the coin were offered – one being views of Lord Carey, Andrea Minichello Williams and articles in The Mail on Sunday and The Daily Telegraph, the other being those of Steve Holmes and Trevor Cooling. But in the light of the high-profile cases mentioned in the article, which I agree are a minority, it seems like the

What it’s all about I was outraged by the proposed actions planned by Christians in America as a reaction to the presence of a Muslim place of worship and study near Ground Zero. I am a member of Welton Baptist Church near Bath where I have been worshipping for the last 11 years. I am originally from France and have spent a few years working in Lebanon and Syria. The bottom line for me (and hopefully for most evangelical Christians) is Jesus’ teaching and our ultimate authority for the conduct of a Christian life, the New Testament. “Bless and do not curse” is the exhortation in Romans 12. In simple words, blessing is the genuine face of Christianity, doing the opposite is not getting what it is all about. Jean-Philippe Petit, Somerset

recommendation is that Christians should resign, accept dismissal or chicken out. Historically Britain was the greatest sending nation with the Gospel, and much of what we now tolerate would not be countenanced in some African countries where Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God. Derek Cooper, Hampshire

The not-so-beautiful game

A courageous stand

I appreciate that you felt it important to report what churches were doing to relate to the football-obsessed millions this past summer (A Sporting Chance, Jul/Aug). But when I received the issue I was horrified to find that you had made it the cover story. There are also millions in this country

Your article on engaging with a secular society discusses two different approaches. Interestingly, they both refer to society’s ignorance of Christian truth and the need for us to speak up about our faith. One urges us to “speak up now” to prevent further decay in society and the

idea Editor Rich Cline • idea@eauk.org Contributing Editor Hazel Southam Contributing Writers Sophie Lister, Anna Moyle, Holly Price, Tony Watkins, Daniel Webster Head of Media Charis Gibson Advertising Manager Jack Merrifield • j.merrifield@eauk.org Design Domain London Printer Halcyon Print & Design

4 • idea nov/dec 2010

other to “shut up” about defending our rights and to “speak up about serving others”. Although the article concludes with an attempt to bring the two together, its overall tone is against the first approach because, in the words of Steve Holmes, “You would look hard to find a profession where you couldn’t work as a Christian.” But deeper consideration suggests that Western society is moving radically from a Judaeo-Christian ethical framework to one based on individual human rights rather than on what is good for society. We now have the notion of hate crime, defined by the perception of the victim. Disturbingly, the burden of proof has effectively shifted from the accuser to the accused (see the Equality Act [2006], 66[5]). No doubt people such as Lord Carey and Andrea Minichello Williams sometimes get things wrong, but I would hope that the Alliance would support their courageous stand as Christians in society. Dermot O’Callaghan, Hillsborough

New opportunities You've regularly covered new media in idea, and the Alliance has an active web presence. But did you know that in August, the 5-billionth digital device was connected to the internet? Digital media are changing our world forever, and the majority of mobile phone and computer users live outside the West. This offers growing opportunities for outreach and discipleship. Here at Internet Evangelism Day, a year-round advocate ministry for digital outreach, we know that digital media are already playing a huge role in fulfilling the Great Commission. We concur with Operation Mobilisation founder George Verwer’s statement: “The internet is one of the most key tools that God has given us in the church today. Internet evangelism is a dynamic, effective, cutting-edge ministry.” I'd like to encourage Alliance members to join our network to equip and enhance digital ministry, especially in the nonWestern world: ieday.net/guide Tony Whittaker, Derby

idea is published bimonthly and sent free of charge to members of the Evangelical Alliance. Formed in 1846, the Alliance’s mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. There are around 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, according to a 2007 Tearfund survey. 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, self-addressed envelope. idea accepts advertisements and inserts to offset printing costs. Advertising in idea does not imply editorial endorsement. The Alliance reserves the right to accept or refuse advertisements at its discretion. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from the editor.


news

Christians respond to flooding In the wake of September's devastating floods in Pakistan and India, Christian agencies are reaching out with assistance and calling for action to help victims. “It’s no surprise that people are fed up hearing about war, strife and disasters in Pakistan,” said Ram Gidoomal CBE. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the sum total of my native country, and it also doesn’t mean that the suffering of 20 million Pakistani people isn’t any more or less important than those of other nationalities.” Gidoomal is the founder of the Alliance's South Asian Forum, a network set up to support and represent Christians from the sub-continent living in Britain. The forum is drawing attention to the fact that the flooding in Pakistan has affected more people than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir floods and the Haiti earthquake combined, but has received less rally to action. Gidoomal is calling on Christians of all nationalities across Britain to join a campaign to cancel Pakistan’s international debt, enabling the country to recover more quickly from its spate of disasters. The campaign is being organised online at: avaaz.org

In brief...

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Meanwhile, Christian doctors in the UK raised more than £25,000 in one week to supply food, clothing and medical care to people displaced by the Pakistan floods. The Christian Medical Fellowship, which organised the appeal, sent the money to two Christian hospitals in badly affected rural areas. One of these, Pennell Memorial Christian Hospital in Bannu, on the Afghanistan border, is providing food and medical care for Christian and Hindu families in a nearby camp for displaced people. “Many nongovernmental organisations are afraid to work in these areas,” said Dr Nadeem Hidayat. “Due to security issues, it's difficult for me to leave the hospital, so I am visiting flood victims with a van full of army guards.” In Uttar Pradesh, northern India, Christian Aid is working to help one million people who have had their villages submerged by severe flooding (pictured). Projects to rebuild communities continue in both Pakistan and India, with involvement by many Christian agencies working through the Disasters Emergency Committee. dec.org.uk

CHILDREN ON THE AGENDA. In a statement issued at the end of August's week-long All African Bishops’ Conference, the bishops made a declaration that children are the “embodiment of the future” and committed the Church to seeking to unlock their inherent potential. The statement was partly in response to input from Alliance member Viva, who alerted bishops to the suffering of children in Africa due to poverty, war and natural disasters. Viva, which aims to reach out to vulnerable children, will be working with the Anglican Church in Africa to help live up to this declaration. viva.org

When Soul Survivor launched its first Bible in a Year in September, 10,000 copies sold out instantly. The daily readings (Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm) are backed up by explanatory blogs and videos online from Mike Pilavachi, Andy Croft and Ali Martin. Unlike other year-long Bible readings, this one starts at the beginning of the academic year and aims to encourage young people to get into the Bible. “A third of the people who went to Soul Survivor are reading it,” said Ian Metcalfe of the publisher Hodder & Stoughton. “That's 10,000 young people committed to trying to read the Bible. It’s tremendously exciting, and I hope it will make a big difference in their faith and grounding in the Bible.” The daily Bible reading's popularity was confirmed instantly when 128 young people posted their reactions online by 9.30am on 1 September, the first day of the scheme. If the initiative proves to be a success, it will run annually, said Metcalfe. Bible in a Year can be purchased from: hodderfaith.com/books, and the daily blogs and videos can be seen at: thebibleinoneyear.wordpress.com

UK CHURCH IS GROWING. After years of slow decline, the Church in the UK is showing signs of growth, according to Christian Research's recent publication Religious Trends. For almost a decade, the Church of England has seen steady attendance, while the Baptist Union is growing. And these statistics don't include new movements such as Fresh Expressions, notes Christian Research's Benita Hewitt. In addition, the research shows that the number of children and young people had risen significantly. Ongoing data is still being collected from hundreds of other denominations. christian-research.org

Sara O’Connor

Christian Aid

Interacting with young people

BREAKING THE CHAINS. Freedom Cambodia, a partner project of Alliance member Life For The World Trust is working with churches in Phnom Penh and other ministries to launch Cambodia's first Christian addictions conference. This has involved training hundreds of workers and volunteers and setting up a drop-in centre for young people who are not only poor but also abusing drugs and solvents. The Breaking the Chains conference in November will help pastors and church leaders learn how to help families affected by addiction through workshops on substance abuse and gambling, as well as ways churches can support people with addictions. lftw.org


a voice in Parliament said Clifford. “It highlights the work the churches are already doing on the ground, serving their communities and making a positive impact, particularly for those who might fall through the cracks in society. “We are thrilled that the Government has recognised the good work of local churches and organisations and would hope that the Square Mile resources will energise their work.” Government ministers have strongly backed the role of faith communities in helping to deliver their vision for society. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said the coalition government is committed to building on the huge amount of experience faith groups have in getting out into the community, and to valuing the role of religion and faith in public life. In a speech to Church of England bishops last summer, Baroness Warsi added that the question the government would be asking is, “How can government help people of faith do even more to build the Big Society”. For more on this topic, read Clifford's Last Word (p34).

