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Britain’s leading Black and multi-ethnic community-focused publication promoting

IT’S OUR

and supporting unity, faith and family values

100

TH

ISSUE!

LOVE is in the air Who is the best in UK Gospel? The importance of

HONOUR

Celebrating Black women of influence

Interview: Rev Esther Ajayi - Crazy Faith NO ONE IS FREE UNTIL WE ARE ALL FREE

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08

Dear Readers Happy New Year to you all and WELCOME to our 100th issue – the first issue of 2017! What can I say, except we are BLESSED! I am amazed and honoured to have such a great team of people, who have contributed to every single issue over the years, which has eventually brought us to this celebratory milestone issue! We have some great things in the pipeline for 2017 - you can read about our achievements and plans on page 54 - and I hope you can support our 2017 initiatives and our walk towards the next 10 years and to our 200th issue! This bumper issue is bursting at the seams with some amazing articles, all contributed by our loyal friends - some who have walked the walk with us for many, many years, and not all from the UK… Our USA brothers and sisters are emailing weekly to join the KTF writers’ team, to share their testimonies and news from across the pond! KTF is all about networking, and we have lots of gospel news from the UK and USA, including an interview with the amazing Tamela Mann. You must read our feature ‘Who is the best in UK Gospel?’ - a great piece by Juliet Fletcher. This issue is celebrating relationships, relationship goals, preparing for marriage and even dealing with life-threatening illnesses of individuals and partners. In addition, March is International Women’s Month, so this issue is very women-focused: from a personal journey through anorexia (which also affects men) to fibroids; from walking into the unknown, to getting with the programme for 2017. Marcia Dixon has also compiled a list of influential Black Christian women, who are inspiring and empowering other women. We have all your favourite regulars, and look out for our exciting new youth section, ‘Level Up’, in the next issue.

Enjoy.

NEWS

04 In the news

GOSPEL NEWS

06 Keeping it ‘juicy’ with Vinejuice 10 V3 - ‘Alive in Christ’ by Milton B Allen 12 Myoa... A beautiful journey by Milton B Allen 14 Who is the best in UK Gospel? by Juliet Fletcher

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT 16 Channel 4 #Spies

INTERVIEW

28

34

Keep The Faith Ltd keepthefaithteam Suite 48 @keepthefaithmag 88-90 Hatton Garden keepthefaithmagazine London EC1N 8PN www.keepthefaith.co.uk T: 0845 193 4433 www.blackchristiandirectory.com

FEATURE

COMMENT

36 The importance of honour by Rev Stephen Brooks 37 Life-threatening illness by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 38 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon

LIFESTYLE

Don’t forget, our electronic subscriber database is now over 33,000, with a further 20,000 social media followers. So if you want a quick, effective and inexpensive way to publicise your goods, services or events, get in touch!

R

18 Tamela Mann ‘God Provides’ by Milton B Allen 20 Crazy Faith - Pastor to Billionaires by Patrick Campbell

22 Preparing for marriage - the Ruth & Boaz way by Esther Kuku 26 Real relationship goals! by EuGene Jordan 28 Celebrating Black women of influence by Marcia Dixon 32 Jesus Christ: The greatest blood donor by Dapo Odumeru MBE 34 No one is free until we are all free! by Dionne Gravesande

Shirley McGreal Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

KEEP THE FAITH MAGAZINE

CONTENTS ISSUE 100

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Shirley McGreal FCMI Sub-Editor: Jackie Raymond Design: Becky Wybrow Advertising: Anna Davis Josie McFarlane Admin & Accounts: Nicola Hammond All enquiries: admin@keepthefaith.co.uk

The Publisher would like to thank Rev Stephen Brooks, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Marcia Dixon, Dionne Gravesande, Esther Kuku, Keno Ogbo, Grace Gladys Famoriyo, Jason Loh, Joy Roxborough, Vanessa Grossett, Lavinia Goddard, Adaeze Chiwoko, Milton B Allen, Juliet Fletcher, Marlene Service, Patrick Campbell, EuGene Jordan, Dapo Odumeru MBE, Paulette Harper, Funke Oham, Liz Pollard, Gary Clayton, Tayo Fatunia, Dorothy Oginni, Josie McFarlane and our supporters and advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.

40 Living above the chaos by Paulette Harper 41 Walking into the unknown by Funke Oham 42 God is doing a new thing! So, get with the programme by Grace Gladys Famoriyo 44 Life Hurts by Dr Elizabeth McNaught 46 Focus on fibroids by Joy Roxborough 48 Authors, you must market by Vanessa Grossett 49 Fall in love with your life by Keno Ogbo 50 Love is in the air by Jason Loh

MISSION

52 A missionary saint by Gary Clayton 54 Looking back to move forward... with a little help from our friends by Shirley McGreal www.keepthefaith.co.uk


04 NEWS

Church of England appoints first Black bishop in over 20 years The Church of England has appointed its first Black bishop. Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu has been named the 13th Bishop of Woolwich, and will be consecrated on 17th March at Southwark Cathedral. The appointment of Dr Dorgu comes as the Church looks to significantly increase the number of Black and minority ethnic (BME) clergy in senior leadership positions. The appointment comes nearly 21 years after the consecration of Bishop John Sentamu, the Church of England’s first Black bishop. In addition to Archbishop Sentamu and Dr Dorgu, there are only three archdeacons and a dean making up the most senior BME clergy in the Church of England. Dr Dorgu, also known as Brother K, was born and raised in Nigeria and trained as a medical doctor before being ordained in the UK in 1995. He is married to Mosun, a doctor, and they have two grown-up children. He is a keen bongo player and Arsenal supporter. Dr Dorgu described himself to the Guardian newspaper as an evangelical, but added: “I will fly no party colours … I will promote unity, respect, integrity and collaboration among different traditions … I will celebrate the diversity in race, ability, gender, sexuality and class … Celebrating our differences is a gift.”

Greatly respected and much-loved church leader - now present with the Lord Bishop David Whitfield Greaves passed away on Saturday 17th December 2016 at the age of 62. Bishop David died unexpectedly, while in repose at his home recovering from a prolonged season of health challenges. For most of his adult life, Bishop David served the church locally and internationally in various capacities. In 2012, Bishop David ended his two-term tenure as National Presiding Bishop of the New Testament Assembly (NTA), and continued leading the NTA Leyton branch where he was much endeared. To many, Bishop David was a spiritual father and a mentor. Whilst a deeply devoted man of prayer, who worshipped God with unbridled passion, he also had tremendous compassion and a capacity to care for people unconditionally. NTA Presiding Bishop, Delroy Powell, had this to say: “We have lost a good man. Bishop David will be remembered as a humble and sincere servant leader, who emulated Christ in the way he lived out his faith.” The family of Bishop David issued this statement: “Firstly, we wish to declare ‘It is well!’ David was delighted to return home to his beloved family, following an intensive period of hospitalisation. Who would have imagined

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he would only have three days with us? He had been in good spirits, engaging in lively conversations, and expressing a refreshed outlook on life and ministry. We are comforted by these and the many great memories that span 30 years of marriage and parenthood. We are blessed to have called him husband, father and grandfather, and ask for continued prayers as we face the days ahead.” He is survived by his wife, Marlene, five children, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, both parents and his siblings.

Black Majority Churches pioneer gone to be with the Lord Bishop Lemuel Crossfield was the founder and leader of The Church of God Pentecostal (TCOGP) now known as Freedom Worship Centre - in Southall, Greater London, as well as of six churches on the beautiful island of Jamaica. Lemuel Crossfield was born in the Alexandria District of the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, and attended Mount Providence School there. He was the only child of Esterine Thomas, and came from very humble beginnings. The Lord saved him in the year 1953 and, after many struggles, Lemuel came to England in 1959 and married his beloved wife, Daphne, in April 1960. There was a strong call on his life to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and out of their ‘bedroom’ a church was born in the year 1964. Bishop Crossfield was widely known for being a man of vision and faith, with a strong character. After establishing TCOGP in Southall in 1964, the couple were able to purchase the local Methodist church on Western Road in 1973, which was rebuilt in 1997. That building, now known as Freedom Worship Centre, still operates from the same location – mortgage-free! In 2000, Bishop Crossfield returned to Jamaica, where he pastored the Rio Nuevo Branch of TCGOP, and also had pastoral oversight of five other churches across the island. On 21st December 2016, Bishop Crossfield died peacefully at his London home, in the company of his family, following a period of failing health. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, First Lady Daphne, his five children, one son-in-law and three daughters-in law, twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


WWW.FIRE2017.ORG

E TH VE ATE A S D

Follow one of our carers, Hanora, on the fast track to fostering My name is Hanora McCool, I am 61 years old and a mother of five children and six grandchildren aged from six to 21 years and with two more on the way. I have been a Foster Carer for 28 years and have fostered 194 children. I have been approved to care for three children from 0 to 11 years. It is the most rewarding job I have ever done, and even though it can be hard work and often challenging, I couldn’t imagine doing any other job.

Freephone 0800 169 3497 Fostering information evening Thursday 23 February 6pm-8pm Hammersmith Town Hall King Street, W6 9JU

Telephone 020 8753 1057

I have attended many training courses and have completed my Level 3 Diploma in Childcare. I have also received excellent support from my supervising social worker and my extended family. I would say that having a good support network is essential.

All the support you need to be a foster carer • • •

You have a network of fostering peers and professionals is always there to help and advise you. You get free training in fostering skills and the opportunity to train for additional qualifications. You are paid a weekly financial allowance for the child(ren), a fee for yourself plus additional rewards like a retention bonus. You need a spare room in your home, and parenting or childcare experience.

fostering@rbkc.gov.uk

Fostering information morning Thursday 30 March 10am-12noon Westminster City Hall Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP

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06 NEWS

Level Up

THE YOUTH EVANGELISM CONFERENCE 25 February 2017 #notashamed

COMMISSIONED | CALLED COMPELLED | CONVICTED “I was blown away by the programme, the resources and the stories of changed lives!” (theYECuk delegate, 2016)

T

LEVEL

UP I’m so excited to be introducing ‘Level Up’, a brand new youth-focused section to the next issue of Keep The Faith.

W

hile the content will be aimed at young people, it’s important for you to know that it’s also for anyone with a youthful heart. So, for those of you who don’t yet consider yourselves ‘old’, like a good PG movie, there will always be something in it for you. So, what am I going to be writing about? ‘Level Up’ is all about unleashing your potential as a young person. Together we’ll explore your talents, gifts and passions to help you find your purpose. I’ll show you how to finesse every fear in your life, so that you can chase after those dreams you haven’t dared to believe could come true. And, with the help of some of my friends, we’re going to find ways for you to make a positive impact in the world. Knowing you have a purpose shapes your choices, friendships and the overall direction of your life. By learning the truth about fear, you’ll discover how to break the hold it may already have over your life, and ensure that it never dictates your decisions but, instead, informs them. If you’re willing to join me on this journey, I promise that not only will you be a better version of yourself, you will also be happier and, most importantly, you will have a clear understanding of who you are. I can’t wait to get started with you. Look out for ‘Level Up’ in the next edition of Keep the Faith. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

you with any questions you’d like answered or any issues you want me to discuss. You can tweet me with the hashtag #KTFLevelUp @adambrux. You’ll also find me at facebook. com/adambruxuk. I’m on Instagram as @adambrux, and you can snap me with the same username. Oh, and for those of you who prefer email, you can send your questions or ideas to hello@adambrux.co.uk. Until next time... Peace! Adam Brooks is an educator, coach and broadcaster, who helps young people and youthful adults to find their purpose. Visit adambrux.co.uk to find out more.

he goal of The Youth Evangelism Conference (theYECuk) is to see the Church respond to the key opportunity of our times - to present the life-changing revelation of God’s good news to young people. The organisers say “It’s time to declare that we are #notashamed of the power of God to save everyone who believes.” The YECuk is a new partnership between YFC, Alpha, HOPE, Scripture Union, Urban Saints and the Church of England, seeking to inspire leaders to greater confidence in reaching young people. On 25th February 2017, the YECuk #notashamed takes place at the brand new C3 Centre (Coldhams Lane, Cambridge, CB1 3HR), and looks to build on the success of the inaugural event. The 2017 Conference brings together creative thinkers, experienced leaders, including Andy Hawthorne (The Message) and J. John (Philo Trust); cultural analysts and passionate evangelists; with worship led by Soul Survivor’s Joe Bright. The programme promises to connect attendees with stories from across the UK, where practitioners are experiencing breakthrough in the lives of local teenagers. In addition, by presenting the latest research and highlighting the best resources for evangelism, the day aims to equip and empower delegates for action. Schools worker, Wayne Dixon, was “blown away by the programme, the resources, the stories of changed lives and the opportunity to listen and learn from others in networking” at the YECuk in 2016. His advice for youth workers, schools workers or Christian young people is clear: “Come to the YECuk 2017 and be part of an emerging generation of youth workers and young people who are inspired and equipped to be and speak Good News!” Emerging leaders (aged 21 and under) are offered a huge discount, as the conference prioritises equipping young people to reach their own generation. Savings are also available for groups. Places are limited, so advance booking is essential. The conference is from 10am to 4pm. To book your place, visit www.theyec.uk or contact Jim Overton by email: joverton@cambridgeyfc.uk or call 07947 216998

Twitter: @theyecuk Facebook: /theyecuk


NEWS 07

Charles Dada #BREATHE

C

harles Dada is a Kent-based singer/songwriter with over 10 years in his music expedition. He began his music career at secondary school, by running the school gospel choir. This then created the platform for his career as we know it. Using the experience he gained as choir director, he went on to be a vocal teacher and director for many projects and choirs all over the United Kingdom and the resident choir director at his local church.

Charles was the winner of his local community singing competition, ‘Bex Factor’, and was offered a scholarship by Bexley Borough Council to study at the renowned Point Blank Music College that was also attended by the likes of Leona Lewis and Aluna Francis. His influences are Travis Greene, Emeli Sandé, Nathaniel Bassey, Adele, Mali Music and Fantasia, to name a few. Once mentored by American RnB singer, Jocelyn Brown, Charles shared the stage with Scottish soul recording artist Emeli Sandé, as well as Little Simz, Candi Staton, Mary Mary, Noel Robinson, and many more. Charles is a professional backing vocalist for both live and album projects in all genres of music, including contemporary gospel, African gospel and even soft rock. Featured on the BBC The One Show, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, the MOBO Awards and Channel 4’s 8 out of 10 Cats, Charles Dada has a lot to write home about. Amongst all the above, Charles has had the opportunity to perform to over 40,000 people at the ExCel Centre, Wembley Arena and Manchester Arena. With his debut single, #BREATHE, being his first ever solo project, he is ready to take on this journey as an artist. Breathe, the much-anticipated debut single, is out now on all major digital stores. With the anticipation continuously building through a major social media campaign with the word #CharlesDadaBreathe as its focal point, it’s causing people to ask questions. Produced by WhiteBlock and written by Pensouls and Charles Dada, this single is sure to get you wanting more of the Lord, as it focuses on the words written in Job 33:4. This single is sure to be a hit within the UK Gospel community, as it is written to invoke praise and worship. For more information visit www.charlesdada.com

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Salford student to host TV show on global Christian network, TBN

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student at the University of Salford is to present a show on the largest Christian television network in the world. Lavinia Goddard will anchor the magazine show, which will be broadcast to millions in the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa. The programme will be co-presented by Lavinia’s business partner, Adaeze Chiwoko, and will feature music news and live performances by contemporary Christian artists. Amongst the stars already set to appear on the show are Nigel Benn, former boxing champion, and X Factor finalist, Jahméne Douglas. It will air on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in the spring. Lavinia co-runs Vinejuice, a popular urban culture promotions company based in Oldham, which was founded in 2015 after the Marketing student won a competition by the University of Salford Enterprise team to receive mentoring for a business start-up. Future TV star Lavinia, 36, said: “I’m so excited for the filming of the show to start. It is

the largest thing that I and Adaeze have ever done. The show will be a celebration of Urban Christian culture, and it will feature a real mix of people who are doing cool stuff. There will be music and interviews with actors who are at the top of their game and big sports personalities.” Lavinia and Adaeze first met at high school;

however, it was not until they coincidentally bought a house two doors down the road from each other on the same street, that they rekindled their friendship and eventually became business partners. Adaeze, 36, who is a mum of three children aged 10, 7 and 6, said: “We had a successful radio show, where we were known as the Juicy Ladies, and from that we began to produce Facebook Live videos. Last year we emailed TBN, and explained that we were really interested in presenting, and we asked what opportunities there may be. TBN emailed us back, and invited us down to London to chat more about our business. The director of TBN had already made up his mind and offered us our own show there and then. I remember pinching myself under the table to check if it was really happening.” The twelve-part series, called The Juicy Ladies Show, will begin filming at TBN’s London studio near Wembley imminently. Victoria Barker

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08 GOSPEL NEWS

Keeping it ‘Juicy’ with Vinejuice!

F

ounded by Adaeze Chiwoko and Lavinia Goddard, aka the ‘Juicy Ladies’, Vinejuice is a media company based in Manchester, the home of the JUICIEST urban/contemporary Christian entertainment news, events and music. Connect with Vinejuice via our website, vinejuice. co.uk, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube), the weekly ‘Juicy Ladies Show’, broadcast live via Facebook Live and Periscope, and Vinejuice Radio for 24/7 of the best urban/contemporary Christian music online.

