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DESPAIR IN THE AIR? BUT SOME YOUNG PEOPLE LIVE TO GIVE
YOUNG LOOTERS and rioters at night, followed next morning by an army of men and women of all ages with brooms sweeping up the mess. This is what we saw on our streets in August. Some people ask “What are young people coming to?” But here are some young people brightening up people’s lives. They’re digging that old person’s garden, cleaning up litter from the streets, smiling at depressed faces on the bus, befriending the man selling the “Big Issue”, praying
LOOT See page 6 for more
for that ill woman, painting a colourful mural on a grey underpass, running community barbecues on depressed council estates… Different young people find different motives for “making the world a better place”. The youths on this page are all young members of the Jesus Army and it’s their vision of God’s love that makes them pour their energies into making a positive difference. They’re living for a cause, living for others rather than themselves. For more on the Jesus Army, or how you can join in, text: 0774 0774 200
HOOT Enjoying serving others
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ACTOR David Oyelowo, singer Justin Bieber and Spurs’ John Bostock have all been speaking out about their faith. Rise of the Planet of the Apes star, David Oyelowo, said “When I was 16, I struck a deal with God: ‘If You’re true, if You’re real, turn up within three months or I’m out!’ Well, much to my surprise at the time, He did.” Picking up his latest award, teen singer star Justin Bieber, said “You got to keep God first. Jesus loves every one of you!” John Bostock told Premier Christian Radio that he and several West Ham and Tottenham players are “running after God’s heart”.
CROWD Volunteers and helpers at Sheffield Jesus Centre
THE JESUS Army’s new Jesus Centre in Sheffield is now open! A building, formerly a Methodist Church, was purchased in 2008 and building work finished earlier this year. The Jesus Army in Sheffield have been holding events there for some months and their volunteer task force underwent induction in September. But now the centre is fully open. “The months of building work and volunteer training have borne fruit” said Chairman, Ian Callard. “It will be an important community amenity. The Centre is an open door for new friends.” He added: “Many of our neighbours will be pleased to see the former Hanover Methodist Church premises given a facelift and back in service.” The Jesus Centre includes a drop-in for the homeless and vulnerably housed. There is also the “Parlour Café”, with special offers for OAPs, cheap children’s meals and curry nights for students. Various groups and services are planned for the Centre: a parent and child playgroup, knitting group and IT services, to
name but a few. A formal opening and commissioning of the Jesus Centre took place in October. New volunteer Steven says: “I can relate to homelessness and to people who are where I was. There is a way out. I can relate with compassionate understanding, hope and faith.” Meanwhile, another Jesus Centre is in the pipeline in Birmingham.
FAITH Britain believes
uK 70 per cent Christian
There are Jesus Centres in Coventry, London, Northampton and Shefﬁeld. For info: jesuscentre.org.uk
g in m o c is s a m t is r h C
NEARLY 70 per cent of British people still identify with the Christian faith, according to the Office for National Statistics. The Integrated Household Survey found that while the number of people saying they were not religious rose from 20.5 per cent last year to 23.2 per cent in 2011, the proportion describing themselves as Christian was still 68.5 per cent. An Evangelical Alliance spokesman accepted that not many of those who self-identified as Christians would be devout, but the Christian Institute said it was about time that the nominal Christian majority was reflected in government policy and broadcasters’ output.
A PHONE company got in trouble recently after featuring a cartoon image of Jesus Christ on an advert. The advertising watchdog received 100 complaints that it “mocked and belittled” the Christian faith and banned the advert. The phone company said it had aimed to create a “light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity”. Sadly, Jesus is often depicted as a ghostly ﬁgure, or as a kind of alien with light coming out of His head. Other images show Him dripping blood or looking stern and judgemental, or effeminate or just downright weird. But people wanted to be with Jesus. He was kind, full of life, and one for a party. People liked to be with Him. Do we ﬁnd it difﬁcult to think of Jesus being a cause of great happiness? A writer told of an experience he had at Chicago airport. It was just before Christmas. The ﬂights were delayed due to a bad storm. People were at the ticket counter demanding a projected departure time, children were crying, some people were sat vacant and staring. Then he noticed a middle-aged black woman cradling a child in her arms and laughing. The writer asked her “Would you mind telling me why you’re so happy?” “Sure,” she said. “Christmas is coming and that baby Jesus – He makes me laugh.”