Evangelical Alliance

BIG SOCIETY AND THE CHURCH. Churches took Big Society stories of community transformation to Downing Street this autumn to reinforce the message that churches are already forming an integral part of Government plans to see lasting change in Britain even at a time of cut-backs. A letter was delivered to the Prime Minister with information about the Alliance’s Square Mile initiative, which has been equipping churches to demonstrate care and support for those who are in need in their local community. Square Mile demonstrates the work organisations such as The Gap in Swansea are doing by offering opportunities to young people by helping them find work. Sarah Richards, director of The Gap, joined Alliance General Director Steve Clifford, Church Urban Fund’s Chief Executive Tim Bissett and prison worker Mandy Ogunmokun to present a Square Mile packet to 10 Downing Street (pictured). “The Square Mile initiative encourages Christians to let their faith impact lives, including caring for those around them,”

A PASSION FOR JUSTICE. Tony Campolo is teaming up with Graham Kendrick for a 13-date UK tour in November to highlight world poverty and the work of the child development charity Compassion. “We live in a culture where ignoring both the poor and Jesus is the norm,” said Campolo. “But Jesus himself warned that how we treat the poor is exactly how we treat Him.” As well as leading worship, Kendrick will perform songs from his Acoustic Gospels repertoire, which has been described as “songs that tell stories, paint scenes on the imagination and feed the spirit with hope”. compassionuk.org

INSPIRING YOUNG MEN. A new publication from Share Jesus International aims to help teenage boys develop qualities like passion, humility, courage, respect, control and responsibility. Aimed at boys aged 12-14, ManMade features contributions from a variety of Christian leaders, and is designed to address a culture in which young men are surrounded by promiscuity, drug abuse and gang culture. “There are so many of these bad new stories when it comes to teenage guys becoming young men. We wanted to help create more good news stories as young men encounter God,” said Share Jesus Director Andy Frost. manmadejourney.com

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM. Parliament returned from the summer recess and immediately turned its attention to a series of constitutional reforms set out in the coalition’s programme for government. In two separate pieces of legislation making their way through Parliament, wide-ranging changes to the way elections are conducted have been proposed. One bill seeks to fix the length of each Parliament to five years, which would remove the power from the Prime Minister to call an election at a time of their choosing. Under these plans, an early election could only be held if supported by two-thirds of the House of Commons or if a government cannot be formed in the 14 days following a vote of no confidence. The second piece of legislation combines plans to reduce the number of MPs and equalise constituency size, enabling legislation for a referendum on voting reform in May 2011. By reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, the coalitions seeks to lower the cost of politics and to ensure that virtually all constituencies have around 76,000 voters. The Labour opposition have rejected this plan, describing it as electoral gerrymandering to help the Conservatives’ future election prospects. They have also criticised the coupling of this constituency review with plans to change the voting system. This programme brings together key aspects from the two parties in the coalition. The Conservative manifesto included a plan to reduce the size of the House of Commons, and Liberal Democrats pledged to introduce fixed-term parliaments. For the Liberal Democrats, reform of the electoral system has been a regular element of their policy platform, and some compromise was essential if they were to join a coalition government with the Conservatives. The deal allowed for a referendum on changing the voting system, yet allowed the Conservatives to argue against a change in the referendum campaign. eauk.org/pq DW

A HIGHER POWER. The Centre for Intelligent Design has opened in Glasgow to promote public debate and challenge the claims of neo-Darwinism. “Recent surveys of public opinion by the BBC and Theos, the public policy thinktank, have indicated a high level of interest in and sympathy for the intelligent design position on origins,” said the centre's director, Dr Alastair Noble (pictured). “The UK needs a centre committed to promoting this debate, both professionally and in the public square.” The centre is an independent organisation run by a network of volunteers. c4id.org.uk

idea nov/dec 2010 • 7


news

Growing in character is critical

Pioneer

Bible Society

A new 48-hour adventure activity programme has been designed to meet many curriculum targets plus address some of the concerns, issues and challenges facing a young person in the 21st century. The first of its kind in the UK, the exploRE residential was launched this autumn by Pioneer Centre in Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire. It is a fast-paced and immersive programme covering topics such as handling emotions, learning forgiveness, exploring values for living and looking to the future. Students explore the issues through multi-media presentations, adventure activities, games and interactive discussion, helping them gain tools to achieve their potential and improve their lives as individuals and as members of school and society. (Workshop leaders Andy Hancock and Bethan Lawler are pictured.) “Few people would disagree that growing in character is just as critical for our young people as growing in skills and abilities,” said Gavin Calver, national director of Youth for Christ, which is collaborating with Pioneer on the project. “We’re really excited by the potential of the exploRE residential to support both, challenging young people physically through a host of exciting outdoor activities and spiritually through relevant communication of key Christian values for living.” Calver also stressed the importance of reaching out to young people who are growing up with pressures and anxieties unfamiliar to previous generations. “It is a real privilege to be able to share radical godly wisdom with them, challenging the voices that say that life is about what you can get out of it and offering biblical ways of finding emotional wellbeing,” he said. All exploRE material is a resource for use with students 11-14 years old as part of their Religious Education lessons in school, giving the opportunity to investigate the Christian faith in a way that is fresh, engaging and relevant to their everyday lives. actioncentres.co.uk/pioneer-centre


Bring the Bible alive Public voting begins 1 November on The Pitch, Bible Society’s annual contest to give a young, budding filmmaker the chance to make a short film and take it to Hollywood. Now in its second year, the competition centres on creating a film inspired by the Bible. During the summer, aspiring filmmakers created pitches for their films, which are now available to view. The public vote runs for three weeks, after which a celebrity judging panel selects a winner who will be announced in January. Organiser Luke Walton said the scheme is intended to make the Bible more accessible. “The Pitch offers filmmakers a unique opportunity to come up with a contemporary film drawing on the Bible for its inspiration,” he said. “Not

only is it a chance for someone to take their film to Hollywood, it’s also an incredibly exciting way to bring the Bible alive for today’s audiences.” Last year’s winner, Derelict, was produced by Simeon Lumgair (pictured, centre, with the judges) and is based on the book of Philemon. Actor Israel Aduramo Oyelumade (who appeared in

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) played the lead role. “For all aspiring directors and writers, just get on and do it. You have nothing to lose,” he said. “Your film will go to Hollywood. It will go to the great film festivals. You just don’t know what will happen. Just get on with it – that’s what I would say.” enterthepitch.com HS

Protests may cause backlash Church leaders are calling on Christians to reach out to Muslims with Christ's love rather than expressions of hate. This comes after the attempt by Florida minister Terry Jones to hold a Koran-burning protest on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (see Media Matters, p12). Eddie Lyle, chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said that this kind of “hysterical” reaction could create a dangerous backlash against Christians living in largely Muslim countries. “Not only could it endanger people’s lives,” he said, “but it goes against the teachings of Jesus, who called us to love our neighbour and live in peace with one

another – as far as it’s possible. Open Doors is working tirelessly to protect the right of Christians to express their faith peacefully, which could all become undone by the actions of a disproportionate minority.” Of the Koran-burning plans, the Alliance's General Director Steve Clifford said, “History shows that offensive acts such as these are never isolated incidents as they can spread bad sentiment across the rest of the world, harming relations between Christians living in Muslim countries and those of the Islamic faith in the West.” opendoorsuk.org


news

Bible Society/Clare Kendall

Remember the disabled

Jesus is speaking here Thousands of people in Tanzania are now reading the Bible for the first time thanks to Bible Society’s work to put God’s Word into their own language. For much of her life, 33-year-old farmer Josephine MkalaMungi (pictured) had to use a Swahili Bible, but she can now read the New Testament in her mother tongue Kikagulu. “It feels as if God is my best friend because he is now speaking to me directly,” she said. “I read how to keep my faith and how to forgive others. I didn’t understand these things before.” In Tanzania some 56 per cent, nearly 200,000 people, in Josephine’s tribe don’t speak the national language Swahili. Even more can’t read it. So the Bible was

literally a closed book to them before this Kikagulu New Testament was published. Translator Michael Nhonya (pictured on the cover) spent four years working on the new Bible. “To finally hear and read it feels like I’m in heaven,” he said. “It feels like Jesus is speaking right here. It means that Christianity will grow here.” On Bible Sunday, 24 October, Bible Society asked churchgoers across the UK to support Bible translation work in Tanzania and to think about how the Bible’s message can bring newfound freedom to those who read it. A Bible translation project in Burkina Faso is part of the upcoming Biblefresh initiative. biblesociety.org.uk

Alliance member charity Leprosy Mission has warned government leaders that goals to reduce global poverty will not be met unless people affected by disability and neglected tropical diseases – 20 per cent of the world’s poor – are included. In the runup to September’s Millenium Development Goal Summit in New York, the Leprosy Mission and 23 other international nongovernment orgainsations, gathered in London to hear how the UK Government is contributing to achieving the goals (MDGs). The event was Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s first public address on issues of development and the MDGs since taking office in May. He said that it is “a moral commitment to keep the promises that were made in 2000.” The Leprosy Mission lobbied for issues of disability and neglected tropical diseases to be included in the outcomes document of the MDG Summit, which was called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for world leaders to accelerate progress towards the MDG targets to reduce global poverty and advance sustainable development. There are five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the goals. The Leprosy Mission is committed to achieving the MDGs and promotes inclusive development for people affected by leprosy and disability. Its programmes focus on social justice, equality, and human rights for the most vulnerable members of society. leprosymission.org.uk

Plunge into global events The Director of Micah Challenge International, Rev Joel Edwards, has issued a challenge to Christians to take action against poverty. Christians have no option but to immerse themselves in the sufferings of our world, he said. Speaking from the UN summit in New York, where world leaders gathered to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve extreme poverty, Edwards said, “The Church has no option but to plunge itself into the very centre of global events. And we do so because God’s love demands it. The most basic THE PASSION OF BOLLYWOOD. Filming began in October in Bethlehem and Jericho on the first Bollywood version of the life of Christ, a big-budget movie by veteran Indian director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao. Complete with seven songs, the epic movie will follow Jesus from his birth to his death and resurrection. “There are millions of people in India who follow Christianity. It is a great faith,” said producer Konda Krishnam Kalyan. “There is a great audience for such a film.” The film will be released in 2011 in English and three Indian languages.

