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Welcome I hope you all had a wonderful summer. Where has this year gone? I can’t believe it’s nearly October already! There has been so much tragedy in 2017 in the UK: from the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, to the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. It was astounding to see how assistance from the public - from every corner in the UK rallied in these times of crisis and, whilst no amount can compensate for the tragic loss of life and long-term injuries, I would anticipate that everyone affected was likewise moved by the outpouring of love and support. Our contributors have responded to these tragedies in this issue of Keep The Faith. We also celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK, but do you know why this is celebrated? We highlight the Caribbean Social Forum in London; we mourn the passing of Bishop Sydney Dunn; we ask, What price a life? and Are we that different? Do you agree not all men are REAL men? Have you heard of ‘Churchianity’? And are you drinking enough water? We talk about economic empowerment; retreating in an ever-advancing society, and look at the way technology is changing the way we do church. These are just some of the topics in this packed issue...
CONTENTS ISSUE 103
Shirley McGreal Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
KEEP THE FAITH MAGAZINE R
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
18 From Prison to Cambridge University Leslie Abrokwaa’s Story by Mildred Talabi 20 Pastor Emeritus Rev Earl L.C. Sterling - A celebration of 50 years’ ministry not out! by Jackie Raymond
22 Let’s get back to our roots! by Esther Kuku 23 Bishop Dunn is gone. So, what now? by Pastor Marcia Clarke PhD 24 Black History Month by Shirley McGreal 26 The Caribbean Social Forum by Shirley McGreal
We are making some improvements to our website, so it carries much more of what you enjoy reading in Keep The Faith magazine. So, if you would like to contribute to the editorial content of Keep The Faith in print or on our website, either as a regular contributor or with one-off editorials, please get in touch by email to email@example.com. We welcome all contributions! Don’t forget, our electronic subscriber database is now over 35,000, with a further 24,000 social media followers. So if you want a quick, effective and inexpensive way to publicise your goods, services or events, get in touch!
08 Gospel music: Living with the tension between ministry and entertainment - Part 2 by Juliet Fletcher 14 Just do it - like Martin by Mervyn Weir 15 And There Was War by Jermaine Wong 16 Seven-year-old wins first Gospel Factor Talent Show by Joy Roxborough
Enjoy! Every blessing
04 - 06 In the news
32 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Publisher would like to thank Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Rev Stephen Brooks, Dionne Gravesande, Marcia Dixon, Mervyn Weir, Matt Bird, Juliet Fletcher, Sarah Ekada, Frances Abebreseh, Marge Malcolm, Joy Roxborough, Mildred Talabi, Esther Kuku, Pastor Marcia Clarke Phd, Pastor Bryon Jones, Paul Lawrence, Bishop Mark Nicholson, Pastor Vashti Ledford-Jobson, Maxine Edgar, Anita Laryea, Alison Johnson, Deborah Lassiter, Grace Gladys Famoriyo, Denyse H Turner, Vanessa Grossett, Kate Strand, Shola Oladipo, Ian Thomas, Patrick Vernon, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, Transport For London, Jackie Raymond, our supporters and all our advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.
28 Are we that different? by Pastor Bryon Jones 29 Not all males are REAL MEN by Paul Lawrence 30 Get your house in order! by Bishop Mark Nicholson 32 What price a life? by Pastor Vashti Ledford-Jobson
34 The unpredictable evil of home-grown terrorism by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 36 Forgiveness is necessary but reconciliation is conditional by Rev Stephen Brooks 37 Resisting evil by Dionne Gravesande 38 Suicide - a complicated grief by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 39 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon 40 Churchianity - The church’s ‘fake news’? by Esther Kuku
42 Desert Teachings by Anita Laryea 43 Truly Madly Deeply by Alison Johnson 44 Finding God in the movies by Deborah Lassiter 45 What you see is what you get! by Grace Gladys Famoriyo 46 The benefits of inner healing - complete wholeness by Denyse H.Turner 48 Guidance on how to approach a Literary Agent by Vanessa Grossett 49 Technology: Changing the way we do church by Joy Roxborough 50 Economic Empowerment by Matt Bird 52 Sourdough Simply Satisfies by Joy Roxborough 53 Food for Purpose - Are you drinking enough? by Shola Oladipo www.keepthefaith.co.uk
Thousands of Christians attend the funeral of BISHOP SYDNEY DUNN
housands of Christians attended the funeral of Bishop Sydney Dunn, founder of Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic (BUCJC). The Jamaican-born Bishop was 95 when he passed away. At its peak, BUCJC, the denomination he started in Birmingham in 1955, had 42 congregations throughout the UK, as well as church plants in the US, Canada, Africa and the West Indies. Under Bishop Dunn’s leadership, BUCJC built the only Black-owned conference building in the UK, Bethel Convention Centre, a 2,500-seater building based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. It’s a venue used by Christian and secular organisations. Due to the high regard in which people viewed Bishop Dunn, three funeral services were held in his honour. The first one took place at BUCJC’s mother church in Gibson Road, Handsworth, on August 22. Bethel Convention Centre was the venue for the two other services, which were for the national church and international followers. Bishop Dunn was born in St Mary, Jamaica on October 12, 1921, and became a Christian as a teenager in Shiloh Pentecostal Church (SPC).
BY KATRINA DOUGLAS
Marketeer Katrina Douglas, who is also a Christian, is hoping that her debut book, Momentum, will be the go-to book for people who are starting a business and need some guidance and insight on how to market, promote and establish their businesses. The book will take business owners through the first 90 days of starting their business and, aside from the marketing tips, the book features 90 daily reflections to keep them motivated as they grow and establish their businesses.
He started pastoral work aged 19, and was destined to become head of SPC, but made the decision to migrate to Britain in the early 1950s to make money and go back to Jamaica. God had other plans, however. Bishop Dexter Edmund was part of the team that organised the funeral. His mother grew up with Bishop Dunn and, as a result, views him as a beloved uncle. When asked his views on him, he shared: “Bishop Dunn was uniquely anointed to preach and teach the Word of God. He was a church planter; he was also a visionary and felt the church should expand.” He added: “Bishop was a larger-than-life figure. He was also a very kind man.”
OPERATION RESTORATION Jamaican school principal, Robert Dixon, was in the UK recently to raise awareness and much-needed funds for Operation Restoration Christian School (ORCS), based in the heart of Trench Town, Kingston, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas in Jamaica’s capital. The school provides education for children who fall out of regular education. Its work includes running a day school for 100+ pupils aged 12-17, an after-school club, a feeding programme, a summer school and an education programme. School activities are led by staff and volunteers. ORCS also extends an open arm to visits and support from overseas organisations, such as the Ascension Trust, led by Rev Les Isaac OBE and urban youth charity, XLP. Dixon, a married father of one and former banker, took over running the school from its founder, Lorna Stanley, in 2014. An experienced community worker, Dixon finds the work at the school challenging but fulfilling. “Every day is a challenge, but every day is a blessing,” he explained. “Working in an under-resourced community, in an area that suffers with violence, can be trying. There are many challenges dealing with the children and with the community, but the success stories are worth it.” Keen for ORCS to continue impacting lives, Robert is inviting people to support the school and its work, whether with money, goods in kind, and through volunteering. ORCS is open to receive support, so if you feel you can help, please do. For more information, visit www.operation-restoration.org/.
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Katrina was inspired to write Momentum when she set up her own business, launched in 2015, after a successful corporate career. She explained: “I’ve been in business for two years and, following talks with other business owners, I felt that new start-ups could benefit from a book like Momentum. Not only does Momentum contain marketing tips entrepreneurs can implement, but also valuable insights on how they can maintain the motivation and momentum needed to build their businesses.” It is Katrina’s plan that Momentum plays a major role in supporting new start-up business owners. She shared, “Upon reading Momentum, it will have helped people to make a smooth transition into their new role as a business owner; build an effective marketing plan, through daily marketing tips, and stay motivated and to keep pressing through when the going gets tough.”
For more details visit www.TheMomentum.Academy/Book. Momentum is also available on Amazon.
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 email@example.com.
Thursday 19 October 2017 Adoption information evening 6pm – 8pm Kensington Town Hall Hornton street London W8 7NX
Freephone 0800 781 2332 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Visit /adoptionandfostering For more events visit www.lbhf.gov.uk www.rbkc.gov.uk www.westminster.gov.uk
• Saturday 14th October • Thursday 26th October
U N I VE RS I TY O F THE YE A R F O R S TU D E N T RE TE N TI O N 2 0 1 7
The HeBe Foundation - celebrating the first 10 years Over 200 people were present at the 10th Anniversary Gala celebration of The HeBe Foundation, held recently at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Bloomsbury, London. The charitable organisations, led by former Keep The Faith columnist and awardwinning leader, Amie Buhari, 40, was founded 10 years ago. Just like today, many young people were losing their lives to gun and knife crime, and Amie just wanted to make a difference. She recalled, “I was doing youth work for different organisations, and I was really a little bit bored with the way we were doing it. We were just ticking boxes, instead of really impacting and developing young people.” The first HeBe Foundation initiative run by Amie was a play called Gone Too Far, written by the young people she worked with. Some had felt stereotyped, others were on the periphery of crime. All felt Black youth were unfairly stereotyped and the play, which was performed in four churches, helped to dispel the myth. Since then, the HeBe Foundation has gone on to help over 800 youth, via a range of projects that seek to build young people’s confidence and help them develop much-needed life skills. The projects include: Urban Debaters, Heathrow Future Fixers Events, London’s Next Top Role Model and Junior Apprentice, based on the BBC programme. Guests of the gala - which included former participants of HeBe Foundation projects; representatives from sponsoring organisations: Heathrow, Babcock International, North Trust Investments, Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance (OTSA), MJM, Aldi West London, Vanderland and ABC, and well-wishers - were reminded of the impact the charity has had on young people’s lives through their own personal testimonies. Joshua Moses, an 18-year-old Law undergraduate, shared how participating in a HeBe Foundation project had helped him overcome his stammer, and former Junior Apprentice winner, Rai Peart, 16, talked about how coming first helped build her confidence. Rev Les Isaac OBE, founder of the Ascension Trust, gave the keynote speech. He called on those present to support the HeBe Foundation’s work. He said: “It is vital and crucial we get behind Amie. They are meeting young people, who have aspiration, but who are saying they need encouragement.” The forthcoming weeks will be busy ones for the HeBe Foundation, as they get ready to run their FREE summer Junior Apprentice Programme. It will run in six areas across London: Clapham, West Norwood, Peckham, Wood Green, Heathrow and Tottenham. And the next 10 years will definitely be busy ones if Amie, who works as an actress when not serving young people, achieves her 10-year goals for the foundation. She shared: “I want us to be working consistently outside of London, so I want to branch out and ultimately do some overseas projects. I don’t want it to be a case of doing something for people abroad, but rather, our young people gaining knowledge and experience by working abroad, which will ultimately go on to benefit others and give them the life experience they need.”
Visit www.thehebefoundation.org.uk for more details.
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Rev Les Isaa c OBE
i Amie Buhar
Reaching a new Pinnock-le after 10 years of the Midnight Oil Summit This August, over 100 young people converged at Birmingham City Church on August 5th for the 10th anniversary for the Midnight Oil Summit (MOS), founded by Seth Pinnock - one of the most wellknown young leaders within Britain’s Black Christian community. Seth launched the event aged just 17. “It’s come a long way since we hosted our first event and packed bags in Asda to raise money to fund it.” He continued, “Midnight Oil Summit has dramatically impacted and transformed the lives of those that have attended over the year. It has provided opportunities for outstanding young Christian leaders and artists to share their ministry gifts on a national platform and, due to the teaching
that young people have received, many have gone on to start businesses, ministries or even renew their faith and become active in the church. These are great results of which we are very proud.” There was a range of activities at MOS, including: a charity launch party, a barbecue for the general public, and a special live album concert and recording by Seth’s band, ‘A New Thing’. Special guests at this year’s Midnight Oil Summit included BBC TV Voice contestant, Israel Allen; singer Becca Folkes; worship leader Mark Beswick; Lucy Grimble; Charles Dada; Rev David Shosanya and Lord Michael Hastings. Seth stated, “I believe this year’s Midnight Oil Summit was truly transformative for those that attended, and marked a new era in Midnight Oil and the various projects we oversee.”
Lessons I learned about religious tolerance in Ghana by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for the Commonwealth
s a man of faith, the persecution of individuals based on their religion or belief is of profound concern and a priority for me and our Government. The picture the world over is a grave one. On a daily basis we see appalling abuses committed against people of faith - ironically often by those erroneously claiming to be acting in the name of faith. We have witnessed sickening acts of persecution against Christians and other minority communities in the Middle East and other regions. The UK will not stay silent in the face of these abhorrent acts. Recently I spoke out against the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ruling that recognises Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremists’. In the Sudan, our lobbying on behalf of four imprisoned Christian pastors led to them being released. In response to the terrible crimes committed by Daesh around the world, together with the Government of Iraq and other international partners, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson launched the ‘Bring Daesh to Justice’ campaign at the United Nations last year. I am also conscious that, despite the increasing intolerance for religious minority communities in some parts of the world, there are real beacons of light in others. I recently travelled to Ghana in West Africa - in my role as Minister of State with responsibility for the Commonwealth - to learn lessons about how a multi-faith democracy can thrive in a fragile neighbourhood. One of Ghana’s defining characteristics is that it is one of the most religious countries in the world. Approximately 70 percent of Ghanaians are Christian, 25 percent are Muslim, while the remaining 5 percent largely follow traditional beliefs. I wanted to find out why Ghana - despite being afflicted by issues of poverty and unemployment that contribute to radicalisation elsewhere - has not suffered the same challenges we see in neighbouring Nigeria or other parts of West Africa. Remarkably, Ghana has instead found unity and strength in its diversity. I met and spoke to Ghanaians from all walks of life. The high level of tolerance - including between Muslims and Christians, as well as intra-faith relations - was striking. This starts at school, where children learn about each other’s faiths and different interpretation of faiths. Respect for diversity is threaded through the fabric of Ghanaian society – be it through national recognition of both Christian and Muslim festivals, interfaith prayers at all national and local events, or through interfaith marriages. Lord Ahmad and President Nana Akufo-Addo
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These cultural practices are reinforced by Government-led efforts that prohibit all discrimination on religious grounds, and work to proactively sustain peaceful religious co-existence. Alongside the example set by political and religious leaders, there are other institutions that support this, notably Ghana’s groundbreaking National Peace Council (NPC). The NPC is a representative body of faith and ethnic groups that works to prevent and adjudicate on tensions between different ethnic and religious groups. Its power is enshrined in law, and its respected status means that when there is the occasional flare-up of tensions, the NPC is able to quickly nip them in the bud, working with other elders and tribal leaders to resolve disputes. During my visit, I hosted a round table for religious leaders, including members of the NPC, to hear firsthand about Ghana’s experience of building a tolerant and inclusive society. It was clear that the NPC is no talking shop. Alongside the regional branches, core members tour the country to meet communities and increase engagement, fostering strong grass-roots links that allow them to have a good understanding of what is happening on the ground. The high standing of many as religious leaders also gives them the credibility to challenge the misinterpretation of religious teachings that drives radicalisation. There are, of course, other factors that contribute to Ghana’s success, such as the strength of family ties and role of tribal chiefs. But, as Minister for the Commonwealth, I was struck by the potential for other Commonwealth states to learn from Ghana and its NPC. As a global community, we are all increasingly threatened by the scourge of extremism and its violent manifestations. I believe there are lessons to be learned from Ghana’s whole-of-society approach, as we look to forge partnerships across the Commonwealth and beyond to tackle shared challenges. It’s often said that faith is a force for good, and Ghana is a living example of that. Frances Abebreseh
No one is beyond hope. There are many ways you can express your faith while helping Prison Fellowship provide vital support to prisoners, their families and communities. Together we can restore people’s lives. No one is beyond hope. prisonfellowship.org.uk/ keepthefaith
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10 GOSPEL NEWS
Gospel music: Living between ministry and JULIET FLETCHER
is a former BBC Producer and funding Executive of the GMIA
n the last issue of Keep The Faith, I was able to share with you the personal experiences of those who identified themselves as gospel artists performing in the world of entertainment. They were impacted by this phenomenon “tension between ministry and entertainment”. Most reported it as a difficult and painful
experience because of the criticism received from within the Church community. Some had to fight hard to find the road to restoration, confidence and self-worth. I’ve spoken to more church leaders, to help me build a scriptural foundation of understanding, and also included references to those who are confessing Christians, but who express their creativity without the ‘gospel’ tag in the world of entertainment. They see their skill, talent and abilities as an art form by which they do a job of work and earn a living, but they’ll still be in church on that Sabbath/Sunday morning! Here we have it, then: two types of Christian artists: One that goes out with the ‘gospel artist’ tag, and the other that goes out with no upfront label, but is known and happy to be identified as a Christian. WHY TAKE NOTICE OF THE TENSION? We take notice of this tension, because we can see real lives affected by it in a way that either makes them ineffective (not reach their true potential) or disaffected (disgruntled, dissatisfied and resentful) of the Church’s response. The worst is when someone leaves The Way altogether - an unnecessary step, when a remedial solution is possible. The remainder of this piece is devoted to help both types of artists and those who criticise what they do.
