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S E K’ ND IC IN E U K A HN AZ TH AC I-ET MAG BL LT AN U M ISTI R CH

www.keepthefaith.co.uk

ISSUE 111

Let Jesus calm the storm

GIVING BACK

Become a magistrate

PURSUING PURPOSE BEYOND THE PAIN Windrush Compensation Scheme

Pastor Agu Irukwu Partnering with God

RUDOLPH WALKER OBE

£4.95 where sold


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Welcome to Issue 111 Welcome to our last issue for 2019 and what a great year it has been for our magazine. In February 2020 thankfully, we will have been publishing Keep The Faith for 15 years! The support from our clients has been amazing and, of course, we acknowledge our valued contributors, members of our community and beyond, who enjoy sharing their experiences, knowledge, testimony and skills with our readers. We now have an editorial team in the USA, and contributions from Africa, the Caribbean and South Africa! Year upon year, we are reaching more and more readers in print and online. The demand for the print issue has doubled, and our website readership has trebled over the past six months. Stay up to date with what is happening in our community and the Church, by visiting www.keepthefaith.co.uk. Our website is updated daily. You can subscribe to our newsletters and receive news, gospel music news, and reviews direct to your inbox. Be part of the conversation, by following us on our social media: Facebook. com/keepthefaithmag, @KeepTheFaithmag, Instagram KeepTheFaithmag. Watch out for our new gospel music streaming service in 2020, and be sure to check out our ad on page 7 to find out how you can get copies of Keep The Faith direct to your door! If you would like to contribute or collaborate with Keep The Faith, we would love to hear from you! Email me at publisher@keepthefaith.co.uk. This time of year is often a time for reflection of the good times and the challenging times. It’s the season of hope, joy, love, sharing and new beginnings. However you celebrate this time, may your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill, and may the year ahead be full of good health, joy and contentment. Enjoy!

TS CONTE1N 11 ISSUE

NEWS 04 In the news 05 Destined to Soar Women’s Ministry Conference 06 Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) A new phase for 2020 by Juliet Fletcher 06 BHM Reception at No 10 08 Christmas lunch on Jesus

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GOSPEL MUSIC 10 British Gospel global artists for 2020 the list by Juliet Fletcher

INTERVIEW

16

FEATURE 22 Pursuing purpose beyond the pain by Marcia Dixon 25 Bishop Dr Joe Aldred: A champion for vulnerable people 26 Windrush Compensation Scheme Addressing misleading media coverage by Martin Forde QC 28 Remembering our history by Richard Reddie

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Blessings

14 Pastor Agu Irukwu by Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo 16 Tanya Robinson OBE 18 Rob Neil OBE 20 Rudolph Walker OBE by Marlene Cato

Shirley McGreal

COMMENT 29 May the Prince of peace calm the storm this Christmas by Rev Les Isaac OBE 30 We too were once strangers... by Dionne Gravesande 32 Caring for ‘the least of these’ will bring God’s favour and progress by Bishop Dr Joe Aldred 33 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon 34 Romans, countrymen or friends? by Gary Clayton 35 Christians and clothes by Rev Stephen Brooks

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Keep The Faith Ltd keepthefaithteam 71-75 Shelton Street @keepthefaithmag Covent Garden keepthefaithmagazine London WC2H 9JQ keepthefaith.co.uk T: 0845 193 4433 keepthefaithdirectory.co.uk

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Shirley McGreal FCMI Chief Executive Officer: Dr Daniel Tulloch Sub-Editor: Jackie Raymond Design: Becky Wybrow Advertising: Diverse Media Group Limited advertising@diversemediagroup.co.uk T: 0203 868 0664 Marketing: Josie McFarlane Admin & Finance: Nicola Hammond

The Publisher would like to thank Rev Les Isaac OBE, Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, Dionne Gravesande, Martin Forde QC, Gary Clayton, Rev Stephen Brooks, Juliet Fletcher, Marcia Dixon, Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo, Marlene Cato, Grace Gladys Famoriyo, Keno Ogbo, M. Jasmyn Allen, Tayo Fatunla, Richard Reddie, Rev George Miller, Kenneth Harrod, Diverse Media Group, our supporters and advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.

36 Essentials for Entrepreneurs by Keno Ogbo 38 Courage and passion by M. Jasmyn Allen 39 Becoming a magistrate by Grace Gladys Famoriyo 40 The gift of drawing on history - 30 years of our roots by Tayo Fatunla

MISSION 44 These 5 unstoppable girls are being empowered by the local church www.keepthefaith.co.uk


04 NEWS

GIANTKILLER LANDS PRIME TIME SHOW

Producer and MC, Ibe Otah, has just landed one of the top presenting roles in Christian radio. He was recently appointed as the new presenter of Premier Christian Radio’s Premier Drive, which broadcasts weekdays between 3pm – 6pm and, in doing so, became the first Black male presenter of one of Premier’s most listened-to shows.

BISHOP CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN MINISTRY AND LEADERSHIP Premier Drive will feature a mix of music, current affairs, a chart countdown and interviews with Christian movers and shakers. “The show is about connecting with people on their way home, or even if they are at home making tea for their children.” When informed he had got the job, Ibe was elated. He recalled: “I was really happy and excited, as this was something really big for me. Radio is something I fell into accidentally years ago, and the fact that I’m doing this now is like God saying, ‘You fell into this, but it was purposed for you.’”

Bishop Esme Beswick is one of Britain’s longest serving Black female Pentecostal church leaders, and recently celebrated her 50th anniversary in ministry and leadership. The Jamaican-born minister attended special services held in her honour at the church she pastors - Nebaioth Prophetic Church in Stockwell, south London. One of the few female bishops within Britain’s Black Pentecostal church, Bishop Beswick has made both an impact and history. In 2002, she became the first Black woman to serve as President of Churches Together in England, an ecumenical body which promotes unity amongst church denominations. The tenure ended in 2006.