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CLASSICAL EVANGELISM. A number of people came to faith as the result of a series of classical concerts in Scotland last summer by Eleos, a Christian flute and string ensemble. “It’s one of the more unusual ways of reaching people with the Good News,” said Luis Palau’s Europe Director, Nigel Gordon. “It’s a top quality, fun, evening.” One businessman said afterwards, “I was dragged along by my wife, but then was bowled over by the music, the multi-media presentation and, surprisingly, by the humour.” Each event featured an epilogue by evangelist Fane Conant. eleosevents.com

understanding of the Gospel and our history compels us to become involved in the sufferings of our world.” Leaders at the summit were attempting to close the gap on the eight targets that the world’s leading nations agreed to meet by 2015. Micah Challenge hosted a worship event in New York during the summit in mid-September, and then on 10 October 2010, 100 million Christians in 40 nations united in a promise to remember the poor. Events took place in cities on five continents: Sydney, Chennai, Lusaka, Guayaquil and London. A POSITIVE APPROACH. This year's Prisons Week, 21-27 November, is taking the theme Be With Me. As Prisons Week chair Rev Bob Payne explains, “In a place where isolation and division seem dominant, we hear the words of Jesus to the penitent thief: ‘You will be with me in paradise,’ bringing hope to an isolated and broken person.” The aim of Prisons Week is to pray and work for all who are affected by prisons. Resources are available for special church services, study, worship and ministry. prisonsweek.org


Compassion

Get medicine off the shelves

As World Aids Day on 1 December approaches, Alliance member charity Compassion is warning that billions of pounds of foreign aid might not be reaching the world's most vulnerable people. The problem is that many of the Aids medicines supplied by international agencies aren't travelling from the clinics to the people who need them most. “A jar on a dusty shelf in the clinic must not be the goal,” says Dr Scott Todd, Compassion’s senior ministry advisor. “We cannot congratulate ourselves and call that jar ‘access’. The jar on the shelf is not access; it is merely inventory.” Compassion’s Aids initiative is based around prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and aims to ensure that vital medical assistance makes it that last mile. By working through local churches, Compassion is able to reach into the heart of the community. In Uganda, Madina and her Compassion-sponsored stepson Zyed (pictured) have seen their family transformed by this initiative. While anti-retroviral medicines are widely available in Uganda, a country that has been hailed as a leader in the fight against HIV/Aids, many simply can’t afford the bus fare to get to the clinic each week for their prescription. That is where Compassion is stepping in. "I get money for transport to the health centre for treatment. I get Septrine and ARV's,” said Medina. “Sometimes I go with a cough, pneumonia, the rash and they treat me. I improved greatly... I am no longer very sick and too thin.” Another vital element of support that Medina receives through the local church-based Compassion programme is emotional and spiritual. The stigma that surrounds HIV/Aids remains one of the greatest barriers that prevent people seeking treatment. While steps are being made to make life-giving drugs more widely available, Africa’s epidemic continues to outpace the response as the number of people living with HIV/Aids continues to rise. compassionuk.org

Saltmine

CS LEWIS ON STAGE AND SCREEN. A dramatisation of CS Lewis' classic book The Screwtape Letters has returned to stages up and down the UK. Saltmine Theatre Company’s awardwinning production was originally staged in 1993 and still carries a powerful message for audiences about the struggle between good and evil. It also features Saltmine Artistic Director David Robinson (pictured)in the memorable title role. UK tour dates are scheduled until late March. Meanwhile, CS Lewis is also in cinemas this Christmas with the release of the third Narnia movie (see p28). saltmine.org

Losing a husband is devastating. I want to help families after I’ve gone. Anne Steele Care for the Family supporter

Anne Steele believes in family, and the importance of caring people during times of crisis. She was only 45 when her husband died, leaving her with two daughters to raise alone. She says, “A Christian charity like Care for the Family can help you get through.” “When a legacy leaflet came recently, I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I want to help families like mine after I’ve gone.” Through empathy and ordinary means, Anne has used her Will to provide invaluable help and support for people like her. Could you do that too? Find out more at

www.christianlegacy.org.uk

Christian Legacy Please remember a Christian charity in your will

Christian Legacy members are:

Bible Society O Care for the Family O CMS The Leprosy Mission O Livability O Tearfund


news story with their lives.” Schools can opt to buy a video with lesson plans and details of fashion designs that students can use to design their own outfit to fill an empty hanger. Design technology classes can then design a clothes rack that symbolises the whole school or community. biblesociety.org.uk HS

A living family tree

Bible Society/Clare Kendall

The gift of independence

represent Eve, Jacob, Rahab, Joseph and Jesus. And there’s one empty hanger, which youngsters can use to design an outfit to tell their own story and make them part of the same family tree. “I hope that as Empty Hanger goes around the country, children will enjoy it and that it fires their imagination and fires their creativity,” said Rev Joanna Jepson, chaplain to the London College of Fashion. “The stories convey profound struggles of heroes and anti-heroes, which will connect with them. They will realise that God can use them and be writing a

media matters

by Charis Gibson, Head of Media

T

o Rev Terry Jones, it must have seemed the perfect media stunt. To the majority of Christians across the world, it was the worst press our faith could get. Threatening to burn the Koran on 11 September was certainly a good way to gain attention for a tiny Florida church. But the sheer extent of the furore must have been a surprise to Jones and his followers. As the date for the burnings approached, the story snowballed. Critics from Barack Obama to the Pope – and even Sarah Palin – lined up to condemn him, with Christians and non-Christians alike pointing out the hypocrisy of claiming these actions for Christ. The story headlined news bulletins across the world. DEVELOPING LEADERS. A series of leadership development events is taking place this autumn across the country run by CPAS, the Anglican evangelical mission agency, in partnership with a variety of denominational leaders. Making Mission Possible aims to develop leaders for mission through a programme that includes events centred on vision, team-building, youth work and discipleship. “My prayer is that this initiative will help equip leaders of all ages to enable their local church to be more effective in bringing men, women and children to Christ,” said CPAS General Director Rev John Dunnett. makingmissionpossible.org.uk

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TEENS TEAM UP. British and Romanian teenagers teamed up this summer for Christian outreach in Romania, arranged by Alliance member OAC Ministries. And the experience proved transformative for both sets of teens. For example, the naturally shy Jack Oliver from Bristol participated in open-air meetings attended by large crowds. “I learned a lot,” he said. “This helped me to become more confident and comfortable in talking to people about my faith. It’s definitely made me a stronger witness.” OAC works in 26 countries, working in partnership with the local church to present Christ “by all means everywhere”. oacgb.org.uk

With death threats pouring in, Rev Jones discovered that media stunts can be a dangerous game. Maybe he consoled himself with Matthew 5, convinced he was being persecuted for his misguided attempts at righteousness. But on seeing the report of a shooting in Afghanistan at a protest against Jones, another passage came to my mind from James 3: “Consider what a great forest is set fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire.... With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brother, this should not be.” If the tongue was described as a spark even before the printing press was invented, it can be a flame-thrower in a 24-hour news cycle. As a former journalist, I always want to be the first to make a comment on a story. But having become a press officer, I am much more aware of the consequences of what we say and do and how the media respond. Rev Jones has reminded me that these consequences can be dreadful indeed.

OAC

A new scheme to make the Bible come alive to teenagers was set to be launched by Bible Society at the Christian Resources Exhibition in Telford in late October. Empty Hanger is the brainchild of teacher Chris Blockley, who wanted to tell 188 stories from the gospels through different media in his lessons at Bishops’ College school in Gloucester. Bible Society joined forces with the London College of Fashion to help bring the first story alive: Jesus’ family tree. The result is five outfits, designed by London College of Fashion students, which

Alliance member charity Livability has launched an online Christmas gift shop that allows supporters to combine their gift purchases with a chance to help a great cause. All profits will help fund work with young people and adults with learning and physical disabilities in the UK. The website offers gifts in a variety of categories, including cards, crackers, Advent calendars and candles, and stocking fillers, as well as wrapping and bows. There is also an alternative range of gifts for disabled people, such as cinema tickets, a horticulture pack for schools and a custom-made keyboard. “Any purchase made from our Christmas catalogue will provide the gift of independence, choice and opportunity to many disabled people and their families,’’ said Livability's John Chamberlain. livability.org.uk/shop

IT’S A BLOCKBUSTER. A new version of the Bible will appeal to readers with 215 fast-paced biblical tales arranged in chronological order. Published by Kingsway/David C Cook, The Action Bible guides the reader through the story with bold illustrations by Sergio Cariello that add an urgent pace to the overall narrative. Doug Mauss, David C Cook’s general editor hopes that this “epic rendition” will draw readers into “all the excitement of the world's most awesome story”. And there’s even a video trailer online to market it to new audiences. theactionbible.com


Christian Aid

CHANGE LIVES AT CHRISTMAS. Churches and groups can reach out in powerful ways this Christmas by purchasing virtual gifts through Present Aid. New gift ideas this year include a sturdy bamboo shelter for a Burmese refugee family (£230) and an adult literacy centre in Sierra Leone (£543). Group gifts start at £100, which will enable a child in Haiti to return to school, covering their first four months of school fees and providing a uniform and school stationery. More ambitious groups could raise £780 to provide a year of primary school education for 30 children in Bangladesh (pictured). The goal is for Christians in the UK to club together to make a difference in communities around the world. Individuals can also participate by buying smaller gifts with prices starting at £7. presentaid.org

