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modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 81 Page 1
0774 0774 200 QUESTIONS? CHAT? COMMENTS?
modern Jesus army: bringing spiritual and social help to all people
GET IN TOUCH “IF YOU WERE GOD WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?”
No. 83 FREE
SURVEY SHOWS THAT PRAYER IS POPULAR
Simeon, 18, prays for his friends every day
ed We askple UK peo PAGE 2
A new approach to gangs PAGE 6
TENS OF millions of us in the UK are saying “I need to pray”. And millions of those are young people. Research tells us that it’s a fact that UK teens and twenties are into prayer. And most of it is prayer outside official religion. How and where we pray isn’t important. And many of us are unsure as to whom we pray. So we just pray to our concept of God, someone who creates and commands, someone bigger than we are, whose help we need. Of course some will know Him, as we in Jesus Army do, as the Father of Jesus Christ, but for many of us He is our big, mysterious, spiritual friend.
I NEED TO “ PRAY ”
Praying brings us release. We pour out our loneliness, our fears, our worries, our sins, our longings, our sorrows, our complaints, our anger and our weaknesses. We somehow feel “God” understands, forgives, supports and loves us. Praying makes a difference None of this is at all surprising. It is well known that the human soul has a void in it which only God can fill.
In the Jesus Army we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. He promised that things would happen if we prayed in faith in His name. Our experience is that things do happen – supernatural things. Yes, we pray on our own. But we also pray with others. And we can pray with you. Text your prayer request to us on 0774 0774 200
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 2
“IF YOU WERE GOD WHAT GET IN TOUCH WOULD YOU CHANGE?” Get a bestseller
THE GOSPEL of Mark is part of the Bible and tells the story of the Life of Christ. Packed into 60 pages you can find how one man bridged the gap between man and God. Read about angry Jesus driving out money changers. Read about compassionate Jesus healing people. Test for yourself the claims of Jesus. The Bible in its entirety has now been translated into 414 languages, and parts are now available in over 2,000 languages. If listed in the bestsellers, it would regularly top the list in all its versions. For your FREE copy of Mark’s Gospel contact us (see address below). Or text on 0774 0774 200 or phone on 0845 123 5550 to reserve your copy.
ALL GOOD armies have an HQ, and we are no exception. We will answer your queries, provide you with free literature or a Mark’s Gospel, even pray with you over the telephone if you are in special need. You can call us: our National Helpline is 0845 123 5550 (local call rate), and generally there are real people to talk to, not machines.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Want to have a look at what the mJa is all about? Check us out from anywhere in the world on our website: www.jesus.org.uk
But in these days of hi-tech, we still have an address and lots of people write in. Jesus Fellowship, FREEPOST, Nether Heyford, Northampton, NN7 3BR
Across the UK you are welcome to call one of our local churches if they are near you. There are Jesus Army congregations and groups around the UK. They are not all the same size, they meet in different sorts of premises, but they are all made up of people who love Jesus and are ready to help you on in your faith too.
Belfast ........................................................... 0845 123 5552 Birmingham................................................... 0845 166 8153 Bournemouth ................................................ 0845 123 5558 Brighton......................................................... 0845 166 8151 Bristol ........................................................... 0845 123 5339 Coventry ........................................................ 0845 166 8154 Croydon ......................................................... 0845 226 1972 Chester/ North Wales.................................... 0845 123 5561 Hastings ........................................................ 0845 123 5551 Huntingdon ................................................... 0845 166 2697 Ipswich .......................................................... 0845 166 8156 Kettering ........................................................ 0845 166 8157 Leeds ........................................................... 0845 166 8167 Leicester ........................................................ 0845 644 9705 Liverpool ....................................................... 0845 166 8168 London Central ............................................. 0845 166 8152 London West ................................................. 0845 833 1319 London South ............................................... 0845 226 1972 Manchester.................................................... 0845 166 8169 Milton Keynes ............................................... 0845 166 8159 Newcastle-upon-Tyne................................... 0845 166 8187
Rich Brits getting g sick TWICE AS many Brits as mainland Europeans suffer mental illness, according to Oliver James, author of The Selfish Capitalist – Origins of Affluenza. The reason: “selfish capitalism” and unrealistic wealth expectations. In English-speaking countries some chief executives earn 133 times the average wage. And mental illness has almost doubled in them since the 1970s. Other European countries have a less selfish capitalist approach James claims. What makes such social inequality dangerous is the belief that “material affluence is the key to fulfilment and open to anyone willing to work hard enough”. People are “suckered into” unhealthy work addiction.