The wait is over, Trip Lee’s new mixtape is out

NEW MUSIC: Naomi Parchment ‘One Touch’ feat. Becca Folkes Music student, Naomi Parchment, releases debut single, ‘One Touch’, featuring UK gospel artist, Becca Folkes. Naomi Parchment, described by US gospel artists Jason Nelson as “a voice and a heart for this generation”, and James Fortune as an “incredible, awesome woman of God who is so gifted and so talented”, released her debut single, ‘One Touch’, in December. ‘One Touch’, featuring Becca Folkes, is based on the biblical story in Luke 8 of a woman with an ‘issue of blood’ that needed just one touch from Jesus in order to be healed. ‘One Touch’ is a song of encouragement that aims to remind people that there is nothing too hard for God. The singer, who hails from the West Midlands, currently resides in the US where she is studying Classical Vocal Performance. Expect to hear a lot more from Naomi in 2017, when she releases her debut EP. Listen to ‘One Touch’ on Vinejuice Radio, or visit naomiparchment1.bandcamp.com.

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Trip Lee releases new 10-track mixtape, ‘The Waiting Room’, and is ‘still unashamed’. ‘The Waiting Room’ is the first taste of new music from Trip Lee since his fifth LP ‘Rise’ dropped in 2014, debuting at No.2 on the Billboard Rap Chart and No.16 on the Billboard 200. Throughout the 10 songs on the mixtape, Trip wrestles with joy and pain, life and death, and the realities of our current social and political climate. His new project is an exercise in power and precision. Though its title speaks to things like patience and contentment, the urgency is also deeply felt. “This earth is a place where all of our longings just won’t come true,” Trip says. “We’re always waiting for things to be made right.” As a treat for his extensive fan base, Trip took to Facebook Live to preview a handful of tracks off the mixtape a few hours ahead of its official release. During the broadcast, he took questions from viewers, and also chatted with various contributors to the project, including producers GAWVI and Alex Medina. When asked, “What is your favourite track on the mixtape?” he answered, “My favourite right now is ‘I Don’t Know’, a song where I’m talking about the difficulties of life. I’m just kinda lamenting, complaining about the difficult stuff about life, and really crying out to God like, ‘Why don’t You hear me? Do You hear our call? Do You still answer prayers?’ It’s that kind of wrestle.”


GOSPEL NEWS 09

Tasha Cobbs supports prayer for KING &forCOUNTRY brothers campaign Kim Burrell video release new movie - ‘Priceless’

‘Break Every Chain’ singer, Tasha Cobbs, joins a prayer campaign set up by fellow gospel artist Pastor William Murphy, as he calls for 1000 people to stand in prayer for Kim Burrell. Kim, who recently hit the headlines due to a viral video of her speaking to her congregation on homosexuality in what has been called an “unloving” manner, has come under an immense amount of fire for making statements during her sermon such as: “I came to tell you about sin. That sin nature… that perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women… You, as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face, you are perverted. You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breasts, you are perverted.” The amount of negative media attention Kim has received as a result of this video, as well as her being dropped from TV appearances on shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has caused a number of leading Christian personalities to stand up in her defence. Pastor William Murphy launched his ‘#1000people praying for Kim Burrell’ campaign on social media, which Tasha Cobbs posted

on her Instagram feed (alongside his prayer) to show solidarity. The campaign ran for seven days with a daily prayer, such as this one: “Father, we’re praying for Your daughter and our sister, Pastor Kim Burrell. We plead the Blood over her life, over her ministry and over her career. And, Father, we ask that You would use this season of offence to expose the strategy of the enemy to keep us divided, and that You would cause what the devil meant for evil, to work for our good. We pray for all who were offended, and for all who felt indifferent because of what they heard, and we pray that You would bring clarity and truth, and that our hearts and minds would be open for discussion, even if it doesn’t lead to a complete agreement. Father, use this moment to draw us closer to You, and closer to one another, and don’t allow what we heard and how it made us feel, to harden our hearts towards one another. Give us the courage and the patience to listen to those who believe differently than we do, and cause us to be compassionate and loving towards anyone and everyone who doesn’t believe what we believe. Show us, Holy Spirit, that we can believe differently, and not be indifferent. Show us, Father, that we can disagree, and still love one another and live together in peace. You so loved the whole world that You gave us Jesus…and I’m praying that You grant us the grace to do the same for one another. In Your loving Son Jesus’ Name, I pray…AMEN! #1000PeoplePraying” With many Christians calling for more unity in the Body during cases such as this, it seems that William Murphy and Tasha Cobbs are prepared to openly stand for Kim Burrell at this time, and are calling for others to do the same.

Hillsong United wins AMA award Multi award-winning worship band, Hillsong United, has added another trophy to their awards shelf after being voted as ‘Favourite Artist – Contemporary Inspirational’ at the American Music Awards (AMAs) in November. Declaring itself to be the world’s biggest fan-voted awards show, the AMAs pays tribute to today’s most iconic artists. With 22 categories, the only one dedicated to Christian music is the ‘Favourite Artist – Contemporary Inspirational’ category. Hillsong United, from the Hillsong Church camp, beat off competition from hugely popular artists, Lauren Daigle and Chris Tomlin. The worship band’s latest album, ‘Of Dirt and Grace: Live from the Land’, was released on 15th July 2016 on the Hillsong Music Australia label.

Leké releases ‘Suicide’ video Write-Way Music artist, Leké, dropped a new, slick video for his track, ‘Suicide’. The song is taken from his 5-track EP, ‘Unstoppable’, and is the second video to be released off the project. In a simple message for fans, Leké said: “As a thank you, I’m giving you another piece of my heart. Here’s the official music video for #Suicide.” as a snippet of the video was shared on his social media profiles in December. The singer bravely bares his soul in this latest release, talking (or, should we say, singing) openly about wrestling through a dark season of depression and suicidal thoughts in 2015. To listen to ‘Suicide’ and link to download the entire ‘Unstoppable’ EP for free, visit: vinejuice.co.uk/video.

Sonnie Badu wins award African multiple award-winning international gospel singer-songwriter, Sonnie Badu, was awarded the ‘UK-based Gospel Artist of the Year’ at the Ghanaian Music Awards 2016 recently. The respected musician was also awarded ‘UK-based Gospel Song of the Year’ for his song, ‘Amazing God’, which was released on 1st April 2016. The first ever Ghana Music Awards took place in the UK back in November, celebrating some of the biggest names from the Ghanaian music scene. The event was put together by Alordia Promotions and West Coast UK, and was held at the Gaumont Palace in London. Well done, Sonnie. Well deserved! www.keepthefaith.co.uk


10 GOSPEL NEWS

V3

“Alive” in Christ BY MILTON B ALLEN GLOBAL MUSIC LINK

“V3 are sisters Shelly, Sacha and LaToya Vinson from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Their newly released album, ‘Alive’, is an eclectic mix of music infused with elements of pop, contemporary Christian, gospel, reggae, hip-hop, urban and techno musical styles, laced with unapologetic messages about faith. ‘Alive’ marks V3’s long-awaited return to their recording ministry after a 10-year absence. ‘Alive’ is far more than an album title. It is a body of work that represents a restoration of faith, conscience and, literally, life. The title track is V3’s testimony of having survived a serious life-threatening car accident 10 years ago in Detroit. Sacha said, “We blacked out. The doors were jammed. Shelley was stuck in the car. We were placed in separate hospitals. On ‘Alive’ we talk about what we went through and how God kept us. We know we are here for a reason and a purpose.” Says Shelly, “We live our lives daily by faith, and we are guided by our faith in God! Going through the experiences in life that we’ve gone through made our faith stronger, and we use that in the music we make. We know that if we hadn’t gone through the things

we’ve gone through, we wouldn’t be able to stand in front of an audience with strong passion and conviction. We couldn’t tell them about something that we haven’t experienced or felt ourselves. We know that God gave us these experiences in life, so that we can help others and encourage others who are facing things that we’ve faced. Our faith has been strengthened and made stronger by facing certain challenges, and now we can use those challenges to connect with someone who’s listening and strengthen them.” They wrote and produced most of the songs on the independent release. ‘Alive’ is the first national project V3 can say is totally theirs. ‘Alive’ is far from your traditional gospel recording. Drawing inspiration from a variety of music

genres and influences, ‘Alive’ is sonically eclectic, resonating soul and spirit from across an international musical spectrum. “With ‘Alive’ we weren’t concerned with the latest beat. We were just trying to make good music,” says Shelley. “We were trying to make music that felt good to us and resonated in our spirit. This album definitely stretched us, because we had to wear all the hats, but we’re so proud of it because we put this album together ourselves - from bottom to top and from top to bottom.” From start to finish, ‘Alive’ ignites feelings of hope, faith and love without religious boundaries, and crosses musical formats to meet people where they are. The struggles that V3 faced, and the hurdles they had to climb after their near-fatal accident, are not unlike those that women around the world face every day. V3 puts I this way: “We would say that if you have God on your side there’s no limit to what you can achieve! Women, you are stronger than you know. And there’s room for every one of us women to shine. We don’t have to tear each other down or compete with one another or be jealous and fight each other. Our job as women is to lift each other up, encourage one another, and be great role models for our daughters who need us! Despite what society or anyone else says, know your worth, know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and know that God has a plan for your life, so don’t settle for less than God’s best for you!”

Learn more about V3: www.v3worldwide.com and www.virtuosomusicanddistribution.com/V3 Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag


Who do you turn to if you need to talk? Who do you ask if you need help? For children at Outlook the answer is simple

“My Foster Carer” If you think you have the heart to foster text ‘Outlook’ to 66777 We need foster carers for long and short term fostering, Sibling groups, Parent & Child and solo placements. We offer 24/7 support, first class training & generous fostering allowance. Tel: 01233 610661 for further information.

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


12 GOSPEL NEWS

BY MILTON B ALLEN, GLOBAL MUSIC LINK

M

yoa is a budding international singing sensation, whose musical journey has catapulted her from the beautiful coast of West Africa to the Queen’s land in England, and into the diverse, invigorating music scene of the USA. The music of Myoa is ‘Soul, pop and jazz – music not for the noise or money, but good listening music for the soul, spirit and body,’ says The Guardian News of Nigeria.

… a o y M

l u f i t u a e A b rney jo u

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GOSPEL NEWS 13

In the words of Myoa, which means ‘God brings joy’: “I was created to inspire and impact certain truths and to give joy to people who listen to my music.” Myoa sees greater benefit in creating her own lane in the music business, rather than trying to imitate the rifts and runs of today’s pop and r&b superstars. “I can’t be someone that I’m not. My voice and my music come from God, and there’s no sense in trying to sing songs that don’t speak to me or reflect what’s in my soul.” As a mainstream artist, Myoa states it is her faith in God that guides her. “My faith is a very important part of my life. I grew up in a Christian home where we were taught to pray, stepping out on faith, putting everything into God’s hands. When I had the opportunity to grow and live on my own, I realised that my personal relationship with God was what helped me through those lonely days. It was my faith that made me fly thousands of miles from England to pursue a career in music in the USA.” While studying at the University of Plymouth in south-west England, Myoa honed her songwriting and keyboard skills, and discovered her purpose and individuality. “I spent a lot of my spare time in my room writing music on my keyboard when I wasn’t around the social circle. I became comfortable and confident in who I was and who I wanted to be.” Upon graduation, Myoa pursued a career in Finance, and settled into a lifestyle of stability and structure.

But her life lacked what she loved most: her music. Feeling there was more to life than number crunching as an accountant, Myoa opted for another path. Resigning from her job, she packed her bags (along with her Master’s degree and Chartered Certified Qualification in Finance) and decided to take a leap of faith to pursue opportunities to study music in the USA - the sunny, palm-shaded world of Los Angeles CA, to be exact! Enrolling at Hollywood California’s heralded Musicians Institute, Myoa dived in head first, learning the art of vocal performance and music production. She soon landed a highly coveted internship at the world’s largest music company, Universal Music Group. The rest is history... “Faith made me believe my purpose was possible. Faith made me confident. Faith made me determined - even against all opposition - with music or when people said my music was ‘different’. My faith in God and belief in my purpose have made me write music that I can express from my personal life, yet universal to the extent that it has become a critical component in how I perform and interact in a live audience setting.” Myoa is currently putting the finishing touches on her first full album, ‘Beautiful Journey’. She believes that this album “validates all (my) hard work as an independent artist”. The first single, ‘Can A Stranger’ - produced by Nigerian musical genius, Cobhams Asuquo, and co-written by Myoa - has achieved critical acclaim by audiences, music lovers and critics on three continents. “I am often asked if being a woman makes this musical journey more difficult,” says Myoa. “I have had the privilege to live in three countries, and I must say women are as powerful and determined in all countries. Women have come a long way, regardless of what part of the world we live in. Women have, over the years, faced challenges in most areas of life, such as career, leadership opportunities and recognition. But my advice is that we are a powerful breed, and we have great instinctual values, which come from our heavenly Father. Keeping our faith and determination in what we believe in can take us far in any area of life we choose. Women should first believe from the inside, because of the strength we have. I encourage women of faith all around the world to always trust their belief factor, pray hard, and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. With that in mind, go and conquer your territory and continue your ‘Beautiful Journey’. That is something I tell myself each day.”

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14 GOSPEL NEWS

JULIET FLETCHER

is a former BBC Producer and funding Executive of the GMIA

Who is the best in UK Gospel?

R

ecently there was a debate on social media, when one of our best known gospel artists was described as ‘the Queen of UK Gospel’. It caused quite a discussion, and some of the comments - on both sides - were very interesting, to say the least. So, I want to briefly explore in my own way why it may be a good thing to identify ‘the best’ among us in gospel music. After more than 40 years observing and experiencing artists come and artists go - and come again I’m qualified to make a good judgement call on this subject. Right?

IS IT BIBLICAL? The question that most people seemed to argue about in that social media debate, was: ‘Is it biblical to identify who is the best?’ – which, to me, is another way of asking: Who is the greatest? My answer is YES! Yes, it is biblical. All through the Bible, God recognises things, people and places as better than another. Have a good read of Luke 9:46 and Luke 22:24, where the disciples literally argued about who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. I had to pause and laugh while writing this, because it just goes to show that the principle idea of having such debates isn’t new. Some people think that talking about such things are a carnal waste of time. Jesus was untroubled by the disciples’ question: “Who is the greatest?” We know this, because He answered in a very direct and matter-of-fact way. It was a legitimate and valid question, and He used it as an opportunity to expose their heart condition and to give them the candid truth. Next, He taught that the important characteristic of ‘greatness’ is being like a child in trusting God and being a servant to all. But, in the final part of His answer, He described that the seating next to Him in Heaven is reserved to be given by God the Father; therefore, everyone is going to know that whatever that person has done - they’re GREAT, and they would deserve that position, too! God recognises greatness.

WE LOVE KNOWING WHAT IS THE BEST And that is why we love doing it. Let’s admit, it’s a very natural human instinct to recognise what is Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

best. Of course, there is the everyday life level where it’s very subjective: identifying the best perfume or aftershave lotion, or choosing the best brand of toothpaste or soap powder, for example. Personal choice. We love recommending what we consider to be ‘the best’. There are ways, however, in which we become more objective about it. Objectivity happens when the person, place or thing becomes so distinctive it amasses large consensus. Everybody comes into agreement, and there is little to no doubt that this place, person or thing is truly ‘the best’. Normally this happens by demonstration: what we can see, by works; what is done and, finally, by comparison looking at the differences between two that are nearly the same. The choice of ‘the best’ should always achieve a minimum of two out of these three. An easy example comes to mind: Usain Bolt. There is no doubt that he is the best. He can say it himself and he knows that EVERYONE across the world will “jus’ lif’ up dem han’” in his famous pose. Sorry, I had to go Jamaican lingo on that one. Usain qualifies on all three levels.

WHAT IS BEST BRINGS JOY It is an extremely joyful experience when we can identify that there is something great among us. Because we know who is the Source of giftings, true ability and excellence, there is a deep satisfaction that, within the Kingdom of God, there are those who have made it their dedicated life work to express the best of what God has put within them. As an artistic and creative person, it would be the most depressive and ungodly experience to look across that divide between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God, and be unable to identify in His Kingdom anything that is ‘the best’. We all like the idea that we are associated with extremely high levels of goodness and achievement. It’s so inspirational to be up and close to ‘the best’, to invest in ‘the best’ and to follow ‘the best’. It doesn’t mean the rest is ‘rubbish’; it’s just that they haven’t reached the levels I mentioned above. Those who know will tell you it’s extremely hard, sacrificing work to be AND stay among the best. The best people are that because of their anointing, love, passion and dedication.

Usain Bolt


GOSPEL NEWS 15

Charles Koranteng

GuvnaB

Muyiwa Olarewaju

Bazil Meade

Noel Robinson

Tolu Adepegba

IDENTIFYING THE BEST ENCOURAGES FUTURE BEST We are talking about art and craft, skill and ability. We are also speaking of legacy and continuity. It’s simple logic, really. If you want to keep seeing greatness in the future generations, they must have a model or framework to see it, and to be able to work within an environment that seeks and acknowledges ‘the best’. Don’t bring up that question: ‘Is a person born with greatness or made?’ That’s a different argument. I’m focusing on the fact that, if we are not willing to identify specifically and explicitly the standard-bearers and beacons of our music, others will presume there are none OR take the titles and use them as they will. That bothers me. That really causes concern.