INTERPRETING MINISTRY AND ENTERTAINMENT Ministry equals serving. We all do ministry because we are servants of JESUS, our Lord. I like Noel Robinson’s take on this: “I’m a worshipper, who happens to be...” which he quotes as the basis of Kingdom Worship Movement. Therefore, if you are an accountant in the week and a choir member at weekends, on both occasions you are doing ministry. Check out the etymology (the origin of words) for ‘entertainment’: ‘Entertain’ comes from the juxtaposition of French entre, which comes from Latin Inter - both words meaning ‘together’, or ‘among’, and Latin tenere, which means ‘to hold’. So, literally, entertain means to ‘hold or support together’. Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary).
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Pastor Gareth Sherwood
Combine this understanding with my conversation with Pastor Gareth Sherwood of City Gates (Ilford). He told me that, during a Sunday sermon, he asked the congregation: “Tell me, how many of you came to church this morning?” A good number raised their hands. “So, if you came to church, what happens to the church when you leave?” There was an acknowledging silence. “The church comes into a building but goes out to ‘be church’ wherever you go,” he explained. JESUS said: “The Kingdom is within, and this is what we carry everywhere we go.” This should get us excited. Arts & Entertainment is one of the most influential spheres of the world. It seeks to hold captive the minds of people away from God and godly things; ‘ministry’ is serving and ‘entertainment’ is holding someone’s attention. Here we come with our contribution, our ‘seed of righteousness’ to plant among all the considered gunk: if, as a minister/performer I can hold your attention to give you the Gospel of Jesus or an inspirational message, that is a powerful opportunity. That is me being the Church, and bringing Kingdom values into the world.
GOSPEL NEWS 11
with the tension d entertainment
I have friends who act in character roles that are rough, but they do the job and go back to regular life. If it’s gonna drag you down then, honestly, I can say, for me, that’s not right. You must know God for yourself.
Lawrence Rowe is an actor and performing artist. Currently he stars in the cast of Motown: The Musical in London’s West End. He plays: lead singer, The Temptations; Dennis Edwards, The Miracles; Bobby Rogers, Head A&R at Motown, and Mickey Stevenson, one of the Commodores. He’s a member of New Testament Church Of God, under the pastoral care of Bishop Eric Brown. From childhood, Lawrence has been passionate about singing, and cut his teeth in various choirs – from his local church through to LCGC. Since winning the role, he performs nightly to thousands in live theatre. I asked him a few direct questions that can help us understand why, as a Christian, he is comfortable working in the entertainment environment. JF: How do you honestly feel, working in entertainment? LR: I’m actually passionately loving it and feel very privileged. Whatever your professional work, you’re gonna face challenges. To me, it’s no different from working in health or education. It’s what you do and how you manage yourself. JF: What is the response of your colleagues who know about your Christian faith? LR: Those who know me know where I stand. And those who come into contact with me, I am encouraged just to be the best me. I talk with anyone. That is a gift God has given me, and so I’m always seeking to be a positive contributor to conversations. In this biz, it’s easy to experience disappointments, depression and other negative forces. I’m glad to let my life reflect the way I cope with situations, and others see that.
keep in touch with my pastor and I have set up my own network around me. It makes a huge difference. You must have your head screwed on, know what you stand for, and let the fruit of the Spirit work in you. JF: Do you believe someone needs to be ‘called’ to work in entertainment? LR: Some people say they have been called. I have friends who’ve worked in the music industry, touring for years. They were drawn into it. Sometimes there are conflicts: you look at the money and look at the storyline and, if it doesn’t fit where you can walk in Christ, that’s where a personal choice is made. Great productions, like The Lion King [the highest grossing stage play in the world, seen by over 13 million people] has incredible storylines that have a powerful parallel with biblical principles.
JF: What does it feel like performing in ‘Motown’? LR: Every night I walk out on stage there are actually 1,200 people here who, through the Motown story, learn how a set of people responded to racism, politics, adversity and personal disappointments. I don’t take it lightly. I’m able to share light with them. The whole audience is caught up in what we perform. Every song speaks a message. Professional and personal friends have been very encouraging and kind to me about my performance, saying that I stand out or they can feel the energy I bring. That’s amazing, and I find it very consoling to my career choice. But, to be honest, I don’t sing the songs the same way: every night I perform for the new audience that is there, and aim to bring that something ‘extra’ for them. It is significant that 50 years on, the songs are just as relevant. The beauty of live theatre and this production is that you see the response in people’s eyes and the feelings. In whatever way they came in, they become as one and leave as one. The Lord is a gift-giver, and you want to display the best He has given, in the best place and the best level. I was very heartened by Lawrence’s testimony. Hope you are, too.
JF: What about all the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll? LR: You know, it’s really not an issue for me. It’s not even on my mind. I’m not drawn in any shape or form by any of those things. I’ve been involved in the entertainment business for years now. It’s my job. I do my work, enjoy my friends, and go home at the end of it. If you uphold a life and lifestyle standard - that speaks volumes to those around you. JF: Are you supported, or do you feel isolated? LR: I am and do feel supported, because I
12 GOSPEL NEWS Bayo Ademiju, Senior Pastor for Oasis of Love Christian Centre (Leytonstone), said to me: “Everything today is about relationships and how people relate. If we only have one opportunity to speak into people’s lives, and they say you can on this platform called Entertainment, I’m gonna take that. We can’t save anyone. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of salvation, for The Lord knows them that are His (2 Timothy 2:19). Just by being there we will be an influence.” My last artist witness is Jake Isaac. Jake’s musical mark began with the significant praise and worship youth movement, iEqualsChange (iEC), and
wrote the popular song ‘As We Seek Your Face’. Now signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records, he has moved centre and front as a prolific singer/songwriter, making a positive foray into the very heart of the pop industry. From a sound Christian background (his father is Rev Les Isaac OBE, lead founder of Street Pastors and Ascension Trust), Jake’s music and manner are holding their own before a listening audience of millions. Pastor Ade Omooba, of the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), has the final word: “Influence is more important than popularity.” Jake Isaac
THE ‘HOW MUCH IN THE POT?’ MEASUREMENT I’ve now developed a POT measurement, which you can adjust and use to help guide your decision-making. PURPOSE What is your Purpose? Are there clear, experienced indicators in your life story that show/link to this juncture of your life? Does the Purpose match your Passion? Have you had godly individuals who have seen and bear witness to your Purpose? Does your talent match or live up to your Purpose? Will the Purpose mainly help others or primarily just you? Could the Purpose lead you away from God and righteousness (right living)? OPPORTUNITIES Does the Opportunity align with your Purpose? Will the Opportunity compromise or complement your Purpose? Have you sought the Lord about the Opportunity? Will many hear the Gospel or inspirational message you carry? Is money the greater motivator for accepting the Opportunity? (It’s a Yes or No question. Be honest.) Are you emotionally, morally and spiritually prepared? Do you have supporting or an experienced network of individuals? Will it move you and others forward, backward or retain your current position? THEOLOGY Will your relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that you enjoy be enhanced or threatened? Have you an unction or inner sense of peace with God, as you meditate and think on your Purpose and Opportunities?
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH SCHOOLS RESOURCE PACK Sugar Media and Marketing have created the first Black History Month Resource pack
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WE ARE KICK IT OUT WE ARE TOGETHER WE LOVE FOOTBALL WE DON’T HATE © Joana Freitas
The pack includes everything schools need to celebrate 30 years of Diversity and Black History Month and is:
The Equality Trust works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality UK income inequality is among the highest in the developed world and evidence shows that this is bad for almost everyone. The Equality Trust works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality. People in more equal societies live longer, have better mental health and have better chances for a good education regardless of their background. Community life is stronger where the income gap is narrower, children do better at school and they are less likely to become teenage parents. When inequality is reduced people trust each other more, there is less violence and rates of imprisonment are lower.
If we want to build a better society, it is essential we take action. The Equality Trust is working with others to build a social movement for change. We analyse and disseminate the latest research, promote robust evidence-based arguments and support a dynamic network of campaign groups across the country.
THE EQUALITY TRUST | RESOURCE FOR LONDON | 356 HOLLOWAY ROAD | LONDON | N7 6PA Tel: 020 3637 032 www.equalitytrust.org.uk
14 GOSPEL NEWS
JUST DO IT LIKE MARTIN He’s been called the most influential man in the last one thousand years. He was certainly the most famous man in Europe. He literally changed the course of history, and we’re still living with the impact of his actions today. In fact, even if you don’t know a lot about him now, that’s all about to change. October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and there are celebrations going on all over the world to honour Martin Luther, the man at the centre of it all. He had a message so revolutionary, so anti-establishment, so challenging that it immediately went viral, which was pretty remarkable for the 16th century without social media. But there was a new technology in town that was just starting to get established, which helped his ideas to spread rapidly. We take it for granted today but, back then, ‘printing’ was just becoming affordable enough to become a means of mass communication. If he were alive today, Luther would be all over Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. And his messages would be retweeted on Twitter to millions of followers. You might think this is an old, historical and irrelevant message, but you would be mistaken. Luther has affected your life whether you’re a Catholic or Protestant or atheist. If you lived in Luther’s time, you had no choice, you were automatically part of the Roman Catholic Church, and its rules were enforced by the State, the Holy Roman Empire. Luther’s reformation not only led to a choice of how to worship God, it eventually led to the choice to not worship Him at all. There’s a popular quote by Tommy Lasorda that tells us: “There are three kinds of people in this world: people who make things happen, people who watch what happens, and people who wonder what happened.” Martin Luther is one of the people who Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
HERE I STAND Astonishing new musical-play from esteemed playwright, Mervyn Weir, celebrating 500 years of the Protestant Reformation. made things happen. Though he was no highly toned athletic specimen, were he alive today, Nike would undoubtedly recruit him as the face of their ‘Just do it’ campaign. The famous Nike tagline captures a spirit of grit, determination and passion, and Martin Luther was the living embodiment of that same spirit of resolve and purpose. He just did what needed to be done, regardless of the cost. He was no saint, and had plenty of faults that are well documented. We’re probably all familiar with the Edmund Burke quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Luther was not a ‘do nothing’ guy. In the slowly unfolding revelation that we are ‘saved by grace alone’, Luther found his life’s purpose, and he would not keep silent regardless of the cost to himself. It’s a timely reminder in this digital age, that Christianity can’t be limited to a virtual, vocal or visual experience. It must be lived and experienced in the real world. The ‘Word became flesh’ is not just a picture of Jesus’ incarnation; it’s also a reminder that we have to “be the change we want to see in the world”. Our mission hasn’t changed; it’s still to take the Gospel to the world. We know the need, we know the theory, and we have the message. Now, are you ready to be like Martin and ‘Just do it’? Mervyn Weir Writer-director, ‘Here I Stand’
October 1517, Germany. The world is about to change but doesn’t know it. ‘Protesters change the world’ and, in a singular moment, a minor monk starts a revolution that will alter history and usher in the modern world. Brought to life by a 15-piece company of actors and musicians, including Vadé, the sensational jazz-gospel quintet, currently appearing in Sky TV’s new music show, ‘Sing It’. The production challenges the audience around the theme of ‘protest’, as it effectively blends the iconic story of Luther with a contemporary twist. The show is an opportunity to be inspired by Luther’s stand and what it means for us today, while still being thoroughly entertained. Here I Stand A4P AW.qxp_Layout 1 18/08/2017 16:50 Page 1
(Search: Here I Stand) www.hereistand.org.uk
Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is all about love, why is there so much evil in the world?
he reality of a loving God and the existence of evil is a theme that few would seek to address. However, in And There Was War, Jermaine Wong - writer and director, as well as spoken word artist - presents a dynamic response to this age-old dilemma, and leaves audiences with a deep and emotional connection with some of the Bible’s most pivotal characters. The last performance of And There Was War took place earlier this year in February at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, and sold out days before the event. Such was the positive response on the night with a swelling demand for further performances, that Final Call Productions - a Christian theatre company that seeks to inspire, engage, encourage and inform its audiences through theatre, film and poetry - have decided to put on another performance on 9th December 2017 at The Dominion Centre, Wood Green, London. Depicting the mystery of iniquity that took place in Heaven, the play sought to bring the viewer behind the scenes of this great controversy. With maximum audience capacity, the atmosphere was alive with awe and suspense, as the characters portrayed with intense emotion a story so familiar with most Christians, yet presented in such a way that held the audience spellbound from beginning to end. With the fall of Lucifer, the play went through relevant scenes described in Scripture that highlighted the consequences of man’s fall and of sin. Though these scenes were based on familiar scriptural events, the acting and storyline created a much deeper insight, taking their viewers ‘behind the scenes’ to experience the dynamics between good and evil. Stunning performances were given by Lloyd Reid (vocalist from gospel group, Brooks and The Company) playing Lucifer and Thomas Ababio (acting student, Identity School of Acting) playing Immanuel,
BY JERMAINE WONG
And There Was War
that through their onstage performances they created an interplay of tension and intrigue. Pam Lister, Chapel recording artist and gospel singer from Canada, who saw the play last year, said: “I was overwhelmed with the powerful reaction emotionally that I experienced. As each scene unfolded, the characters sprang from Scripture, and came to life in front of me.” “Literally blown away” - Natasha Ferguson (2BReal Magazine). “There isn’t much in the way of wholesome inspiration for young people in this day and age. Jermaine has managed to portray the controversy between good and evil to today’s generation in a real and potentially life-changing way. One of the best productions to come out of the UK” - Chris Brooks (Brooks and The Company) “I’m actually sitting in the studio, bouncing off the walls as I buzz in Yinka’s ear about the play, about you all, about the creativity, about the mind of someone who writes such a play, about the love of Emmanuel, about the ways of the adversary, about the SERAPHIM!! I can’t WAIT to see this play again!” - Selene Jordan (Premier Gospel Radio). Writer-director Jermaine Wong says: “We are passionate about theatre; we use storytelling to reflect and highlight issues that affect our society today, and raise awareness of the importance of personally knowing God and standing for Jesus.” And There Was War not only presents a compelling rationale for the presence of evil, but highlights the comfort of a constant source of help in Jesus and an eternal hope in a God of love. It leaves listeners with the most important question to consider: “Whose side will you choose?” This is a great production for family and friends that will generate reflection long after the cast have taken their bows.
Tickets for And There Was War are available on www.atww.eventbrite.co.uk
Pictures taken by Ashley Bloom
More information about the play can be found on www.finalcallproductions.com
16 GOSPEL NEWS
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SEVEN-YEAR-OLD WINS FIRST GOSPEL FACTOR TALENT SHOW Seven-year-old Kayla Powers aced 20 other performances and came out as the overall winner in the first Gospel Factor Talent Show, which was staged at the Bethel Convention Centre recently. Lebert and Janet Dawkins, founders of the charity ‘Blessed 2 Bless Community Project’, organised the show to help raise aspirations among young people, by giving them a platform to share their creative talents with their community. Kayla, who has only been dancing publicly for two months, all but brought the house down with her dance performance to ‘Consuming Fire’, which the judges described as “stunning”. “The energy coming from Kayla was absolutely incredible,” one judge said. Trevor Minto, one of five judges who deliberated the decision, said they selected Kayla because she scored the highest outright. “All five judges scored individually,” he said, “and Kayla hit all the right spots across the criteria areas: overall performance, creativity, audience response and stage presence. We all felt individually that her performance was outstanding.” Eighteen-year-old classically trained flautist, Rachel Taylor, who wowed the crowd with ‘Oceans’ and also earned herself a standing ovation, came in second place, while 9-year-old Daniel Letman, who belted out his mesmerising rhythm on drums, was placed third. Co-founder Lebert said: “I feel truly honoured that God entrusted me with this task and that I was able to fulfil it. Giving the youth an opportunity to express themselves gives me great joy. I am both humbled and thankful to God, and I’m now getting ready to start planning for Gospel Factor 2018.” Despite the event getting off to a late start, the audience was enthusiastic throughout. They were so wowed with the quality of the presentations that they responded to the contestants with several Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
standing ovations. Not surprisingly, Kayla’s performance was one of those for which the audience stood in rapturous applause. Other presentations included: the bold drum beats of self-taught female drummer, Aaliyah Jay; the fluidity of Brehana and Taeshia, as they shook off shackles and impressed judges with their high-energy dance presentation; the poised confidence of 14-year-old Terrell, playing ‘He Looked Beyond’ on the saxophone; the cool ease of 10-year-old Dimitre’s drumming rendition; the heartfelt twists and reaches of 12-year-old guest artiste Leah Dawkins’ (aka Heaven’s Girl) interpretative dance of ‘Take me to the King’ that brought the audience to their feet for the second standing ovation of the night; Janelle’s crisp and clear song vocals performing ‘I belong to You’; singing duo, Relentless (Jahmelle and Felicia), in their powerful rendition of ‘My World Needs You/You Made a Way’, as they bounced energy off each other with their wide-ranging stage utilisation; the upbeat melody of Mz Tyra J doing ‘Love For Me’, and the measured and mellow notes of Analise singing ‘God Provides’. Emerging poet, Ange, took the audience on a spoken word journey with her eloquent poetry that she writes out of her own struggles as a Christian. Judges commented on the truth of her content. La Sanya, adorned in her Jamaican national costume, also took the stage confidently, and delivered her clear-voiced spoken word presentation.