“I feel humbled yet excited that God has allowed me to achieve all that I have.” Bishop Beswick was present in a ministerial capacity at services that celebrated key moments in British history, including a service celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, and when the late Princess Diana launched a Drug and Alcohol Awareness project, set up by Bishop Beswick via the organisation she founded, the Joint Council of Churches for All Nations. Bishop Beswick has four children and

nine grandchildren. She puts her success down to her faith in God and the support she has received from her husband of 56 years, Herbert Beswick. She said: “I feel humbled yet excited that God has allowed me to achieve all that I have. Half a century of serving God is a long time, and I give God all the glory for everything.” A pastor’s daughter, and the youngest and only girl amongst seven brothers, she became a Christian at 16, and was called to the ministry at a young age. In 1961, Bishop Beswick arrived in Britain and started nursing training. She recalled: “I got the shock of my life coming here, seeing the grey skies and experiencing the cold weather and the subtle racism.” Despite the racism, Bishop Beswick believes her faith and upbringing inadvertently equipped her to serve as a Christian leader in an arena dominated by men. She shared: “I think because I grew up with boys, I wasn’t phased by what men might say. I was very resilient, and being in a family where I was told I could anything I wanted, made me confident.” Bishop Beswick has no plans to give up work yet and, when asked what advice she would give women coming up behind her, she shared: “I would tell any woman called to the ministry: you have to have faith in God and yourself. And you mustn’t let anyone think you are not able to fulfil your role and calling.” For more info, visit www.jccan.co.uk.


Reid resa Beckles, Claudine tor Peter Nembhard, The Pas on, Dix rcia Ma R L

Last month, Keep The Faith magazine and Marcia Dixon PR hosted the first ever Destined to Soar Women’s Ministry Conference at ARC Church in Forest Gate, with support from sponsors Pentecostal Credit Union and London City Mission. Over 120 attendees experienced worship led by Shermara Fletcher; heard inspiring talks; took part in panel discussions on work, business and relationships; participated in empowering workshops, and even did some keep fit. Fashion designer and Kingdom Choir stylist, Jeanette Young, was the MC. Pastor Alison Johnson, founder of Torchlight Ministries; Tobi Olujinmi of www.thewtalk.com; Cllr Sanchia Alasia, the first African Caribbean woman to be appointed Mayor of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and leading comedian and playwright, Angie Le Mar, shared wisdom and insight that sought to empower. Pastor Mike White, Senior Pastor of The Tab, was the conference’s only male speaker, and he talked about relationships. He received a standing ovation when he finished. He was that good!!! He was later joined by Pastor Peter Nembhard,

businesswoman Claudine Reid, and minister Theresa Beckles for a panel discussion about relationships, chaired by Marcia Dixon. Jennifer Obaseki of Obaseki Solicitors chaired the panel discussion on work and business, with businesswomen Antonia Burrell, Claudine Reid, Carol Stewart and Sandra Brown-Pinnock. Bathsheba Smith led a much-loved mini keep fit session; Makeda J Hewitt ran a workshop on vision, and Carol Stewart ran a confidence workshop. It was a full day. And a good day. The feedback has been amazing. One woman said it’s the best women’s conference she’s attended. The first ever DTS Women’s conference was a day to remember. 2020, here we come!

NEWS 05 Tobi Olujinm i

Jeanette Young

Pastor Alison Johnson

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


06 NEWS

Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) – A new phase for 2020

F

ollowing a series of robust meetings that began in July, initiated by O’Neil Dennis (aStepFwd.com) and Adebayo Abimbola (7GospelTracks.com), GMIA has emerged as the confirmed organisation through which a new phase of united working takes place - with immediate effect - in the British Gospel sector. The synergy revealed six regional hubs: Midlands, North, South West & Wales, Scotland, Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland and South East & London. A Nominations Committee, consisting of thirteen regional reps, will choose six new GMIA directors to make a total of nine individuals that will lead GMIA into a new phase from 2020. For more information, visit: https://gmia.org.uk/

Leading practitioners - Gospel Action Group Meeting in Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland, South East & London and South West & Wales in Bristol. Representatives’ headshots L-R: Angela Ifonlaja - Northern Ireland; Ayanda – South West & Wales; Annette West - Scotland; Niyi Oludipe – Scotland; Patrick White – Midlands; Tony Morrison – Midlands; Audrey Gray - South East & London; Isaiah-Raymond Dyer – South East & London; Shireen Morrison – South East & London.

Black History Month

Over 200 guests attended a reception held in Downing Street in October to celebrate Black History Month 2019, which exhibited some of the best of Black British culture, fashion, music and entrepreneurship.

Images L-R: DJ China L’One, founder of all-female DJ agency; businessman Tim Campbell MBE and Selvin Brown MBE; Shirley McGreal with Lord Simon Woolley


Claim your FREE ® copy of Keep The Faith magazine today Claim your free copy of the UK’s leading Black and multi-ethnic Christian magazine and have it delivered direct to your door. We believe everyone deserves access to high-quality content, and our writers are the UK’s leading movers and shakers within the Christian community. With our gift to you, we welcome you into our community. This offer is limited, so act now while stocks last. Visit www.keepthefaith.co.uk/free today and get your free copy.*

* This promotion is for Issue 112 of Keep The Faith ® magazine. This offer is limited to the first 1,000 orders. Strictly 1 copy per person. Limited to UK addresses only. Keep The Faith Limited reserves the right to end the promotion at any time and without limitation. Expected delivery date is February 2020. Postage and handling fee applies.


08 NEWS

When you feed the least of these, you feed Me.

W

hen you think about Christmas, what do you think about? Presents? Christmas lights? Baby Jesus? The Christmas stories? Holidays? Snow? The songs sell us an image: ‘It’s the season to be jolly…’, ‘Joy to the world…’, ‘Heavenly Peace….’, ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year…’ Christmas time. The festive season. Christmas is acknowledged worldwide, and everything points to a positive, happy time, one to look forward to. It is not surprising then that most people associate the Christmas season with family, friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying a festive meal together. However, for some people, this is not the case. Christmas, for them, is a time filled with trepidation and anxiety, as they realise they are not in a financial position to meet the demands of the season, and a festive meal is but a dream.