DOC Allowed to pray
doctor, doctor, please pray
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HAPPY Put a spring in your step this winter
THE MEDICAL Defence Union and backed by the General Medical Council have issued new guidance saying GPs can make an offer to pray for patients. The guidance quotes a GMC official, who says an offer of prayer “must be tactful, so that the patient can decline without embarrassment – because, while some may welcome the suggestion, others may regard it as inappropriate”. The endorsement has been welcomed by the Christian Medical Fellowship, with has more than 4,000 members. It follows the high-profile case of Dr Richard Scott, in May, who received an official warning from the GMC for discussing his faith with a patient.
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 93 3
Back Brink BACK from FROMthe THE BRINK
“MY MatE dRaggEd ME fRoM dEath’s
alex newson, 20, tells Streetpaper about the day his mate, david, found him as good as dead. “I WOKE up with a bit of a headache and felt queasy. But I should have been dead.” Alex had taken 20 paracetamol and 40 antihistamines in an attempt to end his life. Amazingly, no treatment was needed. “I was perfectly fine. None of the nurses could understand it”. Alex’s suicide attempt was the tragic upshot of a tough childhood. His parents separated when he was young. Alex’s father suffered from schizophrenia and struggled with alcoholism. He died when Alex was 14. His mother, who raised Alex on her own, suffered from depression. “I was the ‘man of the house’ from a young age” explains Alex “I had to look after her, but I went off the rails myself around the time I went to secondary school”. Alex got involved with a gang in his hometown, Leicester. A cocktail of drink, drugs and crime threatened to derail him completely. But there were good influences at work in Alex’s life, too. Alex attended a course at a local church, designed to explain Christian faith.
Alex admits he “just went for the free meal”. But the things he heard about God made sense. A chink of light appeared in Alex’s darkening world. But it wasn’t until his life really hit rock bottom that God became a living reality to Alex. Alex’s best friend at school, David,
was a Christian. On the night Alex took the overdose, David couldn’t throw off a feeling his friend was in trouble. He now sees it as God speaking to him. “David was so concerned about me, he knocked down my door when there was no answer.” says Alex. It was as well that he did: David found Alex, who had just taken
handfuls of pills, and rushed him to hospital. Alex describes what happened next. “I was laying in hospital, in a daze. I heard a voice say ‘I love you, and I have chosen you, and I want you to build My kingdom’.” When Alex regained consciousness, he was completely well. The medics were baffled as to why he had not been affected more seriously by the overdose. But Alex had an explanation – he had met God. After this, Alex started to come to a Jesus Army house in Leicester with David and his family. He found real friendship and love there. “It was the brotherhood that really stood out to me” he says. “You don’t have to wear a suit or be a certain way to be part of a church like this”. When Alex was 18, he moved into the Jesus Army house for a “training year” – a year to grow as a Christian, and learn how to love and serve others more effectively. Two years on, Alex is now a stable young man with a strong Christian faith. “The training year was challenging” he admits “but it was awesome, too. It’s helped me to find healing and I’ve grown up a lot”.
ALEX His mate David (left) pulled him back from danger of death
Looking for a
Wanna make a
JOIN THE Jesus Army for a year! The modern Jesus army training year is an intensive, action-packed year, full of challenges to help you grow in faith. It’s particularly suitable for school leavers or those on a gap year.