Christmas on the buses

St Ethelburgas

In November and December, more than 1,000 posters asking the question “Is there more to Christmas?” will appear inside buses in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The campaigns are being sponsored by Message on the Move (MEMO) as part of a ministry to communicate Christian truth to the travelling public in the UK. The posters answer the question by quoting perhaps the bestknown verse in the Bible, John 3.16. People can respond by text, website or telephone, and all enquirers will be sent a free copy of a DVD More to Christmas, produced by Viz-a-Viz Ministries, which contains testimonies of people who have found the real meaning of Christmas. Churches and individuals can sponsor poster campaigns in their area. For information, visit: me-mo.org or tel 01884 35658. A RADIO MILESTONE. In lateSeptember, evangelist Andrew Palau's Love Kampala festival was broadcast across all of Africa by Alliance member Trans World Radio. This is the first time an event like this has been aired live to the whole continent, which is home to nearly 1 billion people. “Trans World Radio is committed to exploring every possible way to share the Gospel and communicate the Christian message,” said TWR Chief Executive Dr Russell Farnworth. “We were therefore very excited about this opportunity to take the Kampala festival to all of Africa by radio.” twr.org.uk

I can’t change the world, but my legacy can transform lives. Sheila Gabbott Supporter of The Leprosy Mission

Sheila Gabbott has been to India and seen the work of The Leprosy Mission for herself. She knows just how important it is. “I love the fact that The Leprosy Mission is reducing the stigma of leprosy as well as treating people who are affected.” “I’m absolutely convinced I’ve done the right thing in leaving a legacy to The Leprosy Mission. I may not be able to change the world, but my legacy can make a difference to somebody” Sheila modestly says she can’t change the world - but through her Will, she will be changing the lives of many people affected by leprosy. Find out how you could change the world too, at

www.christianlegacy.org.uk

Christian Legacy Please remember a Christian charity in your will

Christian Legacy members are:

Bible Society O Care for the Family O CMS The Leprosy Mission O Livability O Tearfund


news

A book that grips you

Get ready for the King Krish Kandiah, the Alliance's executive director for Churches in Mission, writes... Inception, Avatar and Toy Story 3 were, in my opinion, the best movies of 2010. The cinema experience of these films exceeded my sense of anticipation and made me want to watch more than once. Often the trailers give away too much of the plot, reveal all the funny one-liners and sometimes tell me how the story ends. Even if I am tempted to go see the movie from the trailer, I am often left with a sense of disappointment and anticlimax. God in His wisdom wrote a trailer for the Christmas story. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God began to tell His people what they had to look forward to. As the sense of anticipation builds through the Old Testament, God's people are prepared for the first Christmas. But there would be no anticlimax. Everything about the birth and life and death of Jesus surpasses all expectations. In this year’s Advent Prayer Guide, we invite you to watch that trailer with us as we look forward to Christmas morning. By walking through the Old Testament with Scripture Union's Advent reflections during December, we will discover how God prepares our minds and hearts for history's turning point. This is also a great start to Biblefresh in 2011 – our year of the Bible.  A free copy of the Alliance's Advent Prayer Guide, sponsored by Scripture Union, comes with each issue of idea. If yours is missing, or you'd like additional copies, visit: eauk.org/adventprayer or tel: 020 7207 2100.

FREE FILM CLUB. A young church leader in East London is taking advantage of local interest in cinema to run a community movie night. New church plant Kingdom Assembly in Deptford aims to share the Christian faith in a culturally relevant way, and minister Michael Kosmas believes films can be used to reach the unchurched. “All the films screened will be family films,” said Kosmas, “so we are hoping different generations of family will attend KA Film club screenings, so they’ll learn about God and also build stronger relationships with each other.” kingdomassembly.org.uk

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Born in Croatia, Miroslav Volf is a professor at Yale University Divinity School. His theological explorations of ethics and conflictresolution have made him one of today's most influential Christian thinkers. His book Exclusion and Embrace (Abingdon) was chosen as one of the 100 best religious books of the 20th century by Christianity Today magazine. idea: What’s your first memory of reading the Bible? Volf: I think the Bible was first read to me when I was 3 or 4. This was always what we did. In the morning at breakfast my father would open the Bible, and we would read a portion of scripture. It continued throughout my childhood. When I was in my teens I got to be a bit weary of it and a bit scared when the book of Revelation came along, but otherwise the Bible was with us. So how do you keep your Bible reading fresh? The best way for me to keep it fresh is that I always have a set of questions that I ask of the Bible. If I just come to it as routine reading, I find that my mind wanders away. If ask it questions, if I interrogate the Bible, then it starts interrogating me, asking me back the questions and shaping my own life. That’s where the interest comes, because it’s a book of life. It’s a book that grips you at very deep places. And it asks you to reflect on where you are, what you are about and above all where are you headed.

GOD WITH US. An Advent book from Alliance member BRF is taking a new approach to the message of Christmas. In her book Pilgrims to the Manger, author Naomi Starkey equates the Advent season to a pilgrimage taken “in the company of others to a destination of particular spiritual significance”. The narrative focuses on an imaginary group of people, of whom the reader is one, travelling through the streets of an average small UK city. As they journey, they reflect on the seasonal festivities, the values on which they base their lives and Jesus’ birth. brf.org.uk

If I interrogate the Bible, then it starts interrogating me How does it impact your day-to-day ministry? It impacts my ministry by being part of a world in which the ministry happens. If you think about it, what we as Christians believe is really a short version of the very rich story of the Bible. So for any ministry, I think it happens within the world that has been sketched by the Bible. And then there are bits and pieces, individual texts and messages that speak to us. It’s almost like you have this large theme that’s going on, and individual promptings that happen depending on where you find yourself and how you see things. And then I find the Bible, almost every time I read any passage, to be always different from the last time I read it. biblefresh.com AM

STORIES OF A CENTENARY. To mark its 100th birthday in 2011, the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire, is collecting memories from those who have visited over the years. More than 40,000 people visit Hayes every year to pray, worship and ponder their futures, and many are called to full-time ministry or missionary service. The plan is to put these memories together into a larger story of Hayes' history as a place where Christians from around the world gather together. cct.org.uk/thinkingback

 For updated news from Alliance members, click on Your Stories at eauk.org/idea


SOUL SURVIVOR IS ALL ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE TO CONNECT WITH GOD. We run loads of events throughout the year where we spend time worshipping God, learning from the Bible and waiting on the Holy Spirit. We’d love you to join us!

I want my legacy to invest in the future, and benefit as many children as possible. Maureen Staniforth Livability supporter

Maureen Staniforth is passionate about seeing children reach their full potential. “Children are precious, and I have always supported children’s charities,” she says. A serious illness four years ago made her think about her Will. She decided to include a legacy to the disabiliity charity Livability. “I hope my support for Livability will enable them to care for many more disabled children, long into the future.” Through ordinary means, Maureen has done something extraordinary with her Will. If you feel you could leave a legacy of Christian love in action, find out more at

www.christianlegacy.org.uk

Christian Legacy Please remember a Christian charity in your will

Find out more about Soul Survivor and book for our events at:

Christian Legacy members are:

WWW.SOULSURVIVOR.COM/UK

Bible Society O Care for the Family O CMS The Leprosy Mission O Livability O Tearfund


feature

After the horrific events in 1990s Rwanda, a church leader sees lessons we can all learn about reconciliation. Hazel Southam reports...

Tearfund

When enemies forgive each other

W

hen Rev Philbert Kalisa stood up to speak about conflict resolution at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town in October he was talking from experience. Now 44, Philbert was born a refugee in Burundi after his parents fled neighbouring Rwanda. But he was studying in the UK when,

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in 1994, the long-running tensions between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda boiled to the surface resulting in Africa’s worst genocide. Some 800,000 people – nearly a tenth of the population – were violently killed in just three months. Two million more fled to Burundi. It was an episode that shaped the country, the region, much international foreign policy and the rest of Kalisa’s life. He’s spent the last 14 years working for reconciliation in Rwanda and believes the country’s experience has much to teach the Church. Knowing that members of his family were killed during the genocide, Philbert headed for the conflict-torn nation to see what was happening firsthand. “The country was destroyed,” he recalls. “There was no unity between religious communities. I could see the suffering of the people in their despair.” One woman’s story particularly struck him. Her name was Agnes, and she was from the majority Hutu tribe. Her husband was Tutsi. During the genocide her husband and children were killed. She was beaten and raped. After the genocide it transpired that her aunt had arranged the murders. “Agnes was very shocked that a member of her family was involved,” Philbert says. “She was out of control for months. But slowly she was healed and in the end she forgave those who did this to her. She also went to prison to visit those who had killed her family and gave them food. This action has changed the offenders, who have since come to her and asked for forgiveness. Through her story, many women have forgiven others. They say, ‘If Agnes can forgive, then so can I.’” Forgiveness, says Kalisa “is very powerful”. And he believes its major effect is on the forgiver, not for the forgiven. “When you have been victimised or bullied, you live in despair and hatred. You become a victim twice: once for the act, the second time for the emotion. You have to carry it about. You can’t be free until you forgive, but it’s not an easy thing to do.” It’s a message he’s taken through his organisation Reach, a Tearfund partner, across Rwanda to 23,000 people. Some 3,000 of these now actively work for reconciliation in their villages – training others, helping the perpetrators of the genocide reintegrate into the community and visiting prisoners. “The atmosphere in Rwanda after the genocide was shocking,” says Philbert. “It was a country paralysed by fear. But now that’s changed. People understand each other more, there is more openness and people are less traumatised.” All this may sound far from our day-to-day experiences, but Philbert believes that his work in reconciliation in Rwanda has wider implications for the Church around the world. “It’s important that the Church is involved in reconciliation wherever you live in the world,” he says.