GOSPEL NEWS 17
Dr Rosie Loftus Dr Rosie Loftus
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Among the singers, 11-year-old Alesha impressed judges and audience with her powerful rendition that utilised the full range of the vocal scale. She inspired the audience to their third standing ovation of the evening, and left compère, Evon, exclaiming: “Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! Wow-wow-wow!” as she bounded back on stage to rejoin Alesha after her act. Compère Darius described the 11-year-old’s performance as having left a shift in the atmosphere. “Amazing”, “controlled” and ”fantastic” were some of the words the judges used to describe it. The treasure trove of talent unleashed that evening also included 16-year-old drummer, Javarn; Renaye, with her own rendition of ‘Oceans’, and the Gospel Arts Production dance team (GAP), in their funky costumes, jiving and somersaulting to positive lyrics all across the stage. Throughout the evening, compères Darius and Evon did an excellent job of entertaining the audience in their own right and keeping things flowing. The children were given an opportunity to open the event with several prayers that they had prepared. When asked, all contestants spoke about entering the competition because they wanted to do their best for God’s glory. Plans are already being made for Gospel Factor 2018. “We have learnt a lot from this year’s event,” Lebert said, “and we are trusting God for an even better event next year. To God be all the glory!”
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From Prison to Cambridge University Leslie Abrokwaa’s Story BY MILDRED TALABI
Born in North London to a struggling single mum, 26-year-old Leslie Abrokwaa spent the early part of his childhood in Ghana, where he learned the respect and discipline that would make him a model pupil. But, when a life of crime beckoned, Leslie found himself in prison - with little prospects for the future. Keep The Faith caught up with Leslie and in his own words he tells how, with help through the Salmon Youth Centre, he is about to start his Youth Work and Technology degree at the prestigious Cambridge University - a fate Leslie describes as “a dream come true” and “nothing short of a miracle”.
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“I built a strong bond with my half-brother, who was five years older than me, during my teenage years. He was always in the latest clothes, latest cars, and always had different women. I wanted all these nice things he had, and I didn’t want to ask my mum for the money so I thought, Let me start selling drugs, make my own money and buy my own things. “At the same time, I enrolled into college to study a BTEC National Diploma in Media. I got a job at Marks & Spencer’s so I stopped selling drugs after seven months. But due to the recession, M&S had to let a lot of employees go. “After losing my job, a close friend of mine came to me and told me about a ’job‘ we could do, which involved holding up a brothel house. “At first I said No, but he persuaded me and we went to do the deed. The robbery didn’t go according to plan: firearms were left at the scene, and I ended up taking the rap for all three of us that were involved. I was charged with possession of two firearms and attempted robbery. I was looking at 10 years in prison. I got three and a half years. “The hardest part of jail was seeing my mum lose so much weight; seeing her fight back tears whenever she came to visit me, and hearing her say the words: ’I didn’t think I’d ever see you in a place like this.’ “I did a year in prison and then came out and did the rest as a suspended sentence. I wanted to go back to college to finish my BTEC and make my mum proud. I came out with a triple Merit grade and got in to Luton University in Bedfordshire to study Film Studies and Media. I moved to Luton and stayed in a house with some friends. “While I was up there, I got swept back into the road thing, deeper than I was before, and went back into selling drugs – this time, Class A drugs. A lot of my friends were making a lot of money from it, and it just seemed quick and easy, so I decided to just jump in. I didn’t do it for long. “After two and a half years at uni I decided
to quit and went to pursue music. I encountered a lot of things spiritually in the music scene that I just didn’t agree with. I went to church and got re-baptised as a Christian, and it was in the pool that I first met Sam Adofo, the Director of Salmon Youth Centre. Sam was a Deacon at the church, and he and the pastor baptised me. Sam took an interest in me. He gave me his card, told me what he does, and told me if I was ever interested in doing youth work I should get in touch. “At the time, I was doing an apprenticeship at a law firm in an administration role. One day I work up in the morning and I heard this voice say:“You should do youth work.” From there, I started volunteering and helping out with music at Salmon before getting on to the Youth Work apprenticeship course. “Things started to progress after that. I now have my Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work, and I’m now the full-time Music Youth Worker at Salmon. I love the job I do. I’ve never had a job where I’m happy to come in - even on days I’m not supposed to. It’s something I’m really passionate about, to be able to sow seeds of positivity in young people and to know that every young person has their own story and their own journey. “I went to share my story at Cambridge University a couple of times with Salmon, and got to know some of the people there. When the opportunity arose up for me to do a part-time degree in Youth Work and Theology at Cambridge, it was a no-brainer; you don’t think about that twice! “I’m now doing Christian music - as ‘Forever Skye’. My EP launch was held at Salmon in June, with the artwork for the event created with help from young people at Salmon. Sometimes I still can’t believe it – me, the boy that turned his back on God and ended up going to prison, is now working in this great job, and about to be studying at Cambridge. I’ve now got to really make sure I finish my degree and make my mum proud.”
ABOUT THE SALMON YOUTH CENTRE The Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey has been reaching out to young people in inner city London for over a hundred years. Their multi-purpose facilities and skilled staff members provide a safe place and purpose for young people from the ages of six to 24. The centre supports young people’s transition to adulthood in three key ways: improving their Health & Wellbeing; involving them in positive Community Engagement, and preparing them for Education and Work. Their programme includes children and youth work (6-9s, 10-13s and 14+) in sports, adventure, drama, dance and music, as well as detached youth work, outreach, mentoring, working with young people with disability, providing prison after-care support, assisting with school work, and carrying out group and one-to-one work. The Salmon Youth Centre believes that every young person has potential, and they work intensively to inspire young people to reach this potential and to contribute positively to the community they live in. For more information, please visit www.salmonyouthcentre.org.
PASTOR EMERITUS REV EARL L.C. STERLING A celebration of 50 years’ ministry - not out!
n Saturday 10th June, the Ealing NTA - led by Rev Dr Julius and Rev Mrs Jamiru - honoured the life, ministry and legacy of Pastor Emeritus Rev Earl Leopold Constantine Sterling, who was celebrating a tremendous 50 years of ministry. Guests included members of the Sterling family, Bishop Delroy Powell, the Rt Rev Eric Brown, Rev Les Isaac OBE, Pastor Emeritus Calvin Burke, Bishop Dick and Lady Agnes Essandoh of Action Chapel International, Rev Beverley Russell-Burke, Rev Edna May Richards, and Bishop and Lady McLeod – to name but a few. Inspirational musical tributes were performed by Rev and Mrs Crossfield & Family; Psalmist Mrs Dawn Thomas-Wallace, and Psalmist Mr Isaiah Raymond. The warmth of affection towards this man of God and his “dedicated and outstanding” wife, Rev Nezlin Sterling, was tangible, as NTA congregants and leaders from around the UK paid tribute to the effect he’d had on their lives and on the church. A table vignette displayed items close to Rev Sterling’s heart: his guitar, his Bible, a Jamaican flag, and the iconic ‘Sterling hat’ – often worn along with his various suits and ties. Special mention was also made of his love of cricket, represented by his cricket bat. Long-time friend, Pastor Emeritus Calvin Burke, spoke of the anointing on Rev Sterling’s life to impact the lives of everyone he came into contact with – “not only on NTA Ealing, not only on NTA England, but on all the other churches” that he was associated with. Rev Olutunjie Okoro-Cole and his wife also shared how Rev Earl and Rev Nezlin Sterling had taken them under their wing, when they arrived from Sierra Leone, and he also publicly thanked the Sterling sons - Dwight, Laurel and Dominic - for sharing their parents with the flock. Heartfelt tributes were also punctuated with laughter, as the Rt Rev Joel Thomas, General
The Rt Rev Joel Thomas
Overseer of the Church of God Worldwide Mission International, pleaded with Rev Sterling to tell him the secret of his youthful looks that belie his 75 years. The Rt Rev Eric Brown then took the stage and, basing his tribute on 1 Samuel 12, congratulated Rev Sterling on being able to lift his hands and declare that, throughout all his years of ministry, he had remained a man of the utmost integrity – with no financial or immoral slurs against his name – and had “served the Assembly with distinction and, in every way, with a dignified ministry”. Another respected pastor who wanted to add his voice to the tributes was Bishop Dick Essandoh, who said Rev Sterling had been an inspiration and a servant of God who had not only finished, but had finished well. Quoting 1 Samuel 20:18 – “Thou shalt be missed, because thy seat shall be empty” – Bishop Essandoh acknowledged that Rev Sterling was now entering a new season of opportunities, and that he had raised up a son in Rev Dr Julius Jamiru, who would sit in his seat and continue the work he had started. There was a definite thread running throughout the tributes, of a man who had
The Rt Rev Eric Brown
dedicated much of his life to serving God through humbly serving others – a thread Bishop Delroy Powell highlighted in his own personal commendation. A heart-warming video presentation by the young adults brought further accolades for a “church dad” who had made significant impact on many lives. Perhaps the most poignant tribute of the evening was given by Dominic Sterling. He acknowledged there was “serious business” taking place in the forbidden front room when they were growing up, and came to appreciate the importance of releasing his parents to the flock. Using the analogy of a tree, he spoke of some people who were like leaves – they fell away at the slightest breeze or wind; some were branches, who would break away under pressure, but others, like his father, were roots; they remained unseen, but their contributions were vitally important. “You don’t really see him, but he goes about his day-to-day business” impacting the lives of others. CONCLUSION It is fitting that servants of God are honoured for their many achievements when they enter glory, but it is also important to recognise the love, affection and gratitude towards men and women of God, and celebrate them while they are still with us. Coming from someone who isn’t part of the NTA family, it was evident that this was a very special event for a very special man and woman of God, who have humbly and diligently served the New Testament Assembly - 50 years’ ministry and still ‘not out’! Pastor Emeritus Rev Earl Sterling, we salute and congratulate you. Jackie Raymond Jackie is a freelance writer and member of ECC. Connect with her at LinkedIn or email email@example.com
Rev and Mrs Okoro-Cole
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LET’S GET BACK TO OUR ROOTS! ESTHER KUKU
is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist
hy do I feel that so many Black women are encouraging their girls to think that silky European hair is better than their God-given frizz? I discussed this recently with a friend, and she said: “My hair is natural... under my wig...” A recent study revealed that 70% of Black women and 94% of White women in the US have a preference for straight hair! I think these statistics need to change. Afro hair has been overlooked, undervalued and excluded for centuries. In the 1940s, ‘good hair’ became a requirement for many African American women to attain employment or admittance into certain schools and social groups.
Cicely Tyson was one of the first Black women to wear a braided hairstyle on national television in 1962. Up until this point, braids weren’t considered a ‘finished’ style. In 1971, Melba Tolliver, the first Black person ever to anchor a network news programme, was supposed to cover Tricia Nixon’s wedding at the White House. Tolliver changed her hair to natural. Previously, her hair had been straightened. She was told that she couldn’t appear live in the studio, unless she changed her hair back. She said in the New York Times: “They said I looked less attractive -- less feminine. But it was their standard of femininity, not mine.” Tolliver refused to straighten her hair and, finally, after public pressure, the station relented and permitted her to appear on air with her natural hair. It is now the 21st century. Surely we can all help to change outdated thinking by celebrating Afro hair together. As Christians - men and women alike we need to shun shallow Euro-centric beauty standards. I said women - and men. Men can do a lot to encourage their daughters and their wives to embrace their natural hair. Every day my three-year-old gets dressed and goes straight to her Dad for affirmation.
It’s not enough for me to tell her she’s beautiful, she wants to hear it from her Daddy. Men can speak strength and confidence into the women in their lives, especially their girls. Tell them that they are wonderfully and fearfully made, and that God has numbered every single tight Afro curl on their head. He knows the number of hairs on your £300 ‘real hair’ wig, too! Men can encourage the women in their world to take the time needed to explore how to drop some heavy head-turning natural hairstyles. Now, I understand that we’re busy. Wigs are easy, convenient, and some of them are so good, they actually look like it’s your own hair! I have studied many women on the train in the mornings, trying to establish where the scalp connection is. But we are all worth the effort and the time.
‘Men, women and girls need to see their natural beauty as a vital part of their identity.’
For decades, Black women have had to put up with small-minded views of Afro hair being deemed as unattractive and unprofessional. We owe it to our daughters, especially, to reverse this narrative. No young girl should ever have to feel she has to relax or straighten her hair in order to get ahead professionally. We need to return to our roots - quite literally! - and the 30th anniversary of Black History Month is a good place to start. What’s needed is some education and information. Men, women and girls need to see their natural beauty as a vital part of their identity. This is where World Afro Day comes in. Television producer, Michelle De Leon, has created this movement, because more understanding and education are needed when it comes to natural hair and all that it stands for. It holds together the many parts of who we are. From as far back as the Bible, we know that ‘a woman’s hair is her glory’. Although Black women are celebrating Afros, braids, cane rows and locks, young girls are still not seeing enough representation of women who look like this on television, in books or in advertisements. No young girl picking up a magazine should feel pressurised to conform to what society and the Media dictate is beautiful.
You can find out more about World Afro Day, and sign up for blogs and information from founder, Michelle De Leon at www.worldafroday.com
Bishop Dunn is gone. So, what now? PASTOR MARCIA CLARKE PhD Affiliate Assistant Professor of Practical Theology. Fuller Theological Seminary
ishop Sydney Dunn, founder of Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic (BUCJC), said: “The church was never lost” - it had found him.1 And the Black British community is all the better for it. Born in St Mary, Jamaica, on October 12, 1921, Dunn became a Christian as a teenager. He entered pastoral work aged 19 and was ordained as Bishop, aged 30. As part of the Windrush Generation, Dunn arrived in England in 1954. At its peak, the denomination he started in Handsworth, Birmingham, in 1955 had 42 congregations throughout the UK, as well as church plants in the US, Canada, Africa and the West Indies. His ministry impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. Under Bishop Dunn’s leadership, BUCJC built the only Black-owned conference centre in the UK: Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich, West Midlands. On July 23, 2017 Bishop Dunn passed the baton. So, what now? Not only for the Black Church in general, but particularly for the men and women who subscribe to a Pentecostal formative narrative? Although there are differences in our ‘Oneness’ and ‘Trinitarian’ Apostolic theology, we should be careful to avoid the equal and opposite temptations of minimising and/or overemphasising these differences. The general perception of adherents and those outside of the movement is that we are basically the same.2 We need leaders Bishop Dunn was consecrated as Bishop at the age of 30. He used his title and influence to impact the lives of thousands around the world. As Christian
leaders - whether in the Church or in secular society - we need to evaluate our calling: why are we doing what we do? For prestige, power and money? To have a sense of success, due to failures in other areas of our lives? We need to candidly evaluate our current reality. Joshua was told by Moses and by Yahweh not to be afraid, to be courageous. Why? Because there was something to be afraid of! There were times when Bishop Dunn and the men and women of the Windrush Generation were afraid and wanted to buckle. It was a time not only to speak out against injustice and poverty, but also to build, encourage and put systems in place that would have a lasting political, social and economic effect. Bishop Dunn came to the country when he was 33 years old, with £14 in his pocket. The Lord called him home aged 95. Do the maths! Your vision may not be fulfilled in the next five years - it may take a lifetime. But leave something behind. We need to harness our economic power Under Bishop Dunn’s leadership, the 2,500-seater Bethel Conference Centre was purchased - the only centre of its kind owned by a BME group outside of London. The cumulative value of real estate, based on my denomination alone, runs into tens of millions. Add to that other Black-majority denominations and independent churches. There is economic power to be harnessed to influence the future of Black people in this country, particularly the vulnerable: the elderly and the youth. We need the Holy Spirit On the day of Pentecost, the manifestation of Holy Spirit changed lives. Peter, who only days before had been cowering in the shadows, was now bold, articulate and powerful. Families and communities were later transformed. Scriptures attest that the prophet was not the one followed by the community, rather the prophetic word was given, discerned and
https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Thousands-set-to-pay-tribute-to-Bishop-Sidney-Dunn [accessed 27/8/2017] http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/crp/files/2013/02/howard1987.pdf [accessed 28/8/2017]
complied with if found to be true. Discernment is something that we relied on the church mothers for. For the most part, they had enough Holy Ghost to know when something was truth or error. The Holy Ghost was more than just a physical expression of ethereal knowledge; these women prayed, read enough Bible, listened to enough substantial preaching, and lived righteously to know when something just wasn’t ‘right’. Things are not yet right in our community. We need to cry out again, not just for tongues but for discernment, power and boldness to move our community on to its next developmental stage. At the passing of another great leader, who came to England in obscurity and was ushered into eternity in the view of millions (due to coverage by the BBC and ITV), now more than ever the Black British community needs a prophetic voice around which to rally, and leaders with integrity and vision to lead the charge.