WHY ARE WE SO SCARED TO SAY? I think we are scared to say who’s the best for three key reasons. The first is because we don’t consider it the ‘Christian thing to do’. Secondly, we fail to provide factual-based evidence about ourselves. This includes record sales, work rate achievements. For some reason, we are scared to share data, not realising it is robbing us of validation within our own scene and how we are perceived outside of it. Remember, I said we need at least two out of three factors to qualify for being ‘the best’. Credible reasons for saying something is ‘the best’ is based on facts we know to be unassailable. Let me highlight this point a bit more. In the USA, when Christian and gospel music had no sales data, they were ignored by the wider music industry. Everybody was going around performing live, selling records, appearing in the gospel media. They knew, based on these things, that it was great music… but there were no hard, measurable facts. As soon as the retail music stores and others began to have sales legitimately recorded through the music industry platform, SoundScan, data came through that artists like Kirk Franklin were selling 500,000 units. As they counted up the number of sales across all the gospel artists, they realised the industry was actually turning over millions of dollars. It galvanised the scene. In poured more financial investment by major labels; greater exposure on media platforms; higher respect and the ability for gospel industry strategists to grow the sector. Audiences swelled into the general public and not just the church market. More people started to listen to gospel and go to church. The audiences rallied behind their favourites, and the mega tours began. Admittedly, more recently things have changed on the US scene. Nonetheless, if we in the UK can realise the importance of this point and change our attitude and ways of operating, we would be shocked to see the transformation we can bring to our scene. The third reason is linked to the second, because in our media we don’t make a habit of declaring lists of who is ‘the best’. This is changing, but we are not quite there yet. My guess is that it’s largely because we don’t want to be viewed as being partial as we all know each other quite well. Do you think I’m wrong about that?

WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY WHO’S THE BEST? When it comes to INDUSTRY STANDARDS, anyone who is an established, credible source within the field should be able to say “This is the best” and it be received with respect and accepted. A credible source is one that has a proven public track record and/or comprises of professional and knowledgeable individuals of note. Writers like Marcia Dixon and Yinka Awojobi are just two of the individuals who, based on knowledge, reputation and experience, can compile credible lists. These are the people who can dub artists with titles like ‘Queen’, ‘King’, ‘Prince’, ‘Godfather’ or ‘Mother’. Truth is, you can have more than one in any field - as is true in real life. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously, though :-) #letothersblowyourtrumpet. It’s what others say - not the artist themselves: “Hi everybody. I’m your King of Gospel.” Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

WHO’S BEST IN UK GOSPEL? Well, I’m taking myself a little seriously by putting pressure on myself to close this article in sweet controversy by naming my ‘Who’s Best in UK Gospel’. Based on my criteria, it’s those I see who were visible, working and achieving in 2016, and those I can see forging a path for themselves in 2017. I could have easily listed more, but I wanted to be hard on myself and restricted myself to five in each category. So, in no particular order:

Some have spread themselves across a variety of choral groupings in different settings - both culturally and geographically. Music Producers: Evans Ogboi, Ian Green, Ibe ‘Giantkiller’ Otah, Paul Watson, Adrian Moore. Music producers have been critical to a lot of album successes in 2016 (not forgetting the engineers). There are others, but these are the ones I’ve chosen with current product(s) that have had a very good rating. Influencers: Marcia Dixon, O’Neil Dennis, Audrey Gray, Roger Moore, Charles Koranteng. These are individuals, who are continually pushing the boundaries of thought and view. They have something to say, keep in touch at grass roots behind the scenes, and communicate it regularly up front through some significant means or other. Radio Presenters: Yinka Awojobi, LadyT, DaveP, Lavinia Goddard and Adaeze Chiwoko. Radio presenters are a bit like Influencers, with the advantage of speaking to us every day and driving our interest in the scene. I admire these folks greatly for their consistency and for the excitement they bring to the table.

Artists: GuvnaB, Lurine Cato, London Community Gospel Choir, Muyiwa Olarewaju, Noel Robinson. These five are obviously and certainly operating at the top of their genre style - prime examples in song, deed and action.

Ones to Watch 2017: Aaron T Aaron, Andrew Bello, A-Star, Jason Nicholson-Porter, Sarah Téibo. In this mix, I’ve placed those who have been around a little while and seem to be preparing for something special. I think they could develop into being among ‘the best’; they’ve got quality music and really should find that strategy to take it up to that next level this year. Where talent ends, strategy begins to help someone be among ‘the best’.

Choir Directors: Ken Burton, Karen Gibson, Bazil Meade, Volney Morgan, Wayne Ellington. My choir director list focused on those who have a profile and are shaping choir sounds.

So now you know a few of those who, I believe, number among our best. But, if you want to see my real list, get in touch. LOL! www.keepthefaith.co.uk


16 IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Channel 4 #Spies

Thursdays 9pm

M

y name is Marlene, and I am a resident of Waltham Forest. I am also a trainee spy… not really! However, I am a part of the brand new reality series, Spies, on Channel 4. This four-part series explains that I, along with 15 others, had been selected for our ‘exceptional aptitude and potential to become a spy’. The show sees us being tested using methods that include kidnap simulation, gun handling, surveillance, anti-surveillance, ethical hacking and manipulation techniques on both the UK and foreign soil… all in an attempt to ascertain whether or not we had what it took to make it in the world of espionage. This show was advertised widely across the UK, and so all selected candidates had heard about it via different means. Personally, I saw the training programme advertised online and applied that way. The selection process was

gruelling, and encompassed several interviews and tests - on and off camera - before I was finally accepted. Would you believe, an old acquaintance of mine was even contacted, visited, filmed and asked to give a character reference for me, as part of the vetting process? For me, this process was intense and difficult but undeniably character building and extremely exciting. I remember feeling my heart beat faster than usual several times, especially during an anti-surveillance task, where I had to detect and identify whether or not I was being followed and by whom, giving a detailed description. We were advised to isolate ourselves from family and friends; this was tough, as I had to be away from my husband and children. Perhaps the hardest part of this process for me was being away from them. However, it was also important that I remained focused and contributed my

best efforts, that they were well cared for and rooting for me at home. In 2009, I studied Criminology at university, and chose this course because the study of people and behaviour fascinated me. I was particularly interested in understanding what different variants make people tick, and why people commit specific types of crimes. Since studying, I have invested a lot of time looking into crime prevention research methods that focus on how to reduce crime across particular social groups.

ss ‘For me, this proce was intense and iably difficult but unden and g character buildin g.’ ti extremely exci n This curiosity of the ‘unknown world’ around criminal justice, I feel, formed part of the appeal for me to take part in this reality series. Being part of the show motivated me to look at crime in a different way, considering potential weaknesses within an infrastructure, as opposed to putting single focus on ‘the criminal’. There are people who will offend if they are given the opportunity. Perhaps, as a society, we could put our efforts into removing those opportunities: “Is a car thief 100% at fault, if we leave the car unlocked with the keys in the ignition?” Since being on the show, I have considered a career adjustment and have re-enrolled into higher education. I am now completing an MSc in Security Management and Fraud Prevention, so I guess ‘reality TV’ can be inspiring, despite international consensus. A common question I have been asked since the airing of the show is:.”What happens next week?” And my answer is: “Aha…. Well…. I would love to tell you, but if I did I’d have to kill you.” Kidding, obviously… or am I? (I’ve always wanted to say that! )

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Andrew Wommack, internationally known bible teacher with more than 40 years’ experience and founder of Andrew Wommack Ministries & Charis Bible College. In Andrew’s new book, Living in God’s Best: Don’t Settle for Less, he tackles the hard questions that most Christians are too uncomfortable to ask: Why do some Christians seem to live in poverty when their heavenly Father is rich? Why are many Christians sick when Jesus is the Great Physician? Why do some believers live from crisis to crisis when Jesus is the Prince of Peace? In the chapters of Andrew’s new book, you’ll find out how to shift from living “need to need” to living in a state of ongoing well-being. Take up your residence in a place Jesus has prepared just for you. If asked, most Christians would say they want God’s will for their lives. But which is better: divine healing and provision or divine health and prosperity? If you live in divine health and prosperity, you won’t need a miracle to get healed or an intervention from God to pay your bills.

A miracle is not a sign of prosperity. A miracle is not a sign of prosperity. Think of it this way: Would you rather own a car that you can drive or call an ambulance to come get you? A ride in an ambulance usually means there’s a crisis. If you can’t see the difference between the two, that may be one reason you only recognize God’s goodness when you reach a crisis, instead of truly living in His best. Most Christians live in a place where it’s just a matter of time before there’s a crisis in their lives and they need a miracle. You might think it would be wonderful to go from miracle to miracle, but that means you’d also be going from crisis to crisis!

Living in God’s best can become a lifestyle—a permanent address rather than somewhere you long to go on vacation to escape the pressures of life. In the pages of Andrew’s new book, you’ll learn to live in freedom, raise your expectations, and be persuaded that living in the blessing is better than receiving an occasional miracle. Miracles are great when you need one, but

Miracles are great when you need one. you weren’t meant to continually get by on them. God wants to change where you live. Let Andrew’s new book show you how! Purchase your book today.

To get this book, and for more teaching and other free resources, visit our website: www.awme.net or call

our Helpline: 01922 473300


18 INTERVIEW

TAMELA MANN ‘God Provides’

Few entertainers today can match the unbridled energy and creative passion that Tamela Mann brings to her multi-faceted career. An acclaimed actress, NAACP Image Award nominee and Dove Award-winning vocalist - as well as wife and mother - Tamela’s talent has helped anchor one of the industry’s most successful film, TV and theatrical franchises, while her amazing vocal gift is at the top of her impressive resumé. BY MILTON B ALLEN GLOBAL MUSIC LINK

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H

er positive, life-affirming attitude is not only the focal point of Tamela’s latest chart-topping album, ‘One Way’; it’s at the heart of everything she does. Whether she’s starring in a film, a play or on television with her husband, David, in the successful BET series, ‘It’s a Mann’s World’, or their latest comedy series on Bounce TV, ‘Mann & Wife’, or recording a Dove Award-winning album, the singer continually touches people with her impressive talent and her Christlike spirit. “On ‘One Way’, I wanted to do something different; I didn’t want to be put in a box,” says Tamela. “Like the Scripture says: ‘Become all things to all men to win some’, so I wanted to come with just a different side of me to win people for the Kingdom.” Both ‘One Way’ and the single, ‘God Provides’, have catapulted to the top of the Billboard Gospel charts, where they each held No 1 positions. “Preparing for this album was, yes, a lot of pressure for me and the company (Tillymann). Not that we are chasing to try to do what we did on the last record, ‘Best Days’, but what are we going to do to be bigger and better in striving again to reach the masses? On this go-round, Kirk Franklin has written another song for me, entitled ‘God Provides’. What came to him is

that he had been going through some different things and thinking about life, like all of us do. He said he was asleep and the Lord woke him up and said, ‘God provides’. He said he went to the piano and the words kept coming to him.” ‘One Way’, Tamela’s fourth solo studio album, is a diverse collection of songs that will inspire listeners. For the first time, Tamela’s executive production team is a family affair, helmed by Tamela, her husband and business partner, actor David Mann, and son, David Mann Jr. ‘One Way’ is produced by the acclaimed Myron Butler and David Mann. The album’s all-star guest producer credits, in addition to Franklin, include: Eric Dawkins, King Logan, Shaun Martin and Timbaland. Standout songs include the old-school vibe, up-tempo debut single, ‘One Way’, written and produced by Dawkins; the powerfully emotion-filled track, ‘Potter’, written by Travis Greene and, of course, ‘God Provides’, written by Tamela’s ‘Take Me to The King’ writer/producer, Kirk Franklin. ‘One Way’ marks a remarkable departure for Tamela, with the inclusion of Timbaland’s production and writing of ‘Through It All’. According to ABC News: “Timbaland may seem like a wild-card for the gospel icon, but working with the

R&B producer proved to be an inspiring experience for Mann.” Tamela’s take is: “Wow, us coming together in the studio… I think it turned out pretty amazing for us to come together from two different worlds, and to come together and put the message out that, through it all, through all we’ve done, we have learned to trust Jesus, and He ain’t failed us yet.”

project spawned three consecutive chart-topping singles, including the track that has sold nearly one million copies – ‘Take Me To The King’, which Mann performed across the country on tour, and on television shows, such as The View, BET Awards, Stellar Awards, Dove Awards, and on the Gospel Music PBS White House special, before the President and Mrs Obama.

“...I’ve learned to put my life in order: God first, my marriage, then my family, and everything else will fall into place.” ‘One Way’ highlights the latest God-inspired achievement of an amazing career. The chart-topping vocalist’s success encompasses TV, theatre, film and music. Her 2012 album, ‘Best Days’, debuted at No 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart and No 14 on the all-genre Billboard Top 200. Mann earned the Stellar Award for Best Female Gospel Artist of the Year, along with seven additional Stellars in 2014, as well as Best Gospel Artist at the 2014 BET Awards. ‘Best Days’ was certified gold, and set an industry and personal record for Mann. The

Tamela has been often asked how she balances her life as an actress, singer and performer with family. “First, I make my marriage a priority,” she says. “It gets focused attention over everything, and I’ve learned to put my life in order: God first, my marriage, then my family, and everything else will fall into place.” Her journey is not unlike that of any other woman in this world. “I would encourage women to hold on to their faith, and with God all things are possible even in the struggles - because with God, we always win.”

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20 INTERVIEW

CRAZY FAITH

PASTOR TO THE BILLIONAIRES BY PATRICK CAMPBELL

O

ver the past 20 years or so I have worked with some fascinating characters: from Hollywood royalty to real royalty; pop stars to politicians; presidents and prime ministers; sporting heroes, superstar celebrities, captains of industry and everything in between. I have heard every sort of story, told by every type of person, but I can truly say that I have never heard a story like that of Esther Abimbola Ajayi, nor have I ever met anyone like her. There is a good chance that you have never heard of Rev Esther Abimbola Ajayi either, but something tells me that over the next couple of months this is about to change. She is embarking on a full-frontal assault on culture: releasing her book, CRAZY FAITH; building a new church; launching a new website; setting up an online fitness community, aimed at Christian women; launching a TV series about her life… Phew! When you first meet Rev Esther, you are immediately struck by her energy; she has real ‘swagga’. Not in an arrogant, look-at-me kind of way, but with a self-confidence born out of a clarity of purpose and identity. She bounds into the room like a ‘force of nature’, and her conversations are punctuated with “It is going to happen at some point!” and “God is in it”. Though in her 50s, with little or no presence on the newer social platforms, she is tailor-made for the Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat generation, possessing a natural ability to convert her many thoughts and ideas into tweets and sound bites. Her strong, almost forceful personality is disarmingly counterbalanced by her million-watt smile and hearty laugh. “Laughter is good medicine,” she says. “You will always see me laughing in pictures.” Despite her countenance, you are left in no doubt what her viewpoints are on any given subject; she is either black or white with no shades of grey. When she says God will do it, it is abundantly clear she means it, and it is this deep reservoir of faith that allows her to speak so unequivocally about what God is doing and going to do in her life. OWNING THE CATHEDRAL I first met Rev Esther at her church, Love of Christ Generation C&S Church, in Clapham. (The C&S stands

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INTERVIEW 21

for Cherubim and Seraphim). Rev Esther is proud of her church; it’s an impressive listed building. The interior design is immaculate; the sound and vision set-up is state-of-the-art, and it’s clear they have cut no corners in creating a modern but warm character-filled place of worship. As I walk around, being a keen property wannabe, I start to do some mental calculations in my head, and think to myself that it must have cost a major fortune to do what they have done. I came straight out and asked the question: “What did this place cost?” Without missing a beat, Rev Esther tells me: “It cost over five million pounds to buy and renovate. It was bought cash. No mortgage.” How on earth could they afford to buy a building like this - in cash - and afford to renovate it? She proceeded to tell me the extraordinary story of how they came to own the building. “We started the church in our home - our living room, lounge, kitchen… you name it. First it was just us, then we added a family, then another and we grew from there. We couldn’t afford the mortgage on our house, so we moved out and rented somewhere. Again, church continued in our home, until someone complained about the noise and we moved onto another place. “Things had got pretty bad for us financially. I couldn’t afford to even rent a house or flat anymore, so we ended up living out of cheap hotels and B&Bs. It was awful for my two daughters and me. Even though we were living in a hotel room, we continued to worship and have church. The problem was that people weren’t willing to have faith in a pastor who was living out of a suitcase, so I started praying for a church building. “I thought to myself, ‘Imagine, I come from a well-off family back home in Nigeria, and here I am, living in a bed & breakfast in Romford.’” THE POWER OF PRAYER “I believe in the power of prayer, that prayer changes things. I’ve seen it happen in my own life and in the lives of others. I told everyone I encountered that I wanted a church. If you asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I would tell you, ‘My cathedral.’ I continued to pray and trust God for the church. “Someone shared a vision with me that the church would be mine, and would have a number three in its address. Through a set of circumstances, I was led to an empty church in Romford, and the number of the address was 333. This had to be it. “I went back and told the few remaining members still with us. We were excited.” As she recounts the events, her face lights up. “That year, I had been to a Mike Murdock conference, and he said that you should print a picture of your prayer request and put it around your home. So I did. I took pictures of the church, and stuck them all over my house. “Another vision came that I should walk outside the church and pray. How long should I do it? No time limit. So, I did. I prayed in the sun. I prayed in the rain. I prayed in the week. I prayed

at weekends. I prayed on my own. I prayed with my family. I felt like Joshua and Jericho! “Do you know how long I walked and prayed in front of that church? Over seven years, and guess what? Nothing happened regarding the church, but there is one thing that did happen: one by one, the members left and I was left with one member… my daughter’s best friend. “One evening I got a call from someone who was asking for prayer. I remember the call as if it were 10 minutes ago. The person shared their heart and I began to pray. For some reason, I was prompted to call on the various names of God: Emmanuel, El Shaddai, Adonai, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha… At the end of the prayer, the person told me that nobody had ever prayed for them like that.” That encounter would lead to Rev Esther’s life, the lives her family, and the lives of countless others being changed beyond belief. Rev Esther soon found out the person she had prayed for was an influential figure within the Nigerian society. The lady would later call on Rev Esther for prayer again, this time at her home. Rev Esther poured out her heart in prayer and, again, called on the different names of God. “After I finished praying, she told me that she thought I had been reading a list the first time. She seemed amazed. She then saw the pictures of the church I had been praying for, and asked about it. I explained the whole story. “When I answered her questions, she said something very profound. ‘For someone who has the faith to call on the names of God like you did, and to pray outside of a church for over seven years, I think the church that you are looking for is not big enough. I think you need to trust God for something bigger. Start looking for a bigger church.’ “That was the conversation that led to the lady buying the church in cash and paying for its full refurbishment. No mortgage, no loan, no nothing! And that’s why I have ‘Crazy Faith’, because I knew that God was going to give me a church so that I could build His Kingdom. What I didn’t know was just how outrageous the blessing would be!” WEALTH With such sudden and great wealth, I expected to find a woman basking in the glow of conspicuous

consumption. I was surprised to see that her home - the vicarage at the back of the church - is tastefully but modestly decorated. “It is not nice to be poor. I don’t like it. Nobody should be poor. Money is energy. When you have money, you can make things happen. You walk a different way, talk a different way. You can give in a different way. I can bless people in a way that can change their lives. Giving is so important to me.” She gives as if her life depended on it. Giving helps to define and shape who she is and how she is, and she gives freely, liberally and without reservation – evident to anyone who has spent any time with her. She recounts a recent service, where members of the church were ‘blessed’ with life-changing amounts of money, based according to their need. I immediately thought of those legendary Oprah Winfrey shows, where the entire audience were given cars. Because she has received such extraordinary blessing and change in her personal circumstances, she sees it as her duty to share her blessing. PRAYER AND THE PHONE I have observed that there are two true constants in Rev Esther’s life, which are never far from her hands or from her lips: prayer and her phone. She is always on the phone, and I don’t mean it in a ‘she-uses-it-a-lot’ kind of way. I mean, she is literally always on the phone. And… she is always praying. Seeing her praying on her phone is a sight to behold, almost as though the phone is an extension of her being - the perfect balance between woman, device and purpose, which is to facilitate prayer. “I used to be a very successful businesswoman, running my own furniture manufacturing company. The Lord clearly showed me that I had to leave the business world behind; I would need to make prayer my focus, and I would never need for anything ever again. I’d like to say that I was immediately obedient, but the truth is, I tried several ventures but nothing worked. It wasn’t until I completely gave myself over to God’s work that everything changed. Prayer is my thing.”