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4 modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 93
WHAT’S ON? modern Jesus army
2011 • 2012
UK JESUS CELEBRATION
SAT 31 DECEMBER 2011 1.00pm & 6.00pm Jesus Centre, Abington Square NORTHAMPTON NN1 4AE
CHURCH GROWTH CONFERENCE SATURDAY 28 JAN 2012 FROM 11.30am Jesus Centre, Abington Square NORTHAMPTON NN1 4AE
shocking new statistics reveal the effects of absent dads on our kids FIFTEEN PER CENT of UK babies are born into homes with no resident dad. Half of them have no registered father on their birth certificate.
Family breakdown affects many more children, spearheaded by rising numbers of unmarried parents. By a child’s fifth birthday, a shocking 43 per cent of cohabiting parents have separated. In the vast majority of split families, children stay with their mother. The consequences of fatherlessness for children can be serious. According to statistics from UK think tank, The Centre for Social Justice, children who grow up without fathers are: 75 per cent more likely to fail at school; 70 per cent more likely to be drug addicts; 50 per cent more likely to develop an alcohol problem; 40 per cent more likely to have serious debt problems; and 35 per cent more likely to be unemployed. So, not good. Why is a father so important in a
person’s development? Of course, mothers are vital. Usually mum is, to use the sociologists’ phrase, the “primary carer” in a child’s life. Is the importance of dad sometimes overlooked because he is the “secondary carer”? “Secondary” doesn’t mean “unnecessary”. Radio presenter, Jonathan Bellamy, commented recently: “The single most destructive effect on how many of our young people have been brought up is that they have been fatherless. “The effect of fatherlessness is not just to be seen in violent behaviour, it is not just revealed in the absence of respect for the authority of our Police, it is not just expressed through mindless vandalism; the darkness also shouts loud in our teenage binge culture, addictions, abortions, STDs, eating disorders, self harm, knife crime, suicides.” The Jesus Army, along with others, want to play their part in fathering a fatherless generation, and building a better, less broken, Britain. Visit the website of The Centre f or Social Justice: centreforsocialjustice.org.uk
shock stats NO DAD? Figures show that those without a father are:
Percentages from centreforsocialjustice.org.uk
more likely to fail at school
UK JESUS CELEBRATION
SAT 18 FEBRUARY 2012 2.00pm & 6.00pm The New Bingley Hall 1 Hockley Circus BIRMINGHAM B18 5BE
more likely to be addicted to drugs
more likely to develop an alcohol problem
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more likely to have serious debt problems
more likely to be unemployed
Original photo: bjearwicke, sxc.hu
DAD GAP In
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 93 5
DANNY DRIsCOLL streetpaper comment
Men: YOu can help father a fatherless generation THE UK IS full of fatherless people: broken families with broken lives.
This moulds our society and the culture that we live in. Absent dads. No fathers. People grow up without role models to shape their character. Youth become what the culture around them tells them to be: what to wear, what to say. It can spiral out of control – “join a gang; get yourself a knife, a gun” – or destructive – “hang yourself.” All because the only sense of security becomes a security pulled together with other broken people. Our nation is crying out for fathers, crying out for role models, for love and acceptance. Britain is indeed broken. I grew up “fatherless” – I never knew my dad and it left me broken and insecure. But as I grew up in the Jesus Army I found that people loved me. I found “fathers” – people who loved me, shaped my character, and through good and bad stuck with me. My challenge to everyone reading this – particularly men – is this: why not be part of the answer? Join with others, find healing, and you could father the fatherless. Come and be part of a movement that wants to make a difference. Care enough to “father” a fatherless generation. It can be hard to step out of your own hurts and insecurities, to believe in yourself enough to give ourselves to others. But the Jesus Army contains women and men who are giving this all they’ve got. Could you be one more of them? For info on how you can get involved in helping the Jesus Army to help others, text 0774 0774 200, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 0845 123 5550
FOuND FAtHER” “JaneI Darling believed in God, but struggled to believe He really loved her. she tells streetpaper what it was that changed that. WHEN A bright light came and rested on the end of her bed, Jane says she “knew instantly that it was God”.