‘Christmas Lunch on Jesus’ is an initiative that started in 2007 to help underprivileged people in the London Borough of Barnet to have access to a free nutritious Christmas lunch. It has grown considerably over the years, since other churches and organisations have got involved in distributing hampers in communities across the country. CLOJ, as we fondly refer to it, now exists in 20 boroughs in London, 15 cities in the UK and 3 other countries as a franchise. A CLOJ hamper is filled with everything that is required for a hearty healthy Christmas lunch - from the Brussel sprouts

Testimony 2: The hamper was a lovely mixture of Christmas food and things we had not been able to buy because of money problems. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner and turkey sandwich for tea. Evan the dog loved it. We had an early present opening the box and getting things out and seeing what was next. The CD was played lots of times and we had a few little dances while peeling the potatoes and sprouts. Thank you for making our Christmas a happy one, God bless you and may He keep you safe.

to the turkey! Working with the local authorities and other agencies, families in need are identified and recommended to receive a hamper. The hampers are given free to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus to the world. Over the years we have given over 20,000 hampers out. The outreach runs on the generosity of church members and of the public who donate a given amount to sponsor a hamper. We have recently had the support of large corporations who have matched donations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. Seeing ourselves as the hands and feet of Jesus, we believe as Christians that we must show the love of Jesus in practical ways. We believe that for some people, we will be their first contact with Jesus. In the words of a few of the recipients: Testimony 1: Thank you all very much for a wonderful Christmas hamper, it was exciting to open it and discover all the good food inside. It certainly has made our Christmas something we don’t have to worry about now because everything has been catered for. So, thank you all for making our Christmas special and wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and all the best for the new year. Love from the Brown family.

Testimony 3: Many thanks for the Christmas hamper. As a pensioner, I really appreciated it because it provided us a hot Christmas lunch. We would not have afforded it, much of our pensions go on bills and there is very little left. We are eating very frugally. There is not much cash left after paying for the gas, electricity and council tax. Please provide us a hamper next year as well. Many thanks, God bless. We would like to help as many people as we can. It is our desire to see that no one in our community goes without a traditional Christmas lunch. We can only do this with your help. Donations are the lifeblood of the CLOJ project, and we depend on the generosity of people like you. If you would like to make a difference in the lives of others this Christmas, please get involved by visiting www.christmaslunchonjesus.com


10 GOSPEL MUSIC

JULIET FLETCHER

is a former BBC Producer and funding Executive of the GMIA

British Gospel global artists for 2020 - the list

D

uring a recent phone call, a respectable and well-known leader said to me: “Right now is probably the most exciting time of all in British Gospel.” He had heard an inspiring interview with an aspiring artist talking to the Breakfast Show presenter, Yinka Awojobi, on Premier Gospel Radio. Called Out Music (real name Samuel Nwachukwu) shared about his experience of travelling to various countries around the world, performing as a gospel artist, and stated this opinion: “There is a volcano of talent coming” and “UK Gospel is about to erupt”, because from what he can see British Gospel is getting huge recognition around the world. Of course this statement by one of our brightest and, as Yinka described him, most celebrated young singer/ songwriters is very interesting; global recognition of our music strand is of paramount importance to the growth and development of our industry. It’s true that there is a real optimism about our future. However, his words have made me think deeply about the reality, and whether emerging artists really can build themselves global success. He spoke of the need for key players and investors to step in and support artists. Below I consider the success of those who have paved the way before him.

INDUSTRY - A DEFINITION But before I say more, let me deal with this word ‘industry’. I know a lot of people have issue with the use of that word in our ‘music ministry’ circles. I’m hoping that this definition will help our understanding, as I continue to talk about our potential global impact: Ministry is why we do what we do. Industry is how we do what we do. This is the business side: to meet all the legal requirements (HMRC, Companies House, annual accounts, PAYE, insurance, etc). The list could go on to also include managing tours, business arrangements, sponsors’ or investors’ contributions, and we know not a single artist can go without these factors regardless of how spiritual they are. You know it makes sense. [By the way, I must acknowledge Michael Thompson from Psalm Music Distribution, who gave this definition while answering a question during the industry panel session at Gospel Explosion Summit. It’s always useful to listen to other people!] It is with the ‘how’ that most artists and other creative practitioners make mistakes. Even after many years of experience, I include myself, because there are times when things could have been done better or more efficiently, and haven’t been conducted as they should have. As my good Music Brother Friend (Pastor) John Fisher would say: “You’ve dropped off!” How you do the ‘how’ is invariably the big difference between moving from

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GOSPEL MUSIC 11

local to regional to national and onto GLOBAL success. This is what we can look at now.

Donnie McClurkin

DEFINING GLOBAL SUCCESS - IN SALES Firstly, our music history differs greatly to the USA’s, so it becomes pointless to make comparisons when dealing with notions of ‘global success’ in sales. For example, Donnie McClurkin, who recently held his Anniversary concert at New Wine Church in Woolwich, marking 20 years since he recorded his LIVE IN LONDON album, sold millions of copies according to the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America). RIAA collect and store such data, and he was awarded Gold and Platinum Discs. In fact, it is well documented that he rose to international stardom (to use a music industry phrase) by that one key product - and it was the Caribbean Medley that did it! Donnie has sold over ten (10!) million albums worldwide. In the USA, there are many gospel record labels and, as a consequence, albums by multiple stars over the years. The UK version of the RIAA is the BPI - British Recorded Music Industry (commonly known as the British Phonographic Industry), and it is the UK music industry’s main trade body. They would recognise that our artists are selling albums, EPs and other products. Some, like Bazil Meade and LCGC have sold and been awarded music industry Gold Discs for sales but, unfortunately, artists and producers rarely speak of their achievements in this way. It may be because most of their sales are given for their contribution on the recorded material of mainstream acts, more than for their own sales results. That may sound like a negative, but this speaks more of the positive influence and contribution we are making to other’s skills. It’s time we highlighted what we do with official data. We need to have our own official data collection and archiving. We would be surprised at our level of success and the options for improving our industry status. I am pleased to say this is an area that is now being championed by Black music historian, Kevin Tomlin, who is also GMIA’s music historian. Nontheless, it’s impossible to achieve data records without the cooperation