Streetpaper asked people on the streets of UK cities
IN THE award winning film Bruce Almighty, one man gets a chance to do whatever he likes while God takes a holiday. We thought we’d ask more than 150 people from around the UK what they would do if they were in God’s shoes. “I would like heaven on earth” said Spencer from Coventry. Lewis, from nearby Nuneaton, wanted “an end to child cruelty.” “Make managers kinder!” shouted Ben, a friend. But where do you stand? What, if you were all-powerful, would you do? Surprisingly for the British, only three people spoke about the weather. We actually have far bigger concerns like drugs, health, homelessness and equality. And we’re not that selfish either: only a handful
of people spoke of wanting their football team to win or getting more money. But a whopping 86 per cent believe that it’s God’s job to sort out the world’s problems. 25 per cent of those questioned saw this in terms of world peace. Another 12 per cent voiced more specific worries about poverty and starvation.
“I would stop people from dying and make them young again” said Betty from Nottingham. A nice idea – just begin again. Reboot life when it gets corrupted, wash all the troubles away. “I’d want to change everything about the world. That’s how I really feel” commented Tracy from Coventry.
“He’s still doing a better job than the politicians!”
Many think it is God that has the problem. “I would just make people believe in me” said Fridolin from Sheffield. Several agreed, but an equal number thought that we should do away with religion altogether. “He’s still doing a better job than the politicians!” defended Mr Singh from Leicester.
17 per cent of those asked felt that the root of the world’s problems lay closer to home. “It’s not God’s fault, all this trouble, it’s our fault” concluded Mrs Johnson. There were other philosophical answers too. One person admitted “I wouldn’t change anything. Everything is the way it is so we can learn
>> I BELIEVE IN FRIENDSHIP
Nottingham.................................................... 0845 166 8163 Oxford ........................................................... 0845 166 8164 Preston .......................................................... 0845 123 5554 Sheffield ........................................................ 0845 166 8183 Stoke-on-Trent .............................................. 0845 123 5334 Swansea ........................................................ 0845 123 5556 Wolverhampton............................................. 0845 123 5563
80 per cent put friendship top of the list for happiness
from it.” Marc was thoughtful too: “Peace is the obvious answer, but it’s impossible.” In other words, unless humanity has a change of heart, nothing else will change. 17 per cent of those who answered agreed that “the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart”. We need a “change of attitude”. The Bible says that it is because of man’s rejection of God that we find ourselves in such a mess. God may want us to learn from our mistakes, but He knows we can’t repair our wrongs. That’s why He sent a Saviour: Jesus. He paid the price for all our wrong and opened the way back to God. There is one prayer that God might not be able to answer, however. Jamie hoped that if he were God, he could make all the girls fancy him. Some things might just be too difficult, even for the Almighty.
“I believe...” #1 “I’LL BE there for you” goes the well-known theme song “when the rain starts to pour. I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.” A recent survey of young people showed that 97 per cent say it is important to be happy with life and they saw “having the right relationships” as the big secret for happiness. Over 80 per cent saw relationships with friends as crucial to happiness. What is it about friendship that means just about everyone is agreed it’s one of life’s crucial ingredients? “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives,” wrote Euripides, the ancient Greek playwright (if you imagine having ten thousand mothers-in-law you’ll get him). A friend chooses you. They affirm you by being your friend. They know all about you and
Norwich ......................................................... 0845 166 8162
DEBT IS forcing some UK families to miss meals according to charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Debt also causes marriage failure and mental illness. CAP’s research found that nearly a quarter of its clients regularly sacrificed meals, 23 per cent of clients’ marriages broke down and 69 per cent visited their GP to find help with debt-driven stress. “Families and couples…are being pushed to breaking point” CAP boss Matt Barlow said. Blame is levelled at the lending practices of banks and building societies and extortionate interest charged by loan companies – along with sharply rising food, fuel and utility prices.
Photo by LittleMan
Northampton ................................................. 0845 166 8161
JESUS Fellowship Church is an evangelical Christian Church with a charismatic emphasis. It upholds the full historical, Christian faith, in particular it upholds the doctrine of the Trinity and the full divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Fellowship Church is a part of the Multiply Christian Network and a member of the Evangelical Alliance. To receive Jesus Fellowship literature regularly, free, send the response form on page 6 to Jesus Fellowship Central Offices, FREEPOST, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3BR. Tel. 0845 123 5550. modern Jesus army Streetpaper No.83 © 2008, published three times a year by Jesus Fellowship Church, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3LB. Editor James Stacey. All photographs supplied and copyright by Jesus Army Photo Library or Public Domain unless stated otherwise. Printed by BGP Ltd., Bicester, Oxon. Reproduction of any part of this newspaper in any form requires written permission. All Bible quotations are from the Contemporary English Version © 2000 Harper Collins unless otherwise indicated. All articles are contributed by members of the Jesus Fellowship Church, also known as the modern Jesus army. Some members live as part of the New Creation Christian Community. Readers wishing to contact authors may do so by writing to the Jesus Fellowship Central Office.