‘You can’t be free until you forgive, but it’s not an easy thing to do’

“Reconciliation is from God. He is its author. He reconciles ourselves to Himself. I can’t see what the future of the Church is if it isn’t doing this work of reconciliation. If we can’t be ambassadors of reconciliation who can be?” For someone who’s seen a very bleak past, Philbert Kalisa is remarkably positive about the future. The Church is, he says, key to the future of the world. “If the Church can stand and focus on this ministry, I can see that peace will prevail in the world. When I look at how many Christians there are in the world, I believe that they can create peace.”  For more information about Philbert Kalisa's work, visit: reach-rwanda.org

> > > Looking at the world differently

TWR Today News and Comment - Live at noon on weekdays Trans World Radio - International Christian Broadcasting

Nationally on satellite channel 0138, Freesat 790 and online at www.twr.org.uk In the North West of England on DAB digital radio Trans World Radio, PO Box 606, Altrincham, WA14 2YS. info@twr.org.uk Registered Charity in England No 233363


Q LANGHAM PREACHING partners with national leaders to nurture indigenous biblical preaching movements for pastors and lay preachers all around the world. Q LANGHAM LITERATURE provides books in many languages and support for local Christian writers and publishers in their own language and culture. Q LANGHAM SCHOLARS programme supports evangelical doctoral students from the Majority World who return to become the leaders and teachers of their countries’ next generation of pastors.


cover story

The Bible changed my life Photographs by Rob Purbrick, Miles Giljam, Steph Glinski and Tom Godec

T

he request was simple: write down on a card your answer to the question, “How has the Bible changed your world?” A selection of the resulting photos are collected on the following pages to mark the launch of the Biblefresh initiative, which is challenging Christians to read the Bible in 2011, to learn how to understand it, to help others experience it in new ways and to support the translation of the Bible into another language. More than 100 Christian organisations and churches have already signed up to this challenge, and many more individuals have responded by posting their own photos, which will be featured over the next year in print, online and in exhibitions to mark the Biblefresh movement. So what would you write on your sign?

Rachel Gardner (left) works for Romance Academy, helping teenagers deal with one of the most complex issues they face: sex. “As a follower of Christ, I want to let young people explore how God made them," she says. “We need to help them build self-esteem and provide alternatives to promiscuity. At Romance Academy, we try to create a positive community for the young people so that everything is done with them feeling valued and unique. They are in a sexualised environment that says that in order to be a true man or woman you have to be sexually active and a successful person. Drugs, drink and peer pressure affect sexual choices. We need to be dealing with being sexual creatures and having our first identity in that we are made in God’s image.”

idea nov/dec 2010 • 19


20 • idea nov/dec 2010


r. “Over the Steve Clifford (left) is the Alliance's general directo source of real a been has 12 is Genes in am years, the call of Abrah ry,” he says. encouragement and focus for my own life and minist of general role the for apply to er wheth ering “When I was consid it all. One director at the Alliance, I was really unsure about God to make weekend I devoted myself to the question, asking no great flash Himself clear to me. I prayed, read, meditated, but g to lead a helpin was I g evenin y Sunda the On of revelation came. down to listen. live celebration, interviewed the speaker and sat to speak He started his talk by announcing that he was going about how from Hebrews 11.8 (the call of Abraham). He talked home and go Abraham had obeyed when God called him to leave inheritance. He to another land that God would give him as his to me at that went ‘without knowing where he was going’. It felt for my life clear. point that God was specifically making His will nce had to be Whether I got the job or not, my response of obedie a step of faith like Abraham’s.”

idea nov/dec 2010 • 21


Les Isaac (left) works for Street Pastors. “I would describe the Scriptures as a powerful tool to measure wheth er we are doing God’s work,” he says. “Every day we’re suppo sed to measure: ‘Am I living the way Jesus wants me to live? Am I doing the things that Jesus wants me to do? Am I saying the things that Jesus wants me to say? Am I defend ing the weak, the poor, the marginalised? Am I doing that? Am I being a voice for the kingdom?’ Scriptures teach us those things. So as far back as I could remember, I knew that Christianity wasn’t for church, for Sunday mornin gs, getting woodworm in my posterior; it’s for actually doing the salting and the lighting. So the relevancy, the applic ation – that’s what Scripture is like, challenging us to be like Jesus.”

22 • idea nov/dec 2010


Biblefresh will run through 2011, the 400th anniv ersary of the King James Version. There are already a variety of resou rces available for churches and groups to get involved. Biblefresh asks the Church to make four pledges during 2011:  To read the Bible together  To help people experience the Bible in new and creative ways.

 To invest in training the whole church to under stand and apply the Bible  To raise money to translate the Bible for Burkin a Faso To get involved, find resources, link with other partners and post your own photo, visit: biblefresh.com

idea nov/dec 2010 • 23


essay

Is the Bible still relevant? Society may think the Bible is outdated, but Alistair McKitterick, lecturer in biblical and theological studies at Moorlands, knows better...

I

n Stephen Hawking’s new book, Grand Design, he writes, “Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” Like other secularists, Hawking believes that you don’t really need God to understand the universe. And if you don’t really need God, then there’s really no need to have a book about God. That would be like needing a manual for servicing flying carpets: since flying carpets don’t exist, there’s not much point wasting your time reading how to service them. It is no surprise, therefore, that for these secular scientists – and for the secular media as well – the Bible is completely irrelevant. It is important to note, however, that they probably haven’t found the Bible to be irrelevant by reading it. It is their worldview that makes them believe the Bible must be irrelevant. So how is it they have such a low view of the Bible, whereas most Christians around the world consider the Bible to be one of our most valued possessions? What is it about our secular society’s worldview that makes people ignore it?

Basic assumptions We all have a worldview that shapes what we know. In his book Personal Religion, Public Reality?, philosophy professor Dallas Willard writes, “Worldview, simply put, consists of the most general and basic assumptions about what is real and what is good – including assumptions about who we are and what we should do. That may sound terribly abstract to you, but there is in fact nothing more practical than our worldview, for it determines the orientation of everything else we think and do.” JP Moreland, another Christian philosopher, writes in his book Kingdom Triangle that our society is in the thick of a battle between three main worldviews: post-modernism, scientific naturalism and Christian theism. Stephen Hawking holds the second of these, arguing that only matter and energy are real, and the only thing that counts as knowledge is what science can tell us. For Hawking, if you want to know about the world and about ourselves, there is no point in reading a book written thousands of years before science began. The Christian theist, on the other hand, has a completely different worldview, observing that there is a personal God who is more real than the matter and energy of the universe, and that He created the world in order to live in covenant relationship with us. The way we know this is through revelation from God in the Bible. So how can we get our secular neighbours to change worldviews and start seeing the relevance of the Bible? John Lennox, the Oxford Professor of Mathematics, shows a practical way to challenge their scientific worldview. He asks a simple but profound question: “Which came first, mind or matter?” In other words, did the mind of God create all matter, or did matter make a mind by itself? Are we the result of a mindless process of evolution, or was the universe made with us in mind? In a Daily Mail article, Lennox challenged Stephen Hawking at the

24 • idea nov/dec 2010

The Christian worldview has credible answers to real questions worldview level. “As a scientist I'm certain Stephen Hawking is wrong,” Lennox said. “You can't explain the universe without God.” Hawking wants to convince us that the universe created itself, because all that’s needed is the law of gravity. But where, Lennox asks, did the law of gravity come from? And who lit the blue touch paper that set it in motion?

The big questions Hawking’s secular worldview can’t answer the big questions of life: where the laws of the universe come from, the fine-tuning of the physical constants and the complex make-up of each cell. He certainly can’t explain consciousness, not to mention the biggest question everyone must ask: what is the purpose of it all? The Christian worldview, on the other hand, does have credible answers to these real questions. God tells us in the Bible, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... Through him all things were made” (John 1.1-3). This worldview approach, of course, is not new. Paul used it when he addressed the Greek philosophers in Athens (see Acts 17). God is the Creator, he begins, and He created us so that we should seek Him. Paul concludes by pointing towards the return of Jesus and the hope of resurrection. And as Paul’s experience shows, this doesn’t always result in revival, and some will scoff at our words the way they scoffed at Paul’s message. Rather, it is a slow, often difficult process to change the way people they see the world. But if we want to get our secular society to value the Bible, we have to show people how God’s Word more than answers the big questions that their shallow, materialist worldview can’t. Once our neighbours see their own life-story as part of the big story of God, then the Bible will become as relevant to them as the air we breathe.


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East of England

Christian Resources Exhibition EQUIPPING AND EMPOWERING YOUR CHURCH

Care Nurse Manager Required for our home in Tunbridge Wells about half a mile from the town centre. Milward House belongs to Pilgrim Homes. It is renowned for its family atmosphere and Christian ethos and the spiritual support which is so vital to residents’ wellbeing. We provide residential and nursing care for up to 28 elderly Christians, and there are also sheltered housing units in a separate wing. Now we need to recruit a Care Nurse Manager. About the job It is both office based as well as working on the floor and is for 40 hours a week, with shift work and some weekends. It also includes a share of on call duties. Pilgrim Homes is a progressive organisation and an Investor in People, and provides excellent training and staff development programmes. Milward House is run on practical, Christian lines with daily devotions; visiting supporters from local churches and services on Sunday and the Care Nurse Manager takes an active part in the spiritual and pastoral life of the home with both residents and staff.