of everyone involved. My hope is that in another three to five years we should see a great difference in data held on the British Gospel scene. We will then be able to officially put names to facts and figures to determine the global impact on the worldwide sales market. DEFINING GLOBAL SUCCESS - BY MAJOR LIVE PERFORMANCES & MEDIA ATTENTION This is probably the key area that most UK artists would use to define their global success, and not surprisingly so. I support the view. One of the sayings I have long admired from LCGC is to “sing in every hamlet, village, town and city”. And they have done that to such an extent the question is now asked: “Where has LCGC not performed”? LCGC has visited many countries around the world on behalf of the British Council. The British Council is the international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, building lasting relationships between the UK and other countries. Through this agency and many other recommendations, LCGC has performed for royalty and government leaders in numerous African countries and Arab states.

Bazil Meade MBE

Bazil Meade MBE (who has recently released a solo single, My Journey Now) has led the vocal outfit in various configurations and guises to perform in many European countries, establishing festivals and workshops that have transformed those places. Over 35 years of performances, I wouldn’t counter an argument for their live international and major performance stats to be before over one billion people. In 2009, Muyiwa Olarewaju became the first international artist to perform on America’s BET show Celebration Of Gospel with a live TV audience of 2.6 million. His performance became a real door opener for the African Gospel sound, permeating the usually conservative gospel audience. He is a longstanding TV presenter for Turning Point, an international TV programme with an estimated 70 million viewers/listeners, which finds him meeting noted individuals in Africa, USA and Europe. Therefore his face and name are known and recognised on many fronts. For years he had his own radio show,

Ken Burton

produced by writer/journalist George Luke, on Lufthansa Airways, called Sounds Of Africa. And this does not include his audience on Premier Gospel - the leading UK Gospel music radio station. For more than 25 years, composer, conductor, producer and music director Ken Burton has operated at the very top of the performance and recording industry with his various choirs and groups - the renown London Adventist Chorale, Croydon Gospel Choir, vocal ensembles AVE and TESSERA - exciting elements to spreading performances across international boundaries. With them he has toured Australia on numerous occasions and, like LCGC, represented British Gospel in European and African nations. Ken has achieved numerous performances within the film industry, and his credits include soundtrack music for the globally successful film, Black Panther (2018). GuvnaB and Faith Child are contemporary hip-hop/rap creatives. These two amazing artists have singularly furrowed their own track into becoming performing artists across festivals all over Europe, Africa and North America. They have smartly utilised opportunities that internationally based festivals have given. They’ve combined working with high profile international organisations that support significant social causes. In my opinion, without fanfare or self-glorification they have stood front and centre as relevant social

Faith Child

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12 GOSPEL MUSIC Karen Gibson & Kingdom Ch oir

commentators. With those already mentioned, each in their own distinct way, they have been an active part of ‘giving vision’ to millennials in gospel, heightening their ability to forge a way forward. The media attention garnered by their various high profile activities culminates the peak of what helps define their global success. GLOBAL SUCCESS - BY YOUR OWN DEFINITION I recall, from his interview with Yinka on Premier Gospel, Called Out Music describes how he decided to not put any boundaries on where he would go to minister/perform. He shared that his first public performance was in Paris! Yes, this is unusual. The standard principle working in gospel follows the advice given by Pastor Marvin Winans (of the legendary Winans): first work your success in your local church/area, then move on to impacting your region (eg. Midlands), after which your national profile should follow more easily to you becoming an international artist with an evidenced record of success. Now, I don’t think we should abandon that guidance, but I do believe that the season we are in, with the advantages of technology and the powerful way we can engage directly with our audience, the practicality around defining and delivering your own global success path has never been better or greater. Below I have two lists - neither of which are exhaustive. The first list comprises factors which seem common to most of the artists mentioned in the second list, whom I consider (i) have achieved, (ii) are destined to achieve, and (iii) ought to achieve global success as we enjoy 2020. 1. They have a strong song repertoire 2. They have a powerful ministry performance 3. They are passionate effective communicators about their faith and themselves 4. Their photographic imagery and graphic brand design with dress sense are engaging 5. The level of communication with their audience and media outlets is consistent and authentic 6. They have and share significant life stories 7. They have a great sense of their responsibility/ calling and high standard of professionalism 8. A team of individuals support their administration/management affairs 9. They evidently build and sustain strong relationships Muyiwa

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In no particular order:

Bazil Meade & LCGC Karen Gibson & Kingdom Choir Noel Robinson Muyiwa Olarewaju Ken Burton & London Adventist Chorale John Fisher & IDMC Gospel Soul Choir Volney Morgan & New Ye Sarah Téibo Phillipa Hannah Andrew Bello Called Out Music Sarah Téibo Joshua Luke Smith Lurine Cato Vade Carla Jane Isaiah-Raymond Dyer Emmanuel Smith Jaz Ellington Wayne Ellington Faith Child GuvnaB

It might be considered carnal to strive for what might be deemed as ‘fame’. My guess is that most of those on my list would not have that as a single determined goal, but that it transpired as they pursued their calling in excellence.

GuvnaB

Lurine Cato


GOSPEL MUSIC 13

Raising the bar at High Leigh Conference Centre We care that our guests get a good night’s sleep, therefore from June 2020 we are making all 168 bedrooms en suite. We want every guest to be able to relax and feel at home in first class surroundings. The £3.5m new accommodation wing will complement High Leigh’s existing facilities which includes 16 meeting rooms and 6 conference halls. All are equipped with up-to-date A/V equipment and wrapped up in one all-inclusive price.