Debt steals UK meals
still like you. There’s something about true friendship which meets our deepest need. And – genius! – we get to meet someone else’s deepest need at the same time. But, is there really such a thing as true friendship? Oscar Wilde said “A true friend stabs you in the front.” Is it really a sentimental dream best kept for American sit-coms? The Bible describes God as a “true friend...closer than your own family”. And it says that Jesus has shown us this true kind of friendship by “laying down His life” for us. And that those who are the friends of Jesus – Christians – become deep, true friends with each other. But – hang on. Does this all sound a bit too good to be true? Better have a think about truth before we get too carried away? (see page 4)
Bad role model for kids?
Big g Brother role model TV shows such as Big Brother lead to “damaging attitudes in children” former youth worker, Mark Russell, told an audience of 100 church school head teachers. According to research, 50 per cent of children want to be a celebrity, and a third want to be Paris Hilton reported Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army. Russell attacked the media for “generating an image of life that is unreal” into which “children are sucked in.” He argued that “Leading a school in an age of celebrity and consumerism requires us to be counter-cultural” encouraging spiritual creativity, alternative role models and an atmosphere of love.
Bible sounds like Sir Bob The Bible sounds like Bob Geldof – according to 27 per cent of Britons who could not tell the difference between speeches by the social activist and Holy Scripture. Another 20 per cent thought that the cry to defend the helpless in Proverbs 31:8 sounded like Kofi Annan, the former head of the UN. “What this shows is that on the topics that challenge us every day, God got there first” said James Catford, chief executive of Bible Society, which has published a Bible that highlights every time God speaks against injustice. The poll of over a thousand adults was conducted by Theos.
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SAVED LIFE... SAVED SOUL
God saved Artemis Artemiou’s life when he was four. By 18 he wanted to end his life. That’s when God stepped in again. ARTEMIS, 19, WASN’T born into privilege. His mother spent the first eight months of her son’s life in a psychiatric institution. His dad had a violent streak. They lived in a deprived area of Northampton. Artemis had such serious asthma that, as he put it “I had to be on a ventilator two hours every day to help me breathe.” Then the ventilator was stolen from their house.
When it seemed like things couldn’t be much worse a chink of light came into the Artemiou family’s life: Artemis’s parents became Christians. This newfound faith was to save Artemis’s life. “My dad came in one night” says Artemis “to find me struggling for breath. Then I stopped breathing. My mum was hysterical, but my dad got on his knees and prayed for me in the name of Jesus. Instantly I started breathing. “I haven’t struggled with asthma since.” God had intervened, but all was still far from well in the family. “My dad was beating my mum” recalls Artemis. “I remember seeing my mum sitting on the end of her bed a lot, crying – it was just part of life. Once I remember mum in the kitchen sitting on the floor crying, with all the plates and bowls and cups smashed on the floor around her. She said she was trying to move it all and slipped. Yeah right.” Artemis’s parents split up when Artemis was 11. Over the next three years they lived in ten different houses as Artemis’s mother went through a number of relationships. Artemis describes them bluntly: “All of
Time of his life: Artemis has “found something to live for” them either beat her or were complete idiots.” “My mum was becoming an alcoholic and using drugs. She was losing weight daily – by this time she was so skinny it was ridiculous” remembers Artemis. One particularly violent relationship led to Artemis’s mother pressing charges
home skills as well, which was good” says Artemis “and my little brother Michael was born: I love him to pieces.” But Artemis’s chaotic childhood caught up with him: “I started to become depressed. I spent most of my time watching DVDs or playing on Xbox, trying to get ‘away from me’. In early
“I have cried uncountable times, shouted my head off, laughed till it hurts, danced my heart out – and felt the awesome power of God’s love”
when her partner “headbutted her” – though she later dropped the charges. Moving to their dad’s place, Artemis and his bother found some stability. “My step-mum taught us some
2007, I became suicidal.” Artemis’s childhood faith was still there, however. “I prayed to God: ‘I won’t take my own life, but please take me to heaven. I can’t stand not having anything