About you You will be a registered nurse and able to lead a team of nurses, and when deputising for the manager you will also be responsible for health care assistants and other staff within the home. You will be able to motivate others, and will be able to give a strong lead in dementia care. You will also be keen to nuture the loving care and Christian environment that is so important to our residents.

Does this sound like you? Would you like to know more? Apply online at:

www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk Or contact us via the following: Pilgrims’ Friend Society, 175 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AL Tel: 0300 303 1400 Email: info@pilgrimsfriend.org.uk Pilgrims' Friend Society is a registered charity (No: 1134979) and a limited company (No: 07169875) registered in England and Wales. Registered office: 175 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AL


how-to

Give even when

it hurts

Amid redundancies, spending cuts and mounting debt, how can a Christian keep giving? Marianne Clough finds a new way to think about generosity...

B

ack in 2008 the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, challenged us to see the imminent recession with fresh and hopeful eyes. He said our greedy consumerism had worn away the glue that held our communities together. Two years down the track, the latest report from the Charity Commission says that 19 per cent of charities have seen an increased demand for their services, while 59 per cent say they have been adversely affected by the downturn. In the same way that people who have experienced real evil in their lives can be quicker to recognise a good thing when it comes along, the recession gives us the perfect backdrop to show that Christians do things differently.

The gift of life I was sitting quietly in church before a service recently and became aware that everything around me was soaked in God. The wood in the pew: grown by Him. The air itself: breathed by Him. Every heartbeat of the people near me: powered by His choice to give us the gift of life. Whatever we give needs to be motivated by a fresh remembrance of the powerful God of John 1.3 and from cheerful thankfulness to Him. We can’t out-give God, so we need to aim to give as if directly to Him, not with a spirit that says, “Good, conscience abated,” but rather, “Lord, this is yours, as everything I have is yours. Thank you for letting me keep the rest.” In Mark 12 the widow didn’t have anything to give, yet God looked at her heart and measured her gift by her motive. So before we sign the direct debit, we need to examine our hearts or we risk being like Cain, whose offering was notably inadequate.

26 • idea nov/dec 2010

Christians Against Poverty’s CEO Matt Barlow says, “It might sound far-fetched, but getting your bank statements out could be the beginning of a great work of God.”

A generous spirit However your personality may rage against it – as mine does – getting your finances organised and setting a budget is the only way forward. It’s then that can we decide how sacrificially we can go. One couple I know does this rather differently: they have an account set aside just for God’s work. With impressive discipline, they pay into it through the year then look forward to a set day when they sit surrounded by leaflets they have picked up at various events and prayerfully decide where to aim it. “The anticipation of what God will do with it is genuinely exciting,” they say. In this spirit of generosity, here are some suggestions to help us make the most of what we give: • Pray that God makes our gift fruitful and magnifies it. • Tick the GiftAid box, if possible. For £10 given, it will add £2.50 in re-paid tax for the charity plus a government supplement of 3p per £1. • Some 4.3 million people received a surprise payout from the Inland Revenue this autumn. If we received a cheque, perhaps we can give some away to help those who will feel the pinch. • Give more to fewer charities. This keeps down the costs of mailings, which is considerable. If we’re getting post that hits the recycling bin before a word is read, we should ask the charity not to send it. It may not feel like giving, but we will be saving them cash. • Make extra money for others while shopping online. If everyone did


The recession gives us the perfect backdrop to show that Christians do things differently

• •

this with their Christmas shop thousands would be raised for good causes. See if a favourite charity is listed at with Give As You Live at fundraisers.everyclick.com, or shop at: buy.at/christiansagainstpoverty In a similar way, save stamps as they come in and pass them onto a charity. One is stampsforevangelism.co.uk The most precious thing we can give anyone is our time. We can volunteer in a hundred ways, train for a sponsored event or even do a Tony Hancock and give an armful: blood.co.uk

Thoughtful giving As a cash-strapped Christmas approaches, I need to imagine myself in someone else’s day and see what God does with it. Few people take time to think beyond their own existence, so it really stands out: • Babysitting can give a couple real marriage-building space. Listening to a child read can increase their confidence. What about texting someone “goodnight” when we know they are on their own? Or making a meal for a single parent? • One church I know encourages its members to make more Sunday lunch than they need with the intention of inviting someone back

after the service. At worst, they say, you can freeze the surplus if there are no takers. Nothing is wasted. • Write a letter expressing thanks or giving someone an unexpected giggle. Unlike an email, a hand-written communication will be valued and re-read. Many churches offer listening services that are very popular, proving that some people just have no-one to talk to. • One of the nicest presents a relative gives me each Christmas is £100 to spend in a supermarket from stamps she’s saved up all year. Her present is a year in the making. • Most importantly, we need to be generous with what God has taught us. Be on the look out for people wanting to be where we are. For example, invite teenagers on work experience, give out a contact name or do a job at home more deliberately so a young person can learn and take part. Show an older person how to use their new digital TV. And don't forget the promise God gave us in Luke 6.38: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  For information about CAP’s money management course, visit: capuk.org

Marianne Clough runs the Bradford Media Hub, part of the Alliance’s Forum for Change. She is also national PR officer for Christians Against Poverty.

idea nov/dec 2010 • 27


talking points

Walden/Fox

On an adventure Looking for conversation starters, Sophie Lister finds relevant themes in popular culture...

Pathe

Films

28 • idea nov/dec 2010

AFRICA UNITED (opens 22 Oct) Produced by Christians, this lively and colourful adventure movie centres on four children hitchhiking from Rwanda to South Africa to take part in the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. Along the way, the film takes in the relevant big issues, including Aids, war refugees, child soldiers and the sex trade. These are seen in the context of the children's everyday lives, which is startlingly effective. And while the plot's sentimentality feels a little forced, the filmmakers vividly capture the continent's obsession with football as well as the difference caring people can make in a child's life. RC

adventure and the unknown – is a precious lesson in itself. The recent Narnia film adaptations have been somewhat heavier in tone than the books. Clearly influenced by the success of The Lord of the Rings movies, the filmmakers have chosen to aim more at teens than children. This December sees the release of the third Narnia film, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader promises to restore some enchantment to the franchise. Arguably the most beloved (and cinematic) of the series, Dawn Treader is less about epic battles and more about a journey of the imagination.

ANOTHER YEAR (5 Nov) Mike Leigh astutely slices through polite society with this North London drama about a couple (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen) trying to quietly live their happy, easy life while around them their friends and family (including the outstanding Lesley Manville and David Bradley) struggle with a variety of heavy issues. The film gently simmers with raw honestly about things both said and unsaid, while the gifted actors mine the material for rich subtext. And even though the film is made up mostly of conversations, the attention to detail is often deeply moving. RC

MIRAL (3 Dec) A true story from Israel, this drama covers 50 years with earthy honesty, tracing the legacy of Hind (Hiam Abbass), a Palestinian woman who with partition in 1948 opened her home to young Muslim refugees. One of her children is Miral (Slumdog Millonaire's Freida Pinto), a smart young teen whose journey from narrow-minded to sensitively observant is at the heart of the film. Beautifully shot and edited in a jagged, genuine way, the film's abrupt ending undermines the story's emotional power. But it's still an urgent, enlightening approach to a deeply thorny issue. RC Warner

T

he Narnia books are infused with the magic of childhood. For those of us who first encountered them at a young age, they conjure memories of bedtime stories – of hoping against hope that we could really walk through a wardrobe into a snowy wood. Reading the familiar stories through adult eyes may reveal more clearly the biblical allegories beneath the surface. But perhaps our childhood experiences of CS Lewis’ fantastical world have something equally potent to teach us. Perhaps the magic – the sense of wonder,


A new side of Narnia: Lucy takes in the view (Georgie Henley, left), while King Caspian greets his old pal Edmund (Ben Barnes and Skandar Keynes, right)

The story finds Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) returned to Narnia with their sour cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) when they are swept through a magical painting. Fished out of the sea and onto the good ship Dawn Treader, they are reunited with their friend Caspian (Ben Barnes), now a king, then set off on the voyage of a lifetime. Caspian and his crew are sailing eastwards on a quest to find the seven lost lords of Narnia, who were exiled during his usurping uncle’s rein.

Seeking adventure Unlike the previous two stories, this instalment does not find the land of Narnia in dire peril; there is no evil witch to defeat and no throne to reclaim. Instead, King Caspian has chosen to seek adventure for adventure’s sake. To the literal-minded Eustace, nothing could be more senseless. Raised without storybooks and more concerned with health and safety than with reaching the end of the world, it takes a drastic transformation to turn Eustace into anything resembling a warrior. It isn’t difficult to identify with Eustace, as we’re often far too tied up in the prosaic follies and fashions of our culture. He requires a lesson in humility before he can begin to appreciate the wonders of the voyage with the same childlike excitement as his cousins. In other words, in gaining a childlikeness he loses his childishness. No longer petty and self-centred, he becomes a useful member of the crew, even taking up a sword when the ship is in peril. It's a striking, subtle portrayal of how we move towards maturity through acknowledging our comparative ignorance and discovering our positions as dependent children of God.