W“

School of

ORSHIP School of Worship for Worship Leaders and Worshippers who want to go deeper... Doug Williams

Senior Pastor at ECCi & SOW Principal

SOW will commence on 18th Jan 2020 and will meet on Saturdays bi-monthly over the course of one year. Plus 3 sessions via online video conference call. The course fee of £495pp includes course materials, refreshments, a hot lunch and access to the Encounter Worship Evening.

Venue: Emmanuel Community Church Int.

102 -106 Erskine Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 6SA

All the info: www.schoolofworship.org.uk

MEET THE

S E T A R T S I G A M Free English cream tea when you hold your event in August 2020*. Visit www.cct.org.uk to book or ring 0300 111 4444 quoting HLAUG20

* A free English cream tea available for all participants of booking. Available for mid-week bookings only (Monday – Thursday inclusive). Offer subject to availability. The promotion is only available at High Leigh Conference Centre and is not transferable or exchangeable and cannot be redeemed for cash or any other form of compensation. Offer closes 31st May 2020. Promoter: The Christian Conference Trust, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire DE55 1AU The Christian Conference Trust, Registered Charity No. 1056604. A company registered in England, No. 3203917 limited by guarantee.

ary who bers of the judici em m r ee nt lu vo urts. We are al and family co in im cr in s on si make deci ry people. We’re all ordina tween 18-70 Anyone aged be trate and you gis ma a as sit can s mal qualification for y an ed ne n’t do provided. is ng ini tra l ful as

tence is paid Travel and subsis ployed you are and if you are em take time off legally entitled to for the role.

Could you of fer a year? 14 or more days Find out more at -magistrate GOV.UK/become

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14 INTERVIEW

Pastor Agu Irukwu T

he Bible is flooded with stories of unlikely characters used mightily by God to advance His Kingdom agenda and to wreak havoc on the enemy’s camp: David, Gideon, Jonah, Peter, Paul… Just a few of our best loved Bible characters deemed flawed, reluctant, fearful and unworthy of God’s call - by men’s standards.

Fast forward to the present. God has plucked a man from obscurity in Africa, and charged him to add his voice to the resounding call for revival in the UK. “I had absolutely no intention of living permanently in the UK, and definitely had no ambitions of serving in full-time ministry. I have always had a desire to help people, and believed that entering into politics would be the most meaningful way to impact lives,” says former barrister and investment banker, Agu Irukwu. Upon completion of his law degree, at Warwick University, Irukwu left for Nigeria with two intentions: to make money and to enter into politics. A chance invitation to church, by a woman who would later become his wife (Ify) and a second invitation by a work colleague, proved to be the catalysts that would set him on a new trajectory. “I had never heard the Word of God expounded with such clarity, nor been so drawn into worship. I decided to visit the church a few more times. Little did I know that a seed of faith had been sown into me,” recounts Irukwu. With a piqued interest in Christianity, he asked Ify for a Bible, and began to spend time poring over the Scriptures. Initially, he read it as a legal textbook, until the Holy Spirit began stirring his heart, leading him to finally surrender to Christ. Two years after being planted in church, Irukwu was ordained an RCCG pastor. He was later sent to London to steward a young ministry of about 30 people, whilst the parent church sought a permanent resident pastor. “Well, 25 years later, I am still here pastoring at Jesus House for All Nations. So, I guess they never found a resident pastor,” laughs Irukwu. Akosua DF (ADF) recently interviewed Pastor Agu Irukwu (PAI).

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BY AKOSUA DWOMO-FOKUO


INTERVIEW 15

ADF: Thank you so much for taking time out for me. I know your schedule is extremely tight, so I really appreciate this. PAI: My absolute pleasure. ADF: You head up the fastest growing Christian denomination in the UK: the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Despite the fact that mainstream media continually tell us that UK church attendance is steadily on the decline, your denomination is growing rapidly. What do you believe are the keys to the success of RCCG in the UK? PAI: I am careful about using words like ‘success’ in reference to myself and the work I am involved in. RCCG has grown from about three or four churches to circa 800, but it hasn’t been growth without challenges. I believe that some of the keys to our growth are commitment to prayer; being relevant, in terms of the message that is preached, and also being intentional in church planting. ADF: In 2011, Metro readers voted you the Most Inspirational Black Man - beating out the likes of then US president, Barack Obama; former South African leader, Nelson Mandela, and US human rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. Your sphere of influence extends beyond the UK Christian community, as evidenced by some of the luminaries that have graced your services and events over the years. These include Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Theresa May. What do you believe your assignment in this nation is, beyond the remit of the Church?

Pastor Agu and Pastor Sola PAI:(chuckles) I always try to put the whole Most Inspirational Black Man into context. Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King? I don’t think I have done anything remotely close to what any of them have done. I like to say it was a vote by the Metro, predominately for Londoners. I live in London and serve the Christian community. It’s a very cohesive community. If all our RCCG church members voted, I would likely be a forerunner, solely because of the sheer numbers in our denomination. Yes, we have had these luminaries and political leaders visit the church. I believe this has happened because of the visibility of the church, the impact of the church and, in some cases, because of the significant numbers, especially at some of our events when we come together as RCCG for Festival of Life - having over 40,000 people in attendance. Those things attract attention, so I like to put all these things into context. I believe my mandate is clear: Prayer and Revival. My desire for a spiritual reawakening and revival are key to why I feel I am here and a part of what the Church is doing in this dispensation. It’s part of my DNA now; I live and breathe revival. This nation, that served the Kingdom of God in the past and has fallen on some dark times, just has to come back to God. ADF: Amen. In 2017, you penned a book, The Blessings of the 7th Season, based on a word that God gave you. What does the ‘7th Season’ signify? PAI: It was a booklet borne out of a revelation that I had, based on 1 Kings 18. The passage hinges on the prophet going to Mount Carmel to pray for rain. Six times the servant returned saying there was no sign of rain, however the 7th time there was a sign arising on the horizon. I believe God was sending a word of encouragement to the church and myself, that our prayers were not in vain and that we were to continue to persevere in prayer, believing what He had told us about this nation. God said there would be an outpouring of His Spirit, that there would be a revival and reawakening, and that this nation would turn back to Him. Despite the contrary signs in the natural, God was saying: “Stay in the place of prayer, keep confessing what you believe, and keep being salt and light. It doesn’t matter how many negative reports you receive, just believe what I have said and it will come to pass.”