to live for.’” Around this time, Artemis met the Jesus Army. He describes the first time he turned up at one of the Jesus Army’s houses in Northamptonshire: “As soon as I walked into the kitchen I felt peace.” He’d found people with something to live for – the same God who had saved his life all those years ago. As Artemis opened up to God and his new Christian friends, he found healing. “Over the past year I have cried uncountable times, shouted my head off, laughed till it hurts, danced my heart out – and felt the awesome power of God’s love” says Artemis. “One thing I really struggled with was love. I thought I knew what it was, but when people said ‘I love you’ I found it hard to accept. But through people’s patience and grace, I have seen God’s love for me. “God has shown me that love stands by what it believes in, even when feelings aren’t there. I’ve found I can forgive my mum and my dad. I can let go of guilt I’ve held for years. I can ask for people’s forgiveness and start to love myself.” Artemis has found the purpose God has for him. “God prepared me for this” he says. “He’s saying ‘Now you have something to live for. Now you can live for Me.’ ”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Domestic violence occurs across society. It has many forms, including physical violence, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse, intimidation, or threats. Research indicates: • it accounts for 16 per cent of all violent crime • it affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men • it has more repeat victims than any other crime (average 35 assaults before a victim calls the police) • on average, two women are killed every week by a current or former male partner • one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute • 77 per cent of victims of domestic violence are women If you are suffering domestic violence of any kind, you can phone the Jesus Army helpline for help and advice on: 0845 123 5550
Artemis: “I have seen God’s love for me”
THIS IS MY
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 4
CHURCH IS centred on Jesus. Not the sad-faced “stained-glass window Jesus” nor the nice, inoffensive, Christmas-only, “Babyjesus”. But Jesus who came and lived a life of pure love and who died in our place so we can be forgiven. This Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever now – right now! This is no fairy tale. He proves it. He still heals today, still delivers from sin and mess today. Still gives people new life today.
In today’s world many people’s identity is wrapped up in what they own, how they look, what they achieve based on false ce-
By Scott Liston
lebrity images everyone is meant to aspire to. How many real friends do we have? How many people really know the real me? Do we know who we’re meant to be? Jesus wants to deal with the selfishness that is in us all and give us His new quality of life. It’s a shared life, a relational life of openness and love.
Live to the max
The first Christians lived this life to the max. They allowed God’s Spirit to create among them an entirely new and different way of living. They shared their possessions and had everything in common. No one had need among them;
all were equal. They were the brotherhood of Jesus, the family of God. They were loved by the poor, rejected and marginalised of society, but hated by those who lived for the security of wealth, the establishment, the system. Joining the church meant leaving an old life behind, it meant “coming out” of all the old ways. In fact the original word for “church” (“ekklesia” in New Testament Greek) means “called out people”. So how about it: do you want to check out what it means to really “come out” and belong to this “called out people” – church?
Sisterhood: a threeway hug at an modern Jesus army demo
Ian Oakey, 26, says he just wouldn’t live any other way
WHEN THEY first struck up their unlikely friendship, Ian was a trendy arts student, Dave an alcoholic.
“It was a Friday night” remembers Ian “just after my church, the Jesus Army, had opened a Jesus Centre in Northampton to meet all kinds of people. A few of us young guys from the church
Ian in his “arty” youth
had got to know some guys from the streets. That’s when I met Dave. He’s a very friendly bloke with a really likeable personality”. Dave was baptised and joined the church in 2005. His struggle with drink has gone on, but his friendship with his new brothers, like Ian, has grown stronger and deepened over time. Ian says that his ability to
get on easily with different kinds of people comes from being part of a loving church. “If it wasn’t for the church, I would never have learnt to love people who are different from me” he admits. “In the church we become real, true friends” he adds. “Church is relationships. God is real – I can’t deny it. And He joins people together in real love.”
“CHURCH IS WHERE I CAN BE TOTALLY ME” Jessica Thomas, 26, felt like two people. Now she can be herself.