HISTORY MONTH Black History is longer than a month... This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month, but do you know how this annual celebration came about in the UK?
lack History Month, also referred to in the US as African-American History Month, is an annual celebration that takes place in February (in the US and Canada) and in October in the UK for events and people in the history of the African diaspora. It is a time to honour and celebrate the achievements of Black men and women throughout history. Carter G Woodson
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In the US, the precursor to Black History Month was ‘Negro History Week’, created in 1926 by historian Carter G Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The second week of February was chosen, as it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (12th February) and of social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman Frederick Douglass (14th February). Black communities had celebrated both of these dates together since the late 19th century. In February 1969, Black History Month (BHM) was first proposed by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University. The first celebration of BHM took place one year later, in February 1970 at Kent State University. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the US, when President Gerald Ford recognised Black History Month during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.” In the UK, Black History Month was first celebrated in 1987. It was organised through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC). In an interview in the New African Magazine, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo tells how the inspiration for Black History Month came about when a colleague came to work one morning, looking very downcast and not herself. She explained that when she was putting her son Marcus to bed the previous night, he asked her: “Mum, why can’t I be White?” The mother was taken aback and was so shocked that she didn’t know how to respond to her son - the son, who had been named after Marcus Garvey, had asked why he couldn’t be White! This concerned Akyaaba, as he had previously worked in the US, lecturing schoolchildren and
their parents about the African genius, moral codes, traditions and African contributions to work civilisation. “Session after session, some children and their parents would come to me attesting their new-found faith in themselves as Africans, and the change that the encounter had brought to their homes,” Akyaaba told New African Magazine. “So when this incident with Marcus took place in London, it dawned on me that something had to happen here in Britain. I was very familiar with Black History Month in America, and thought that something like that had to be done here in the UK because, if this was the fountainhead of colonialism, imperialism and racism, and despite all the institutions of higher learning and research and also the cluster of African embassies, you could still find a six-year-old boy being confused about his identity, even though his mother had tried to correct it at birth, that meant the mother had not succeeded because the wider society had failed her,” he continued. “That also meant that the world out there and the happenings in it, particularly in the playgrounds and classrooms of the various schools in the UK, were so strong and powerful that they denigrated that person’s identity, which made that child question his identity as an African or being Black,” he added. Akyaaba Addai-Sebo set to work. He drew up a strategic plan, discussing it with his colleagues at the then GLC, which was to get some resources approved to support contributions of Africa and Africans to the cultural, political and economy in the UK. He organised a series of lectures during 1986-87 involving key African American historians who gave talks at the GLC, and in Birmingham, Manchester and cities across the UK. The lectures were compiled into a book called Our Story, which was edited by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo and his colleague, Ansel Wong. He organised a week of cultural events at Wembley Arena and the Royal Albert Hall, with musicians and artists from the UK, USA, Africa,
Tony Wong and Akyaaba Addai-Sebo
the Caribbean, Ireland and India, performing to schoolchildren who listened to inspirational music and talks. It was then decided that the idea must be institutionalised, and the concept for Black History Month was born. Although Akyaaba Addai-Sebo initiated the idea of Black History Month in the UK, he recognises that it was a collective effort, and gives credit to his many associates and to the organisations involved, such as the London Strategic Policy Unit (established in 1986 after the Thatcher government abolished the GLC); to individuals Ansel Wong, Linda Bellos, Paul Boateng, Margaret Hodge, Anne Matthews, Narendra Makenji, Peter Brayshaw, Drew Stevenson, Bernard Wiltshire, Herman Ouseley, Ken Martindale, Vitus Evans, Chris Boothman, Lord Gifford, Bernie Grant, Shirley Andrews and Edward Oteng - among many - and to politicians from all over the UK who contributed to make Black History Month a reality. On 1st October 1987, the first Black History Month event in the UK was held. “October was chosen, because apart from its significance within the African calendar - the autumn equinox - October represents the harvest period, the period of plenty, and the period of the Yam Festivals. It was the time in history when Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia, for example, were the cradle and breadbasket of civilisation. October is also a period of tolerance and reconciliation in Africa, when the chiefs and leaders would gather to settle all differences,” said Akyaaba. “This was also the time to examine one’s life in relation to the collective, and to see if the targets set for oneself and the group during the past year had been achieved or not. You know that Africa gave the world the calendar. Our ancestors built the Pyramids, knowing about mathematics, architecture and astronomy. October was therefore chosen because of these factors. Black History Month is a reconnection with our source,” he continued. “We were also thinking about the children, and what to bequeath to them. October is more or less the beginning of the school year; their minds are refreshed and revitalised, so they can take in a lot of instruction. This was also one of the reasons that October was chosen. I believe that, after 17 years of existence, Black History Month has become a major contributing factor in the building of tolerance and harmonious race relations in the UK,” he concluded. Some would question the need for a Black History Month celebration in the UK but, for many, it’s a great time to recognise the incredible achievements and contributions to the UK of African and African Caribbean people. So let’s celebrate Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, and enjoy Black History Month UK! Shirley McGreal
‘Black History Month has become a major contributing factor in the building of tolerance and harmonious race relations in the UK’
Keep The Faith would like to acknowledge Ian Thomas, Patrick Vernon OBE, London Metropolitan Archives, Black History Month, and the Akyaaba Addai-Sebo interview in New African Magazine for reproduction of parts of this article.
Black History Studies www.blackhistorystudies.com
For more information about Black History Month events around the UK during October, visit the official Black History Month website at www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk Every Generation www.everygeneration.co.uk
CARIBBEAN SOCIAL FORUM SHIRLEY McGREAL
is Publisher and Editor in Chief of Keep The Faith, Keep The Faith Network and Black Christian Directory
ne thing I really enjoy, as publisher of Keep The Faith magazine, is highlighting some of the great projects run by individuals within our community. This project has really struck a chord with me, as my father is from the Caribbean and has early onset dementia, a problem affecting so many of our senior citizens, and one that may well affect any of us at some point… I was taken aback by the amazing work of this project, its achievements, and the passion and commitment of its founder, Pamela FranklIn. The Caribbean Social Forum is based in Woolwich, London, and is a not-for-profit organisation, set up in 2015 by children of parents who came to the UK from the Caribbean and neighbouring countries. It has grown to over 400 members, all over the age of 50, who meet up once a week on Thursdays from 12.00pm to 3.00pm, with the aim of meeting new friends, for companionship, enjoying a light meal together, games, conversation, and to listen to professional speakers who can offer support and advice and enjoy a sociable afternoon. According to Pamela, there are fewer than 10,000 Caribbean people in the borough of Greenwich; the majority of Black people are from West Africa and, whenever they have African Caribbean events, quite often the Caribbeans are outnumbered and subsequently their needs are not being met. She explained that the aim of
the Forum is to “involve us – the ‘now’ – together with the ‘yet-to-be’, ‘about to become’ and elder Caribbean community, in shaping futures that will more accurately reflect the lives we lead. “The talks about ‘back home’ weren’t met; the need for traditional food wasn’t met; the need for games they play wasn’t met. So, by bringing the Caribbean people together, they can recreate what they know. They can talk about the food; they can talk about things that are related to them. And there is no language barrier, because everyone speaks the same language.” She continued, “Communication is our key in leading healthier lives, reducing dementia, so having a place like the Caribbean Social Forum will help to combat isolation and allow people to bring back ‘a taste of the Caribbean’ with educational talks, dancing, music, singing, news and discussion groups, writing and much more.” The challenge now for the Caribbean Social Forum is that they have more people than space! They need larger premises that can allow them to expand what they offer, which is far more than what we see on the surface: they offer counselling, home visits and even organise trips and holidays in the UK for its members. They have taken parties of 50 people to holiday for a week in Devon and Derbyshire, and also organise trips to places like the Royal Opera House, Autograph Museum and even tea at The Savoy! When asked why she started the Caribbean Social Forum, Pamela replied: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘we’. As a group of people we come together. The Caribbean Social Forum is for the 29 countries in the Island. Sometimes life circumstances change. My life changed when I fell ill and I thought, if I am like this, there must be many others like me in the world. And the people who are lonely in
the Caribbean community, where my family is originally from, just need somebody. So I went out to look for those in need. It’s to help other people, as well as to help myself.” She added, “At the Caribbean Social Forum, we haven’t forgotten the contribution that our elderly Caribbean have made throughout the years, and our goal is to make the end years more exciting than the former years.” Pamela Franklin is a trailblazer! The Forum is self-funded, and Pamela believes that there is enough money and resources within our own communities to do something positive for ourselves, which she clearly has and, of course, she puts her trust in God! If you are in the area on a Thursday, why not pop in? The Caribbean Forum is held at 51-53 Woolwich New Road, SE18 6ES.
For more information about the Caribbean Social Forum, contact 0844 357 3700. You can find them on www.facebook.com/Caribbeansocialforum, or follow them on Twitter @Caribbean_Forum Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
ARE WE THAT DIFFERENT? PASTOR BRYON JONES
is the Senior Pastor of Eden Christian Centre
y sister has three boisterous boys under the age of ten and, in conversation, she sighed and said: “Having boys is real hard work; they keep me going twenty-four seven.” I believe, though, what she really wanted to say was ‘Boys are hard work, and girls are much easier to deal with.’ I have a wife, two daughters and a son; four sisters, seven nieces and a mother, so her statement made me begin to reflect on the subject. She was right about her boys - they have unbounded energy - but I wondered if she was right about the differences between male and female.
There are the obvious things we think of, like the physical strength of a man and the tenderness of women. Some say women are more emotional and loving, and some say men lack emotion; are not very sensitive, and only think about ‘one thing’. However, this is generalising on both accounts, as we know that women give birth, which requires the body to work extraordinarily hard, and men are known to be sensitive and tender with their children. I have been married for thirty years, and I could say that I have obtained a doctorate in ‘Understanding the Fairer Sex’. The women in my family, though, would vehemently argue that I’m still learning, and that everyone is different - regardless of whether they are male or female. There’s that well known phrase: ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, but are we really that different? To understand and find a real conclusion, I decided to consult the Bible. The Bible is our life manual, and holds all the specifics for our design. Scripture points to the differences between men and women; we read that God gave distinct curses to Adam and Eve after they ate of the forbidden fruit. Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
To the woman, He said: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To the man, He said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you must not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:16-19). Harsh, painful, but isn’t that how it is today? We should also note, however, that women are not independent of men, nor men independent of women. The Bible says: ‘For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God’ (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). ‘So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Genesis 1:27). The Bible does say that God made man to be the provider and the woman the encourager. Adam was to “dress and keep”, to cultivate the Garden of Eden. Eve was to be his fitting helper, to encourage him and stand by his side. Genesis 2 says: ‘Then the LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.”’ As I stated earlier, the Bible is our manual for life, and you will find many other stories in it that show the distinct differences between the sexes. So, regardless of our culture or background, our basic make-up will not change.
‘Whether you are male or female, God created you for a specific role and purpose.’ God made men and women equal, but with different functions; He created the man to be the protector: to lead, guide and protect, and the woman to be the nurturer: soft, gentle and tender. Both are made in the image of God. One is not superior and the other inferior. One is not greater and the other lesser. The Bible says: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:28-29). Whether you are male or female, God created you for a specific role and purpose. It’s time we embraced who we are, and appreciate the differences between manhood and womanhood because we are that different!
Not all males are REAL MEN PAUL LAWRENCE
is a trainer, mentor and father. His book, 101 Lessons I Taught My Son is out now. Visit www.101lessons.co.uk for details.
he topics of fatherhood and manhood are two of the most widely debated in some areas of the Media. Perhaps the reason for this is the perception that both are at an all-time low, particularly in the Black British community. The prevailing image of Black fathers is that they are failing not just their children and partners, but their communities. However, before we can enter such a debate, I’d like to suggest that the definition of these terms is critical. After all, until we define the role and actions of men and fathers, chances are we will be debating until the cows come home. We need to know either what ‘good’ looks like or, at the very least, what the absence of good results in and, since we cannot measure some things, we need to be able to take a qualitative approach to these questions. And we can talk about expectations. The role of father, by its very nature, sits alongside the role of mother. The primary biological purpose of the mother and the father is to create and nurture a child. Like any good process, we must have objectives. I’d like to suggest that the prime objective of mother and father should be to produce a well-balanced, well-adjusted citizen of the world, capable of constructively contributing to his/her environment and, when the time comes, to do the same for their children. I could go on to use many a flowery word to describe the expectations of a father specifically but, instead, let me provide researched results of these two extremes: having a father involved and not having a father involved.
Here are 10 points about children having fathers involved: • They are less likely to live in poverty • They will do better in school • They are less likely to do jail time • They are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol • They are less likely to be sexually active as teenagers • They are less likely to be obese • They get more roughhousing (and roughhousing makes kids awesome) • They are more likely to have a larger vocabulary • They are more likely to be encouraged to take healthy risks • They gain many additional benefits to health and happiness Now, for the most part, children always have fathers, so perhaps the phrase we are truly looking for is ‘involved fathers’. This changes the dynamic of the sentences, and would make it clear that it is the child with the involved father that will gain the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of the points mentioned above. Let me quickly put to bed something which, as a question, always rears its head. The research did not say: “Children that live with their fathers….” In other words, a child can enjoy the benefits, even if Dad does not live with that child and, likewise, a child may experience the pitfalls while living with Dad. The keyword, which I have added is ‘involved’. An absent father is not just the father who lives apart from their prodigy; we know full well that a physically present father can be so emotionally absent or abusive that the child gains nothing from his presence. However, clearly a father with day-to-day access to their child will be more able to be involved - if he is so inclined - than one with only limited access. But, of course, manhood is different to fatherhood. So let us turn our attention to the makings of a man. I opened a seminar of manhood at the Black Men in the Community conference
with this simple phrase: ‘All men are male, but not all males are men’. So what truly makes a man….a MAN? The dictionary defines manhood as ‘The state of being a man as a human being’, or a man as distinguished from a child or a woman. In this age of political correctness, manhood is extra difficult to define, so please indulge me as I abandon political correctness and get to the heart of the matter… A man is: • Spiritually mature to lead a wife and children • Personally mature to be a responsible father and husband • Economically mature to hold a job and handle money • Physically and mentally mature to work and protect a family • Sexually mature • Morally mature to lead by example • Ethically mature to make responsible decisions • Has a sufficiently mature worldview to understand what is really important • Has relational maturity to understand and respect others • Has social maturity to make a contribution to society • Has verbal maturity to communicate and articulate as a man • Has character maturity to demonstrate courage under fire And why does a man need all these things? Because Real Men support and protect their families and neighbourhoods; they do not destroy them. Real Men support their children; they do not abandon them. Real Men treasure our women; they do not abuse and exploit them. Real Men recognise other Real Men, and support them - not pull them down. Real Men are not emotionally numb; they see no shame in loving openly or crying. Real Men help underdeveloped/immature men to grow/ mature to their full potential - or to do better. I have only scratched the surface regarding manhood and fatherhood but, suffice to say, the importance of men and the role we must play is clearly critical. www.keepthefaith.co.uk
GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER! BISHOP MARK NICHOLSON
is the Senior Pastor of ACTS Christian Ministry
eath. It’s a subject most people avoid. However, the reality is that all of us are going to die one day. It’s one appointment that cannot be cancelled. It may be delayed, but it won’t be denied. It’s the result of Adam’s sin. We may not have much control over when we leave this planet, but we do have a say in how we leave, and the impact it will have on our families. When King Hezekiah became terminally ill, the prophet Isaiah said to him: “THIS IS WHAT THE LORD says: ‘Put your affairs in order, for you are about to die’”(2 Kings 20:1), and he certainly took advantage of his second chance. Likewise Abraham: his sons had an awkward reunion at their father’s funeral, but he made sure he had it all prearranged (Genesis 25). As a local minister, the real difficulties happen when families don’t have anything in place to meet the expenses of a funeral. They leave it to other family, friends and the church to help with the expenses, and there is the added pressure to have one of the best funerals in town, just to
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“save embarrassment” by giving the dearly departed a good send-off. In many cases, not even a will has been left behind to take care of their estate... Personally speaking, this is not right. WE NEED TO GET OUR HOUSE IN ORDER. The consequences are there is often the inheritance of a heavy direct debit for the next few years to pay off the funeral expenses. There are many things to think about and decide when arranging a funeral: the cost, using the right director and third party costs. Recent figures show that a funeral using a funeral director costs on average £3,675.00. For example, the cost of a coffin can range from as little as £100 to as much as £10,000. There are cars, flowers, counselling and booklets, etc - all of which can add to the cost of even the most basic of funerals. Wouldn’t it be better to plan and save for your funeral NOW? In this way, your children or family won’t have to figure out a plan and find the money to pay for your burial or cremation. Just as many families prepare for the arrival of a new baby, practical preparations for departure are just as important. What a responsibility for a grieving family coming to terms with the loss of their dearly departed, and then having to make arrangements such as these! Many funeral directors offer plans to suit every pocket, ranging from 5-year plans with investments to lifetime plans at small amounts,
with a guaranteed lump sum to go towards the costs. Now here’s something...Did you know we sleep for one third of our lives, so if you lived, say, 75 years, that’s 25 years asleep (or 9,125 days), and when that final day comes, you sleep in a very expensive coffin, and the bed you’ve slept in over your lifetime costs just a fraction of that expensive coffin. To me, that just doesn’t make sense! Enjoy the comfort of an expensive bed now, and live your life now. Life doesn’t wait until you’re dead. PLEASE, GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER!!!