22 FEATURE

ESTHER KUKU

is presenter of Premier Gospel’s Family Hour, which airs every Saturday from 11am-12pm

Preparing for marriage - the Ruth & Boaz way A

pparently, we are living in the age, where it’s fine for women to approach men and pursue relationships with them. Wrong. During one of my radio shows, a man said that he was being inundated with women lining up to be his wife. Another young man implied it’s time for women to ask guys out, and that men being the sole instigators of pursuing relationships was ‘old school’. Let’s talk about this. But first, a whistle-stop tour through a biblical story of love, loyalty and commitment… Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, leads to a beautiful romance that sees her becoming part of the lineage of Christ. In Israel, the barley harvest began in spring. Ruth was a poor foreigner (having left her own family and nation), with few prospects, but managed to secure a job gleaning the grain left by the harvesters. It ‘just so happened’ that the field belonged to Boaz - a well regarded businessman - who was intrigued by Ruth and her hard work, and did some digging around to find out more about her. He was impressed by Ruth’s reputation: “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, how you left your father and mother and your homeland, and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

you for what you have done.” Her faithfulness and commitment were about to bring favour her way. We know how this ends. Ruth does well to be guided by Naomi, and prepares herself for a divine encounter with Boaz. This sees her strategically positioning herself at his feet and asking for his covering: “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer” (Ruth 3:9).

‘One other thing: don’t have sex with someone you are not married to; it will damage both of you.’

Ruth was boldly asking Boaz for a pledge from him to marry her. Her action was in accordance with the law of levirate marriage, which required the initiative of the widow in seeking the marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5, 7-10). The role Ruth plays on the threshing floor should not be interpreted as meaning that women today can pursue men and ask for their hand in marriage. This is to take this passage out of context. Boaz had a relationship with the family of Ruth’s husband, and this meant fulfilling certain obligations to Ruth as his relative’s widow. These obligations included: ‘redemption’ of family property; protection of the widow from poverty and, in certain

unique contexts, marriage to a male relative’s widow. Boaz even suggested there was someone else with a closer connection to her family, with ‘first refusal’. He was a good man and followed protocol. What Ruth is not doing on the threshing floor is asking Boaz out for dinner because she wants him. Her boldness was triggered only by the cultural tradition of her time. She is asking for Boaz to bring her under the authority of his house, to redeem her from poverty, because of that pre-existing family relationship. A much closer modern-day comparison would be a woman asking her father, pastor or a couple in her church to guide her in finding a spouse, so she is protected in that season of preparation for marriage, and isn’t derailed. This is a very good idea, and allows us to follow protocol. It is not ‘old fashioned’. People who care for us and have walked the road of courtship (or dating, whichever terminology you prefer) will see the positive and the negative traits in a person’s character that we may not see. Age has no relevance here; a person declaring to be ‘in love’ at 55 can be just as deceived confusing love with lust or infatuation - as someone who is 25. What we can derive and replicate from Ruth is her loyalty, commitment and obedience. If she hadn’t listened to Naomi,

she could have missed her destiny. If she didn’t have a good work ethic, and hadn’t been strategically positioned, she could have missed her destiny. If Boaz had done his groundwork on her, and had discovered she was rude and had been going from one failed relationship to the next… well, we serve a merciful God. No matter how hard she worked in that field, however, Boaz may have chosen someone else. Remember, he had a reputation to protect. These are the qualities we can learn from Ruth, and pray for God to instil in us, so we too can be ready and well positioned for marriage. One other thing: don’t have sex with someone you are not married to; it will damage both of you. You will enter that arena of lust, which means your decision-making will be completely compromised.


Don’t do it! Men and women, you are worth the wait! This leads me right back to the point of modernday dating. It’s wise to set patterns in dating that will serve you well in marriage, especially if you accept the notion that the purpose of a dating relationship is to find and evaluate a potential spouse. A man holds the role of priest and provider in marriage; he is to lead the way. Women, if you don’t allow him to ‘find you’, which is the biblical direction we are given, I guarantee you when the going gets tough in your marriage - and it will - both sides will wonder whether God had spoken. Women, who tend to be more emotional than men, will start asking themselves: “I did all the chasing, so did this guy even love me in the first place?” Men may ask themselves: “Why didn’t I have the courage to go after that sister I really wanted?” Deep, I know - but it happens. And, marriages have ended. May I say it was wonderful being pursued by my husband. His love for me was unquestionable, and his proposal of marriage was quick. I wasn’t kept hanging around for years, wondering whether it was going to happen and wasting my time. Sorry, men, but a man who isn’t confident to ‘hunt’ and find a wife is still a boy. Women, be careful. If he is not comfortable hunting - just because he has been rejected before - how do you know he will provide for you, once the honeymoon period has worn off?

That is why I prefer the term ‘courtship’. It implies a system where appropriate others judge and assess a relationship based on all the evidence given from both sides. It allows for a level of interrogation that can confirm a relationship to be right, but can also flag up any obvious future challenges.

‘Sorry, men, but a man who isn’t confident to ‘hunt’ and find a wife is still a boy.’

As mentioned earlier, this process should be conducted by those closest to us in positions of authority - not someone who you consider to be a friend, but who secretly wants the person you are with for themselves! (That could be a relative, too – so be careful.) I have been quite frank. Why? Because we are at the start of a year, and I care that we get this process of preparing for marriage right. It will mean happier marriages and fewer divorces. There is a very subtle deception based on the notion that a woman waiting and preparing herself to be swept off her feet is ‘old fashioned’. I profoundly disagree. Rather, it is biblical and wonderful, too. Plus, it is the stuff all great movies are made of - my favourite being Pretty Woman, so there you go. God bless you, and have an awesome 2017. www.keepthefaith.co.uk


Do people come to you when they need support? Do you have a heart for counselling?

W

averley Abbey College is the educational arm of CWR, a Christian ministry that is known for helping people to apply God’s Word to everyday life and relationships. Over the last 30 years, CWR has pioneered and developed an expertise in counselling that now enables the college to lead the way in Christian counselling training. The unique combination of key models of counselling is based on the Waverley Integrative Framework – a world-view that considers all human beings as created in God’s image with a longing for security, self-worth and significance. These needs are quite often not sufficiently met in life, leaving people feeling empty or dissatisfied. A sympathetic listening ear is always appreciated, but sometimes people need more. This is the point where counselling, particularly if it is based on a Christian world-view, can become a real life-changer for good. Training options at Waverley Abbey College vary from a five-day course to a four-year Higher Education programme. You can even start with just one day! The CWR Christ Empowered Living course explores the life issues of security, self-worth and significance in just one day of teaching. For many people, the popular Introduction to Biblical Care and Counselling course (or IBCC) is the starting point that leads them on to further study on a Higher Education programme.

Introduction to Biblical Care and Counselling

This five-day course teaches basic counselling principles within a Christian context. It is designed for anyone who wants to learn about themselves and how to help others effectively, no matter how much or little previous knowledge and experience they have. It is a reflective course – interactive and personal, using a combination of practical methods and theory. Topics include: • The biblical basis for care and counselling • Reasons and causes for problems • Developing basic listening skills • A clear framework for the counselling process After the five days you will be able to: • Listen more effectively • Help people better in everyday life • Be more confident in communicating with people who are struggling • Help others in your small group and church • Be a more insightful member of your pastoral care team • Decide if more advanced counselling training is for you

Higher Education

For those who already feel confident that advanced-level counselling training is for them, we have programmes available to suit various levels of entry, from undergraduate to postgraduate, and continuous professional development (CPD) for trained counsellors. Courses run part time.

Personal qualified support and professional memberships

All Waverley Abbey College students are assigned a personal tutor, offering the opportunity to talk about experiences of studying, as well as providing prayer support. All tutors are well qualified and experienced, many having their own counselling practice, which allows for the latest theories and skills to be taught. Staff also contribute to research and professional learning by authoring books, chapters or papers, and regularly present at national and international conferences. Waverley Abbey College is an organisational member of the British Association for Counselling

Find a Counsellor The ‘Find a Counsellor’ online directory helps you find a Waverley Abbey College trained counsellor in your area and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC). The Higher Education programmes are university validated and our graduate numbers continue to grow every year. For those who have never studied at Higher Education level before, the one-day Study Skills workshop helps to prepare and encourage students in the basics of academic study, and provides an opportunity to strengthen their academic writing skills.

Locations

Training is offered at two stunning locations: Waverley Abbey House in Surrey, and Pilgrim Hall in East Sussex. Pilgrim Hall is set in tranquil countryside close to Uckfield, and provides a great setting for learning. Students enjoy walking in the extensive grounds to reflect on their learning, and even benefit from an outdoor heated pool during the summer months. Waverley Abbey House is a beautiful Grade II* listed Georgian house located in the midst of peaceful scenery near Farnham. With beautiful lecture rooms steeped in history, the house is set in spacious grounds beside a lake and the ancient Waverley Abbey ruins. Why not book your free place on one of the next Open Days today?


Leading the way in Christian counselling training Introduction to Biblical Care and Counselling (five-day course) Understand yourself and others better and learn to listen more effectively. • Mon–Fri, 27–31 March 2017 (PH) • Mon–Fri, 26–30 June 2017 (PH) • Mon–Fri, 14–18 August 2017 (WAH) • Mon–Fri, 13–17 November 2017 (WAH)

Undergraduate Waverley Certificate of Christian Counselling Equips students with a foundational knowledge of counselling and provides a pathway to the BA (Hons) Counselling programme for those without formal qualifications. BA (Hons) Counselling Equips students to work towards professional accreditation with a professional body.*

Postgraduate Open Days Sat 4 February 2017 (WAH) Sat 22 April 2017 (PH) Sat 27 May 2017 (PH) Sat 24 June 2017 (WAH) Pilgrim Hall (PH) Waverley Abbey House (WAH)

MA Counselling For graduates who have a certificate in counselling or equivalent and wish to qualify as professional counsellors. MA Relational Counselling and Psychotherapy For practising counsellors. *awarding accredited status is at the discretion of the professional body

For more information or to register for an Open Day, call 01252 784731 or visit www.waverleyabbeycollege.ac.uk

www.waverleyabbeycollege.ac.uk All Higher Education programmes are subject to validation.

QAA Reviewed Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

Waverley Abbey College is the Education Division of CWR


26 FEATURE

Real relationship goals! EUGENE JORDAN

is the founder of the ‘Men and Marriage’ blog. @IamEuGeneJordan www.menandmarriage.com

R

elationship goals! That’s been the buzzword of 2016, but who’s setting these unrealistic bars of perfection that not even those on the perfectly framed Instagram pics can achieve with any level of consistency? As we kick-start 2017, I wanted to share just four simple, realistic and very practical relationship goals that should hopefully alleviate some of the damaging pressures we often put upon our relationships and marriages. GOAL #1 Find your collective purpose Is it important to establish a greater purpose for your union? This may seem like a silly question to even ask, but think about it. Beyond some of our innate human desires - like having sex and attaining a sense of belonging - what greater purpose does our union with our spouse fulfil? Who else benefits from our relationships? Sometimes we look at our relationships from an insular perspective. Rather than thinking about what we can get out of the relationship, perhaps our goal should be to reflect on who else can become beneficiaries of our union. How does your relationship impact your partner and your greater circle of influence? There is a greater purpose in giving, so consider what your marriage will provide for your children and even your community. GOAL #2 Become bilingual love communicators I travelled to Paris for the weekend and, being British, I just expected my English to be widely accepted wherever I went. However, to my surprise, many of the locals refused to engage in a conversation with me unless I at least tried to speak their language. “Why would they be so difficult?” I found this a bit rude. However, after some thought I discovered that, in fact, I was the one being rude. I had made no effort to connect with them using a language they were well versed in. Men and woman are no different. We communicate and feel love in different ways. I read a book called ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman, and learned that we can express and receive love in many different ways (love languages) and, because of this fact, it’s important to never assume your spouse speaks the same language of love that you do. Learning a love language is not a million miles away from learning to speak French:

you start with a few basic words/actions to get by, but then you have to push the limits by trying to converse. Sometimes we’ll get a few words wrong and look a bit of a fool, but at least you’re one step closer to your goal of becoming more fluent in a language that is foreign to you. I’m rubbish with foreign languages, however my goal is to remain committed to becoming a bilingual communicator of love. For now... je parle un peu.

‘...make it your personal goal to surround yourself with happily married couples who care about the institute of marriage.’ GOAL #3 Connect with married couples Research has shown that men and women with close friends or siblings who are divorced are more likely to experience a break-up in their own marriages, than if they had happily married friends. This would seem to make common sense. If you hang out with people who are nonchalant about cheating on their partners, you will eventually become desensitised to this issue, and find nothing wrong or maybe even sympathise. You become the company you keep. On the other hand, when your social circle mainly consists of long-term, happily married couples, it then helps to provide a more positive view of marriage and can even help positively influence your own union. I never had too many friends before, but now I find that most of the friends I do have are happily married. This is very intentional, as I find them to be a great source of inspiration. It’s also great to know you have genuine friends that are

in your corner, against a world doing everything in its power to separate us from our vows. Whether you’re married or not, this year, make it your personal goal to surround yourself with happily married couples who care about the institute of marriage. GOAL #4 Read and pray together When you do things together you start to share common traits. Take fast food, for example. If you and your spouse eat junk food every day, then you will both eventually grow overweight together. Whatever you do together will eventually sync your desires, so when you read and pray together you become not only more in sync with God, but also with one another, too. When my wife and I spend time in the morning reading and praying together, I’ve found it has a positive effect that permeates throughout the day. When it becomes a goal to pursue the kind of relationship that God intended for us, not only do we begin to mature spiritually and, in many cases, intellectually, but we also begin to encourage one another in the Word and in prayer. This is one of the most selfless acts we can do for our spouse: to demonstrate our love. Staying in love is becoming increasingly difficult for most – especially in a world where unrealistic relationship goals bombard our timelines and where comparisons continually cripple marriages. We can change that! If you’re married, well... you have enrolled as an ambassador of marriage, so let’s start to re-establish some #RealRelationshipGoals that provide a holistic perspective on marriage and a sense of realism that flies in the face of the current status quo.


218.1

Could you adopt a child like me? Many of our children who need adoption are over four years old, are part of a sibling group or come from a minority ethnic background. We would like to hear from you if you think you could offer a home to our children. Please contact us if you would like to attend our next information event to find out more. Attendance must be booked in advance. Register your interest, either by freephoning 0800 781 2332, or by emailing adoption@rbkc.gov.uk.

Thursday 23 March 2017 Adoption information morning 10am - 12noon Westminster City Hall Victoria Street London SW1E 6QP

Any questions?

Freephone 0800 781 2332 Email adoption@rbkc.gov.uk Visit /adoptionandfostering For more events visit www.lbhf.gov.uk www.rbkc.gov.uk www.westminster.gov.uk

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


28 FEATURE

Celebrating Black women of influence

Pastor Yemisi Ashimolowo

BY MARCIA DIXON

Over the years, the Christian faith has both inspired and empowered Black Christian women to utilise to the fullest their God-given talents to be the best that they can be, and achieve. Because of this serve-God-with-excellence attitude, the Christian community is filled with Black women who have influence and are making an impact - both within and outside the Church - in spheres of society. Keep The Faith has compiled a list of influential Black Christian women. Some are active in the Church, and others have made their presence felt in the worlds of business, enterprise, charity and media. Let us have your thoughts and, if you know of women who should have been on the list, drop us a line and let us know who they are; what they do, and why you consider them to be a woman of influence.