“I believe...” #2
I BELIEVE IN TRUTH
WE LIVE in a choice-mad world. At any superstore (once you’ve chosen between Sainsbury’s, Asda, the Co-Op and the rest), you can choose your brand, colour, whiff and weight of shampoo, your favourite vegan, low-sulphur dog food, your preferred teabag style (oldfashioned square? trendy circular? or, for the truly avant-garde, pyramid-shaped?) and so on and on and on. In our, “supermarket society”, truth is just another product on the endless shelf of alternatives. Bob chooses Evolution (with a capital E as a theory of Everything), Belinda chooses Buddhism with a dash of C of E. “Fine” we all say. “What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me”. But it isn’t, is it? Because if Belinda decides she can fly and jumps from a cliff, she’s going to have a rather down to earth experience. It’s called the law of gravity and this case it will kill her. We just don’t live in a “choose your own truth” universe. We may as well face it. We live in a universe with laws. Black is not white however much I may believe it is. Some things are true and others – aren’t. So when Jesus says that it is only through Him that anyone can find God – I want to know if it’s true. Because if it isn’t I want to find what is. And if it is true – I need to believe it and do something about it. Just a minute – God? Is God real? Is it true that God is there? Better look into this... (see page 6) Choices, choices: can they all be right?
FOR HER first fourteen years, baby’s heartbeat. Mya Shanay was Jessica lived with her dad in London. born on 27 November 1999 – but “Dad was my hero but I felt she had died during labour. I felt so trapped living with him. He insisted empty. I went to a strict girls’ school. My “The following May, on my sister was allowed to go to a mixed 18th birthday, I went clubbing school where they didn’t wear uni- – something I’d loved before. Now it form. Me and my sister never got on. seemed pointless. Mya’s death had Other families seemed so close – why matured me. I longed to get away couldn’t we be? At school I got bul- from my past life and start again. lied for being skinSoon after, I had ny and quiet. By an unexpected the age of twelve I phone-call from a felt I belonged nofriend who lived in where and life was Christian commupointless.” nity near NorthJessica moved ampton. ‘Come for out to live with her a visit!’ ” mum. “Shy, seri“I found a gathous Jessica” disering of ordinary appeared to be repeople but someplaced by “Jess the thing was differRebel”. ent. I became fas“I liked fun and cinated by Jesus spontaneous adand couldn’t get venture: I was enough of the Bitired of being good. ble – it became Eventually Mum my manual for life. called the police to Jesus became my say I was unconbest friend, sometrollable. I ended one who knew up in a succession all about me, but Jessica: bullied at school of hostels.” never rejected me. Things went from bad to worse. “Church, for me, is the place The partner she “thought was all where I can be totally myself. I still right” turned out to be violent. She love to sit quiet and listen but I still left him only to discover she was love adventure, too – only now I go pregnant. Then, eight weeks early, out and befriend the homeless and she went into labour. the teenagers that hang around and “All I remember was severe pain tell them about Jesus. ‘Serious Jesand the nurses saying they were sica’ and ‘Jess the Rebel’ both have Jessica found herself through church sorry but they couldn’t hear my a place in my life!”
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 5
WHAT’S ON? MODERN JESUS ARMY EVENTS 2008 ALL FREE - ALL WELCOME - NO PREJUDICE
SATURDAY 19 JULY
LONDON JESUS DAY Trafalgar Square, LONDON SATURDAY 02 AUGUST
UK JESUS CELEBRATION 2.00pm & 6.00pm
Jesus Centre, Abington Square, NORTHAMPTON NN1 4AE
THUR 07 - SAT 09 AUGUST
RAW - REAL & WILD YOUTH EVENT AGES 15-35 2.00pm & 6.00pm Jesus Centre, Abington Square, NORTHAMPTON NN1 4AE
FRI 22 - MON 25 AUGUST
WINNING FESTIVAL WEEKEND Giant Marquee, Cornhill Manor, Pattishall, NORTHAMPTON NN12 8LQ Info: Jesus Fellowship, FREEPOST, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3BR t: 0845 123 5550 e: email@example.com www.jesus.org.uk/dates
Centres offer daily friendship for all
JESUS CENTRES are places where the love of Jesus is expressed daily in worship, friendship and help for every type of person. The Jesus Army has opened Jesus Centres in Coventry, Northampton and Central London (and is working towards them in other places in the UK).
Art in the right place
Unlikely mates: Ian (right) and Dave are “church” together
Northampton Jesus Centre has recently exhibited some powerful paintings by Christian artist, Ulrike O’Flaherty. Her striking, “in your face” artwork has things to say about God’s love towards the marginalised and poor. The themes explored in the paintings tie in well with the Jesus Centre vision to be “a place of friendship and help for every type of person”.
Oasis near the circus
London Jesus Centre is just round the corner from Oxford Circus in the shopping capital of the UK. But just a short step away from “retail frenzy” there is a peaceful “shopping free zone”. A recent visitor who made it in from the rush said that the peace she found there was “beautiful!” A Jesus Centre volunteer added “We aim to continue to be an oasis in the world of consumerism.”