ADF: Speaking of negative reports, we are on the verge of the dawn of a new decade, yet there seems to be so much political turmoil and uncertainty regarding Britain’s future, post-Brexit. Could you give our readers a message of hope for the new decade? PAI: My message of hope is very simple: God has never lost control. Cast your mind back through the chaotic times in the history of this world, God has always proven that He is in absolute control. Yes, the nation is facing trying times, people have lost trust in some of our institutions, we are having serious challenges in some of our cities with the rising spate of gun and knife crime, but I take encouragement from Isaiah 60. Darkness and gross darkness may cover the people, but His clear word to the Church is that it is a wonderful time to arise and shine. God is in control. I can actually see God working out His own plans and purposes in this chaos and confusion. There isn’t a fire brigade mentality in heaven – No! God is never blindsided. He is not frantic with worry, frenetically strategising to discharge Archangels Michael and Gabriel to Britain’s rescue. No. God is sitting in absolute control, and our responsibility is to partner with Him. How do we do this? 2 Chronicles 7:14 says ‘Pray and turn away from everything that is displeasing to Him, then carry the light of His Gospel into society.’

“My desire for a spiritual reawakening and revival are key to why I feel I am here…” ADF: Thank you for that encouraging word. So, what’s next for Pastor Agu Irukwu? PAI: I have committed myself to the work of believing God for revival in this nation. We have to keep pressing for that, and building alliances with like-minded people, encouraging the Church to a place of persevering, prevailing prayer. I have sensed a deep call to writing for a number of years, and hope to find time to do that. I pray God will also give me the space to be able to specifically and intentionally train and mentor a new generation of pastors and leaders within the Christian communities. Pastor Agu Irukwu is Senior Pastor of Jesus House for All Nations in Brent Cross, London NW2 1LT. He serves as Chairman and Head of the Executive Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the UK. He is the current Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England (CTE). Pastor Agu is married with three children. @agu_irukwu

@agu_irukwu

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


16 INTERVIEW

Tanya Robinson

OBE

Tanya Robinson OBE has had a long career in government, non-profit organisations and many social outreach programmes. She is Head of Equalities and Lammy Delivery at HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and was awarded an OBE in 2018 for services to HMPPS and to charity. For the past nine years, she has been a board member of Women on the Frontline Ministries, an outreach in east London that helps and supports women involved in prostitution, vulnerable women, and those at risk of sexual exploitation. Keep The Faith caught up with Tanya to find out more about this woman of God, whose dedication to helping others is such an integral part of her work and charitable roles… Keep The Faith (KTF): Tell our readers a little about yourself... Tanya Robinson OBE (TR): I was born in Hackney, east London, to a British mother and Guyanese father. I have really fond childhood memories of being a tomboy, playing in the local adventure playground. I feel blessed to have grown up in a tight-knit community, where everyone knew everyone and where your friends’ parents would have no issue chastising you. Looking back at the demographics of the area, it was unique, with a real melting pot of cultures, beliefs and races - a community that fought within, but would defend you to outsiders. Some might say it was a tough upbringing - it’s a far cry from the childhood my children have experienced - but I appreciate what it provided me, and truly believe I would not be as driven as I am if it were not for my formative life experiences.

Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

KTF: What was your career path to your current role? TR: I am currently the Head of Equalities, which covers all the prisons and probation offices in England and Wales for staff, prisoners and service users in the community. I was asked to consider applying for the role whilst managing one of the Ministry of Justice’s largest and high-profile contracts. I’d had quite a meteoric rise from Probation Officer, with various promotions in between, to the role I then found myself in. So I did question whether I was just chasing promotions,


INTERVEW 17

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KTF: Who inspires you and why? TR: I am inspired by people who overcome against the odds, and by those who break down barriers and pave the way for others. Women like Mary McLeod Bethune, Irena Sendler and Bessie Coleman are real inspirations. When you consider the odds these women faced in varying degrees - with all the assistance we have in today’s modern world - how can I say I can’t?

or whether this was where God wanted me to be. After praying about it and seeking counsel, I felt strongly that the core of the role was to ensure decent and fair treatment for everyone, and I truly believe that is the heart of God. I applied for the position, and the rest is history. God gave me a word some time back; it was a persistent word in relation to stretching out my tent pegs. At this point I felt I had reached my peak, career-wise. I now realise that the limits I’d placed on myself have been restrictive, so I continue to strengthen the tent pegs and increase my capacity, and see where that takes me. KTF: Would you say that your faith plays any part in your role? TR: I came to know Christ relatively late in life, with no preconceived ideas on what a Christian should look like. This perspective has helped my walk and the things I choose to focus my attention on. God’s gifts come in a variety of forms, and mine is clearly to provide solutions. Anyone who knows me will say I am very literal and outcome-focused – sometimes to a fault! However, I believe God uses this to get things done, including my role at work, the charities I run, and the projects I support. KTF: You have been involved with Women on the Frontline Ministries for a long time, can you tell us about this amazing charity and how you became involved? TR: I first started considering outreach and charity work over 13 years ago, when a friend and I

approached our church with an idea for an outreach. That was when City Women Outreach (CWO) was born. We went out every Friday night for years, with the aim to reach out to the prostitutes in the local area, who in the main were either addicted to substances, or were victims of human trafficking. We then met a wonderful woman – Sophia – who gave up full-time work to expand her outreach and joined with CWO. Sophia founded the Women on the Frontline Ministries (WOFM) charity, of which I am now Chair to the board of trustees. More recently, I founded girls2school (G2S), an organisation that has supported women in Kenya with reusable sanitary products and, through this venture, I have also provided Domestic Violence and Child Abuse training to professionals within non-government organisations in Ghana.