DAD GAP Increasing numbers of children are growing up without fathers
“I heard an audible voice” she remembers “saying ‘Jane, I can lead your life better than you’. God had met me. I had met God.” Jane became a Christian on that day, in 1988. But for many years, Jane struggled with the concept of God, as a father, loving her. “I could tell others that God loved them, but for me it didn’t sink in” says Jane, “When people tried to tell me that God loved me, it was like speaking to a brick wall. It just didn’t register. I wasn’t even sure God liked me, let alone loved me.”
The final straw for Jane came earlier this year. “I just kept asking God to show me He loved me” explains Jane “but – nothing. I was getting angry and disappointed.” Jane decided it had to be sorted once and for all. At a Jesus Army event in Birmingham, Jane decided to ask a married couple she knows well to pray with her. “I shared my fears and my friend told me to imagine I was climbing onto Father God’s lap. I pictured me, as I am now, 43 years of age, climbing onto His lap. He was much bigger than me so I comfortably snuggled in.” “And something – very simply, very definitely – changed. I felt God’s pleasure in me.” Jane stayed where she was in that meeting hall a long time after the prayer, soaking in the life and love she’d just been introduced to. The rest of the week she kept calling God her Daddy (“and grinning like an idiot” confesses Jane with a smile). “I knew I was accepted, loved” enthuses Jane “God loves me!” Now, almost a year later, Jane says “Whatever happens, I know that God loves me unconditionally,” says Jane, “and that will never, ever change.”
! e m r o f ’m I , u o y * * F*
RAW was really real and wild
Visit the online JESUS
YOUNG PEOPLE from around the UK enjoyed this year’s RAW (Real and Wild), the Jesus Army’s annual youth event. One youngster who was there enthused “God showed He was a lot bigger than all our expectations. A lot of people committed themselves more to living a life for God and one of our friends got baptised!” Over 300 youths attended RAW 2011, which focused on “going deep”, exploring the challenging issues of “money, sex and power”. Four people were baptised and many more experienced God’s reality and responded to the call to go deeper with God. More on RAW: realandwild.com
CASH make a splash
Photo: Il Fatto Quotidiano, flickr.com
LOOT Shocking footage highlights selfishness
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One upset church minister in Liverpool tweeted “What we are seeing is EVIL”. Who can disagree, when people turn feral, and smash, loot and burn? But what does “evil” mean? First, social evil. As one London-based youth worker said: “To pretend [the rioting] has nothing whatsoever to do with the erosion of our social fabric, the closing of youth centres, and the sense among a mass of people – not least the young – that they have no real future in a country where the poorest are being made to sacrifice most while bankers get away with murder... that’s pure fantasy.” If Britain is “broken”, its brokenness has injustice close to its source. The Jesus Army speaks for those without voices. We cannot just shout “thugs” and call for tough measures. We must work for justice and stand alongside and among the disadvantaged. But to leave it there risks excusing the inexcusable. There is another level of evil at work here: moral evil. “I’m not really bothered” said a Manchester rioter. “I’ll keep doing it every day until I get caught.” “We can do what we want” crowed a female London rioter. Gangs smash and loot shops – for greed. But it’s not just the gangs. Bankers gambled with economic stability – for greed. Politicians helped themselves to public money – for greed. Media moguls turned a blind eye when journalists were immoral – for greed. We’ve got to embody something better – and call people to join us. Because, deeper still, under social evil, under moral evil, there is spiritual evil. As the Bible says “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil spirits” (Ephesians 6 in the New Testament). Spiritual powers, by their very nature, hide behind human evil – whether it’s greed expressed in violent looting or greed expressed in high-level corruption. So how can the people of Jesus engage in a spiritual “clean up” campaign? We can pray. We can share the good news about Jesus and see its transforming power, changing selfish people into new people. We can speak out for justice and against unfairness (giving the voiceless a voice may prevent them from finding a voice through wielding a baseball bat). Pray, share, love, speak. And embody something better. That’s what the Church of Jesus should be about.