Vigil for the forgotten Coventry Jesus Centre recently held a vigil for all the troubled people they have befriended who have died. The idea was featured in local media (see BBC report at www.tinyurl.com/ 4jpzsz). The homeless are 35 times more likely to kill
Art attack: paintings pack a punch at Jesus Centre themselves than the general population and four times more likely to die from unnatural causes such as accidents, assaults, murder, drugs or alcohol poisoning. How can you help? Jesus Centres always need money, clothes, food and lots more. Check out the website for details: www. jesuscentre.org.uk. Jesus Army Charitable Trust is a registered charity.
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 6
“I believe...” #3
I BELIEVE IN GOD firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’LL BELIEVE it when I see it”. So runs the common remark and some people use this, or something like it, as a reason why they don’t believe in God. It must be a depressing life for such people because presumably they don’t believe in love. After all, no-one has ever seen that either. In fact, a good deal of the things we value most about life aren’t things we can actually see. Like the buzz you get when you hear an amazing song, the
shiver that runs up your spine when you see a glorious sunset, or the spreading feeling of content when you wake up and remember you’re on holiday. Or – to change tack – think of oxygen. No-one can see it. But the thought of living without it? That’s enough to take anyone’s breath away. “God is Spirit” it says in the New Testament. You can’t see Him. But He’s always there. In fact, He’s the source of all being. He made everything. God is to-
tally real – everything else gets its reality from God! (Viewed this way, a person saying they don’t believe in God is like a fish saying it doesn’t believe in water.) So how can we actually experience Him, if we can’t see Him? This is where we have to sit up and listen to the Man who said “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” His name is Jesus – what was He talking about? (see page 8)
Scream until they go away
AT A JESUS Army house in Leicester last week, a man knocked on the door to ask for prayer for his wife who was in a coma. Menawhile, in Coventry, a Refugee Centre rang up and asked if the local Jesus Army house could help accommodate a woman with no family, no passport and bad health. A Jesus Army leader from Coventry commented: “We were happy to help as much as we could in both cases. We want our houses to be available for the great work of loving our neighbour.”
“Yobs” doing a good job
Street gang g foil Milton Keyynes robberyy
Life in clover: is a loving God too good to be true?
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ONE FRIDAY night in Preston two Jesus Army members walked the streets and talked to the many prostitutes in the area. They sensed God’s presence as they for prayed for two girls in particular – one was in tears. That weekend they prayed for a young girl with a kidney infection. Her mother reported that when she was prayed for she felt some heat. The consultant later confirmed that the infection had gone. A Jesus Army leader in Preston commented “It seems like the heavens have opened”.
Midlands mJa “love their neig ghbours”
The UK is taking a new approach to dealing with youth “gang” culture SOMEONE’S come up with a screamer of an idea to solve teenage anti-social behaviour: a device which emits a painful high-pitched noise (inaudible to ears aged more than 25 years). The “yobs” just can’t stand it – so they clear off. According to the BBC, “there are estimated to be 3,500 of the devices, known as ‘the Mosquito’, in use across the country”. Wonderful. Let’s not encourage young people to find self-worth. Let’s not give them something positive to live for. Let’s forget about encouraging parents in their parenting. Never mind family cohesion and positive role-modelling. Young people are the enemy. Scream at them till they go away. Pesky kids. Come to think of it – why stop at mere sonic warfare? Tear gas! That’s what they need. That’d be what I call a real creative solution. Worryingly enough, you just may be reading this and nodding your head in agreement. So it’s worth being clear: what a load of bilge. Young people are looking for something worth their energy, something worth living for. They need nurturing, believing in. The Jesus Army has a vision to engage young people in something very, very positive – the mission of Jesus. Spreading real love; reconciling people to the God they’ve lost touch with. This cause is especially for the gangs in subways and on street corners. God is not screaming till they go away. He’s calling them to belong. And the Jesus Army want to be part of that call. How about you?
Power of prayyer on show in Preston
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A GANG of street lads and girls foiled a robbery in Milton Keynes recently. They pursued a thief as he fled from a shop, caught him and returned 24 bottles of beer. The shop assistant was still on the phone to the police and had to explain that they were no longer needed: a gang had retrieved and returned the stolen beer! The Jesus Army had been befriending the gang. One of them commented: “We hope the Christian influence is rubbing off on them. They really are a sound crew and we’re praying for them to truly find Jesus.”