KTF: How do you spend your spare time? TR: As my passion for others consumes me, I tend to spend my time in pursuit of solutions for others. I am blessed beyond any expectation I have ever had for my life. So much so - and this might sound a little corny - I get the greatest pleasure in helping others. I also enjoy reading A LOT. KTF: Finally, tell our readers something funny about yourself! TR: When we have team meetings or training sessions at work, as part of the ice breaker they tend to use the ‘Tell the group one thing about yourself that no one here knows’. I have to say I can never seem to find anything that sounds remotely cute or clever. So, my one thing that most people don’t know – apart from me being a notorious tomboy as a child – is, I was also a majorette. I know, not exciting at all : ) For more information about Women on the Frontline Ministries, visit www.wofm.org.uk. www.keepthefaith.co.uk


18 INTERVIEW

Interview with

Rob Neil OBE Rob Neil OBE has over 35 years’ experience in the public sector. The founding member of the Ministry of Justice’s BAME staff network, called PROUD, he was the first elected Chair of the Civil Service Race Forum in 2001, and is a Diversity and Inclusion leader. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to race equality in the workplace and the community. Rob has also been a Trustee with RELATE for ten years, and was one of the founding members of The Reach Society, a Community Interest Company which encourages, supports and inspires young people on their journey from education into employment. Keep The Faith caught up with Rob to find out more about this amazing race and diversity champion…

“I am often invited to share the story of my journey with others, and I speak about my ‘Five Fs’: faith, family, friends, function and fun”

Keep The Faith (KTF): Tell us about where your story begins. Rob Neil (RN): I was born in May 1964 in Paddington, London, to Jamaican parents, both of whom travelled 5,000 miles in support of rebuilding Britain. My mum had ambitions to train as a nurse, but my arrival within a year, followed 19 months later by my younger brother, encouraged a change of plan and lifestyle. My dad was a skilled carpenter and he found work immediately. My early childhood was full of extended family gatherings, delicious food, and a total focus on school - my mother never missed a single Parents Evening. My dad was a very charismatic man - he passed away in 2017, having returned to Jamaica in 1990 - who could make anyone and everyone laugh. However, he wasn’t very disciplined when it came to finances, and his habit of gambling away his hard-earned wages led to my parents separating when I was nine.

We moved in with my aunt in Wembley, and shared the same bedroom until I turned 15. My mum then applied for and secured a two-bed property nearby in Harlesden, where we lived for the next ten years. Today, I live in Wealdstone with my wife - we married in 1990 - and our two children. KTF: When you were a young man, did you have a specific career path you wanted to follow? RN: My earliest ambition was to be a professional footballer. Unfortunately, whilst I loved football (and still do), the truth is I was never good enough to play professionally. I realised this early on, and as a young man my first realistic job ambition was to be a police officer. I remember completing a project on community policing, which included a week-long experience, shadowing an officer in Wembley, which I will NEVER forget!!! KTF: You have dedicated 35 years to the public and voluntary sectors. What has been your proudest achievement? RN: I have enjoyed a career filled with many wonderful moments and have formed a variety of lifelong friendships with people who have encouraged, supported and inspired my career. One of my proudest achievements was my leading role in designing, creating and launching the Ministry of Justice’s first Black staff network, PROUD, which stands for People from diverse Racial Origins Uniting the Department. PROUD took one year to design, and launched in May 2001 when over 500 staff from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - including our CEO and the Permanent Secretary - attended the Commonwealth Institute in London. KTF: Tell us about your current role. How did this come about? RN: My current role at the Department for Education came about after I graduated from an internal two-year Civil Service Future Leadership Programme. I had spent time with some wonderful fellow civil servants, developing my leadership capability and reflecting on my career. I was assigned a mentor and a sponsor, both of whom encouraged me to consider applying my skills in another department. I listened to that advice and focused on what I knew I enjoyed doing: identifying creative ways in which colleagues can work together to improve their experience at work, and ended up at the DfE as Head of Embedding Culture Change. In short, my job is to measure the impact of the DfE’s aims, and this includes the extent to which we meet the needs of those we serve, eg. schools, universities, teachers, students and the staff here at the DfE. KTF: As a Black man, what challenges have you overcome in your public sector roles? RN: As a Black man, working in the UK’s public sector for over three decades, I have faced both overt and subtle forms of racism. I have been deliberately overlooked when opportunities for exciting new roles were being allocated. I have had negative assumptions made about my competence, and I have had my personal values


INTERVEW 19

Rob Neil and family

KTF: How do you actively pursue spiritual growth? RN: Having studied at Bible College for two years, earlier in my walk with GOD, I continue to consult Scripture on a daily basis, and I am a member of my Christian fellowship at work.

questioned by others exhibiting their own bias. I have worked hard to overcome these biases, often leaning on my faith to pull me through. I have also learnt about the incredible power of staff networks, ie. forming professional relationships with like-spirited individuals, and working collectively to both combat and dismantle discrimination in the workplace. Over the years, I have used my own growing experience to support others, and have learnt how to lead such networks to build sustainable and business-critical entities capable of improving individual experiences and organisational performance.

KTF: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? RN: I read, visit the theatre, and I love walking. I enjoy holidays and long weekend breaks with Mrs Neil and our friends. We try to get away at least twice a year. To balance out the fun, I also go to watch my team, Queens Park Rangers FC, in West London at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (formerly Loftus Road). Watching QPR can be a real challenge, although we have been enjoying an improved start to the current season.