Threats and temptations It is appropriate, in the light of this, that the Dawn Treader’s most courageous crew member is its smallest. Reepicheep the mouse (voiced by Simon Pegg), diminutive though he might be, lacks nothing when it comes to bravery. His love of adventure and willingness to plunge headlong into danger puts the others to shame. Captivated by the thought of reaching Aslan’s country at the end of the world, Reepicheep is unperturbed by the threats and temptations that rear their heads along the way. His faith in his destination is unshakeable, and his desire to reach it overwhelming. The straightforwardness with which he pursues his goal calls to mind Paul’s words: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3.14). The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a reminder that faith itself is an

Books

WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT by Amy Bloom (Granta) This collection of interlocking stories by author and psychotherapist Amy Bloom explores the potential for passion and tedium, love and loss, between spouses, families and friends. Bloom does not shy away from erotic and unorthodox expressions of love, nor from the consequences of betrayal and discontent. Her characters are blighted by loveless attachments, physical ailments and shameful regrets. When human love disappoints, they are forced to escape into daydreams 'so beautiful, so drenched in the lush, streaming light of what is not'. This book finds hope in gracious displays of affection bestowed on the ageing, ill and insecure. HP

The awe and excitement of their voyage is only the beginning adventure. In the final pages of Lewis’ novel, Aslan tells a distraught Lucy and Edmund that they will not be returning to Narnia, but they can get to know him by “another name” in their own world. The implication is that the awe and excitement they have experienced on their voyage is only the beginning. So the magic that we first sensed when reading Lewis’ books in childhood points towards something even more wonderful. As Aslan says, “This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader opens in cinemas on 10 December. Further discussions of Christian themes in pop culture can be found at: damaris.org  Note that the release of The Adjustment Bureau, which was discussed in the last issue, has been moved back to next spring.

BLOOD & SAND by Frank Gardner (Bantam) In June 2004, on the last day of a reporting assignment, Islamist gunmen shot the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner and cameraman Simon Cumbers. Cumbers died. Gardner lived, but is partly paralysed. This gripping book tells that story, but also casts a very well-informed eye over the state of the Middle East. The region captivated Gardner during his student years, and his depth of knowledge is remarkable. It is a sobering read, because it shows what can be done in the name of extremist religion and the effect that a minority can have on the world. Unputdownable. HS

Sophie Lister writes for Culturewatch.org

CDs

RECOVERY by Eminem (Polydor) Reviewers have said that Marshall Mathers’ latest album represents a return to the rapper’s best form. Not for the faint-hearted, his lyrics are frequently violent and explicit, but also piercingly honest. In Talkin’ 2 Myself, the star confesses his identity crisis: “Marshall is not an egomaniac ... he’s not a desperado, he’s desperate.” International hit single Not Afraid is a candid tribute to fans who have stood by the rapper through dips in his career. This empathy that is the album’s greatest strength: “Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone ... been down the same road.” HP

idea nov/dec 2010 • 29


talking points So is this what we can look forward to? No. I got a phone call two weeks later saying they liked my version, so I started writing. I got to about page 4 and I felt a bit mucky. I just thought, “This is silly: the most beautiful story I've ever heard is happening out there – a child who's been told she's going to have a child, she's still a virgin and how's she going to cope with that? She's going to have to explain it to the guy she's betrothed to marry. And the angel of the Lord comes down elated and passes on this news. And the world is about to change forever. All that's happening out there, and I'm in the pub?” So I stopped and did some research.

BBC

Tatiana Maslany and Andrew Buchan play Mary and Joseph in the BBC's Nativity.

The most beautiful story

A

idea: How did you get involved in this series? Tony Jordan: I was asked my opinion on it and I was flippant. I said, “Well, I'd do something completely different. They should stay in the inn, do it like 'Allo 'Allo!, and have the landlord and the waitress, and some shepherds in the cupboard. And about three quarters of the way through, you get a knock on the door and it's a bloke and his bird's pregnant. ‘No! I've got 14 pies for table 14,’ and the door closes and we carry on. And at the very end, they say, ‘Ooh, I've forgotten those people who knocked on the door. I left them in the barn.’ And then they go outside and it's the nativity scene.”

How did you break through that? So I was sitting there at 2am, a Bible that's all stained up, a hundred post-it notes, and suddenly it came to me in this wonderful, nighttime stillness. I knew that I would just tell this beautiful story properly, because by doing that I can answer those nagging doubts. So they're not taken in by their family because Joseph has with him this woman who's pregnant and it's not his. They disown him. And everything else fits. The real truth of the story is not in small historical accuracies; the beauty of the story is Gabriel kneeling in front of Mary, taking her hands and saying, "The light of the world is within you."

RTS

t age 53, Tony Jordan is one of Britain’s top TV writers, having written 250 episodes of EastEnders and co-created Life on Mars, along with many other series. He has now written a series about the Nativity that will be broadcast on the BBC at Christmas. Michael Wakelin, former head of religion and ethics at the BBC, spoke with him about the project...

Who'd you talk to? I'd read the Bible before and I went back to it. Luke gave me about 400 words and Matthew about 312, but it wasn't going to fill two hours even if they spoke really slowly. And also, very helpfully, they didn't agree. I talked to a historian who said, "Well that certainly never happened from a historical view." And I talked to as many religious people as I could, but there were things that still didn't make sense to me. For example, if Joseph had to go back to Bethlehem, the place of his birth, for a census, he must have family there. Just one cousin. But he went to the pub.

As I wrote this script, I cried on every page

How has writing this affected you personally? I've always had a faith, but there's always something niggling. So I've written this script in a way that works those things out. And I think people who would normally ridicule a biblical movie can watch this and maybe think that this is perhaps how it really was. I want this film to be accessible, so people invest in it and then sob like a child. As I wrote this script, I cried on every page. Before I wrote this I had a lot of niggling doubts, but now I have no doubts.  Nativity airs on BBC One in December.

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hot topics

The Alliance's Forum for Change co-ordinator Marijke Hoek helps us examine theological questions in our daily lives...

Exploring Big Society, asylum seekers and gambling Does the Bible offer a vision for a Big Society? David Cameron’s idea of a Big Society is presented as “a guiding philosophy where the leading force for progress is social responsibility”. It envisions charities, social enterprises and companies providing public services. Some may be cynical because, in an age of austerity, this seems a convenient social philosophy. The Church, however, can significantly affirm this desire for greater communal responsibility and co-operation. Also, as stewards who aim to reflect

Christ in this world, we can further craft the vision, as the most transforming philosophy of society can be found in the scriptures. This vision is so radical that it has the potential to shape our industrial disputes, asylum debate, education, health care and international relations. It sketches both the broad brushstrokes of life and the daily contours of family, community and vocation. The covenant between God and His people demonstrates God’s concern with the well-being of His creation. Right relations both with Him and among

people are core to the Ten Commandments, and we are commissioned to defend the vulnerable and practice generosity and hospitality (Exodus 20.1-17, Deuteronomy 15.7-11). The prophets inspire us to subvert the dominant social reality. Later, Jesus takes the law to another level when He gives a new commandment to love one another as He has loved us (John 13.34). The scriptures guide us in how we represent Christ in our daily life and they also inspire us to permeate our institutions so that they become places where people thrive. A glance at history shows us, for example, the rich heritage of the Quaker business ethic. Their faith shaped the working conditions in their factories and provided housing, medical care and pension funds for their employees. In making God our first love, we learn to love ourselves, our neighbours and creation. Paul urges us, in view of God’s mercy, to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12.1). Our corporate and individual act of worship takes place everyday in the sanctuary that is this world. It involves our jobs, relationships, creativity, finances, homes and hearts. Our commitment to Him and one another is placed in the light of the shalom He intends: a big society on a worldwide scale.

How can Church contribute to the current asylum debate?

The most transforming, radical philosophy of society can be found in the scriptures

After months of election sound bites about asylum seekers, we almost forgot that this isn't actually a debate about policy but about people. And any debate filled with political slogans and emotive media coverage should have a distinctive Christian contribution. The asylum theme features prominently in the Bible. Abraham’s descendants are “strangers in a country not their own”. The Torah displays a

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talking points concern for the “alien” (Exodus 23.9). Born in a refugee family, Jesus’ final instruction concerns strangers (Matthew 25.35). So our “citizenship in heaven” prominently shapes our citizenship on earth. In the pub, classroom or civic forum, the asylum debate needs to be salted with truth. Recently, children at an Anglican school successfully helped a friend threatened with deportation by taking the case to the media and 10 Downing Street. Their education shaped their citizenship and character, not merely their league tables. A recent Guardian article on hospitality offered by Christian households to destitute asylum seekers echoed the virtues of the early Church (Romans 12.13). We should be a community of constructive subversion. While respectful of the governmental procedures, Christians must also be mindful of the structural inadequacy that may cause desperate predicaments. Our faith will lead us at times into the arena of civil disobedience. Our classrooms, homes and cities can be places of refuge in a hostile world. For, we have been gifted with a creative grace to shape our society for the good.