Christianpowered poetryy in Oxford “HEAR THE Word” is a popular poetry night put on by the Jesus Army in Oxford. It’s been described by one poet as “a Christian-powered, unplugged, spoken word club” and a “mixture of story-telling, folk music and poetry of many forms.” The poet in question, “Oliver”, particularly enjoyed “its Christian community quality with a large dollop of tolerance and a hectoring Marxist thrown in for good measure!” The event continues in 2008 on the first Monday of each month.
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 7
Christians? Bizarre weirdos? Boring wannabes? AMY
STREETPAPER asked mJa members from across the UK to answer twenty questions to show what makes them tick. The answers seemed to show that these Christians are pretty normal and come from all over the place – but all of them have found something worth getting excited about.
What is your name? There are a lot of Steves and Daves in the modern Jesus army, a few Jennys, but only one Patrick Anthony Ernest Finch-Noyes (and what imaginative parents he must have had).
Where were you born? mJa members come from all over the UK – from Essex to Exeter, from Hull to Solihull, and one Twenty Questions answerer comes from Itapetininga which he assures us is in Brazil not Narnia.
First memory? Apart from the mJa member whose earliest memory was the 48K Spectrum (it obviously made an impression), perhaps the most remarkable was Kat from Sheffield whose first memory was “a cow eating my cardigan”.
How long have you been a member of mJa? The longest standing members have been in the Jesus Army since before it became known as Jesus Army in the 80s. But most Twenty Questions answerers were under 30. mJa has a fairly low average age.
she described herself as “not entirely predictable”.
Marmite – delicious or evil in a jar? James from Northampton made a valid point here: “The Marmite’s delicious but the jar’s a little hard to digest.”
“my first memory was a cow eating my cardigan”
Why’d you join up? One young man, James from Northampton, owned up to being rather partial to the church recipe for chocolate fudge cake. But he added “This church genuinely tries to practise the New Testament in a selfish country.” Tschaka from London “wanted to ‘be the best’ for God”. Rob from Brighton admitted “Initially it was a free bed! But then it was the brotherhood, love and reality of relationships.” And Fabio from Brazil simply said “I felt I was a member of the family,” adding “People in the church cared more about my future than about my past.”
Define yourself in three words. Rachel from Leicester summed it up for pretty much the whole church when
What is your favourite song of all time? Spiritual songs were top of the pops with mJa members: energetic, throw yourself around numbers (“Dance, dance, everybody dance”) to deep hymns like “O Love that wilt not let me go”. Then there was “A alegria está no coração de quem já conhece a Jesus” (yup, that was Brazilian Fabio again).
Right-brained (creative) type or left-brained (logical) type? A good mixture of logical lefties and resourceful righties. It was fairly even.
Sum up your weekend in one sentence. Bethan from Solihull had “one hectic party with Jesus” which sounds a bit like Kat from Sheffield’s “multicoloured whirlwind of
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Flip flops or sandals? Jen from Northampton showed admirable disregard for worldly fashion: “Sandals and socks all the way.” But not all mJa members were so biblical in their footwear.
If you could have one super human power what would you choose? Flying was popular, it’s true, but quite a few spoke of the “super human power” that they actually have – Holy Spirit power to heal and bless others.
at “people hating others just because they are different.”
Who do you admire most? Apart from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – fairly obviously “up there” for Christians – it wasn’t big name people who tended to feature, but the quiet, unthanked servants in life. James from Northampton made it practical: “people who wash up without being asked to”. Meanwhile Lizzie from Kent gave a hoorah for early Christian martyrs. And Rachel from Wisbech said “Mothers. They are God’s appointed cradles of life.”
What does Jesus mean to you? According to these mJa soldiers, Jesus was a “tough man of reality who hated injustice”, “an authentic revolutionary” who “showed a way for mankind
“I love Jesus – truly, madly, deeply”
Cereal – morning or late at night? Jen from Northampton deserves to be quoted – not for giving an answer (she doesn’t care when she eats cereal) but for her enthusiasm and for providing a recipe: “bran flakes, yoghurt, banana and honey...mmm!”
Are you a cat or a dog person? It was fairly even with cats enjoyed for their style and dogs for being fun. But Rob from Brighton said they both make him sneeze.
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music and madness, love and laughter”. Ian from Northampton also encountered Jesus in his weekend, but described it in more thoughtful terms: “A scary challenge to follow the teaching of Jesus or slip into a wasted life of mediocrity”.