WHAT PRICE A LIFE? PASTOR VASHTI LEDFORD-JOBSON
is an anointed preacher, teacher, intercessor and deliverance minister
hether, like me, you were watching the television at 1.00am on the morning of Tuesday 14 June 2017, or you woke up to hear the news of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe, I personally do not believe that any of us will ever be able to forget the shock and disbelief we experienced at the sight of the 24-floor tower block of flats, being engulfed by flames. These and numerous other sounds and images - of people banging at the windows, in their attempts to attract attention to their plight; hearing their audible pleas for help; witnessing the sight of a mother desperately trying to save her child’s life by throwing the child out of a tenth floor window in the hope that someone would catch and save her precious baby, while she remained trapped in the rapidly burning building - will have been indelibly etched on the minds of the many people who saw and heard the events unfold. These images will have forever altered the landscape of their memories. The fact that such a devastating fire could have occurred in - and I quote one of the comments made by a newspaper reviewer on the television following the fire - “the fifth richest nation in the world, in the wealthiest borough, in one of the wealthiest areas”, should not have been possible. We are mystified as to how a fire, said to have started on the fourth floor, could have reached the twenty-fourth floor in the space of 30 to 45 minutes, in a modern tower block in a first world country. As I watched the fire take hold on that fateful night, I was aghast at the speed with which the building was consumed. It gave little to no chance at all to those on the higher floors that they would make it out alive. The echoes of that newspaper reviewer’s comments – that wealth and modernity should have afforded those residents protection and safety – have fuelled our disbelief and the subsequent anger erupting from those requiring answers to what, to them (and us), are simple questions.
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These unanswered questions have highlighted the seeming ineptitude of the local and national governments’ handling of - and lack of credible response to - the real and immediate needs of the survivors and the relatives of those who have died or are still unaccounted for. Such is the realisation of the scale of the human tragedy, which has occurred in the aftermath of the fire. Of course, what this disaster has shown us is that there are no simple answers to what are now complex issues. One of the outcomes I believe we need to come to terms with is this: As wealthy and as modern as we may be in the UK, these factors do not preclude us from disaster. On the contrary, they may inadvertently contribute to us experiencing the very disasters we think could never happen here. Why is this? you might ask. Simply because over-reliance on anything leads us to complacency. Complacency leads us to placing unquestionable trust in elected officials and highly paid people to carry out the necessary checks and balances on our behalf to ensure our safety. As such, maybe we no longer take sufficient responsibility for asking pertinent questions or for holding to account those whom we employ as public servants to carry out a job on our behalf, ie. that of safeguarding our communal wellbeing. Instead, maybe we take
it too much for granted that these people have our best interests at heart. As information emerges from the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, certainly in this instance it appears that our trust has been misplaced. I believe another factor we need to take note of is this: Disaster never discriminates between rich or poor, young or old, Black or White, refugee or non-refugee when it strikes. Neither does it ask whether it is the opportune time to strike. It is no respecter of wealth, poverty, time or location. Disaster is simply an opportunistic assailant; it takes hold wherever it finds the right conditions to aid and abet its cause. On this occasion, I believe several factors came together to ignite the most serious fire that Britain has reportedly seen since the Second World War. 1. A perceived need to turn what was described as an eyesore (Grenfell Tower) into an aesthetically pleasing sight to its wealthy neighbours. 2. A perceived need to save money (in the end, only £5k) on the cladding, which was previously agreed with residents and which they were assured would be the cladding installed on the external façade of the building. 3. Reportedly a failure to listen to the concerns of the residents who, on numerous occasions, voiced their misgivings about the safety of their building. I have no doubt that there are other factors, but these seem pertinent to me in providing the opportunity for this disaster to occur. The result is that the homes, which should have been a haven, became a towering inferno of destruction. Life is, at best, a privilege, at worse fragile, and therefore not to be taken lightly or for granted. In the wake of this tragedy, there are naturally calls for justice, and for those perceived to be responsible to be brought to book. These are not matters that can be dealt with in the heat or emotion of the moment, however. Patience is what is required in times like these; we must be realistic in our expectations. If we want the truth to be unearthed, we must realise that it is likely to take months - if not years - to unearth
the myriad of factors, which may have contributed to triggering such a disastrous fire. This is not the time for recriminations, neither is it the time for justifications. I believe it is, however, the time to take as many precautions as humanly possible, to ensure that the risks of any future occurrences are minimised. I believe this is the time to think about how we can begin to help people recover from their devastating loss; how we can build on the strengths of the love and care which have been poured out in West London by people - from all walks of life and from all parts of the city and country as a whole, and ho-w we can heal the great divides that have developed in our communities and in our neighbourhoods. How can we further support the efforts being made to provide help to the relatives and survivors of Grenfell Tower? How can we be a conduit of healing, rather than an instigator of bitterness and strife? In times of great tragedy, there is an even greater need for great love. I believe that is what we have seen surfacing in the outpouring of support which was immediately forthcoming from people who just wanted to reach out and help in whatever way they could. The coming together of people - irrespective of race, colour or creed - epitomised the saying that we have more in common than that which divides us. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.’ I believe a fitting legacy for those who have lost their lives in this disaster would be if we were all to seek to exemplify this. Among the many things, which have been written on a wall in the area, where people have recorded their condolences, is this: ‘Pray for our Community’, and most certainly I believe that this, in addition to the conscious application of love, is one of the most important things we can do to help in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower. Ordained to the ministry in August 2003 Pastor Vashti Ledford-Jobson has served in numerous areas of the New Testament Assembly (NTA) locally and nationally. A gifted motivational speaker, Pastor Vashti has not only ministered in the UK, but also in Antigua, Canada, Ghana, India, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa and the USA. She brings with her an apostolic anointing as well as a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and a deep love and zeal for the things of God. She is the Pastor of NTA South Croydon, and is married to Linval. Together, they have raised their three beautiful daughters (the youngest of whom is now deceased), and are now blessed with the glorious legacy of six gorgeous grandchildren.
The unpredictable evil of home-grown terrorism REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS
is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain
hat is it that makes a person, born in the UK, educated in the UK, supported by the systems in the UK, become a suicide bomber? The tragic and sudden deaths of 23 people have left wounds so deep that even time and space are unable to erase the atrocities indelibly steeped in the memory for generations. In time to come, an in-depth historical account on the legacy of the bombing and its impact on local communities will one day be written but, for now, pain, so visceral, has locked Manchester into collective anguish, as a grieving city laments the loss of innocence. Evil is evil. For just when this nation thought the terrorist had done their worst, a murderous trio filled their van with petroleum bombs, and used mysterious, ceramic pink knives to murder and maim people in the streets. This time, it was the turn of London to experience the terror of evil. Why would young men strap a bomb to their waists, and detonate it to cause maximum damage in a country that has seemingly cared for them? Why would Salman Abedi - a son of Moss Side, a pupil in Burnage Academy for Boys, student at Salford University - employ extreme violence to betray the place of his birth? Looked at through a theological lens, I guess such evil can make some sense. By its very nature, evil is totally unpredictable - unable to differentiate between colour, class, gender or location. Yet, despite its random tentacles, God is permanently present with those impacted by evil. Looked at through a human lens, the most recent terrorist attacks do not make sense - made more complex because the attackers have had strong connections with the UK. Why would you bite the hand that feeds you in such a sadistic way? Perhaps that is part of the problem. They have not been fed. Or, put another way, they feel they have not been fed. Treated unjustly by the system. Marginalised by privilege. Many analysts, who have sought to examine the reasons behind similar acts of terror, believe that extreme indoctrination and radicalisation, combined with feelings of vulnerability and alienation, create a perfect storm - the making of young suicide bombers, who will stop at nothing to vent their anger on a society they believe has ‘let them down’. Yet this does not warrant killing people in Westminster and London Bridge, or in a concert hall in Manchester. Surely, there have to be other reasons.
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It appears the most comprehensive research on this matter has been conducted in Australia. The research outcomes point to a fascinating development: namely, most terrorists come from ‘unstable homes’, making young boys susceptible to a dogma that claims to provide ‘family’, ‘security’, ‘relationships’. These false narratives permeate into already anxious, vulnerable minds, making it relatively easy for terrorist groups to create suicide bombers. How accurate these finding are I really do not know. What I do know is that terrorism is brought about mainly by family instability or societal dislocation or is, in part, a response to the suffering of Muslims. The fact is, there are some extremely angry young people walking the streets of Manchester, London and elsewhere, sucked into terrorist organisations because they feel their voices are heard and their anger taken seriously. I guess when you believe you have next to nothing to live for, and you are told that death for an ideology will bring you worldwide fame, will help to highlight certain injustices and give you a place in paradise, the temptation to choose death over an ‘unstable’ existence is strong. I often reflect on the time when a colleague approached me after a sermon I had preached about justice. He said: “I see you are still an angry Black man?” I know he meant it as a negative, an insult. After some reflection, I chose to see it as a compliment. There is nothing wrong with having some creative anger in your belly. Movements like Black Lives Matter, the Arab Spring, the Suffrage and Civil Rights Movements, Disability Rights and Global Justice were not created by people with a benign commitment to the world order. Far from it. These and many other movements were predicated on people’s
interpretation of the world. An unfair word, disproportionately stacked against the disadvantaged, needing to be challenged. In each of these contexts, anger has often been the motivator behind the truth-telling.
Why would young men strap a bomb to their waists, and detonate it to cause maximum damage ...? There is nothing wrong with anger. It needs to be channelled into something creative. Blowing innocent people up is obviously not a good use of it. Protesting at the response from Theresa May’s Government, to the Grenfell Tower fire disaster by descending on Whitehall, chanting “May must go, justice for Grenfell” is an appropriate and creative use of it. Churches need to provide safe spaces for young people to be angry. Jesus got angry. His response to the scoundrels in the Temple was not exactly passive. When He saw how people were being ripped off in the sacred place, He lost it big time. In a world where young people often feel their frustration and anger are not heard by political parties, local authorities, educational systems, businesses and churches, churches need to become adept at guiding the anger of young people. Social media has attempted to do it by creating outlets for young people. Churches can do better. Indeed, must do better. What we have seen in Manchester - and more recently London - reminds the Church of the importance of skilful discipleship.
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Forgiveness is necessary but reconciliation is conditional REV STEPHEN BROOKS New Jerusalem Church, Birmingham
ll of us have been through times where we’ve had a disagreement with someone, and it was never resolved; everyone involved went their separate ways, embittered, without forgiving or reconciling their differences. The Bible informs us, in the Lord’s Prayer, that forgiveness is necessary (Matthew 6:12). In the book, Forgiveness is Power, forgiveness is described as ‘giving up the desire to punish’; it says nothing about reconciliation. Reconciliation relates to the kind of relationship we want to have with the person we are forgiving, and is a process of re-establishing our relationship with that person. Reconciliation is often part of forgiveness, but it is really a separate and distinct process. Separating reconciliation from forgiveness can help us to learn how to forgive, as it highlights any potential blocks we might have to forgiving, and allows it to happen more easily. Forgiveness is unconditional and always possible, but reconciliation sometimes needs to be conditional and is not always possible, especially where there is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing from the other party. Forgiveness is unconditional, as it is always possible to let go of our desire to punish someone, whether they are still in our life or long gone. Be mindful that we can forgive them, but still create clear boundaries around how we relate
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to them. Realising we can negotiate acceptable terms of reconciliation that are workable for us - or even decide not to do that part at all - frees us up to forgive. There are times when we need to forgive ourselves, and deal with two very different feelings: guilt and shame. Guilt arises when we have done something which goes against our values. Shame arises when we feel that there is something wrong with us. Guilt is a feeling about what we do or what we have done; shame is a feeling about who we are. Guilt makes us feel we did something bad; shame makes us feel that we are bad. It is important to understand the difference, as to fully forgive ourselves we need to deal with both our sense of guilt and our sense of shame.
Separating reconciliation from forgiveness can help us learn how to forgive
We let go of guilt simply by letting go of the need to punish ourselves, by letting go of self-condemnation and any form of wanting to harm ourselves. We can help ourselves by making amends for what we did, and by taking responsibility. We need to be willing to become aware and distance ourselves from the ‘voices’ within us, which belittle or put us down in any way. It also means changing how we relate to people around us who are not good for us, and putting a distance between them and us if we can. It means spending time with those who are good for us and stop being suspicious of
people who genuinely like us. Letting go of shame has a lot to do with becoming a good friend to ourselves. The first thing the Bible teaches about reconciliation is that we must make it a priority. This is stressed in Matthew 5:21-25, where we are told that if we have an unresolved disagreement with someone we should resolve it as soon as possible -even before we go to church again. The second thing the Bible teaches about reconciliation is that if we are approaching someone about a situation we should do it in a spirit of meekness and keep it private (Matthew 18:15). The goal is to communicate that you want to resolve the problem - not to put them in their place. Finally, the Bible teaches us that reconciliation means we must be willing to ask for forgiveness, and forgive if asked (Matthew 18:21-35). The very term ‘forgive’ is a word made up of the words force and giving. Together, they describe forgiveness as the process whereby the offended party ‘gives up’ the right to ‘enforce’ justice. Therefore, forgiveness involves a two-way transaction: the humbling and asking for forgiveness by the offender, and the release of the right of the offended to enforce justice. God values the reconciliation of relationships more than religious practices. Our motivation to reconcile with someone should be because of our love for Christ, and because of the reconciliation He gave us with God by His death on the cross. You benefit immensely when you choose to forgive, and so does everyone around you. Whether you need to forgive others - or need to forgive yourself - doing so sets you free from the past, and enables you to fulfil your true potential.
RESISTING EVIL DIONNE GRAVESANDE
is Head of Church Advocacy at Christian Aid
any years ago, while visiting rice farmers in Sri Lanka, I met a church leader based in the city. His work with local people involved supporting and investing in local enterprise, as a response to local communities devastated by biased economic policies that disrupted livelihoods and family life. I will always remember his message to me: “We as Christians have a duty to practise the faith we preach; Jesus moved amongst ordinary people, and so should we.” I reflected on this for some time. In fact, I still do! This visit was followed by another journey a couple years later to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where I met and spent time with sugar cane workers, and experienced the appalling conditions they live with. I also learnt about the insufferable reality and the vast profits made by corporate owners of the sugar industry located in other countries. Equally clear - and even more troubling - to me was the connection between those workers’ suffering and what we eat.
My journeys over the years have exposed me to many many experiences of wrongdoing to poor and vulnerable communities, and one thing I’ve learnt is that these stories of structural injustice are not a one-time thing; it’s a complex web of exploitation, enabling extravagant acquisition and consumption. This is the reason why I’m an advocate for social justice issues in and outside the Church; it’s my way of being held accountable to the faith I believe in. I believed that if more people simply knew what was on the other end of their material wealth, their consumption patterns would change. But merely knowing, I learned, was not enough to enable radical social change toward justice. The chains that bind us into systemic exploitation of
others and of creation are intricate and cleverly hidden; this is not just flesh-and-blood stuff. The good news is these chains can be broken and transformed. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us? Jesus presents us with another narrative: He presents a world that is just and fair, and the principles of that Kingdom value equality, dignity and human worth. And so, the world is full of people doing just that. Chains as ‘structural evil’ are the forces that seek to bind our power to live in ways that work out what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves, as well as protecting all aspects of God’s creation. These forces include: intricate webs of interrelated power arrangements, ideologies, values, practices and policies. Together they have unintended snowballing and catastrophic consequences on the lives of the have-nots. By ‘structural evil’, I do not refer to metaphysical forces beyond human agency. To the contrary, while structural evil may be beyond the power of individuals to counter, it is composed of power arrangements and other factors that are humanly constructed, and therefore can be dismantled by other human decisions and collective actions should we desire. So maybe it’s time to confront a contradiction and a question of morality that makes an assumption we are caring human beings, motivated not only by self-interest but also compassion and a desire for justice and goodness. And yet, in our paradigm, a ‘good life’ entails consumption, production and acquisition patterns that threaten our capacity to sustain life and planet as we know it. The system exploits vast numbers of people worldwide, some even unto death. Our current way of life and biased public policies contribute to severe - even deadly - poverty and ecological degradation on massive scales. For example, with climate change, the haves of the world are responsible for the vast majority of the greenhouse gases that have already accumulated, and yet it is the have-nots who bear the brunt of its effects. This crisis divides us both in terms of culpability and vulnerability.
(I’ll pause here to say that if your church is not yet signed up to the Big Church Switch, please sign up at www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk. The Big Church Switch is a simple and practical idea of supporting the move to clean, renewable energy.) The devastating hand of economic violence is not limited to other lands. It strikes in the richest countries across the world. Of the ‘new financial wealth’ created, over 90% goes to the richest 20% of the nation’s people. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most citizens in middle-income countries are either poor or low-income. However, when taking a closer look at the poor, they are disproportionately women and often people of colour. It renders countless children malnourished and without homes or access to health services.