A dazed young man, profusely bleeding from his face, is helped to his feet by another man. Others stand around. Are they concerned? They are – they are concerned to gain any valuables that they can from this victim. They don’t want to help him; they want to help themselves – to his stuff. A man rips open his backpack and empties it of its contents. An iPad is taken out and the robber swaggers off. It is the exact reverse of the story Jesus told – the Good Samaritan – in which a wounded victim is helped by a stranger. On London’s streets it was more like the Bad Samaritan. Forget neighbourly care. This is selﬁshness run riot (no pun intended). “Self will run riot” is how the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook describes the root of alcoholism. Words that could also be used to describe the motivation of thousands of young men and women out for violent fun as the riots spread around the UK. The Bible calls this “sin”. A dusty, oldhat, outmoded idea? Think about it: “sin” has ‘I’ in the middle. It is “self” running amok. Sin expresses itself in many forms, not all as in-your-face and newsworthy as riots. One thing is a common feature, though: we sinners don’t want to acknowledge that we are sinners. Why should I? I am the important one, and to hell with the rest of them. Self is all. Self is God. Self must be obeyed, and just let anyone try to stop me! But for those who want to break the addiction to self, there’s good news. We can be “freed from sin” says the Bible. Jesus can break its grip on us. Time to humble ourselves, ask for help, and Jesus, like a Good Samaritan – the best Samaritan – will help us start a new life.
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Make a profit for the poor YOUNG PEOPLE in Coventry have been finding inventive ways to raise money for the work of the Coventry Jesus Centre, including its drop-in for disadvantaged people. Each was given £10 after a collection at the Coventry Jesus Centre. “The challenge was to reinvest it to make a profit for the poor!” explained Jesus Army leader, Iain Gorrie. One enterprising young man bought scrap metal with his tenner, sold it to raise money to buy materials to build a skate ramp, which he sold on eBay for several hundred pounds. All together £2,000 was raised by around 25 people. For more on Jesus Centres: jesuscentre.org.uk
Healing tent at the fun fair A TEAM from the Jesus Army in Northampton recently ran a “healing tent” during a Fair in a local park. It was a great success. People who came to the tent reported healings including relief from shoulder problems and chronic stomach pain. One woman who had been wheelchair-bound after a car accident took her first few steps since 2009. As a result of the healing prayer, several people expressed interest in the Christian faith. The team is seeking to keep in touch with as many of the people as they can. For more on healing: jesus.org.uk/blog/tag/healing
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 93 7
t c e f Per e c n a m ro People Xtra
s u f o 3 2 e h t Just WATCH THE VID
If two’s company and three’s a crowd, how do Stevo and Olivia Scott get on, living with a load of other people? HIGH SCHOOL sweethearts, Stevo and Olivia, wanted to be together forever. But when Olivia agreed to marry Stevo, she knew she wouldn’t just be marrying him. And that was fine by Olivia. Sounds weird? It’s just that Stevo and Olivia have a love affair with Briar Hill – a rundown council estate in Northampton – and the people who live there. So much so that, six years into their marriage, Stevo and Olivia share a house in Briar Hill with loads of other
people, and have a constant stream of friends and neighbours through their door’s as well. “We want to be among the people” says Stevo. “We want to be Jesus to them.” He adds “As our neighbours have become our friends, they’ve found something of Jesus, something of God’s love.” They’re in touch with what the politicians call “Broken Britain”. “I remember being asked by someone what marriage was” says Olivia. “They didn’t know. They couldn’t understand the concept of me being married – being with Stevo for the rest of my life.” “I live like this because I want other people to
find the security I have” she adds. “I want other people to have that space to find who they are.”