What excites you most? Kat from Sheffield was poetic: “God and His beautiful wildness in creation, heaven, crazy dreams and schemes” but left her most profound comment till last: “seeing people finding real love and dreaming again”. Is that what James from Liverpool meant when he said “When God shows up and does something undeniably God”?
On the other hand, what really makes your blood boil with
rage? Injustice was the biggy, with Rob from Brighton defining it as “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”. Amy from Hastings got angry
to make it”. But He’s not past tense only. mJa members describe Jesus now as “God’s human face” and “my Saviour and best friend” and one added “I love Jesus – truly, madly, deeply. If when I die, they put ‘He loved Jesus’ on my gravestone that’ll be the best epitaph I could imagine.”
What do you want to see happen before you die? Rachel from Leicester was pretty focused: “A continuous stream of people re-born, finding brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and all that God-package.” Or as another put it: “The church really on fire for God - no compromise and willing to take risks”.
You’ve got ten seconds on national radio – what do you
say? Paddy from Huntingdon told the nation “Prayer works, try it” (presumably he spoke slowly). James from Liverpool asked “So what are you going to do with Jesus? It’s the most important thing you’ll ever think about, so don’t put it off.” And we’ll leave the last word to Fabio the Brazilian who simply wanted everyone to know: “Christianity is not a religion, Christianity is a relationship.”
GIVIN’’ IT LOADS GIVIN
modern JESUS army Streetpaper No. 83 Page 8
Energetic young Christians make a song and dance about their faith in London’s Trafalgar Square “BEING A Christian is not boring, it’s exciting” enthuses Hannah, 19, describing what makes hundreds of young people like her leap about like loonies in Trafalgar Square. “I want to show people that” she continues. “I want to express God’s love to everyone.”
These young people are enthusiastic about their Christian faith. Church, it would appear, is not just for old ladies after all.
“Last year, more than a thousand of us gathered in London” says Danny, also 19. “We marched from Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square, dancing all the way and then the event on the Square began. There were demos and dramas about what Jesus is doing today across the UK. We want everyone to see that Jesus is worth getting excited about.” The modern Jesus army hold a celebration rally in Trafalgar Square every summer with its focal point at the base of the famous Nelson’s column. “We can express love for Jesus freely without
>> I BELIEVE IN JESUS
Experience the forgiveness and healing Jesus brings SO THERE was this young Jewish prophet, name of Jesus. Lived around 2,000 years ago. He got Himself into trouble with the religious bosses of His day through some of the things He did and said. Forgiving sins. Healing. Letting people worship Him. (Who did he think He was, God?) So they handed Him over to the Romans who executed Him by the particularly gory method of crucifixion. End of
story. That much is history. But was that the end of the story? Because if it was there is very, very little chance that you’d have ever heard of Jesus (and even less chance that you’d be reading a newspaper all about Him 2,000 years later). Thousands of rebel Jews were mercilessly slaughtered by the Romans in that troubled period of history, many by crucifixion. Jesus was just one more.
worrying what people think” says Andy, 19, “cos that’s what it’s all about. Leaping about is a way of expressing love for God. Plus it attracts attention to our cause, shows how we’re a full on church, ready for action.” But it wasn’t only young people at Trafalgar Square that day. Christianity is still for old ladies, too, apparently. One of them, Selina, 65, describes the event: “It’s like heaven has landed on earth with all its colour. The atmosphere in Trafalgar Square is incredible.” The modern Jesus army is at Trafalgar Square on 19 July 2008
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“I believe...” #4 Except He wasn’t. Because His followers claimed He came back from the dead, gloriously and forever alive. Now, if Jesus’ enemies had wanted to poop the party, it should have been easy: produce the body. But they never did. His body had gone. So they put it about that Jesus’ followers had nicked it (somehow they got past the Roman guard of military professionals who would be executed if the body was stolen). The problem was that Jesus’ followers didn’t act like guilty liars. Bold as brass, they strode around the Roman Empire saying “Jesus is alive, He’s the Son of God, He’s beaten death, and to prove it we’ve seen Him”. And they were prepared to die for it. That’s why you’re hearing about Jesus today. The Christian Church through the centuries has passed on the message – Jesus is alive. We know Him. He’s ruling from heaven – and anyone can experience the forgiveness and healing He brings – today! And that includes you. Don’t miss out.
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mJa UK: 0845 123 5550 (local call rate) www.jesus.org.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For help/info: Jesus Fellowship, FREEPOST, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3BR Tel: 0845 166 8171 Fax: 0845 166 8178
Published on Sep 11, 2009