PASTOR YEMISI ASHIMOLOWO

RUTH YIMIKA AWOGBADE

POSITION: Resident Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre and head of KICC’s Winning Women ministry REASON FOR INFLUENCE: KICC remains one of the largest and well known churches in the UK. As wife of KICC’s founder, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Pastor Yemisi has worked alongside her husband to build the church. She can regularly be heard preaching on KICC’s TV programmes, and she also runs KICC’s prolific Women’s department, Winning Women. Their ministry events regularly attract thousands.

POSITION: Founding Editor of Magnify magazine REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Ruth Yimika Awogbade is one of the growing band of young Christian women, who are innovatively using media to share Gospel values. She launched Magnify magazine in 2008 to provide young readers with the opportunity to engage with faith, fashion and feminism in a culturally relevant way. She recently became the youngest person to ever sit on the board of the Evangelical Alliance (EA), the representative body for over 1 million Christians.

Pastor Yvonne Brooks

PASTOR YVONNE BROOKS

Ruth Yimika Awogbade

Lurine Cato

POSITION: Co-pastor at New Jerusalem Church, Birmingham, and Founder and Director of Women of Purpose Ministries REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Pastor Brooks co-pastors one of the largest Black majority churches in Birmingham: New Jerusalem Church. This former mental health nurse and qualified Behavioural Consultant also leads Women of Purpose Ministries (WOPM), which is committed to sharing Gospel values to women across the world. WOPM hosts an annual conference, and runs Esther’s Academy, a course designed to empower women in all areas of their lives. It is now operational in several sites across the UK and in some African nations. Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine

Antonia Burrell


FEATURE 29

Charmaine Noble-McLean

ANTONIA BURRELL

REV DR KATE COLEMAN

POSITION: Founder, Antonia Burrell REASON FOR INFLUENCE: One woman making a mark in the beauty world is Antonia Burrell. She is the first woman in the world to produce her own skincare system made of 100% natural ingredients, which is sold worldwide. Antonia is also highly regarded by beauty editors for her skills as a facialist - she is a BABTAC-accredited practitioner - and serves as an associate lecturer in the ‘Chemistry of Aromatherapy’ at the London College of Fashion. Such is the impact Antonia is having on the world of beauty that she has been featured in a number of high profile media publications, including The Telegraph, The New York Times and Vogue magazine.

POSITION: Co-founder of Next Leadership REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Dr Coleman is a groundbreaking female church leader. She made history as the first Black British woman to be ordained as a Baptist minister. Since then, she has sat in some powerful positions within the wider church, including: Chair of the Evangelical Alliance Council (2012-2014) and a president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (2006-2007). Dr Coleman is regularly invited to run leadership programmes for Christian, public sector and private business organisations.

LURINE CATO

Rev Dr Kate Coleman

POSITION: MOBO Award-winning vocalist REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Since winning the MOBO Award for gospel music in 2013, Lurine’s ministry has been in an upward trajectory. She is also the recipient of a Wise Women Award, and seen as one of Britain’s leading female gospel vocalists - some even call her the Queen of UK Gospel. In 2015, she pulled together some mighty men and recorded Keep Fighting, a song designed to encourage and inspire Black men. Lurine is also an ambassador for the Children’s Society; has started a course to train vocalists in the art of being a backing singer, and built a large social media following via her various social media platforms.

CHARMAINE NOBLE-McLEAN

Chine McDonald

POSITION: Director of Content for Premier Christian Communications REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Since joining Premier Radio, one of the UK’s leading Christian media organisations, Charmaine has played a pivotal role. She has risen up the ranks, starting as a reporter to becoming Director of Content across Premier media platforms, which now include Premier Gospel and Premier Praise. She is also a Director of the station.

PASTOR MARJORIE ESOMOWEI POSITION: Co-pastor of Triumphant Church International and Founder of the Wise Women Awards REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Alongside her husband, Pastor Clem Esomowei, Pastor Marjorie - as she is affectionately known - has built Triumphant Church International. It has branches in Tottenham, Basildon, South Africa and Nigeria. Pastor Marjorie is founder of Wisdom for Women International and the Wise Women Awards, the only event to recognise the contributions of Christians in the Church and society. Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin

CHINE McDONALD POSITION: Director of Communications and Members, Evangelical Alliance REASON FOR INFLUENCE: The Evangelical Alliance is one of the largest representative bodies for the Christians here in the UK, and Chine is responsible for developing its communications as well as fundraising strategies. A graduate of Theology from Cambridge University, Chine is the author of ‘Am I Beautiful?’, and sits on the boards of Church and Media Network, the Christian Enquiry Agency and the Sophia Network, which equips women in leadership across the Church. Chine will be leaving EA in March 2017 to join leading UK charity World Vision as Head of Christian Influence and Engagement.

REV ROSE HUDSON-WILKIN POSITION: Church of England Priest, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey and Chaplain to the Queen REASON FOR INFLUENCE: For the past two decades, Rev Hudson-Wilkin has been one of the most high profile Black female ministers within Pastor Marjorie Esomowei


30 FEATURE

the Church of England, and occupies several positions of prestige and influence. She serves as Chaplain to the Speaker in the House of Commons and to Her Majesty the Queen. She also serves as Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey. Rev Hudson-Wilkin is renowned for her down-to-earth, honest persona and her commitment to serving the community.

PASTOR CELIA APEAGYEI-COLLINS POSITION: Founder, Rehoboth Foundation REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Pastor Celia, as she is affectionately known, is one of the most well known and respected female leaders within the Church. Her organisation provides leadership development programmes and mentoring for leaders across all spheres of influence and endeavour, and she is in great demand to provide insights about leadership across the world. She also serves as Vice President of leading development charity, Tearfund; is a steering committee member of the National Church Leaders Forum, and Director at International Mission charity, Operation Mobilisation.

Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins

REV DR CANON ROSEMARIE MALLETT POSITION: Vicar of St John the Evangelist Church, Brixton, and Public Policy Adviser, Diocese of Southwark REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Rev Rosemarie is a prominent Black Anglican minister. A PhD graduate, she leads a congregation in the heart of Brixton, and serves as an adviser to the Southwark Diocese, an area which encompasses much of south London, including the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham. Her role entails advising CofE bishops on the key issues affecting local communities, and building links with local community groups to foster good relationships and work together for the good of society.

Karen Gibson

CAROLINE MARSH POSITION: Founder and CEO of Exceeding Grace Developments REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Caroline Marsh is a leading millionaire property developer, a career she pursued after attending a business conference. After taking advantage of an opportunity to join a property franchise, Caroline started her journey to business success, with the help of a mentor. She became so successful that in 2008 she was invited to be the guest donor to a good cause on the Channel 4 programme, Secret Millionaire. Aside from her interest in property, Caroline is in demand to share her insights about business at events across the UK and beyond.

Rev Dr Canon Rosemarie Mallett

ANU OMIDEYI

KAREN GIBSON POSITION: Choir Director/Trainer REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Award-winner Karen Gibson is considered one of the UK’s leading gospel choir directors - whether it’s at the helm of her own chorale outfit, The Kingdom Choir, or training choirs in countries such as Japan, Latvia and Nigeria. In recent years, Karen has been featured on TV programmes about choral singing, most recently BBC 2’s The Naked Choir. In 2014, she directed Lewes Sings Gospel to victory in the BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition. Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

POSITION: CEO, Gospel Music Industry Alliance REASON FOR INFLUENCE: A former barrister, Anu has the ominous the task of moving the gospel scene forward in her new role as CEO of the Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA), a position of major influence in the UK’s Christian music scene. Founded by Juliet Fletcher and the late Linton Beckles, the GMIA is the representative body for the UK Gospel scene. Aside from serving as the CEO, Anu is Director of the Reapers Choir, the gospel ensemble that made it through to the 2015 BBC 1 Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition. She also trains choirs, presents on TV broadcasts and works with young people.

Caroline Marsh

TOBI OLUJINMI POSITION: Founder of www.thewtalk.com REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Tobi Olujinmi is founder of WTalk, a web-based media platform that features topical articles about life, faith, work and culture, a podcast and specially made programmes for the site. The content is aimed at Christians aged from 18 to 35, and is having Anu Omideyi


FEATURE 31

a major impact. The WTalk podcast has even been endorsed in Black Hair magazine’s must-listen-to podcast list.

June Ross MBE

REV JACQUELINE PEART

Tobi Olujinmi

POSITION: Founder, Jacqueline Peart International Ministries, Training with Purpose REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Rev Jacqueline Peart is a high profile, highly respected Christian leader. Via her ministry, JPIM, Rev Peart aims to ‘transform lives through wholeness’ and organises a host of activities to achieve this goal: meetings, seminars, conferences and retreats. Her company, Training with Purpose International, is an award-winning company, which provides training for leaders, managers and young people who need employability skills.

CLAUDINE REID MBE

Rev Jacqueline Peart

POSITION: Director, PJs Group REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Claudine Reid is Director of award-winning social enterprise PJs Group, which she runs alongside her husband. It provides a range of social care, education, business and mentoring services. Alongside running a successful enterprise, Claudine is part of the leadership team at her church, and has held a number of public appointments, including serving as former Cabinet Office Social Enterprise Ambassador. She is a school governor and an Ambassador for the Cinnamon Trust, which seeks to help churches impact their local communities by running much-needed social projects.

REV CANON EVE PITTS POSITION: Church of England vicar REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Rev Eve Pitts is the first Black woman to be ordained by the

Anglican Church in the UK, and serves the people of Birmingham. In 2015, she held the first ever service of remembrance for those who died as slaves during the Slave Trade. She has plans to lobby the government and local council to recognise August 1 as a National Day for Britain to recognise those who were enslaved in the Caribbean.

JUNE ROSS MBE POSITION: Founder and CEO of Esther’s Community Enterprise (ECE) REASON FOR INFLUENCE: Every month, this charity (launched in 2004) provides food for over 25,000 people in London, by distributing donated supermarket food that is near its sell-by date to needy families. Over 400 volunteers help June fulfil her mammoth task. ECE is also operational in Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Kent. Following a report on leading American Christian TV station, CBN, June has been inundated with requests to set up similar enterprises from across the world.

Claudine Reid MBE

Rev Canon Eve Pitts

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


32 FEATURE

Jesus Christ The greatest blood donor By Dapo Odumeru MBE

F

ew other doctrines go to the heart of the Christian faith as the Atonement through the Blood of Jesus Christ. We use the terminology “I plead the blood of Jesus” when praying over someone who is sick, in order to release them from the bondage of sickness. On Sundays, congregations sing at the top of their voices: “There is power mighty in the blood”. The blood of Jesus Christ has given eternal life to those of us who believe and, without it, would still be separated from God. As a Christian who operates in the scientific space, I have also seen how blood transfusion saves and improves patients’ lives. Blood transfusion is one of the miracles of modern medicine. We all expect blood to be there for us when we need it. In England, there are 870,000 active blood donors (people who have donated within the last year); however, the statistics show that 2.3% of donors who donated in England are from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, despite the fact that this community represents around 14% of the population. Furthermore, the statistics show that less than 6,000 Africans and African Caribbeans donated last year (see Table 1). We see a similar picture in Africa and the Caribbean islands: the inability to mobilise citizens towards embracing the blood donation culture. This usually results in unnecessary deaths among our people. Table 1 - % and number of active blood donors from African, Caribbean and Mixed Parentage background

ETHNICITY

DONOR%

DONORS

A.O Black/African/Caribbean

0.06%

505

Black - African

0.26%

2,208

Black - Caribbean

0.36%

3,073

Mixed W+B African

0.11%

962

Mixed W+B Caribbean

0.35%

3,065

Over the years, Blood for Life (NGO) have worked with various groups within the African and Caribbean community to raise awareness of blood donation, and has carried out recruitment drives. We have also supported blood transfusion in Africa/the Caribbean through the donation of medical equipment and training. Recently, we donated a blood mobile unit to the National Blood Transfusion Service, Jamaica, through a number of diaspora groups and with the support of the former Jamaican High Commissioner. This blood mobile unit was used to launch the ‘One Love, One Blood, Saves Lives’ campaign in Jamaica. The vehicle gift has been the catalyst for an innovative partnership between NHS Blood and Transplant, Blood for Life and RAFFA, which aims to recruit 2,800 active Black Caribbean blood donors by 2020, using the same ‘One Love, One Blood, Saves Lives’ banner. So, why the interest in the African and Caribbean community? Apart from the fact that we are under-represented as a community in the donor pool, there are some facts that need to be considered: (a) It is a fact that some rare blood types (B+, Uneg, Ro) are more common within the Black community (b) It is a fact that a number of serious blood disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia, are more common among the Black population Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine

Raising awareness of blood and organ donation

(c) It is a fact that sickle cell patients benefit from receiving blood from people with a similar ethnic background (d) It is a fact that there are approximately 13,000-15,000 people in the UK with sickle cell and 250,000 people with trait (those with trait CAN donate blood) (e) It is a fact that with under 6,000 active Black donors, we do not have enough blood from the Black community for Black patients (f) It is a fact that there is a disadvantage faced by Africans and African Caribbeans in need of potentially life-changing transfusions due to the lack of Black donors Unfortunately, the same challenge is seen in whole organ and stem cell (bone marrow) donation, where people from BAME and mixed parentage backgrounds are likely to wait, on average, twice as long for some transplants as their White counterparts, because of the difficulties they face in trying to find an appropriately matched donor. (Organ/tissue match is likely to be closer when the ethnicity of the donor and recipient are the same.) It is estimated that the BAME population will reach 20% of the total UK population by 2050 and, while the 21st century has ushered in a remarkable diversity in the UK, this is not reflected in the blood donor pool. The question: ‘What would Jesus do?’ is something we hear during our sermons. I have no doubt that if Jesus were living in the world today,


He would roll up His sleeve to give blood to save the life of another. After all, Jesus said in John 15:12-13,“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The donation of blood, in my opinion, is the donation of one’s ‘life’, for the Bible declares that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). In fact, it would be correct to say that Jesus has already donated His blood for us on the cross, and He expects us to do the same: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). There is a power and anointing in your blood that could save a life - both physically and spiritually. Each time you donate blood, it is split into component parts that can be received by up to three adults or seven babies. There is no doubt that one blood donation goes a long way to saving the lives of so many - just as Jesus’ did for us. The ironic thing is that every time you donate blood, approximately 10% is removed (the body replenishes what has been removed). As a child of God, you are simply ‘tithing’ part of yourself so that another can live and fulfil purpose.

To know more about blood, visit www.blood.co.uk or call the NHSBT Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones). Dr Dapo Odumeru obtained his PhD in Pharmacology from University College Dublin, Ireland, in 1995 and has many years of experience in the field of Blood Transfusion and the pharmaceutical industry. He is also the Founder of Blood for Life UK - an award-winning non-government organisation. He has worked on various projects in partnership with institutions, government agencies and non-government organisations in Europe, Japan, Africa and the Caribbean, and has published his research work in International Scientific Journals. He was recently made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services for promoting blood and organ donation in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities (BAME). www.keepthefaith.co.uk


34 FEATURE

No one is free until we are all free! DIONNE GRAVESANDE

is Head of Church Advocacy at Christian Aid

Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr famously said: “No one is free until we are all free.” This statement, profound in its simplicity, finds company among the biblical command to “love your neighbour as yourself”. The idea relies upon the notion that not only must you love, but you must not do what another hates, because your freedom is bound up in your neighbour’s, no matter how comfortable you think your life is. Dr King’s philosophy always gives me reason to pause and think! I can honestly say it has been a while since I read the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and it has also been over 50 years since Dr King delivered that historic speech in Washington, DC. His dream, simply stated, is that all people are created equal and so, in preparation for International Women’s Day, I find myself asking three interconnecting questions in the context of Dr King’s vision for freedom, love and equality as it relates to the rights of women. In case you didn’t know, the month of March is Women’s History Month; it is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, and it corresponds with International Women’s Day held on March 8th. One of my contemporary heroes is Michelle Obama; for me, she is an immensely talented woman who stands by her principles on issues of equality and rights. She is an influential, visible advocate for girls and women, and she is, I think, a Black woman all women can relate to. Michelle endorses the belief that to educate a girl is to build a healthier family, a stronger community and a brighter future. Why is this important to reference? Because unfortunately, today more than 62 million girls around the world are not in school, half of whom are adolescents. We have evidence that countries with more girls in secondary school tend to have lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS and better child nutrition. But too often, a girl who could change her world for the better is locked out of that future by the circumstances of her birth or the customs of her community and country. You may recall Michelle gave an address to the girls of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in Islington, London, on April 2, 2009. Elizabeth Garrett Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

Anderson is a girls-only, inner-city comprehensive. At the time of the Michelle’s visit, 20% of its pupils were the children of refugees or asylum seekers; they spoke a total of 55 different languages, and 92% of them were from a Black or minority background. Three quarters of the pupils are eligible for free school meals, and Islington is one of the most deprived local authority areas in the country, with a higher rate of teenage pregnancy than the national average. These are not children from wealthy or privileged families, and if those statistics cause you concern, then you are beginning to question the injustice happening here.