Should Christians be opposed to gambling? The reasons the Alliance objected to the nation’s first super casino in one of Manchester’s most deprived areas was based on research that shows that gambling establishments tend to be supported by regular local gamblers, among whom there's a high rate of problem gamblers. And poorer people spend a much higher proportion of their income on gambling. In addition, the recent high-risk strategy of bankers has been likened to gambling. The global credit crunch has caused devastation to people who lost houses, jobs and hope. In such an economic climate, gambling and lotteries seem like ways out of debt and hopelessness. However, as Peter Heslam writes in his excellent booklet

TV/DVDs

Bible Translation Project Launch 16 Nov, London

In this economic climate, gambling and lotteries seem like ways out of debt and hopelessness Transforming Capitalism, “It is a redemption based not on gift and grace but on chance and fate.” The bigger picture of fall and redemption both raises our aspirations and requires work. We are created with gifts of grace for the common good. Jesus' parable of the talents commends responsible risk-taking stewardship that serves God's purpose. That way, we share in our master's happiness (Matthew 25.14-30). By contrast, the scriptures warn us that chasing fantasies and eagerness for riches leads to poverty and punishment (Proverbs 28.19-20). In the gambling industry, the house always wins. God’s Word warns us of its destructive potential. It also envisions us to develop an individual and corporate virtue that honours Him.  If you have a question about practical theology, send it to: idea@eauk.org

THE DEEP (BBC) BBC1’s five-part television series plunges viewers into the perilous world of the Orpheus, an expedition of oceanographers in search of a renewable energy source in the Arctic. Their secondary assignment is to recover a vessel that mysteriously failed before them. The crew soon discovers that they must contend with more than the deep, encountering opposition and an ominous disease. They also unearth the selfish desires they have harboured all along. The cast (including James Nesbitt, Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic) masterfully drive this tense drama and provide heart-rending examples of grief, betrayal and self-sacrifice. SL

32 • idea nov/dec 2010

As part of Biblefresh, Christians in the UK have the opportunity to support to Bible translation projects currently taking place in Burkina Faso. To launch this project, Daniel Bourdanne, general secretary of International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, will speak on The Bible for the Whole World. biblefresh.com

Aiming 4 Excellence 29 Nov-1 Dec, Swanwick This is an event for trustees, chief executives, finance directors, HR directors and younger leaders of Christian charities. The programme will help explore the meaning of excellence and examine how God can remain at the centre of what we do in Christian organisations. aiming4excellence.org.uk

Social Media for Social Change 30 Nov, London Social media is changing how we relate to each another on a daily basis. Nearly half a billion people communicate via Facebook, and Twitter is reshaping the way news spreads around the world. The Alliance is hosting a one-day conference at All Soul’s Langham Place to examine how Christians can harness the power of social media to bring social transformation. eauk.org/slipstream/events

Don’t Mention the War 19 Jan, London Designed for pastors, students and anyone who struggles to know how to preach or pray about war, this symposium will examine Christian traditions of pacifism and “just war” theory, asking what faithful Christian ministry to local communities in a nation at war can look like today. eauk.org/events

Support for Surviving Life 27-30 Jan, Derbyshire For its ninth annual conference, the Association of Christian Counsellors has put together a range of practical talks, workshops and training events led by key professionals and academics. The keynote speaker will be experienced psychologist Dr Diane Langberg. acc-uk.org

Leadership Conference 10-11 Feb, London

Marijke Hoek is the Alliance's Forum for Change co-ordinator THIS IS ENGLAND 86 (C4) Shane Meadows’ hard-hitting film This Is England was acclaimed for its portrayal of a gang of skinheads adopting 12-year-old Shaun (gifted young actor Thomas Turgoose) into their midst in 1983. Channel 4's new four-part series reunites the original cast to pick up the story three years on. It is gritty, uncompromising and full of strong language. But Meadows’ characters feel very real, and their struggles to negotiate life reveal his perceptive insights into human nature. They are trying to find meaning in a life that seems almost meaningless, yet which is occasionally lightened by glimmers of hope. TW

This event at Holy Trinity Brompton will feature a mix of Christian and business speakers. In addition to worship and ministry, teaching seminars will focus on three key themes: leadership, vision to action and church planting. htb.org.uk/leadershipconference

SHERLOCK (BBC) Following close on the heels of Guy Ritchie’s film, this BBC series raised eyebrows when it was first advertised, but fears were soon allayed. Fast-paced, funny and thrilling, Sherlock plugged the Doctor Who-shaped gap in Saturday night television for three adventurepacked weeks. Starring a perfectly cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the acerbic detective, and Martin Freeman as his sidekick, these three featurelength adventures saw Sherlock pit his unique mind against the criminal underworld while helping us to reflect on the value of reason in a chaotic world and the fragility of the people we choose to idolise. SL


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last word A Big Story for a Big Society The Church is already at the heart of local communities, and General Director Steve Clifford sees even more opportunities before us...

Grass-roots transformation

Faith changes things As local and national governments try to protect human rights, political leaders need to remember that churches and Christian charities cannot compromise their integrity. The actions of Christians are an expression of a faith that can't be put aside. This is because our faith isn't just the reason why we serve, it's the very thing that can change our communities for the better. Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, seems to understand this. “Some see religion as a problem that needs to be solved,” he said. “The new Government sees it as part of the solution.” But the inverse is true as well: sometimes Christians see government as a problem that needs to be solved. As a result, churches shy away from getting involved in Big Society work, possibly out of fear that they will be seen as agents of the state rather than God. This is most likely due to the fact that, despite the big speeches and big projects, there's often been very little tangible evidence that the Government is actually making a difference in communities. So it's clear to me that this is the perfect opportunity for churches to show society that we are about bringing real social and spiritual transformation. Most commentators agree that the next few years are not going to be easy, so those around us will be hurting and in need of our help. While community groups can't take the place of government, Christians can offer hope and practical compassion. And the Church has a presence right in the middle of almost every neighbourhood in this country. So this is a time for us as Christian communities right across the country to step up and be counted. We have a wonderful story to tell – a Gospel of Good News with a passionate motivation to see our neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities changed for good.

Inevitably our great institutions cannot solve all of our problems

Over the past several months, David Cameron’s coalition Government has called for the development of a Big Society. This concept has been scrutinised by the press, praised for its potential impact on communities and rejected as a crude way of topping up slashed local budgets. What no one seems to realise is that the Big Society doesn't exist because David Cameron says so. It's about people working together to transform their communities. I have to say that, while I applaud what Cameron said, for many of us this is hardly news. The Church is already doing exactly this. Over the past two years, public trust in our established institutions has been deeply shaken. The banking crisis revealed great holes in our financial system. A mighty multi-national like BP struggled to clean up the devastation caused by oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. Some of our politicians have let us down by exploiting their expense accounts. Even institutional religion has been exposed with

34 • idea nov/dec 2010

seemingly endless revelations of child abuse. Inevitably our great institutions cannot solve all of our problems. With all this happening around us, it seems that a vital conversation is beginning to emerge. And it's not taking place in the halls of Westminster, but at the school gates, in the work canteen, down at the coffee shop and in the pub. The topic is this: what kind of society do we want? Not just for us but for our children’s children, 50 years from now. This is a wonderful conversation for the Christian community to engage in. And the Church’s contribution to building a better society is only part of the Big Story of a God who loves people and continues to rescue the world He created.

Ann Clifford

I

love the idea that if someone asks where the Church across the UK is to be found late on a Friday night or early Saturday morning, the answer can be unexpected. While some of us are fast asleep in our warm beds, there are many who are patrolling the streets up and down the country. They are helping people to get home safely, intervening before a fight breaks out, praying, chatting, handing out bottles of water and flip-flops (if you’ve lost your shoes), all in the name of Jesus as Street Pastors or Street Angels. This is just one example of the Church at work. I could talk about those working among prisoners, ex-cons, drug users and sex workers. Others are running a playgroup, youth or over-50s clubs. And let’s not forget the credit unions, debt counselling, and parenting and marriage courses. This is the Church being the Good News and sharing the Good News. In many communities across the UK, the Church is the primary agent of social cohesion; take us away and there would be huge gaps. Three years ago, Gweini (an Alliance coalition with a number of agencies including Care, Tearfund, Housing Justice UK, Prospects and Cornerstone Church in Swansea), received some funding from the Welsh Assembly Government to conduct a survey on the faith community’s contribution to the Welsh economy. In a nation with a population of just under 3 million, it was estimated that faith communities contributed more than £100 million worth of voluntary work annually. And 97 per cent of this was from the Church.


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JIM WALLIS Author and public theologian

PAULA GOODER Writer and lecturer in Biblical studies

INDERJIT BHOGAL Theologian and Methodist Minister (Closing Reflections)

RICH INHERITANCE Jesus’ legacy of love Session 1 – An empty tomb Session 2 – A group of people Session 3 – A story Session 4 – A power Session 5 – A meal Jesus didn’t write a will. He left no written instructions. He didn’t seem to have a plan. At the end, as he hung dying on the cross, almost all of his followers had abandoned him. By most worldly estimates his ministry was a failure. Nevertheless, Jesus’ message of reconciliation with God lived on. It is the central message of the Bible. With this good news his disciples changed the world. How did they do it? What else did Jesus leave behind – what is his ‘legacy of love’? This course addresses these questions.

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why five out of tens of thousands of group members chose a York Course: Why do a York Course? Here’s many thanks for producing such stimulating courses. speakers were wonderful with their different views, sharing  The  Many, They make the task of Group Leader the easiest that I have their personal experiences with us. It made the group open up found in more than fifty years of leading adult groups.  to very interesting discussions – we loved the way we had the CD to listen to, and the booklet, which contained really pleased with the course … as everyone got a lot out  We're many powerful readings… We hope many ideas put forward by of the session. We couldn't get them to go home!  the course will be able to be taken forward. group found the course stimulating and provocative …  Our It’s brought us together as a church with other folk coming in  as well. plenty for discussion in the questions posed at the end of each It’s been brilliant. session … Excellent material for further use. 



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idea November December 2010