Within the body of the Church, both clergy and lay are called to resist evil; support the weak; defend the poor, and intercede for all in need (and we do this in different ways), but I wonder if it’s worth applying a framework to help us think about how we confront systemic evil. Augsburg Fortress (a publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church) talks to a framework that has four fundamental markers, and I have found this helpful. The first is its focus on moral agency, referring to moral-spiritual power to “do and be” what we discern we ought - ethics, as a response to the question of “what we are to do and be”. The second marker is the de-privatisation of sin, love, morality and spirituality in constructions of the Christian faith. In this space we are looking at corporate bodies, institutions and establishments. The next marker is the commitment to social justice and the quest for environmental sustainability as inseparable. Finally, the marker of spiritual vision - enhanced capacity to see “what is, and what could be”, and God’s presence within creation working toward the latter. If, like me, you are up for resisting and calling out systematic evil, then get involved in a movement or a cause and, being powered by Christ’s vision and hope, dare to imagine the alternative, and work tirelessly to make it happen. www.keepthefaith.co.uk
REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS
is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain
SUICIDE - A COMPLICATED GRIEF I
know of people whose worlds are threatened by suicidal feelings. Thoughts of death have so overtaken them they have attempted suicide many times over. One such person, a qualified barrister with a supportive network of friends and family, is the envy of her acquaintances and sometimes her friends. Yet even the mere glimpse of herself in a mirror sends her into a state of nonstop self-deprecation, culminating in an assault of suicidal thoughts conspiring to end her humanity prematurely. Even though she is still alive, doing well in her professional life, fulfilled in her relationships, she feels only a few steps away from depression and near suicide. Fortunately, she doesn’t walk alone. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics point to an increase in suicides among young people, young adults and middle-aged men. The factors that lie behind this increase in suicides are many: Strains in the home, school, university, marriage are frequently blamed. Carrying just a couple of these issues is challenging, but living with most or all of them can lead to panic attacks, depression, suicidal attempts and, for some, even suicide. It does seem a little ironic that the invention designed to bring millions of people into instant and regular conversations may have unwittingly contributed to an increase in loneliness and isolation among many young and middle-aged people. Social media has opened up opportunities for conversation that few people imagined. Wherever you are in the world, the possibility of immediate access with ‘friends’ is now possible. A quick tap on a keyboard or mobile phone brings a welter of people from differing parts of the globe - all competing for our attention. For business and global communication this is a good thing. Yet despite the World Wide Web’s desire to help people forge better relationships,
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recent research appears to suggest that loneliness is one of the primary reasons behind the escalating rise in suicides. WhatsApping the latest menu, itinerary or restaurant visited to a person you barely know is not the same as having the occasional heart-to-heart, where body language, voice and emotion result in creating an environment where deep, heart listening happens. Creating a space conducive for this heart-to-heart stuff is what social media is unable to do - and I don’t think was designed to do - but it has become the way in which vast numbers of people attempt to tell their stories.
This mode of communicating has created such a communication chasm, it is no wonder suicides are on the increase. Normal ways of relating have been subverted, possibly one of the reasons why few if any detected the symptoms of suicide that dogged our family friend. Popular with students and teachers, a potential high flyer, few would have suspected that this seemingly happy-go-lucky teenager - the life and soul of many parties - was a chronic depressive. Family and friends of the deceased have since become aware that he attempted to communicate his suicidal thoughts through social media. But no one listened. It was his mother who found him hanging on a tree.
During his funeral service, his friends extolled his love for life and desire to make the best of it come rain or sunshine, indicating that many of them were oblivious to his struggle with suicide. His hiding behind social media enabled him to conceal his inner world so well his nearest and dearest had no idea about his inner turmoil... reinforcing how easy it is to say one thing online and be something else off it. Suicides are no respecter of culture, gender, class. Though I do know that many Christians are theologically challenged by suicides. In some denominations, those who commit suicide are buried outside the churchyards or even in public spaces away from churches. Interestingly, suicide in the ancient world did not carry the same negative connotations as it does today. For Greco-Roman philosophers, suicide in some circumstances constituted a noble death - not least if it was carried out for altruistic purposes, and many were. The Israelite leader Samson’s suicide is interpreted positively. The narrator lingers over the body count caused by Samson’s suicidal killing at a pagan temple; it is clear that God gave Samson the strength to carry out this massacre. Human and divine approval is sealed by the celebratory conclusion: ‘…so those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life’ (Judges 16:30). At the heart of every suicide is suffering. The family of the deceased suffer; friends of the deceased also suffer. Counsellors call death by suicide a ‘complicated grief’ and that is because, on most occasions, families have not been given an opportunity to say Bye to their loved one, and so they live with an overwhelming sense of guilt and uncertainty. Rather than judge, which some Christians are prone to do - even in these situations - we need to draw alongside the family and be Christ to them.
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HARNESSING THE MILLENNIALS The 21st Century Church is currently home to some of the brightest and most intelligent young people that have ever walked this earth. They are privy to information and to an education that the Windrush Generation could only dream of, and that’s why it’s beholden upon 21st century church leaders to ensure that they properly nurture, train and equip the youth and young adults in their congregations. If they don’t, they’ll leave the church in far greater numbers than the previous generation did. When I reflect on my years as a teenager and young adult, and that of my contemporaries, I do believe that churches could have done more to harness the spiritual zeal, physical energy and desire to make a difference in the church and contribute to wider society that most of us possessed. Instead, many churches seemed content for us to sing in the choir and attend the countless services that made up an annual church calendar. Whilst we were encouraged to evangelise and be witnesses for Christ, maybe more effort could have been made to incorporate young adults fully into the life of the church beyond serving as youth leaders or choir members. Instead, those believers who wanted to make a difference and introduce new ways of either doing church, evangelising and reaching the community, often had their ideas shouted down or ignored, causing them to leave the church to set up their own congregations, join a different church or leave organised Christianity altogether. We can’t allow this to happen with the Millennials. Churches must make it their duty to find ways to
fully utilise their skills and talents to help fulfil the Great Commission, to take the Gospel to the four corners of the world and fulfil their life’s purpose. Leaders must listen to the young, take note of their views of doing church in the 21st century, and fully engage them in the life of faith. We live in a fantastic age, especially with the range of social media platforms available, enabling individuals to reach the four corners of the world via computer, tablet or smartphone. What this means is that we have the technology to fulfil the Great Commission. In fact, the opportunities to touch the world for Christ is endless… as are the temptations that can draw young people away from the faith. So, with this in mind, let’s do all we can to fully utilise the skills and talents of our youth, so that they get the experience and are fully equipped to take the Church forward, proclaiming the Lord Jesus as they go.
Answering the call to pray With the spate of negative happenings in the UK – the Manchester Bombing, the terrorist attacks on Westminster and London Bridge, and the Grenfell Tower fire - many Christians are falling to their knees to pray. Churches, prayer groups and para-church organisations have felt led to focus on praying for the nation and are organising special gatherings to do so. I must say, in recent months, I have been sensing in my own spirit a call to pray on a deeper level and, when I look up and see what it is happening, I can understand why. God longs to have a say in human affairs, and desires for His children to be in relationship with Him so that He can love on us, talk to us, guide us, lead us and protect us, as well as inspire us to pray for others.
I’d love to see people develop better relationships across the generations young, old and middle-aged, sharing friendships and experiences. I’ve come to this conclusion after speaking to numerous people sharing about difficulties and challenges they’ve experienced in life. Nearly all stated that they might not have made the decisions they made - or did the things they did - if they had received wise counsel, mentoring or wise guidance from an elder beforehand. The Bible is full of examples, where young and old partnered together for mutual benefit and to fulfil God’s purposes: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Naomi and Ruth, Mordecai and Esther. The list could go on. As believers, there is more that unites us than divides us, so we should look beyond age, and see each other as travellers on this Gospel road, here to help each other, so that we reach our destination with our souls and relationship with Christ intact.
With this fact in mind, coupled with everything that is going on in our nation, let’s fall in line with God’s call to pray. We know that when we come to God with nothing but a humble heart and a desire to see His will be done, nothing but good can come out of it. “If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
The church’s ‘fake news’? ESTHER KUKU
is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist
have recently discovered a new word: churchianity. You may have come across it before. It’s a word, I think, that encompasses another familiar modern-day phrase: ‘fake news’. The Gospel means the Good News, but the truth is that ‘fake news’ can creep into the household of faith and make captives of us all. We’re living in perilous times. Spiritually speaking, ‘fake news’ is personified in people who have a form of godliness - people who have been Christian for years, who preach the Gospel but don’t live it. They spread gossip rather than grace; are critical rather than caring, and have unforgiving attitudes. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 puts it like this: ‘There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’ Paul is not talking about the bench-warming Sunday morning Christians; he’s referring to those who are active in ministry people like you and me. My deepest concern is that any one of us could unwittingly trade our Christianity for churchianity. All it takes is for our lives to get so busy that we merely go through the motions of what’s familiar. The flame that once burned brightly is dimmed by the affairs of life.
Slowly our prayer lives begin to suffer but, because we’re ‘professional’ Christians, we can wing it for a while... that’s until everything around us either just becomes annoying or stops working altogether. If you have the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, you will be able to sense churchianity - and its pernicious seduction - working its way into your faith walk. And it must be stopped in its tracks. It’s easy to read the list in the verse above and think, “Yeah, that’s that brother in the ushering team” or “I know lots of Christians like that”, but I think Paul wanted Timothy - and us - to do some soul searching when reading this, and ask: ‘Lord, is it me who needs to change? Am I drifting away from You?’ It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying one thing and living differently. The reasons why some of our unsaved friends and family talk about hypocrites in the church is because, sadly, there are a lot of hypocrites in the church! I am going to make sure I am not one of them, and I urge you to do likewise. But how can we do this? Ironically, sometimes the answer is to take a step back. Do a life audit, take a couple of months out of church life - church life, not church! - and focus on your personal relationship with Christ. It’s a great exercise, and sometimes life will make you do this. I have very young children,
so am not as active in church life as I used to be. Half the time I don’t even get to hear the message. My one-year-old often decides he has more important revelations to share than my pastor has! My faith is pretty much dependent on me picking up the Bible at home, and reading and studying for myself. I am not saying to forsake the gathering of the brethren; I’m suggesting that sometimes we need to retreat. Even Jesus went up to the mountains to pray. When we are so focused on tasks and what we are doing in church, we can become consumed with activity and take our eyes off Jesus and that vertical relationship.
‘Rest has a way of refocusing us and reminding us of the important things in life.’
This is conference season, so choose a good conference and attend it. Immerse yourself in a completely different spiritual environment and be refreshed. It doesn’t have to be you putting out the chairs in your church every week. You’ll be surprised: one week off rota will take your ushering duties to a whole new level! I really believe that our spiritual maturity and growth are dependent on rest and retreat, and taking an honest look at the condition of our hearts. Rest has a way of refocusing us and reminding us of the important things in life. It helps us to become balanced and maintain a Kingdom mindset. Go on holiday - even if it’s two nights away - and do something completely different. Look closely at your finances - I bet you can afford it - and I know you’re worth it! God bless you x
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Desert Teachings is the third tallest hotel in the world at 1, 053 feet, and stands on an artificial island. Seven of the world’s 10 tallest hotels are in Dubai. Man has proven that it is possible to build these opulent structures in the middle of the desert. God can turn a desert situation around, as written in Isaiah 41:18 – ‘I will make rivers flow on barren heights and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.’
ANITA LARYEA is a writer, on-and-off film critic and book reviewer Last November my husband and I went camel riding in a desert, cruised along a creek aboard an Arabian dhow, and saw the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. At this point, we had been newlyweds for four months and three days, and we were spending part two of our honeymoon in Dubai. Part one was in sunny (scorching) Lisbon in August, where we strolled along the cobbled streets, paraded around the Timeout Market, and gorged on freshly caught salmon. You can actually taste the ocean in Portuguese salmon. Dubai had been on our list of dream destinations for a while, so when the time came to board our British Airways flight there, we couldn’t wait to take off. It was truly a blessing to be able to fly out to such a mesmerising city in the desert. The skyscrapers line the streets like gargantuan perfume bottles on a dressing table. Market stalls are treasure troves filled with glimmering miniature camels and lanterns. It sounds almost mythical. How can a place of such wealth, innovation and opulence thrive on dry, barren land? Quite prophetic. We believed that God led us to the desert metropolis to unveil teachings to us. Here are a few valuable lessons God taught me during our time in the UAE.
Growth in the desert season Nothing seems to be growing or flourishing in your life, and every effort you make to try to achieve your goals is hopeless - whether it be job hunting or getting the gears in motion to
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The power of thoughts The breathtaking architecture of the city started as thoughts. You can snow-ski indoors at the Mall of the Emirates. Sounds peculiar, but it’s true. Finally, the Palm Island. The world didn’t believe that this man-made island could ever exist, yet it does. Posh apartments line the ‘tree trunk’ of the Island, and Aston Martins and Bentleys sit in the driveways. To reach the top of the Island, where the Atlantis Hotel is situated, we were driven through an underground tunnel for approximately five minutes. start up a business. I have come to learn that this period is necessary in one’s walk with God. There is indeed growth in this season - spiritual growth. During this time, I have meditated on God’s Word; made affirmations over my life based on His Word, and made a conscious effort to communicate with Him more. Within this season, showing gratitude towards God for what He has already done in your life is healthy for the spirit, and pleases Him.
How He speaks God demonstrates His dynamism through His media of communication. In this desert nation sits the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world, which houses 1,200 shops. The Burj Al-Arab, designed to look like a ship’s sail,
Work with what you currently possess, and God will provide the rest The Palm Island was manufactured by pouring tonnes of sand into the ocean in the shape of a palm tree. What was readily available was utilised to create a land that is highly revered by the world. Use what God has instilled within you to the best of your ability, and He will catapult you to high places. Anita Laryea is a writer who holds an MA in Creative Writing and a desire to write a novel. Follow her on Twitter @AnitaLaryeaBM Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
is an award-winning ministry leader; author, public speaking coach and trainer; London leader for Training Kings (Christian Business Networking) and philanthropist.
TRULY MADLY DEEPLY T
ype the word ‘love’ into your Google search engine, and you will find a whopping 4,770,000,000 results appearing (that’s four billion, seven hundred and seventy million for those who are unsure … lol). We are crazy about love. There are more TV shows than ever before, dedicated to the theme of love and relationships: How to get in one, out of one, find the special one, and be the right one! It isn’t just the TV shows about love that we devour; we love the songs, too. Romantic songs and songs about relationships can move us to tears (whether of joy or sadness), and cause us to reminisce about what is or has been. One of the top selling songs of all time was Whitney Houston’s hit, ‘I Will Always Love You’. It spent 14 weeks at number one on the US Billboard charts. But our ability to ‘always love’ that special person doesn’t seem to have as much staying power in everyday life as it does in the songs. We may be intoxicated by the notion of love, and the concept of relationships is an ever-desirable thing to attain, but the divorce and separation statistics are singing quite a different tune. In 2013, 42% of marriages ended in divorce (ONS, 2013) and 66% divorces were filed by the wives (men, take note). Whilst there has been a slight decline in the last two years, it still remains a fairly constant statistic of women who are doing the filing. I personally come from a family that is peppered with separation and divorce. So I am no stranger to these statistics, and yet they still feel heavy and make me feel troubled. Every time I hear of yet another separation or breakdown of a long-term relationship, I am curious about the ‘why’ and ‘how’. Why does it start off so well
and how does ‘irrevocable breakdown’ occur? We live in distinctly controversial times when a phrase has been coined for a first marriage that lasts less than five years and has produced no children. ‘Starter marriage’ is that phrase, and this seems to have been accepted wholesale as a modern phenomenon. Interesting again is the fact that, according to research, second marriages have a higher rate of success than first-time marriages (Benson, 2013). As an alternative to marriage, people in their droves are opting for co-habitation as a model for long-term relationships. In 2012, 5.9 million people were co-habiting in the UK (double the 1996 figure). This unprecedented increase makes cohabitation the fastest growing family type in the UK. So, totally contrary to Beyoncé’s floor-filler, some of you ladies are stating that he doesn’t have to put a ring on it after all. #isthiscrazyinlove? What does it take, then, to love – truly, madly and deeply? Lack of communication is cited as the number one cause of marital/relationship breakdown. As a trainer in public speaking, I am well aware of the data that shows that more is conveyed non-verbally than is even spoken. The Bible tells us that the tongue has the power of life and death in it. I want to share two brief tips for the wives; for the husbands; for the girlfriends, and for the boyfriends.
Husbands: 1. Listen to your wife. I mean really listen and pay attention. 2. Make a concerted effort to look good and stay healthy for your wife.
Wives: 1. Disrespecting or bad-mouthing your husband is not clever, cool or amusing. 2. If you are angry, allow yourself the opportunity to calm down before you broach the issue.