‘ Unless we can help create just and equitable relationships between women and men of all ages and diversities, we will be unable to achieve equitable, sustainable, resilient and thriving societies.’ Gender injustice is rooted in unequal power relations, and the most pervasive gender inequality is between women and men. Gender injustice violates human rights, constrains choice and agency, and negatively impacts upon people’s ability to participate in, contribute to and benefit from development and humanitarian relief. Unless we can help create just and equitable relationships between women and men of all ages and diversities, we will be

unable to achieve equitable, sustainable, resilient and thriving societies. A vision for gender justice is a vision for justice for all: of a renewed world where everyone - regardless of gender - can live alongside one another in mutually empowering relationships; are empowered to pursue their human rights and freedoms; are valued as equal and active participants in the social, political, cultural and economic wellbeing of their households, communities, and societies. The churches are asking questions in this area; for example, Rev Dr Susan Durber, a United Reformed Minister, writes: “Our being made ‘male and female’ is a gift of God, and should be experienced as joy for humankind. When gender becomes a weapon of oppression then something is badly wrong.” The discrimination or subordination of one gender by another is an issue which is negatively affecting the social, political and economic development of every country in the world. It undermines our beliefs all people are of equal and unique value and worth, and are ‘of one flesh’. It is also counter to the fundamental tenet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: that the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world is the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Three disturbing facts that make me uncomfortable (Source: UN and Amnesty): • Millions of girls are forced into early marriages every year. These girls are at far greater risk of dropping out of school, experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and suffering from domestic violence. • 1 in 3 girls will be affected by domestic abuse - most likely from an intimate partner. • Around the world, one woman dies every 90 seconds in pregnancy or childbirth - that’s more than 350,000 women every year. These facts indicate the systematic discrimination of women and girls, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is limited data to reflect the lived experiences of those most excluded, but they don’t have to be invisible to us. We can hold on to the hopes of freedom, and work towards it in the ways Jesus taught us. Our commitment to gender justice is akin to our commitment to the Christian faith, which requires us to build a different world that demonstrates the values of principles demonstrated and lived out by Christ Himself. During the month of March, visit the International Women’s Day website at www.internationalwomensday.com and learn about the issues, get involved and take action.


FEATURE 35

‘...she is an immensely talented woman who stands by her principles on issues of equality and rights. She is an influential, visible advocate for girls and women, and she is, I think, a Black woman all women can relate to.’ Dionne Gravesande on Michelle Obama

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


36 COMMENT

THE IMPORTANCE OF

HONOUR It has been said that before you can learn to be over, you have to learn to be under. Practise being under, by showing honour to those people whom God has placed over you. The third group God calls us to honour is pastors and church leaders. The Bible tells us that we are to show honour to those who are spiritually instructing us: ‘The elders, who direct the affairs of the church well, are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching’ (1 Timothy 5:17). The Bible shares, in Romans 12:10, how we grow in honour: love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour (ESV).

REV STEPHEN BROOKS

National Development Manager for Excell 3 www.excell3.com

T

his 100th issue of Keep the Faith is truly a praiseworthy milestone, and congratulations are extended to Shirley McGreal, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief and the rest of the team. At a time when members of the public are being urged to nominate deserving individuals for national honours – announced at the beginning of each year and on the Queen’s official birthday – it is fitting that we celebrate and honour our own success, too. The Bible says that there are several different groups we should honour, and is incredibly clear that we should honour our parents. This is one of the top ten most important commandments in Exodus 20:12, ‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.’ God doesn’t give an upper age limit on honouring parents. We don’t do it just while we’re children; we continue doing it into our forties, fifties, sixties and beyond. If you have children, a good way to demonstrate honour to your parents is to speak well of them in front of their children or grandchildren. It’s important to find ways you can honour them, not just because they deserve it, but because it’s the right thing to do. In November 2016, my father, Bishop J E Brooks, was nominated and received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree. The Honorary Doctorate Degree is conferred upon distinguished pastors, evangelists, ministers and other Christian leaders or public servants, who have made significant contributions in their respective fields or for the extension of God’s Kingdom.

Bishop J E Brooks

Another group to which the Bible says we ought to show honour are those who are in authority over us. Romans 13:1-7 explains that God, in His sovereignty, has placed people in positions of leadership. In this context, verse 7 says that you should give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour. In January 2017, President Trump was inaugurated. Many Americans didn’t vote for him and have never liked him or agreed with his policies but, in that moment, citizens of the United States freely offered honour, if not to the man, then at least to the office. It is important to note that respect and honour are not synonymous. We’re supposed to show honour not only to powerful people in government, but to all of those who are in authority over us. If you play sports, show honour to your coach. If you’re a student, honour your teachers. If you have a mentor, show them honour. Honour your boss.

‘Living with honour reminds us of who we really are; who God is, and how much He loves those around us.’ So it’s really that simple. Take that verse to heart, and show honour not only to other people, but try to outdo one another in showing honour. What does that mean? That means that you go out of your way to demonstrate honour to them. Considering all that Jesus has done for us, you would think it’s only reasonable to do something with our lives that honour Him. Sadly, the Bible describes a truth that is much more common, namely ‘The Lord says: “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me”’ (Isaiah 29:13). Because of what He did, we are who we are. We should value others and show them honour, and we should help them see that they were valuable enough for Jesus to give His life for. Living with honour reminds us of who we really are; who God is, and how much He loves those around us. Someone who does not know God may seek the honour of his fellow man rather than the honour that comes from God. On the other hand, we honour God when we make it our chief ambition in life to please Him, to love Him and to serve Him at all times. This is the way that Jesus lived. John 8:29 says: “I do always those things that please Him.”

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COMMENT 37

Life-threatening illness by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts

A life-threatening illness does what it says on the tin. It threatens life. Sometimes the more secure the life, the greater the threat. Life-threatening illnesses come in different forms and sizes, eg. cancer, sometimes threatening the life of the individual and, if married, the marriage too.

REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS

is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain

I

cannot imagine what it must be like to tell your partner you have only months possibly even weeks - to live. The impact on the marriage must be immense. Yet this is the reality experienced by countless couples. Imagine, before the onset of the news, life is going well: home life settled; marriage pretty good; teenagers being teenagers… Not much to complain about, apart from the usual stuff: husband unable to do DIY and suffering from ‘man flu’ too regularly. However, the family equilibrium is unsettled when your partner gets sudden news of a terminal illness and news of months to live. How do couples cope when they are hit by this sudden news? I wish I could say this is an infrequent reality, but such tragic stories appear to be on the increase. One day, all is OK. Literally the following day, lives are turned upside down. The pastor who took my wife and me through marriage preparation did not touch on this sort of stuff. Instead of tackling how suffering can impact marriage, he selected benign themes, giving the impression that much of marriage is a walk in the park. Even in marriage, however, suffering is indiscriminate; it has no friends or allies. It impacts whom it wants and when it wants. It provides no answers or explanations for its actions. Suffering has a mind of its own, attacking whomever it wants, regardless of the person. So exploring this complex perennial issue with our pastor would have been more than worthwhile.

So how can couples respond, when this random knock on the door comes and the doctor says: “Your life might be curtailed by some years”? There are no easy answers. Though I do challenge the notion that faith must lead to healing, the calling home of a partner might indicate a lack of faith on behalf of the couple. This is a theology I have to contest and challenge directly. The older I get, the more I love God - yet the less I feel I understand how He works with His children and the world He has created. But what I do know is God does not punish because of His children’s lack of or limited faith. God is bigger than that. As important as faith is - for you cannot have a relationship with God without it - a lack of it, particularly when in a difficult situation, does not lead to God’s wrath. God is fully aware that high levels of faith are not universal. Some people just have it, regardless of the situation they are facing. Other couples find it very difficult to muster faith, believing that Christ will intercede on their behalf.

‘All Christian couples go through difficult times. It is an inevitable part of the marriage journey.’ Married couples are often in a position where their faith is tested, usually because of an illness that has suddenly descended upon one of them sometimes even both. If that has become our lot, somehow we need to hold onto the fact that God’s love for us remains undiminished and unaffected, even if our love for Him has become questionable. God is so able to cope with our

fluctuating commitment. He is big enough to cope with our unpredictability, doubts and questioning. He does not fall to bits because of it. God remains love - regardless of us. And so here is my point. Christian couples, who are faced with relentless suffering, do not need to be told again and again that their faith will make their situation well, as if to say that if their situation gets worse it’s due to their lack of faith. To the contrary: they need to be told that in the face of depression -even near death - they are totally loved and adored by their God, regardless of their levels of faith. All Christian couples go through difficult times. It is an inevitable part of the marriage journey. And I agree that bags of faith might help us navigate our suffering more carefully than those who have very limited faith. But, as far as I am concerned, the way in which we deal with hard times is not determined by our faith alone. There are several helpful support mechanisms, such as close friends and family to speak to, counselling, cultivating hobbies and, of course, prayer. A friend, recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and determined that the illness should not unduly impact his wife and children, has taken matters into his own hands by daily saying to the cancer: “You do not control me; I control you.” He feels that this daily mantra has helped him and his wife to cope. Married couples impacted by this sort of thing will find different ways of addressing their illness. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Yet, regardless of the strategy we might employ, God communicates a generic message to all married couples that find themselves in the desert, namely: I AM who I AM. I love you. I am walking with you. I feel and know your pain. www.keepthefaith.co.uk


38 COMMENT

FOOD 4 THOUGHT www.marciadixonpr.co.uk

marciadixonpr

BY

MARCIA DIXON

A leading PR specialist and journalist

Marcia-Dixon-Public-Relations

Celebrate, nurture and encourage love Valentine’s Day, the time of the year that celebrates all things to do with romantic love, will soon be with us. Card shops, florists, restaurants, gift shops and more are set to boost their profits from the many couples keen to demonstrate their ‘love’ for each other on February 14, but they have to make sure it’s the right kind of present. Relationships have been known to break up if the Valentine’s gift is not thought to be adequate! Quite rightly, the area of romantic relationships is a major hot topic within the Black Church community. It has been so for years, due to the large number of Christian singles - mainly women - unable to find love; the increased divorce rate amongst couples who’ve fallen out of love, and the fact that some singles prefer to ignore the biblical directive that sex is for marriage. It’s important that the Church should and does have something to say on all aspects of relationships, as family relationships form the bedrock of society, with marriage at its core. With this fact in mind, it’s beholden upon the Church to help people build these strong relationships. Many churches host a range of events for singles, engaged couples and marrieds, but I wonder if they can do more. Should they do more? I think so, especially where the Black community is concerned. Due to the racism Black people experience, failed relationships and broken families put our community at a greater disadvantage than most. The rise in gangs; the involvement of our youth choosing the ‘road’ life (street code for drug dealing); single parenthood being seen as the norm for family life; mental breakdown and poverty are some of the side effects that can be partly attributed to the failure of brokenness in our relationships.

Educational attainment and entrepreneurism aren’t the only things that need to be nurtured and encouraged to facilitate Black advancement here in the UK. There also needs to be a focus on building strong families, so that our children grow up in environments where they feel loved and protected. The Church can play a part in this: not only in teaching about marriage, but through running workshops and constantly reiterating the qualities required to build healthy relationships, sustain a marriage, and foster a healthy robust family. So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s forget about the commercialisation of the date, and remember the day’s core purpose, which is to celebrate, nurture and encourage love.

We made it to 2017 - Give God thanks If you are reading this column, give God thanks. You’ve lived to see 2017. This is a great achievement, because there are many who didn’t. Seeing that God has allowed you to live another year, in spite of what may have happened to you last year - the good and the bad - you should ask yourself ‘What do I need to put into place, so that I can live purposefully, intentionally and daringly, and play my part in building God’s Kingdom?’ It’s so easy at the beginning of a new year to list down our goals and work towards them, without truly factoring in God’s possible purpose for our lives. However, if our lives are truly committed to the Lord, whilst making our plans for 2017, always remember the following: ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21). Have a great 2017. Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

Kim Burrell sermon creates tsunami on social media You may or may not be aware of the furore that has arisen re some comments American gospel singer, Kim Burrell, made about homosexuality, whilst preaching at her church at the end of last year. A two-minute excerpt of Burrell’s sermon, where she described homosexuality as a ‘perversion’, went viral on social media and has caused uproar and backlash. The singer, who is featured on the soundtrack for the film, Hidden Colours, was dropped from a scheduled appearance alongside Pharrell Williams on the popular Ellen DeGeneres Show. The BMI (the US equivalent of the PRS) disinvited Burrell from a tribute event they were holding in honour of herself and Marvin Sapp, plus she has been the subject of numerous articles, most of them portraying her comments in a negative light, calling her hateful, judgemental and homophobic - amongst other things. And these are the polite comments. What this incident and its aftermath highlight is, firstly, that homosexuality remains a contentious issue, particularly when discussed from a traditional Christian perspective and, secondly, that the power of social media is all-pervading. Burrell’s comments would have remained within the four walls of her church - if someone hadn’t uploaded a video of her preaching online. So what is the lesson preachers and public speakers should learn from this unfortunate event? That you have to be very careful how you say what God has put on your heart - unless you don’t mind your comments possibly being misconstrued and becoming the centre of a media storm, where you are maligned, criticised and even hated for preaching Scripture.


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40 LIFESTYLE

Living above the chaos “Remember this! In the last days, there will be many troubles…” (2 Timothy 3:1)

W

e, as a nation of people, are facing some perilous and terrifying times. Yet, despite the hour in which we live, it is a time of great opportunities and advancements for the people of God. It is in times like these that our faith must be stronger than ever before. Although we are not exempt from the changing times and seasons of life, there is a difference between surviving the crisis and succumbing to the pressure. This is the greatest hour for the Church to shine, rise up and be heard. When the world is regressing and going under, God will move His people forward, causing His people to progress and flourish. “… the more [the Egyptians] oppressed [the Israelites], the more they multiplied and expanded...” (Exodus 1:12). During these rough economic times, it is God who will stabilise us and cause us to increase, prosper and propel – even in the worst conditions. The world is in a major crisis, and we are under pressure to compromise our faith, but we must remember that, just as the Israelites grew under pressure, hardship and oppression, we too will grow, multiply, and increase - as long as we believe that God will see us through. Our faith in Christ will triumph over all. “For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). By faith, you can conquer every mountain, face every problem and overcome every adversity. By faith, you can bounce back when people counted you out. By faith, God can restore your health, family, bad credit; erase debt, reverse repossession; remove cancer, diabetes, liver disorder; restore love in a marriage, drive out rebellion and put your house in order. By faith, you can ride through the rages of life, and walk through turbulence, unrest and dangerous situations without any evidence of being scared. By faith, you can defeat worry, doubt and fear. There is absolutely nothing faith cannot do!

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Personal Story of Survival My faith in God has helped me make the transition from marriage to singleness. I am an independent, focused and purpose-driven woman. Did this happen overnight? No, it took me some time to get to this point in my life. Though terrifying and frightening moments would have defeated me, I learned that I was created to survive every crisis, disappointment and dilemma with Christ. I am self-sufficient today, only because of His sufficiency (2 Corinthians 3:5). By faith, I was determined to push myself, even when I wanted to collapse under the pressure, but I stand poised today, with dignity as a triumphant woman of God. Those who thought I wouldn’t make it, God proved them wrong. Those who laid a trap for me to stumble and fall … well I did fall; I fell forward, advancing and stepping over the hurdles and pitfalls. I’m reminded of the Bible story with the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. Believing for healing and restoration, she earnestly fought her way through the crowds of self-righteous people. No doubt they looked at her with eyes of reproach, disgust and contempt. Nevertheless, her focus was not on her condition or what people were saying or thinking about her; her focus was on Christ, the Messiah, the One who came to set people free from bondage and slavery. Just as this woman lived in despair, we are living in calamitous times as well - of uncertainties, catastrophes and heartache. Many people are facing insurmountable odds and difficulties, with no answer in sight. The woman with the issue of blood knew whence her source of peace, healing and wholeness would come. As she moved forward, confidently relying on Him, all she needed to do was touch the hem of His garment. Let that be our example. When everyone else seems to be perishing under the pressure, we will survive the crisis

because our faith is not contingent upon making a way for ourselves, or trying to figure out how our needs are going to be met. Surviving the crises, emergencies and crucial times is solely due to our complete confidence, conviction and reliance on the One who controls the universe. “Examine and see how good the Lord is. Happy is the person who trusts Him. You, who belong to the LORD, fear Him! Those who fear Him will have everything they need” (Psalm 34:8-9). Once realising that my true source of hope, joy and recovery was only in Christ, I bravely accepted the lot that was given to me and, today, I can boldly say that I stand strong, vibrant and full of purpose because of Christ, the One who felt me touch the hem of His garment.

Bio - Paulette Harper In addition to being an award-winning author of Completely Whole, Paulette is an inspirational speaker, as well as a writing workshop instructor. Paulette has authored seven booksm and writes in the genres of Christian fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, Real Life Real Faith magazine and The Sacramento Observer. Paulette resides in Northern California. Visit www.pauletteharper.com.


LIFESTYLE 41

S

eptember 7, 1997 - the day my dream began. I had left Africa with high expectations, hope of a new life with unlimited possibilities. It was my first time travelling on a plane, and on getting to Amsterdam, I was nearly returned home, as I had boarded one day after my intended departure date, due to an emergency at home. I was relieved to finally set foot in London. However, things took a different turn, as the Airport official suspected my passport belonged to someone else. Eventually I left Heathrow, and couldn’t wait to start my next chapter. My first goal was to enrol for my A-levels. I had been informed it was easy to get into college; the reality was different. I went from one Further Education institution to another, and was informed I had to be resident for three years. God came through, and I was offered a place at a local college. Two years later, I failed my A-levels exams and my dream to become a doctor and help others ended. Some months prior, I had had second thoughts about studying Medicine but, at that time, no other careers resonated with my purpose. After speaking to careers advisers and my family, I decided Psychology was the way to go. Despite my grades, I was offered a University place and, miraculously, home fees. Although I did not meet the three-year residency mark, I’m delighted to say I graduated with a Second Class Upper. Life in London has been a mixture of great memories, disappointments, challenges and pleasant surprises, both personally and professionally. As I reflect on the various seasons I have come through, walking into the unknown and getting out of my comfort zone were essential. Here are a few things that have helped me along the way so far: • Watch your thoughts – Fear starts in the mind. Identify patterns. What am I thinking? Fear

brush their fears aside and take action. Refuse to do nothing because of fear. Courage breeds courage. Atticus said, “What good are wings, without the courage to fly?” • Red light – Reflect, pray and give thanks when circumstances force you to a halt. Spend this time seeking God’s face for the next step. Sometimes, amazing things develop after such periods. Bear in mind, goals can be accomplished through more than one method. It takes bravery to go through this process. Avoid complaining, quitting or praying for things to be fast-forwarded.