Stevo describes how lads have come into their house, off the street, and said “I just feel peaceful here. I dunno what it is, but I just feel at home.” A few years ago, Stevo was chatting to a couple of Briar Hill local lads – twin brothers – and the conversation had wound round to Jesus. “If Jesus was on earth today, where do you think he’d live?” Stevo asked. “I reckon in a really big posh house” one of the twins replied before the other chipped in “Nah, I think he’d live somewhere really rough”. “You’re right” said Stevo to the second twin. “I reckon Jesus would come and live in Briar Hill.”
To hear Stevo and Olivia talking about their lifestyle on YouTube visit: jez.uz/stevoolivia The house in which Stevo, Olivia and their friends live is one of a number of homes
around the UK the residents of which form the New Creation Christian Community – part of the Jesus Army. For info visit: newcreation.org.uk
8 modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 93
ALLJesusYOU NEED IS GOD! ‘Colourful ’ parade turns heads in Liverpool’s city centre ? e m a g g in s lo a is e v o L “LOVE IS a losing game.” So sang Amy Winehouse, singer and celebrity, who lost her life earlier this year, at age 27. Whatever the ofﬁcial explanation for her untimely death, speculation inevitably centred on her drink and drug usage as a likely contributing factor to her demise. On one point, all commentators agree: the loss of someone so young and so prodigiously talented is a waste, a crying shame. Passion and loss. Reckless waste and love. It was passion that led Christ to the cross. What a pity it seemed, that such an inspiring ﬁgure, whose words carried such power, should die in such a seemingly senseless way. But if the cross was the true end of Jesus Christ, there’s no way that His follower’s faith could have swept across the nations. Thousands of others died in that era, in blood drenched futility. No-one remembered them.
What makes Jesus different is what happened next. History changed when, as the letter to the Romans puts it “Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead”. Unlike a mourned celeb, there was no ﬂower-strewn grave, no token-scattered shrine made by His grieving fans after He died. Jesus’ followers experienced something totally novel: their shock and sadness turned into amazed awe and overwhelming joy on meeting Jesus again. This powerful awareness of resurrection life that Christians have experienced overcomes hopeless despair. Jesus Christ has conquered death. Grief does not have the last laugh. Love lives on. If you want to experience the life and love of Jesus, then pray (talk to Jesus) like this: Jesus, thank You for dying in my place, so that I could be set free from death. You rose again from the dead. You have overcome death. I ask You to ﬁll me with Your life and power, now, and to teach me to follow You.
SEVERAL HUNDRED Jesus Army enthusiasts took to the streets of Liverpool recently.
Christian hymns like “Amazing Grace” mixed in with snatches of the Beatles’ hit song “Hey Jude”. It made a colourful impression on Saturday shoppers in Liverpool’s busy city centre. Chris from Liverpool, who saw the march, said “It’s nice to see happy, smiling people; makes a change.” “This isn’t a protest march” said Laurence Cooper, 36, march organiser. “Nobody’s marching because they’re angry. It’s more like a carnival. We’ve got something – Someone, in fact – to celebrate. We want to share the life and excitement we’ve found.”
On social media site, Twitter, Dylan commented “Saw the Jesus Army today. They said ‘Bless you’. I didn’t even sneeze.” Jesus Army leader, James Stacey, 35, himself from Liverpool, said “Dylan’s ‘tweet’ made me smile, but he’s actually hit the nail on the head. The Jesus Army do want to bless people – and they don’t have to do anything to deserve it. After all, that’s what God has done – He’s given us love whether or not we deserve it. “John Lennon once famously said The Beatles were ‘bigger than Jesus’. Well - no disrespect, John, but we want to shout from every roof top that Jesus is bigger than us all. And that that’s a good thing because His great love rescues us and gives hope.”
JESUS SAID... “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world” John 3:17, The Bible mJa: 0845 123 5550 jesus.org.uk Photo: Gruenemann, flickr.com
GUTTED Fans mourn singer’s passing
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