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Girlfriends: 1. Don’t ‘perform’ the role of a wife when he still has you in ‘audition mode’. 2. Be honest and share your long-term expectations for the relationship. Boyfriends: 1. Take the time to work out what qualities you are looking for in a partner. 2. Be honest and transparent about your expectations for the relationship. Love is an intrinsic part of our make-up. It’s the reason everything seems so much better when we are truly, madly and deeply in love. It has been proven that cuddling actually releases natural painkillers into the body, known as oxytocin. Love is the means by which we connect and relate to others. Did you know that two people in love, when they gaze into each other’s eyes, cause their heartbeats to actually synchronise!!! There is no greater love than God’s. The beginning, the middle and the end of Him is all love. Let us lean more on His model, and endeavour to love each other – truly, madly and deeply for eternity. Social media:
FINDING GOD IN THE MOVIES BY DEBORAH LASSITER
ike many of you, I have always attended the cinema as a way of getting some much-needed entertainment in my life. As the youngest of six children, money was always a concern in our family, so watching movies, musicals, drawing and playing the game of chess kept all of our minds and little bodies occupied, while my parents were handling more adult concerns. Movies were a way of escaping, and that escape gave me permission to become a dreamer - in a sense, a ‘geographical explorer’ - without ever needing to find the money to ‘fund’ my expedition. In short, movies allowed the impossible to become possible when living vicariously through the ‘lights, camera, action’ on my television screen. So life for me proceeded as life will often do, but it was when my world came crashing down, when ‘9/11’ came to my door… in the form of a divorce. It was when watching movies came back into my life, only to play a different role this time, becoming the agent God used while looking for answers to my failed marriage. The movie Rhapsody, starring the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor, was a classic that struck such a deep chord within me. To many, watching a movie once or twice would be more than enough but, due to my depression, I could easily watch a movie a minimum of a 100 times. I was thirsty for change, choice and answers, and so I rediscovered my thirst of reading the Bible and watching movies as a pastime, a lifeline when coping with the dry, uneventful season of my divorce. As I turned down the lights and rediscovered my passion for cinema, the dialogue spoke to me in deeper ways than before. The actors seemed much more vivid and complex, as I related to their pain, humour and dysfunctional ways. The music would pierce my heart, beckoning me to run out to buy CDs just to meditate and find
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peace through the melodic sound, while reading my Bible. And the cinematography seemed to slow down just for my viewing pleasure, making me curious how the director put it all together. I fell in love with every angle the camera chose to show me, revealing facial expressions hidden from others in the scene, but revealed to the curious onlooker like me. God met me as I questioned, cried and dissected the storyline revealing the characters’ faults, complexities, uncertainty and pain. I heard dialogue that brought me to my knees, like in the film Rhapsody, when Elizabeth Taylor and her wealthy father couldn’t let down their walls even after an attempted suicide (Elizabeth Taylor) brought her cold-hearted father to her side. I will never forget what he said: “After all these years we still can’t communicate; is it my words or your ears?” God reminded me of my own dysfunctional relationship. My marriage had flatlined, and chances are it was a breakdown of communication, trust, love, faith, but most of all, God was not in the centre.
‘God embraced my passion and love of the ‘lights, camera, action’ of others’ lives, as I hoped for a change in my own.’ Jesus is the great Communicator, having the ability to speak with those of various and diverse backgrounds. I instantly thought, as the tears rolled down my cheeks, how did my words do the opposite of what I had hoped? How many times had I heard something, but taken it the wrong way? Perhaps the answer to the breakdown
of communication is because both parties choose to shut down internally, rather than giving one another grace when their loved one is struggling. Perhaps love must endure the various disappointments, arguments and rejection with hopes of revisiting a sensitive topic free from blame and discord. Sometimes revisiting once one is ready provides God an opportunity to bridge the gap of understanding. I can’t help but wonder where has humanity misheard or misinterpreted the Word of God, only to become hurt and dissatisfied before ever giving the Godhead a proper chance. As I gazed at the screen, I was reminded of perhaps the real problem: an awareness which is a bitter pill to swallow when building long-lasting relationships. It is the book of James which reminds us all that the quarrels, disagreements and fights between us come from the conflict and battles within us (James 4:1-3). In the end, I find I must go to the beginning of my journey, when movies were strategically used to fill a void in my life as a child. In a way, movies are still so very entertaining, because I am also being educated by God, as I allow Him to guide and shape my thoughts while watching those Hollywood movies. God embraced my passion and love of the ‘lights, camera, action’ of others’ lives, as I hoped for a change in my own. It was in my living room where I chose to give my life to Him (April 26, 2006), for His purpose, vowing to allow Him to lead me, cover me and love me for the rest of my days. I am so happy, because I found myself with God, and learned to laugh again whilst finding Him in the movies. I know what it is to be satisfied; God will always come and meet you where you are, but He will never leave you where you stand. To God be the glory…
What you see is what you get! Breaking free from the limitations of your mind GRACE GLADYS FAMORIYO www.gladysf.com
f you find you are not experiencing the abundant life, in all areas of your life, you may want to take an inward look at yourself before casting aspersions on the devil. We are so quick to blame everyone and everything for our predicaments, but I believe the cause may be closer to home than we’d like to admit. We somehow leave ourselves out of the equation when, actually, we could be the very reason we are not flourishing. Consider this: are we the product of our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of our yesterdays and yesteryears – good, bad or ugly? You are what you believe I am a firm believer of the saying that you are what you believe! What you ‘see’ in your mind is most definitely what you will experience in your world; the two go hand in hand. If your thought processes are warped by ‘small thinking’, negative mindsets, negative self-talk, etc, these will transpire in your behaviours; influence your decisions/choices, and hold you back. This is not a negative declaration but a statement of fact. I know someone reading this article will either be binding and loosing, or saying something along the lines of, “I reject that in Jesus’ Name!” Reject all you want, but if your thought life is misaligned or incongruent with the Word of God you claim to hold fast to, it won’t work for you!
Professing but not believing This, dear reader, is the predicament many of us Christians find ourselves in: what we profess does not connect with what we believe in our hearts, and it just becomes a religious practice, no different to repetitious ‘babbling’. There needs to be a connection between our heads and hearts. Until that happens, nothing major really happens unless Father steps in and shows us grace. Perhaps now is the time to consider what emotional clutter (negative thinking, incorrect mindsets, unhealthy beliefs - to mention a few) may be negatively influencing your propensity to maximise your potential and fully experience God’s Word becoming a reality in your life. Retracing our steps “People are disturbed not by things but by their view of things” Epictetus (Stoic Philosopher) I believe that our feelings and reactions to certain life situations and events - past, present, future, real or imagined - have influenced our attitudes and beliefs and, in the case of negative situations, have affected our ability to see clearly. It’s worth mentioning at this point that YOU are responsible for how you feel and act! You can choose whether to see a situation as positive and healthy, or you can allow your unhealthy thoughts and emotional baggage (fears, guilt, anxiety, etc.) to come into play. Your feelings and reactions are greatly influenced by your attitudes and beliefs. After a while, you no longer question these, and your responses/behaviours become almost automatic. So, whilst you might think the Holy Spirit is running the show, think again! What God has to say on the matter It is interesting that Bible references, such as Romans 12:1-2, encourage us to ‘renew our minds’. Hebrews 12:1-2 suggests we to strip away any weight that has the propensity to trip us up or entangle us. Hosea 4:6 says we shortchange ourselves because we don’t know ‘what is right or true’ (MSG). Yet other Scriptures remind us who we were
created to be. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have the mind of Christ. 1 John 4:17 assures us that as Christ was, so are we in this world. So the Bible is clear on how our minds ought to function. Therefore, it is down to us to realign ourselves, as His Word does not change. Correcting your vision The solution is to reframe your mind to get rid of faulty thinking and beliefs. This requires making a conscious effort not to let your past experiences cloud your judgment or ability to see clearly. The fact is, life happens! Whilst we can’t erase them, we can manage our behaviours and responses, using God’s Word as a yardstick. Anything that does not line up with it really needs to be tossed out. His Word can help us reframe and reprogramme our minds, in order to change our worldview. To experience this, we need to delve into His Word regularly. Becoming more aware of what is going on in our mind, heart and emotions is also helpful – especially paying particular attention to the different emotions we attach to our experiences, such as sadness, anxiety, bitterness, anger, guilt, shame, disappointment, regret and the like. I suggest taking a step further, by prayerfully changing them in a constructive manner, and so avoid being trapped in a repetitive cycle this is where some of us find ourselves today. In closing I believe all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). But you have got to believe and hold on to God’s truth, not yours. Why not invite Him today to declutter your mind from negativity and renew it with His Word? Need further help? Join me at the upcoming Overcoming Emotional Baggage Women’s Weekend Retreat. 15-17th Sept. 2017. Register and find out more at http://bit.ly/OEB2017 Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo, author of Quit Hiding, Start Living!; Overcoming Emotional Baggage; Healing A Discouraged Heart; and Bounce Back!
The benefits of inner healing - complete wholeness B Y D E N YS E H . T U R N E R
hat happens when you or someone you’re close to notices negative patterns of behaviour operating in your life? These negative patterns or bitter fruits can destroy relationships with others and with God. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) says: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ Once you profess Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, He places the fruit of the Spirit within you. Many of the things we do on a daily basis are impossible to accomplish on our own. But when we operate in the Spirit, we have an incomprehensible ability to overcome whatever the enemy (satan) has in store for us. Roots that are practised, hidden and automatic usually develop at an early age. Good roots result from drinking nourishment from God and others. If your roots are bitter, you drink poison from your own bitterness. These are strongholds in our lives or sinful reactions to hurt. Bitter fruits within us are NOT produced as a result of the sins others have committed against us; rather, they are a result of our own sinful reactions to those sins. Bitter roots can also defile others by tempting them to react sinfully to our judgments. God’s law of sowing and reaping may produce bitter fruits if we are not in alignment with His will, or if we are subjected to (and affected by) the disobedience of others. An example is in childhood, when one can judge a parent for a real or perceived wound. We might even forget that we judged, but a seed is sown, which grows quietly until the right conditions arise resulting in bitter fruit either displayed outwardly or in thought. When we hear the word ‘judge’, most of us think about judging our peers for their thoughts or behaviours. Many of us do not realise, however, that judging a parent can cause serious damage to our spiritual life. Deuteronomy 5:16 says: ‘Honour your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long, and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord God is giving you.’ So, based on that Scripture, you will reap what you have sown in response to judging your mother or father.
‘Change can only happen by dealing with the bitter roots that produce those bitter fruits. You have to be able to discern root issues to allow true healing to take place.’ We all judge sometimes if not most of the time. But the Scripture teaches us not to judge in a condemning way. Matthew 7:1-2 says: ’Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.’ Bitter seeds can and will spring up and defile others when we least expect it. Once we develop these bitter roots, we expect the worst from others, tempting them to fulfil our negative beliefs about the way things will go. When others give in to temptation and do what we expect them to do, our expectations are confirmed. Our expectancies resist change - even when others don’t confirm them. It’s not enough for you to say that you’ll just change your way of thinking or your negative behaviour; this alone will not satisfy the law of sowing and reaping. Change can only happen by dealing with the bitter roots that produce those bitter fruits. You have to be able to discern root issues to allow true healing to take place. Although Christ has fully accomplished our death on the Cross, our flesh refuses to accept death, and bitterness will Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
spring back to life as indicated in Hebrews 12:15. As Christians, we tend to press on with behaviour management, as opposed to renewing the mind and receiving a new heart, which naturally changes behaviour. We try to forget ‘what lies behind’ (Philippians 3:13), but we have to allow the Holy Spirit to search the innermost parts of the heart in order to allow Jesus to put deeply ingrained attitudes behind us through His Cross. Let’s put anger, malice, wrath, slander and other bitter fruits on the Cross to die. Sanctification (setting oneself apart for God) is a process we have to grow into. Inner healing facilitates that process, and calls us to complete wholeness. Seek out a Christian who ministers in inner healing, who can facilitate that process for you and counsel you to better health. The goal is to reconcile relationships and find your God-intended purpose.
Denyse H Turner, LHD, MPH, MA, ACC, is a public speaker and Christian family counsellor and Inner Healing minister. For more information, visit First Lady Ministries at www.firstladyministries.org.
(This article was originally published in ‘Better Magazine – Spiritual Living for Better Health’ - Special Edition 2017.)
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GUIDANCE ON HOW TO APPROACH
A LITERARY AGENT VANESSA GROSSETT
mostly receive emails or direct messages - concerning representation - via my social media network. I know that most of the authors, who inquire of my services, haven’t been to the website, as they ask me questions that are already there. Nevertheless, I do respond to their queries, as I think it is unpleasant to ignore people without good reason. Not every agent will do this, however, and there are methods they would like every potential client to adhere to, so here are some tips for potential authors to follow when approaching a literary agent, and the same guidance can be applied when approaching publishers. Check the submission guidelines carefully, and submit what they ask for. When I was new to this business, a publisher wrote to me stating they wouldn’t read my submission because I hadn’t completed the book proposal. I know writing queries and doing a book proposal can be very long-winded, especially when you might still get turned down. However an agent or publisher is looking to see if someone can follow instructions and guidance. For an agent, someone who can follow instructions or guidance will be easy to work with. It also shows them you take pride in your work and presentations, and that you are willing to put in time and effort to succeed in your project. If you don’t know how to write a book proposal, please do your research; there is plenty of information available on how to write one. As you grow in this business, you will get
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more confident in your queries and, if you become successful, you may get agents or publishers approaching you but, for now, follow the submission guidelines carefully. Check the clientele they are looking for. Some agents do not take on unknown authors. If you see ‘No unsolicited manuscripts’ on an agent’s website then, as a new unknown author, it is best to go elsewhere. Now don’t take this personally at all. Agents’ wages are mainly commission-based, and with unknown authors it takes time to build up their readership - time that some agents don’t have, especially if there are staff and offices to pay for. Also, publishers want high sales, as they are investing into the project, especially the large publishing houses. Unless someone on their already existing clientele has referred you to them, it is best that you do not send a submission. Speaking from experience, you will be wasting your time! There are agents and publishers who do take on unknown authors, however, so do your research and submit to the ones that do. Always check the clientele they are looking for, as you will also want an agent who is suitable for you. Do not come across as arrogant or desperate. How I look at arrogance, compared to someone else, may be different, but I see it as someone who is overly confident. It’s good to have confidence in your work and in yourself, but it has to be balanced with humility. I once had a potential client say to me: “This book and I will take your agency to the
next level. It would be a very foolish thing to turn it down.” Well, firstly, I rely on God to take any ventures I am doing to the next level (!) and, in my heart, I knew that working with this person would not have been the best decision; they wouldn’t have listened to advice, and we wouldn’t have worked as a team. Even if an agent or publisher has made a bad decision in turning down your work, don’t tell them - show them. Action speaks volumes.
‘I know God will always connect me with the right publishers and clients and He always has.’ On the flip side, I have turned down authors, who sounded too desperate. One wrote back to me requesting that I reconsider; another said the project was “everything I am looking for”, and then cc’d me in a mass email promoting their book. This is extremely off-putting, as I never asked to be included in any email. It also shows me that these authors don’t possess the resilient ‘thick skin’ they need. People are going to say ‘No’. Publishers have turned me down and they’ve turned my clients down, but that doesn’t put me off. I know God will always connect me with the right publishers and clients - and He always has. Not everyone is going to be a right connection, so the ‘No’ could be a blessing. To conclude: follow instructions, do your research on the clientele the agent is looking for, and be you. Who and what God has for you is for you, and nobody can take that away. With love Vanessa
TECHNOLOGY: Changing the way we do church JOY ROXBOROUGH
is a creative industries professional, writer and entrepreneur. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
nyone remember those big, bulky boxes that you had to spread your sheet of acetate onto, for the words of worship songs to project onto the wall? It’s akin to the public telephone box, in that people of a certain age won’t really have a clue what it is. And what about cheques, or even cash, for putting into the collection box? When was the last time you put anything into one of those? Do you, like most of us these days, text your offering in, or otherwise transfer it electronically? And what about your Bible? Do you still take that to church with you? A real, hardcopy Bible, I mean - paper and leather - and not just the electronic one on your phone or tablet. I would say that, for most of us, technology has certainly changed the way we do church, and I would dare to say that some of the outcomes, as with any major shifts, were unintentional and unforeseen. I must stress at the outset that nothing I outline below is intended to be a criticism of technology or the way things are done now. They are merely observations, and I find them striking because I sense that they have crept up on us unawares, and that is - well, let’s just say, a puzzling feeling. For me, anyway. Let’s take the old projectors, for instance. The last church I attended had state-of-the-art technology: a full screen - from floor to ceiling, across the entire platform; dazzling graphics and sound that accompanied every song; video announcements, including a countdown for when the service was about to begin. It had theatre lights and seats - the works! Certainly, I enjoyed it. But then, several months later, when I happened to attend another church that wasn’t as slick in their presentation, I caught myself looking down my nose and wondering why they couldn’t fix things. Then there’s the matter of electronic giving. Yes, I succumbed to that. It was just more convenient: get it done and out of the way, usually at the same time as I’m paying my other bills, and strike it off my to-do list. And therein lies the rub. Giving is not a ‘to-do’ item; it’s supposed to be part of the act of worship. Maybe some people have approached it reverently, but I found that I was simply paying it off like any other bill. At least when the buckets go round in church, you give some thought to it and a prayer is said and, I imagine, the giver focuses for a moment on the One to whom the offering is being made. It’s great - not to mention convenient - to
have Scriptures projected during services. I’m not sure what the original thinking was behind that, but certainly one of the unintended consequences is that many people no longer take their Bibles to church. I, too, am sometimes guilty. I do take mine with me for the most part, but there have been times when I have decided that it’s too heavy to carry and, safe in the knowledge that Scriptures will appear on the screen, I have at times returned my Bible to the shelf and have headed out to church, armed with my fashion-coordinated handbag. What is that?