‘Victory awaits those who brush their fears aside and take action.’

Walking into the unknown!

by f unke oham

is a product of the thoughts you create. Fill your mind with God’s Word, which dispels fear. Spend time fasting, and ask God to set you free from fear. Speak ‘fearlessness’ over your life. • Ask questions - What makes me worried? Who makes me worried? Why am I worried? When am I usually worried? What if I was not worried? Ask yourself what is the worst that would happen even if you ‘failed’? What is the best that could happen if it works out? What have others done in your situation,

and what was the result? What would God want you to do? Be honest with yourself. Consider sharing your answers with the right people. Take some action after this exercise. • Study people of faith – Read about their stories of courage; how they handled their doubts; how they developed faith, regardless of their circumstances, and the difference their actions made. • Give it a try – Don’t let assumed ‘failure’ stop you from stepping out. Victory awaits those who

• Be one – Have at least one person in your life who looks up to you. Be an example. As you inspire and encourage them with your stories of courage and faith, it will motivate you to keep being a role model. • Know your purpose – Discover, rediscover and find out the ‘why’ of your purpose. Consider the impact of achieving and not achieving your purpose. Write it down, talk about it, think about it, read about it and pray about it, until it becomes a necessity that has to be fulfilled. Record your small and big successes. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself and let this spur you on. Learn to leave your worries with God. He loves you, cares for you and has your back. You can face tomorrow with a smile - despite what you encountered yesterday, what you experience today or what will come your way tomorrow. Face each day with His Word, then watch faith develop to live a great, fearless life and to achieve your God-given purpose.

BIO - FUNKE OHAM

is passionate about encouraging and inspiring women to discover their purpose and maximise their potential. She spearheaded the concept for a ladies’ network, ‘Women Mentoring Women’, to connect, support and envision women to achieve their goals. Following a personal heartbreak a decade ago, this led Funke to birth the ‘Inspirational Woman Awards’, which celebrates International Women’s Day, recognising women who have overcome adversity and are making a difference in society. Through these initiatives, she also published a poetry book and quote book, ‘Through These Eyes’ and ‘There Is More To You’. She is a speaker, qualified life and performance coach, with several years’ experience coaching and mentoring women. She is married and a mum to two boys.

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42 LIFESTYLE

GOD IS DOING A NEW THING!

BY GRACE GLADYS FAMORIYO www.gladysf.com

SO, GET WITH THE PROGRAMME!

There is something in the air. I can sense it. From the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets we have been having, to the red-streaked skies by day and the glorious visions of the moon at night. Putting nature aside, the political world has had its moments of changes (and surprises) and the UK voted to leave the EU. All this leaves you scratching your head, wondering what’s next.

A new season for you Whilst we may find ourselves getting caught up with what’s happening (or not, in some cases) around us, let’s not become distracted. The fact is, if Father is moving on the global scene, there is a chance He has changes to be made on a local level or closer to home, ie. in your life. Perhaps you have sensed a change or stirring, like something new is on the horizon. Well, if that’s the case, don’t ignore it, as it may be Father stirring something for you to birth. Don’t stifle God You might be wondering how is it possible to stifle God, but we do so by refusing to budge, to shift into the new, staying in our comfort zones and holding on to our agendas and on to our past/present successes or failures. Yet, we are told in Isaiah 43:18-19 to “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” (MSG)

(Genesis 12). Joseph, though sold into slavery, decided to let his gifts make room for him and bring him before great men (Genesis 37-47, Proverbs 18:16). Esther was told to ‘fix up’ and present herself to the King (Book of Esther). Ruth chose to leave her people and gods to follow the God of Naomi (Book of Ruth). Nehemiah, in spite of opposition, mobilised God’s people to rebuild the wall in just 52 days (Book of Nehemiah)! Gideon, who saw himself as a nobody, rose up to become a mighty man of valour and conquered the Midianites (Judges 6-7). David, having faced a bear and lion in the past, got the courage to step up to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17). I can go on here, but I believe you get the picture. A change in seasons requires us to rise up to the new level. Take a moment to consider this: What if any one of these individuals had decided to stay put? What would have become of their lives, their families and nations? Selah. You may want to meditate on Isaiah 60.

In short, it’s telling us not to get hung up on what we know or even think. Rather, by being poised in prayer and developing sensitivity to His Spirit, we can catch a glimpse of where He is taking us. It’s all about cutting out the ‘noise’ to get direction for the new.

New seasons require a closer walk with God…lest you miss the way I recently stumbled on a lovely Scripture (as you do), which was Isaiah 28:23-29, and I had a lightbulb moment: The only way to navigate through imminent change and unknown futures is to stay close enough to God so as to get the heads up on the what, how, where and when. Each season or situation we face has a particular way of handling it. Not all seasons are equal or the same. The Message version of verses 27 to 29 (of Isaiah 28) puts it splendidly:

New seasons require new actions… and a dose of faith Every new season or thing requires a plan of action with a dollop of faith. Abraham was told to leave the familiar to go to the unknown

“…The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain. He’s learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who knows everything about when and how and where.”

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The New King James Version says of God: “…He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance” (verse 29). In short, the answers lie with Him, not with the news agencies nor the Media, stargazing nor endless debates with folk. Nah! It’s a private, yet regularly scheduled appointment with God, on your knees! That’s the only way! (Not Essex! Sorry, I couldn’t resist it…) In closing Perhaps now is a time to book an appointment with the God of all wisdom, the One who knows your end from your beginning. Only He knows the different seasons in your life. So why not tune in to His forecast, so that you can be prepared for the journey ahead?

Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo (Author and Speaker). Adapted from the book, Bounce Back! How To Survive, Thrive and Maximise Challenging Life Experiences by Grace Gladys Famoriyo. Other titles include: Quit Hiding, Start Living!; Healing A Discouraged Heart; and Overcoming Emotional Baggage. www.gladysf.com


Tel: 01202 764776 www.the-greenhouse.org

Beautiful coastal location between Poole and Bournemouth. Perfect for holidays, retreats and time with God.

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44 LIFESTYLE

Life Hurts BY D R E L I Z A B E T H M c N AU G H T

“You’re not going anywhere. Your heart is struggling. You’re not stable enough to move.” I hadn’t believed much of what the doctors had told me for months, but somehow this felt different. They told me I could die… and I was only 14 years old. I guess it all began that day I broke my leg. I wasn’t really concentrating as I approached the jump. It wasn’t even particularly big; I had jumped much higher poles. But the horse sensed that I wasn’t really serious. He refused, and I fell. My school wouldn’t let me attend while on crutches, so for the next three months I sat at home. I took comfort in food. And the more I ate, the more I wanted. As I ate I read magazines with photos of slim, attractive, celebrities alongside articles about diets, and the connection was obvious. So I tried them, but the temptation to eat always overtook me, and I felt a failure. Where was my willpower? Where was my self-control? Eventually I was allowed back to school, and I wasn’t prepared for the comments about my weight. I decided that I must lose weight, and fast. I also asked my parents to move me to a different school where I hoped there would be less bitchiness. I was nervous but excited to start again with a new group of people. Dad drove me to my new school, prayed with me and then left as I was taken to my new tutor group. The teacher welcomed me and, as I took my seat, a boy looked up and said, “Hello, fatty.” I was devastated. I was even more determined to lose weight. Every day I set myself the challenge of overcoming my hunger, and winning against my Mum’s

When she was 16 years old, and seeking a way through her illness, Lizzie painted a picture of her own eye and added the words ‘Life Hurts’ to express her feelings. Little did she know that this would later become the title of her book. But that phrase continued to be very important to her as she clung onto her faith, fought through her illness, and became a doctor. The fact is that everyone experiences hurts, and everyone hurts others; but we can find a hope and a future, which we can share with others.

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Lizzie wrote this poem in between her emergency admission to general hospital and her time at a long-stay inpatient unit.

I know a girl I know a girl Whose life is a lie She sets herself targets Never asks herself why

attempts to give me food. All I wanted to do was to lose weight, whatever the cost. So, each morning I got up early to get to the breakfast table before anyone else, so that I could take out handfuls of the cereal Mum had put into my bowl and hide it in my dressing-gown pocket to flush down the loo later. At lunchtime, I gave most of my packed lunch to others. In the evening I found excuses to take my food up to my room, telling my parents I had homework to do, but actually I used the opportunity to flush the meal down the toilet. It wasn’t easy to cope with the hunger pains, but I achieved it. I was in control. Until it moved from a diet to a compulsion - from me controlling my eating, to my eating controlling me. The scales told me I was losing weight, but all I saw was that I was still fat and had to lose more weight. My Mum and Dad were really worried. Every meal became a battleground, but I usually won. And I remember my Dad saying: “When you win, you lose.” That phrase really stuck with me, but it was some time before I realised how true it was. One day, I became aware of a pain around my back. Quickly it spread around the front and grew into an excruciating agony. And so it was that I found myself in the hospital with doctors talking about a life-threatening situation. I was scared, really scared. Dad sat on my hospital bed and read from John’s Gospel: “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That night I wrote in my diary: ‘I have to stop otherwise the thief will take over and steal my life. This is not right. Jesus died so that I can live. God and my family love me, and that’s all that matters.’ I subsequently spent many months at an inpatient unit, and years in community care. Through professional help, the support of my loving family and my faith in God, I found the hope and strength to overcome, and secured a place at medical school. I am now telling my story, and reflecting on it from my perspective as a doctor, with a vision that this will inspire and encourage others to see that, although life hurts, there is hope and a future for all of us. By Liz Pollard

I know a girl Who is tired and weak She stutters and trembles And struggles to speak I know a girl Who hates what she sees She tries to improve Is eager to please I know a girl Who’s not sure who to be She’s desperate and lonely This girl is me

Dr Elizabeth McNaught speaking at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ conference on Eating Disorders 4th November 2016

‘Life Hurts: A doctor’s personal journey through anorexia’ by Dr Elizabeth McNaught is published in February 2017 (see LifeHurts.net).


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46 LIFESTYLE

JOY ROXBOROUGH

is a creative industries professional, writer and entrepreneur. Email joyroxborough@yahoo.com

Focus on

FIBROIDS

According to statistics reported on the Fibroid Network, up to 80% of Black women in the UK will develop fibroids at some point in their lives.

F

ibroids are tumours that grow from the muscles in and around the womb. They are usually non-cancerous, and many women are unaware of their presence. However, in one in three cases, women will typically experience symptoms of excessive, and sometimes prolonged, menstrual bleeding, along with the other symptoms that are commonly associated with the monthly cycle. The excessive bleeding is perhaps the commonest symptom and the one that creates the most immediate distress for a woman, since the need to visit the bathroom - sometimes as often as every fifteen minutes - can bring her normal routine to a grinding halt. The excessive bleeding can also lead to other problems, such as severe anaemia. Fibroids can impair a woman’s fertility, preventing her from being able to become pregnant. Women with fibroids can, however, still become pregnant but, in many of those cases, the fibroids often grow along with the baby and compete for space in the womb. No one knows for sure the exact cause(s) of fibroids, but there are some suggestions that fibroid growth is encouraged in the presence of high levels of the female hormone, oestrogen. This is perhaps why fibroids commonly appear in women aged 30 to 50 years of age, and sometimes shrink in older women as they approach the menopause, when oestrogen levels begin to decrease. It is also not known why fibroids are more common among African-Caribbean women than among some other groups. Many African-Caribbean women believe that a big contributing factor is the consumption of poultry that contains growth hormones. The issue cannot be narrowed down to just that factor, however, as there are many reported cases of women eliminating poultry from their diets after Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine

undergoing a myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids) only to have the tumours return. Sometimes, medication can be given to reduce the symptoms and discomfort of fibroids. Sometimes these medications can help to shrink the fibroids. At other times, surgery is needed to remove them. The operation is known as a myomectomy and is quite invasive. Myomectomy, however, means that the woman keeps her womb, and many women have subsequently gone on to conceive successfully. At other times, when fibroids are particularly severe, and especially if a woman already has children or does not wish to actually have children, a hysterectomy - the complete removal of the womb - is carried out. Women need to be aware that having a hysterectomy will plunge them straight into the menopause, and the decision to have one should therefore never be taken lightly. Doctors ought to only offer hysterectomy if and when all other treatment options have been explored and ruled out. Unfortunately some, including GPs in the UK, tend to offer women a hysterectomy as the first treatment choice for fibroids.

The Fibroid Forum, a group set up in the UK to speak to the issue of fibroids as they affect African-Caribbean women, advises: “We would remind women that they can seek a direct referral from their GPs to those hospitals that are considered centres of excellence for treating fibroids, or to consultant gynaecologists that specialise in the treatment of fibroids. “Ask for information on the different treatment options available for fibroids, and find out why your consultant is recommending a particular option for you. “Speak to other women who have had fibroids and received treatment for theirs. Not all women with fibroids will need surgery or treatment with radiology. Some research has been done on the possible causes of fibroids and its prevention, and we would encourage individuals to look at various sources themselves, as there are different ideas around this.” General Practice Nurse, Carol Webley-Brown, one of the presenters at a conference organised by the Fibroid Forum last year, said: “Women should no longer suffer from fibroids, but learn how to live their lives with the condition by finding out more about their own bodies and what can help them as individuals. For example, if it means losing weight or eating less red meat and that works for you, then do it. Promote your health because, by doing that, you promote God’s love.” The Fibroid Forum held their first conference on fibroid awareness in October 2016 at the House of Bread Church, New Cross, in London. A second conference is slated to take place in autumn 2017 in the West Midlands. The Fibroid Forum can be contacted via email fibroidforum@outlook.com or tel: 07951 549192.


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Authors , you mu s t market!

48 LIFESTYLE

VANESSA GROSSETT

www.theauthorscare.co.uk

T

he above title seems to be an obvious one, right? Of course authors must market, as no one will know about their book.

However, in this instance, I will not be discussing marketing the book, rather the author needs to market themselves. Unless you are a high profile celebrity, established in your field or have the right connections, the only creditability you will have is amongst friends, families or colleagues. But if you really want to make it as a full-time author, where your name is in the great public domain, then you have to sell yourself, as well as the product. Your books are not the ‘brand,’ you are. Many writers find it very difficult to do this, as writers spend a lot of time in isolation. They need that peace to gather their thoughts, to outline their stories and characters. They just want to write the book, hoping that it will fly off the shelves, and not do any marketing at all or, if they do market, they will just talk about the book and why people should buy it, forgetting that people are also likely to be researching and looking at them rather than their book. In my early days of this business, I used to help authors come up with ideas for their branding; now that business is growing rapidly, time restraints have prevented me doing this in the extensive way that I used to. Yes, I still get involved with the marketing aspects for my clients, even though they are seasoned and established, but I am an agent that believes thoroughly in teamwork; everyone working together can make a success of a product. Not every agent and publisher has got or will make the time to help an author build their brand, Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag

however – a harsh reality, but the truth. This is why it is important, as a writer, for you to do this. I know it can be very difficult to sell yourself, especially to people you don’t know, so where do you start? Well, other than writing books, what else are you good at? What else can you give back to people? As well as people benefiting you; people want to be benefited by you. Many writers tell me they are private people. OK, you don’t go telling your whole life story to the world, unless you are writing a memoir, but, as an author, you have to come out of your comfort zone, which is why I ask: What else can you give back to people? Giving is a beautiful God-given characteristic, and is one of the best ways to leave that comfort zone. When I started out with some of my clients, a lot of them had difficulty in marketing themselves. Once I really got to know them, I saw different hidden gifts in them that they hadn’t brought out, and I thank God He revealed those gifts to me. Three of my clients are very good at speaking in a live broadcast setting, and they were also very good at writing articles that help to strengthen one’s Christian walk with God. Today, two of them are radio hosts: one has

set up her own radio network, and the other has her own online television programme. Doing this has really helped build up their ‘brand’, which is themselves. Their listenership and readership have grown so much that even New York Times bestselling authors and well known pastors have come on their programmes. Their sales have dramatically - and I mean dramatically - increased by the dozens. The great and most important thing is that they are giving back to others in an encouraging way. Authors, do not overlook the importance of marketing yourselves, of building your brand. Yes, you can speak about your book - of course that is needed - but you are the main ‘product’; people ‘buy’ you before they even look at your book. Think about what you are good at, and what you can give back to others. This will also enable you to build your connections and contacts; in this industry, it is important to have these as well. God has given you more gifts than you think. It’s time to unleash them for His glory and to market yourselves. With love, Vanessa.


LIFESTYLE 49

ESSENTIALS FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Fall in love with your life KENO OGBO

is a Digital Consultant, Writer and Entrepreneur www.iamkeno.co.uk

S

ix years ago, I completed a 12-month contract with a high flying city job, and was left suddenly without a job and, more importantly, without a career. I had left the construction industry 10 years prior to help set up a charity that was committed to helping young people. Starting on a shoestring, we built up a Christian-based charity that influenced policy, and organised London-wide campaigns and events at Trafalgar Square. In the midst of a hectic workload - doing everything from making teas to meeting with senior government officials – I’d forgotten about building a career, but discovered how important it was to make a difference to people’s lives. Which is why - middle-aged and unemployed - I decided to start my own business, taking the long, hard route. I wish I had read ‘Prison Break – The 9 to 5 Escape Agenda’, or met some of the inspirational entrepreneurs I know today. Six years down the line, I have fallen in love with my life. I work hard, but I play harder. I thank God it’s Monday. I can spend a month working abroad in the Caribbean, or I can spend the entire night working in a onesie. I design my own agenda, and every day I get nearer to my purpose for living. The 9 to 5 Escape Agenda If you felt inspired reading my story, then you will love my interview with Clara Rufai, the author of ‘Prison Break – The 9 to 5 Escape Agenda’. Clara is a multi-tasking career woman with over 25 years’ experience in various professional fields. She helps individuals overcome their limitations, by equipping them with information, tools and strategies to upscale their game.

Keno: Tell me a little about your book. Why did you write it? Clara: I wanted to reach out to people limited by their jobs – firstly, to tell them they are not alone. I also wanted to provide tools for objective self-analysis and examination of thought patterns, to provoke and challenge people to recognise their potential and actively pursue alternatives. The book also contains strategies and practical steps to help people create the tools needed for their own escape. Keno: Share with us two of the most important tips in your book Clara: Take a skills audit to help you assess what unique attributes you have to offer the world that no one else can. Follow a proven template to transition as seamlessly as possible from your 9 to 5 into self-employment or entrepreneurship. My recommended path is to: • Find your WHY • Map your ROUTE • Gather your RESOURCES • Develop RESILIENCE • Assemble your ESCAPE TEAM, and • Prepare your RELOCATION PACKAGE. Keno: What is your best resource for entrepreneurs? Clara: This would differ based on service, products and niche. I believe success is primarily an ‘inside job’; self-motivation is crucial, and inspired entrepreneurs build inspiring brands. I would also recommend finding a good online community/platform relevant to an entrepreneur’s industry or area of focus, and becoming actively involved. They are usually a good source of support in terms of sector-relevant information, knowledge base, opportunities and joint ventures/collaborations. Keno: Lastly, what are your direct words to someone who has left their job, are running a business, but finding it really hard? Clara: 1. Get clear on why you are struggling. Start with your WHY(s): your reasons(s) for leaving your job; starting your own business, and choosing that particular line of business in the first place. 2. Do an immediate assessment to determine where there may be gaps in your knowledge and understanding of the business area. Where gaps are identified, consider coaching, mentoring or taking relevant courses to acquire the required knowledge/level of comfort. 3. Once clarity is established, consider and seek out joint ventures and collaborations. This will help contain any sense of overwhelm, and could also contribute to strengthening your brand.

4. Start small. Set achievable goals. Get clear on who you are called to serve. Learn how to market your business to your target market. Get a system in place to deliver value, as clients are never fooled by fluff for too long. 5. If you are still struggling, get a coach or mentor help you with hands-on implementation. Final words: There are three key insights from Clara’s book. Remember: 1. You are never alone in the circumstances of life - win the mental battle first. 2. You need strategies for coping with your corporate confinement before the escape. 3. It’s not the corporate cubicle holding you in containment.

You can purchase Clara’s book, ‘Prison Break: The 9 to 5 Escape Agenda – Taking the Leap from Limitation to Liberation’, on Amazon and lulu.com or from www.clararufai.com.

DISCOVERY CORNER A resource to help budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses. Xero – your digital bookkeepeer The first question I ask new business owners is always about their financial management. Do you have separate business/personal accounts? Do you track your mileage? Do you keep your receipts? If you find any of these difficult to manage, then check out www.xero.com.

Did you find this useful? Be part of a growing community of entrepreneurs by connecting with Keno: @spiralwebs @keno_ogbo www.keepthefaith.co.uk


50 LIFESTYLE

How does your garden grow?

JASON LOH

worked as a property solicitor before training in landscape and garden design www.jasonloh.co.uk

g

W

e go through life, where the word ‘love’ can mean different things to us. Gary Chapman writes of the five ‘love languages’ (in his book, ‘The 5 Love Languages’), explaining that people show (and receive) love through different ways: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service and Quality Time. For one person, it may be more important to regularly hear words of encouragement, whereas another’s heart may soar at receiving a box of hazelnut-dusted dark chocolate brandy truffles… both perfectly acceptable! The ancient Greeks broadly categorise love into four types: the passionate romantic love of eros; the storgé love that is found in the family, and the platonic love between good friends, phileo. Finally, there is the agapé love that is unconditional, committed and chosen. This type of love is ultimately sacrificial. It means giving Something which costs you Everything, and expecting absolutely Nothing in return… the kind that Jesus embodies and asks us to give (with His help). In this month’s feature, I would like to show you how plants can help you express love in your garden.

b shaped This is really obvious: most plants have heart-shaped leaves! • An interesting feature to have in your garden, though, would be to select plants with contrasting leaf colour, but are of a similar shape. For example, one of my favourites is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. It is a plant for partial shade and, in early spring, lovely heart-shaped leaves emerge with a mystical Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Philodendron (Heartleaf) Brunnera macrophylla

dusting of silver - very striking when paired with, say, Viola riviniana ‘Purpurea’ (aka Labrador violet), which is a low-growing purple-green perennial that has wonderfully dark purple dainty flowers.

In the name of love Plants tend to be known by their common names, although professionals generally use their botanical names to correctly identify them. There are two plants whose botanical names have their root (sorry for the pun) word in the Greek phil, meaning love. • For the indoors, you may have seen Philodendron, which is also known as Heartleaf (for obvious reasons). This is a great choice for a houseplant if you want something fairly robust. It can tolerate low levels of light, and can generally cope with you forgetting to water it. (Just don’t go on an 80-day cruise around the world without asking your neighbours to lend a hand!) It has glossy leaves that emerge

Viola riviniana ‘Purpurea’

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Philadelphus ‘Virginal’

bronze, before quickly turning green. • Philadelphus (common name, ‘Mock Orange’), the flower of brotherly-love (according to Greek legend), is a wonderfully scented shrub to have outdoors, especially when planted in a sheltered spot or near a walkway/entrance. I absolutely adore the orange-blossom fragrance. Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ has incredibly scented double flowers, its deciduous dark green leaves changing to yellow in the colder months. The flowers of P. ‘Belle Etoile’ have a creamy orangey-yellow centre. • Agapanthus are native to South Africa - very showy plants, widely grown for their exotic flowers. These bloom from late spring to autumn, depending on their species. Agapanthus are much loved by bees and other pollinators, and their lily-like blooms


LIFESTYLE 51

come in clusters of bell-shaped flowers. Did you know that its botanical name is made up of two Greek words: agapé (a type of love which I mentioned in the introduction above) and anthos, meaning flower. This roughly translates into the Flower of Love. • Good old-fashioned charming annual, Love-in-a-mist (Nigella), provides floral interest in late summer for an extended period. Their delicate flowers are nestled in wispy foliage, and are a very popular choice for cut flower arrangements. Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’ has gentle sky-blue flowers, and N. damascena ‘Albion Green Pod’ shows off in pure white with lusciously prominent green stamens. Try ‘Albion Black Pod’ if you are after something a little mysterious. Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’

Dicentra spectabilis

Amaranthus caudatus

Nigella damascena ‘Double White’

A Shakespearean Story If you are the dramatic sort, with a wry sense of humour, I know these will appeal to you. • “O woe, my bleeding heart” - Dicentra spectabilis - is an English cottage favourite. Their rosy red heart-shaped flowers on delicate arching stems are a familiar sight to many. For a smaller and less well-known variety, try hunting for Dicentra eximia (fringed bleeding heart). • Love-Lies-Bleeding - Amaranthus caudatus has tassels of blood red flowers. In warmer climates, the tassels seem almost to spill out onto the ground. No prizes for guessing how its common name came about. • Lastly, for the unrequited among us, or those with whom we have unwillingly parted ways: Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica). According to German folklore, knights would give these to their ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.

Myosotis sylvatica

Faith, hope and love. In the journey of life, it is good to hold on to hope and to have faith for things not yet seen. But the greatest of these is love. Wherever the month of February and Valentine’s Day finds you, know that you are loved by Abba Father - much more than you could hope or ever imagine. www.keepthefaith.co.uk


52 MISSION

By Gary Clayton

MAF Copywriter & Editor

O

A MISSIONARY SAINT

n Sunday 8th January 1956, MAF Pilot Nate Saint and four American friends were speared to death in the Ecuadorian rainforest –victims of an animistic tribe renowned for its hostility to strangers. Nate and fellow missionaries, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian and Ed McCully, first made contact with the widely feared Auca – now known as the Waodani (or Huaorani) – in 1955. The missionaries began by flying over the rainforest and, every week for 13 weeks, lowering gifts in a bucket, in the hope of showing love to violent and aggressive people. As they flew over villages in the dense jungle, the missionaries shouted over the plane’s loudspeaker, “We like you. We like you. We are friends!” Eventually, after successfully exchanging gifts and friendly messages for some weeks, Nate decided it was time to attempt a landing. So they set up camp on the borders of the Waodani’s territory, and waited. After three days, a young man, a girl and an older woman suddenly appeared on the bank opposite them and, encouraged by Jim Elliot, joined the Americans for hamburgers and lemonade. Naenkiwi, a young tribal man, indicated that he wanted to fly in the plane, so Nate flew him over his village – Naenkiwi calling out to his friends below. The five missionaries eventually returned to their base, praising God for a meeting that had proved even more successful than the one they’d longed and prayed for. Returning with his friends on 8th January 1956, Nate radioed back to base: “Pray for us. This is the day! We will contact you next at 4.30pm.”

When the tribe heard the aircraft coming, they hid from view along the beach. Then, as soon as it landed, three Waodani women distracted the enthusiastic missionaries. The fearsome warriors then crept up behind them, and hurled a spear into Nate Saint. As Ed McCully rushed over to his side, another spear pierced his skin. Within minutes it was over; all five lay dead – their lives spent in the service of the Saviour for whom they lived and died. The world was shocked at this turn of events, and Life magazine published a ten-page photo essay on the story, which was also covered in Reader’s Digest and many other publications. Yet, from the ashes of that terrible tragedy, came amazing resurrection life. In 1959, Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel, and Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth, received an invitation to settle among the Waodani. Living among those responsible for the five missionaries’ deaths, they taught the tribe about the need for forgiveness and shared the Gospel. They were joined by Steve Saint, Nate’s son, who had only been five years old at the time of his father’s death. Aged ten, Steve spent his first summer living with the Waodani in the jungle, where he was baptised by a Waodani pastor who’d been part of the raiding party that murdered his father. Steve’s baptism occurred in the same river where the bodies of the five martyred missionaries were found. In 1995, following the death of Rachel Saint, the Waodani elders asked Steve to live with them. While he and his family – including son,

Jaime – were there, Steve decided he wanted to find better ways of doing mission and giving indigenous Christians the tools needed to fulfil the Great Commission. This resulted in the formation of I-TEC – the Indigenous People’s Technology and Education Center. In 2005, Steve wrote ‘End of the Spear’, the story of how his father and four others died at the hands of the Waodani, and how Steve eventually came to love his father’s killers and adopt a number of them as members of his family. In God’s providence, Steve’s son, Jaime, followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. After leaving school in 1995, Jaime moved with his family to the Amazon rainforest to help the Waodani tribe learn to do for themselves what outsiders had been doing, so that the Waodani could reach their own people with the Gospel. Jaime subsequently joined I-TEC and began LIFE University, which seeks to provide the North American Church with tools to evaluate their mission’s strategy, and empower them in providing practical help to their communities. Sixty years later, the story of Operation Auca and the five young men who died for their faith continues. Today, about a third of the tribe have been baptised, and meet weekly for Bible study and prayer. From 7th to 12th March 2017, Jaime Saint is touring the UK, telling the story of his family and his grandfather’s sacrifice, alongside performances from 4Front Theatre and worship from popular singer-songwriter, Cathy Burton.

To book tickets and hear how God turned tragedy into triumph by bringing the violent Waodani to forgiveness and repentance, visit www.maf-uk.org/jaimesaint.


An evening with JAIME SAINT Featuring Cathy Burton and 4front Theatre

Jaime Saint is the grandson of Nate Saint who was part of a group of missionaries, including Jim Elliot. In 1956 they launched ‘Operation Auca’ to share God’s love with a previously unreached tribe in Ecuador. 60 years later this story of love, forgiveness and faith continues. The evening of entertainment will feature accounts from Jaime Saint, worship from Cathy Burton and performances from 4front Theatre. Join us to experience what it is like to be part of this inspirational story.

UK Tour March 2017 Tuesday 7 – GLASGOW Wednesday 8 – CAPERNWRAY Thursday 9 – WELLINGBOROUGH Friday 10 – MARGATE Saturday 11 – FELTHAM Sunday 12 – WOKING

For full details and to book your tickets visit www.maf-uk.org/jaimesaint MAF UK Castle House, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2TQ Scotland Office 29 Canal Street, Glasgow G4 0AD T 01303 852819 E supporter.relations@maf-uk.org

www.maf-uk.org

MAF UK

@flying4life

MAFUK

Registered charity in England and Wales (1064598) and in Scotland (SC039107) ® Registered trademark 3026860, 3026908, 3026915

MAFUKFILM


54 MISSION

Looking back to move forward... Keep The Faith® magazine has just celebrated its 100th printed issue. For over 10 years Keep The Faith - Britain’s leading Black and minority ethnic community-focused publication that promotes and supports unity, faith and family values - has been providing this community with a voice, highlighting the need for unity, providing inspirational and aspirational news from within the BME church community, and creating a better understanding in an everchanging environment. We are the ONLY publication of its kind in the UK, and continue to be independently published - without the assistance of government grants, business loans or subsidies. We have made it to 100! Our high quality publication has been produced and distributed FREE OF CHARGE nationwide. It has been made available to MILLIONS of readers over the 10 years, in print and electronically. It has been distributed nationwide to churches, para-church organisations, Christian businesses, bookshops, leading supermarkets, local authorities, charities, NGOs, prisons, government authorities, Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, and even to two Prime Ministers!

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KTF is reaching out from the pages to the community We have many new powerful features for 2017. ‘Level Up’ is our brand new youth-focused section that aims to connect with young people. Watch out for ‘Level Up’ in the next issue. We are organising improvements with our online channels to create more engagement, that will enable us to communicate more effectively en masse, and we will be organising Keep The Faith network events and seminars. Our goals for 2017 are to have 5,000 subscribers, which will enable us to expand our print run, so that more people can benefit from having access to Britain’s leading Black and minority ethnic community-focused publication. Within three years, we plan to be printing 100,000 copies per issue in the UK. We are also looking at offers to publish Keep The Faith in the USA, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana! Help us to help you Broadening our national network means we will be able to bridge the gap between the faith and secular communities, by profiling projects and enterprises that will be for all our benefit. Promoting and supporting unity will help build on some of the amazing work and progress that is being made within our community in the UK and beyond… but on a much larger scale. Can you help us to continue to inspire, educate, entertain and promote the positivity that is within the burgeoning community that Keep The Faith magazine serves? Because we are dependent on advertising

revenue, we need to encourage subscriptions; we want to remain independent and stay rooted within the community we serve. A subscription also ensures that you receive a copy of Keep The Faith and avoids the disappointment of not being able to pick up a copy from our outlets. Thankfully, for 10 years our income has been entirely derived from advertising revenue - from our very valued customers, who have benefitted greatly from advertising in Keep The Faith. Our clients advise that they receive thousands of pounds a year in support and sponsorship from Keep The Faith readers. Many of our loyal clients continue to do so, year in and year out, but our clients’ budgets are being continually cut. We recognise this and, in order to continue to support our many clients, as they have us, we have not increased our advertising rates for over three years, despite the ever rising costs of our printing and distribution. Now we need to ask for need a little help from our friends. How can you help? It’s simple: please subscribe and have your copy of Keep The Faith magazine delivered to your door six times a year for ONLY £20.00 (UK).


MISSION 55

with a little help from our friends Being featured in Keep The Faith magazine has helped many individuals, organisations and businesses to launch and promote their goods, products and services; raise their profiles; grow and thrive. It’s not about us . . it’s about you! We have profiled members of the community who have launched businesses, charities and/ or faith-based and community projects. Some have since had their wonderful work recognised in the Queen’s birthday and New Year’s honours lists, in the form of MBEs and OBEs, whilst others have become household names, such as Word4Weapons, GangsLine and the Wise Women Awards! We have been media sponsors and supporters for thousands of community events - both within the Church and secular events from youth projects to women’s conferences, awards evenings, gospel events and shows. Despite changes in legislation, we have worked with hundreds of fostering and adoption agencies that have continued to advertise in Keep The Faith to ensure that they find culturally suitable foster carers and adopters for the many Black and multi-ethnic children in care. Keep The Faith has worked with, interviewed and promoted many UK and international artists - from Muyiwa, Noel Robinson, Lurine Cato, Angie Le Mar, Jahméne Douglas, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop TD Jakes, Micah Stampley, Tamela Mann, Hezekiah Walker and Israel Houghton, to name but a few. We have promoted major films - from

Amazing Grace, Selma, A United Kingdom, Queen of Katwe, Red Tails, Lincoln, The Butler, For Coloured Girls, Why Did I get Married Too?, The Nativity Story and Black Nativity. We have featured many actors, such as David Oyelowo, Youssou N’Dour and Tyler Perry. We even made CNN News in New York in 2006, when we featured Amazing Grace: The Movie! Keep The Faith magazine is trusted by its readers; they feel part of the magazine, as it represents them in a positive way. The editorial policy is informative, educational, aspirational and inspirational. Many of our editorial contributors are some of the most powerful and influential movers and shakers and successful entrepreneurs within the BME community. Most contributors are longstanding, all with a passion for communicating positivity and good news with our vast audience.

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Keep The Faith issue 100  

Welcome to our first issue for 2017 AND welcome to our 100th issue! We are blessed. KTF is all about networking, and we have lots of gospel...

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