Another unintended consequence is that, even when I do have the energy to carry my somewhat large Bible with me, I find that I am less adept at finding certain books - take the book of Joel, for instance. If the preacher asks us to turn to Joel, by the time I have found it, he’s finished reading the verses in question. There used to be a time when I knew all the books of the Bible by heart. But, now, especially since Google serves as well as any concordance, to my shame, I only really know where to confidently find Genesis, Revelation and perhaps Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! - and Psalms, because
it’s kind of in the middle. As for internet churches, I find them to be a great benefit. I feel that God has spoken to me so many times through various sermons, but sometimes I feel I may be in danger of constantly dining and simply growing fat, since there is an endless assortment of sermons I can choose from. Sometimes, I have consciously turned them off for a while, whenever I’ve sensed that I am simply having ‘itching ears’ and merely consuming more and more for the sake of consumption. I hasten to add that I would never be without internet church, and it’s been one of the best, great inventions of the modern theological age. Social media has also had its impact on church culture. A plethora of e-groups abound, and they do have their place and uses, much like the telephone. But, personally, I find that sometimes the more connected we are, the less personally engaged with each other we become. There are some people who send me scores of forwarded messages in any given week, and I have become so bombarded with the total number across the board that my default reaction has increasingly been to simply delete them all. It would require a full-time job if I were to pay attention to every single message that landed on my social media platforms; and I recently said, jokingly, to a friend that I think social media should now be banned - period! And, by the way, when was the last time you saw a member of the worship team using a music stand? They subtly disappeared without notice. Technology is certainly here to stay and, at the rate the innovations are advancing, I think it might not be long before we can design a museum to showcase the way we used to do church! www.keepthefaith.co.uk
Economic Empowerment W I T H M AT T B I R D
is an international speaker, author and broadcaster (www.mattbirdspeaker.com)
venture I am in involved in is going international, so I asked a colleague to buy up all the variations of the related Internet domain name. In particular, I wanted to secure the coveted .com domain. It was so frustrating to be told the .com was taken. The buyer had even protected their privacy, so we couldn’t even make them an offer they couldn’t refuse to hand over the domain. Finally, my colleague managed to find a way around and discovered who owned the domain. It was me! I had forgotten that years earlier, when I had purchased the original .co.uk domain, I had purchased .com just in case the venture went international! We can all be forgetful. Sometimes it’s a person’s name, on another occasion someone’s birthday, or who it was that introduced us to the person we are now enjoying great favour with. God’s people have a track record for being forgetful. Throughout the Bible, there is a catchphrase that is used: ‘Remember the Lord your God’. Not only do we have a tendency to forget what God has done, but we can also take the credit for what God has done. Through Moses, God said to His people: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). The ability to create wealth is a God-given gift. If you can create or procure goods and services, and exchange them for money at a profit, you have been anointed by God for business. God calls some people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and others to be politicians, doctors, police officers, journalists, parents, educationalists and business entrepreneurs. The gifting of business and wealth creation is a divine calling.
Some Christians get resentful when they see other people making money. Sometimes I’m sure it is plain old jealousy, and on other occasions they have made the false assumption that if you are making money then you are doing so at somebody else’s expense. Now, we can all get jealous, and there are some people who flourish by abusing others; however, we must remember that wealth and wealth creation are godly. Recently, I posted on social media the picture of an iconic skyscraper that some business friends are involved in developing in Africa. Someone replied: “All the poor people will be able to see it from their townships.” We too easily forget that God creates wealth.
Call out to God in prayer, and ask Him for the gift of wealth creation, because He gives the ability to create wealth. The skyscraper will attract significant foreign investment; it will create thousands of jobs; it will attract new businesses to the area; it will create a sense of pride about the community; the jobs will lift families out of poverty. The wealth created will pay taxes that will build schools, hospitals and communities that thrive. In turn, this investment will stimulate and strengthen an economy that needs all the help it can get. Wealth creation is good and godly! Maybe you are broke, but God is going to give you the gift of wealth creation. Maybe there is someone in your church that God has given the gift of wealth creation, and they are going to offer you a job. Maybe you are stuck in a job that you really don’t enjoy, and God is giving you a genius idea that is going to create significant wealth. If you relate to what I have said, then this is what I suggest you do:
1. Pray. All good gifts come from God. Call out to God in prayer, and ask Him for the gift of wealth creation, because He gives the ability to create wealth.
2. Stop praying and do something. The Bible says that faith without action is dead. You can pray all you like for God to make you a wealth creator, but sooner or later you need to stop praying and do something. Whether it’s a small step or a big step, create and develop momentum in the right direction by taking action every day.
3. Build relationships. God works through relationships, so invest in relationships. God will open up the next season of your life through the relationships that you build, so get building. As I look back through my life, all the good things that have ever happened to me have been the result of a person I knew that helped me. Matt Bird is founder of Relationology that helps businesses grow revenue through relationships (www.relationology.co.uk), and Cinnamon Network that helps churches transform communities (www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk).
Retreating in an ever-advancing society
ypical isn’t it? Here I am, writing an article about retreating, and I am feeling frazzled, cross and at the end of myself. Not really in the right frame of mind… but maybe this is the perfect place to start. Our lives are full! Demands, desires, pressures and pains all steal our time, our attention and our focus away from God far too often. Retreating, if we understand it at all, is filed away under ‘If only I had the time’. Let’s be honest, many of us even struggle to get a weekly, biblical Sabbath! An extended time of rest - time with the Lord and away from all the demands placed on us - seems like an impossible dream. Many of us never even give it a thought or even recognise it as a need. So how do we turn this impossible dream into a reality and, if it isn’t a dream yet, how should we be thinking? Firstly, we need to understand what a retreat is. For many people, retreating is something other, ‘more holy’ people do. Perhaps you’ve heard of someone heading to a monastery for a period of time, and not really understood what you would do all day! Perhaps you think retreats are likely to be too quiet for you! But there are retreats of all types, for all different seasons of life and for all ages. In its simplest form, a retreat is specific time away from the usual demands - either alone or with others - to spend time with the Lord. You shouldn’t go expecting to learn anything specific, like you would if you went on a course, although you probably will learn a lot. It’s not a holiday, although it is an opportunity to rest. It might be good to be able to meet with someone to talk things through with, while you are there - not a counsellor so much as someone who can accompany you through your questioning, and keep referring you to God for the answers – or you may want to be left alone to do business with God yourself. The important thing is that you set aside the time without distraction to pray, reflect and meditate or ‘chew over’ what you know to be true from Scripture in an unhurried way. Jesus ‘retreated’ into the desert for 40 days. For most of us, 24 hours is a good place to start! The second thing to bear in mind is that we need to know what we want to achieve. Are
you needing to retreat because you are simply exhausted? You may find that just being in God’s peaceful presence - and getting quality sleep is exactly the thing you need most. Perhaps you want to spend time mulling over a specific theme that the Lord keeps showing you. In that case, perhaps a led retreat on that theme would be the perfect choice. It is true that most retreats will include some reflective times of silence or times on your own. But, on many retreats, there will be ample opportunity to meet together with others, either in worship, over food or during a shared activity. So be clear why you are going, and ask lots of questions of your chosen venue so you feel comfortable with what they offer. And talking of venues, does it always have to be a monastery? Definitely not, although go for it if you would like to! There are a large number of centres around the country (and the world) that seek to be a place of welcome and witness to Christians who want to meet with God. Some can be found in or on the outskirts of large towns, such as The Greenhouse Christian Centre in Poole (www.the-greenhouse.org), whilst somewhere like Lee Abbey is on the edge of a cliff in North Devon (www.leeabbey.org.uk). Sometimes, specific retreats run by organisations are held in various locations around the country at different times. Fitfish (www.fit-fish.co.uk) runs retreats like these, and they specifically focus on being fit for God in body, mind and spirit - a completely different approach to the traditional retreat entirely! Whatever you decide to focus on and wherever you decide to go, I urge you to make retreating part of your regular spiritual practice. I promise you, it will change your life. For more information on where to go or what to do on retreat, take a look at The Retreats Association website at www.retreats.org, or contact The Greenhouse Christian Centre (www.the-greenhouse.org). ARTICLE SUBMITTED BY KATE STRAND FROM THE GREENHOUSE CHRISTIAN CENTRE.
Sourdough Simply Satisfies A few days in Aston’s Bakery at Sheepdrove Organic Farm JOY ROXBOROUGH
is a creative industries professional, writer and entrepreneur. Email email@example.com
recently returned from spending a few glorious days in Lambourne - out in the middle of nowhere - on the Sheepdrove Organic Farm, with big-hearted baker, Syd Aston, and his wonderful crew of ‘boys and girls’, as he fondly refers to his staff. As some of you may know, I recently started the enterprise, Sour Flour Jamaica, which is a bakery that uses the ancient tradition of sourdough fermentation. I had been bemoaning to Syd that my sourdoughs were coming out harder than I’d like them to be. Now, even though I know that sourdough is an entirely different animal from industrial loaves, and is typically firmer, harder, tough even, in comparison to industrial bread, I wasn’t quite happy with mine. I once went to a restaurant with a group of friends. One of the girls ordered sourdough with her meal and promptly sent it back with the complaint that she didn’t like tough bread. “But that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” I told her, but she wasn’t having any of it. On the other hand, I recently met an army retiree, who had spent several years in Germany. He was accustomed to tough German bread and absolutely loved it. “I’ve got some bad teeth,”
Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
he told me, pulling his lips apart so I could see into the corner of his jaw, “but I absolutely love that bread. Whenever I get a loaf, bad teeth or not, I sit and eat it, and I don’t stop until it’s all gone.” He understood perfectly the nuances of sourdough and his tale brought a smile to my face. Nevertheless, I felt that my offering needed a bit of tweaking and so, at Baker Syd’s invitation, I hopped on the train and headed off to Lambourne. “Your issue is probably something very simple,” he told me, “and I’m sure it’s something that can be quite easily fixed.” Alongside observing Syd’s production process - interspersed with many enlightening conversations - I mixed up a few batches of sourdough using my customary recipes. These were baked alongside Syd’s for experimental comparison. I wanted him to assess my loaves and tell me where I was going wrong. He very kindly gave me some useful suggestions but overall he assured me that the loaves were fine. He reminded me that, in order for people to enjoy real bread, it was mandatory for them to have a real bread knife. He also shared a few of his recipes with me, such generosity coming from the fact that when he was learning about sourdough there wasn’t much written information available, and he had no one to assist him. His philosophy is that information is there to be shared, and that there is nothing to be gained from being selfish with it. Oh that more people would get a hold of that fact!
And so I spent those few days in baker’s bliss, surrounded by green fields, grazing sheep, fresh air and the savoury aroma of organic produce and real bread - if you ever want the quintessential conference centre that’s off the beaten track, then Sheepdrove is certainly one to consider. I scarcely wanted to leave but I had to. And now I’m back, armed and ready, to bake up some more batches, using higher hydration doughs that should lend themselves to a bit more moisture in the sourdoughs. Hopefully, this will appease those whose palates have become so accustomed over the years to the no need to chew industrial loaves that dominate the market today. Since the advent of commercial yeast, sourdough baking died the death but, in recent years, it has been experiencing a comeback, and its popularity has been increasing among bread connoisseurs and health enthusiasts. One of my customers told me that the spelt loaf she had from me was a little hard to cut, but that she enjoyed it nevertheless and that - pardon the indelicacy - she was still able to ‘go’ after eating the sourdough. Now, that makes all the difference to me!
For more information, contact Sour Flour Jamaica on 07448 531949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food for Purpose Are you drinking enough? SHOLA OLADIPO
is a Registered Dietician with 20 years of experience in several clinical areas working in the NHS and food industry.
ne essential aspect of purposeful living is balance. Fluid balance has a major effect on how our bodies function. Because we are designed for purpose and not just poise, it’s crucial that our bodies are in optimal health. Optimal fluid balance is essential for us to function as God’s vessels.
What is fluid balance? In basic terms, fluid balance refers to the balance between the fluid which we take in to our bodies and the fluids we pass out. Adequate fluid balance ensures that the body stays hydrated; this is important for normal functioning of the body and optimal health.
Water – essential for life
water, and vegetables such as celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce also provide a nutrient-rich water source (NHS choices, 2015).
Thirst and dehydration Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in. This is a state of imbalance. Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on how much of your body weight is lost through fluids. Two early signs of dehydration are thirst and dark-coloured urine. This is the body’s way of trying to get us to increase water intake and decrease water loss. Other symptoms may include: • dizziness or light-headedness • confusion or irritability • headache • tiredness • dry mouth, lips and eyes • passing small amounts of urine infrequently (less than three or four times a day)
When referring to fluid intake in this context, we generally refer to water. Water is fundamental for life. Although humans can survive for a number of weeks without food, they cannot normally go without fluids (water) for more than a few days (British Nutrition Foundation, 2014). The average human adult body is comprised of about 65 percent water. Adult women on average have a lower percentage of body water than adult males; this is because women have less muscle mass and more fat mass than men. Babies’ bodies are about 75% water (National Hydration Council, 2016).
Dehydration can also lead to a loss of strength and stamina. Long-term dehydration can affect kidney function, and cause muscle damage and constipation (NHS choices, 2015). We may often misinterpret thirst for hunger, and this can be avoided by drinking water consistently throughout the day – basically not waiting to be thirsty. It’s important to note that the sensation of thirst is not always as sensitive in the elderly, therefore they should be closely monitored.
Water – daily requirements
A quick and easy guide to gauging how hydrated you are is to check your wee! If your urine is dark-coloured, it is likely you are not drinking enough.
There is a wealth of information in the public domain with various recommendations, which can be a little confusing. Generally, it’s good practice to aim for no less than 8 x 200ml glasses/cups of water daily. If you don’t like the taste of water alone, you can try adding a slice of lemon or lime, or a few fresh mint leaves.
A yellowy, straw-coloured urine is often a good sign that you are drinking good amounts. Paying attention to fluid balance can help us to live healthier, more fulfilled lives. Remember, your body is a gift, so keep it well hydrated – particularly during the hot weather. Don’t forget to seek advice from your healthcare professional if you are concerned about any aspect of your health. References British Nutrition Foundation (2014) https://www. nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/hydration/healthyhydration-guide.html NHS Choices website (2015) http://www.nhs.uk/ Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Introduction.aspx National Hydration Council (2016) http://www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/
Shola Oladipo loves living a full-time life. Shola runs ‘Food for Purpose’ - an exciting initiative aimed at empowering people to eat, live and serve purposefully. Email: email@example.com Website: foodforpurpose.org Twitter: @foodforpurpose Facebook: www.facebook.com/foodforpurpose/
Checking your urine
Choosing food and drinks Tea and coffee are not out of bounds as part of your daily fluid quota. Excess caffeine can be avoided by trying ‘caffeine-free’ beverages, such as herbal teas. Caffeine can be a bladder irritant, causing frequency of urination in many cases. It is best to avoid very sugary drinks, as these can provide excess calories and often do not quench thirst. Alcohol is known to have a dehydrating effect, and also doesn’t count as part of your fluid quota. Most fruits contain a high percentage of water. Melons, oranges and grapefruit are about 80-90% www.keepthefaith.co.uk
FOSTER? Fostering Information Events 21 September & 9 November 2017 10-12noon or 2-4pm or 6-8pm Town Hall Wandsworth High Street SW18 2PU Be there for a child in Wandsworth... ...and weâ€™ll be there for you To find out more: visit wandsworth.gov.uk/fostering, phone (020) 8871 6666 email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Photos: istock, digitalvision, netnatives
20 new foster carers needed Wandsworth council recruitment campaign is focussing on recruiting an additional 20 foster carers to meet the needs of their children and young people in their care. We welcome people from all walks of life to consider becoming a foster carer. You can be married, in a civil partnership, or single. Our carers come from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We welcome carers from a diverse range of religions - whether actively practicing or not. You don't have to own your own home - many of our carers rent their homes, whether these are houses or flats in tower blocks but you will need to have a spare room. Many of our carers only undertake fostering as their main source of income, but others successfully combine working with fostering. Any child care experience will support you in your application to foster. Children are placed into foster care for a whole range of reasons and, more often than not, it’s a temporary solution to ensure each child is cared for in a safe environment whilst issues are resolved.
People who refer a friend or relative who is successfully approved to be a foster carer will get a thousand pounds under a new council incentive scheme. More foster carers are always needed, and the council’s brought in the initiative because people who are referred by others have a higher application success rate. It is all about spreading the word and encouraging people to sign up to a rewarding job that can transform a child or young person’s life. People from outside Wandsworth can be referred, and they can be married, single, divorced and from any religious or cultural background. All they need is the resilience and determination to take on a challenge and to have a spare room in their home.
To find out more Call: (020) 8871 6666 Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pauline’s fostering journey Pauline has fostered since 2012 originally for another agency and then for Wandsworth Council. She’s single with two grown-up children. I am always out and about busy doing something; I love spending one to one time with the children and young people I foster and taking them out to places they enjoy. As a single foster carer, I believe it is easier for the child because they get one to one attention. This is particularly beneficial for girls who are more comfortable with a female carer. My first placement was a child aged nine months who was adopted three years later. She was my little shining star, so clever and always happy and beaming. When the time came for her to be adopted I was very sad, but for me it was about preparing her to settle into her new permanent home. I prepared a large photo album and did lots of life story work to help her in her future journey. Since then I’ve had a number of placements of children ranging from nine months to 16 years and each one has been a different learning experience. Some placements are easier than others but fostering is never easy – it has its challenges but the rewards are enormous.
DISCOVER #CRE2017 Your one-stop shop for church supplies, resources and ideas for: Worship • Youth • Families • Church buildings Mission • The Bible • Finance • Technology and much, much more
Book today at www.creonline.co.uk and save 50% Cost of entry is £4 when you book in advance. Groups of three or more: £3 each in advance. Your ticket is valid on any and all three days.
Oct 17-19 2017 | Sandown Park, Surrey
Welcome, in this issue we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK, but do you know why this is celebrated? We highl...
Published on Sep 5, 2017
Welcome, in this issue we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK, but do you know why this is celebrated? We highl...