KTF: Do you find that faith plays a role in your work or perspective on life? And if so, how? RN: As an experienced and long-serving civil servant, I am often invited to share the story of my journey with others, and I speak about my ‘Five Fs’: • Faith - my active relationship with the living God • Family - my nearest and dearest, who ‘get’ me • Friends - those I choose to spend time with and who edify me • Function - paid (DfE) and unpaid effort, eg. volunteering in the community • Fun - following my passions, offering my best, and ensuring nobody steals my joy KTF: Who inspires you and why? RN: I am often inspired by a passage in a book, a scene in a movie or a visit to the theatre. For

example, I recently saw Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses with my daughter, and that was incredibly inspiring. I am also blessed to have a number of people in my life who inspire me, eg. my Mum and indeed my late Dad continue to inspire me, other family members, and my rich network of friends, including those in my Book Club - we’re called BOOKfriENDS - and especially a number of my former colleagues at the Ministry of Justice, all of whom inspire me to offer my very best on a daily basis.

KTF: Finally, share something funny about yourself with our readers! RN: Over the years I have been mistaken for famous people. When I was younger, it was Ashley Cole, the English footballer. As I got older, it was Oscar-winning actor, Cuba Gooding Jr, and I was even asked to sign an autograph as Craig David. However, the lookalike that really got me thinking was when my own uncle told me I was the dead stamp of the singer, George Michael!!! Now then, whilst I am happy to confess to being a huge fan of his music, I think my uncle’s shout was nothing more than a ‘careless whisper’.

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This is a classic story of Christian faith and extreme pressure. Pastor Richard Wurmbraendurance under by the Romanian nd was arrested secret police and imprisoned for 14 in the 1950s and years 1960s, with three of them confinement. He was repeatedly tortured, spent in solitary and maintained a yet developed Christ-like attitude of love and forgivenes towards his tormentor s s. This is his inspiring to remember our story and his call persecuted brothers and sisters who are even today suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ.

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20 40 INTERVIEW LIFESTYLE

Rudolph Walker

OBE

A

s one of the first regular Black actors on our TV screens in the 60s, Rudolph Walker OBE is still loved throughout Britain today. He became a household name with Love Thy Neighbour – one of the first hit comedies to explore race and relationships – and is still popular in the role of Patrick Truman in EastEnders, which he joined in 2001. He has played a number of roles in between the years, and there is more to Walker than meets the eye. Keep The Faith caught up with him just after he’d celebrated his 80th birthday. “I am full of life, full of beans and blessed to be alive!” quips Walker, who celebrated his birthday in September this year. Born in Trinidad to a single parent, with two younger sisters, living in a one bedroom accommodation with no electricity or running water, he says they struggled as a family, yet “it was fun growing up.” He declares himself to be an adventurous child, an avid boy scout whose love for cricket has continued to the present day. Walker honed his talent in the dramatic arts in primary school. His first play was not very different from those of schools within the UK: playing a wise man in the Christmas nativity. “I remember my mum made my costume, and I can remember how excited I was…” Walker went on to act throughout his school years until he became the leading actor in a well-respected dramatic arts group called ‘The Company of Players’. A founder member of the ‘Trinidad Theatre Workshop’, Sir Derek Walcott was a St Lucian-born poet and playwright, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Walcott was one of a number of mentors, who supported and influenced Rudolph, including Bermudan-born actor, Earl Cameron CBE (Baby Father TV series, Inception 2010). Cameron was one of the first actors to break the colour bar in British TV in 1951, and Guyanese-born Carmen Munroe is a female Black actress, who has secured top TV roles since 1962 in theatre, dramas and sitcoms, such as Mixed Blessings and Desmonds. Walker is quick to point out that these are the real legends, and he is determined these forerunners should not be forgotten as groundbreaking history makers. Looking back on a prolific, successful career, Rudolph Walker knew it was important to build a long-lasting legacy. Back in the 70s, he founded the Rudolph Walker Inter-School Drama Awards (RWiSDA) out of a concern that young people didn’t have much to do after school and could get into trouble. Young people needed opportunities to develop their confidence, life skills and creativity, not just to become actors, but for any career or path a young person aspired for their future. “Kids talked about their problems, for instance, being harassed and getting into trouble at school, and we saw a positive change.”

Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


INTERVIEW 21

God and Science: A Child’s Journey of Exploration

The format is simple: young people decide to enter the competition, and ask their school for permission to compete. They write, direct and act in the short play, with the leading plays selected for the grand final. Each group is allocated a leading celebrity mentor from the world of TV, theatre and film. At the grand final, they act out their play in front of a live audience, then winners are selected by celebrity judges in four categories: Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Script and Best Production. After the 70s, the competition was stopped, but thankfully, recommenced in 2001, with schools coming from all over the UK to compete. Walker has the respect of his fellow actors, and they are only too willing to give up their time to mentor, judge or support. For the participants it is life-changing, with young people on the verge of exclusion from school having their lives turned around. “Young people cannot believe that celebrities will come and mentor them, and it goes much deeper than acting.”

“I believe every door can be opened to you. Go into a career where you will be happy. Be honest with yourself and remember you reap what you sow!” Walker has set his sights on the competition going international, involving the Caribbean and Africa in the future. In addition to this, Walker will present a role model award to surprised recipients every year. This is to be awarded to any young person, who has gone the extra mile in their community, school or home. Past recipients have been young carers, fundraisers, and young community leaders, those who despite their circumstances or abilities contribute to society or family in a positive way. Walker describes himself as passionate: “I believe every door can be opened to you. Go into a career where you will be happy. Be honest with yourself and remember you reap what you sow!” He grew up not being afraid to visit any church wherever he was, to go and pray. He has visited many different denominations. “My faith has influenced me, taught me right and wrong. It comes from deep within.” In addition to collecting his OBE at Buckingham Palace, and being particularly proud of taking a leading role in the TV drama series, Black Silk, which was based on the true life lawyer, Rudy Narayan, earlier this year, Walker was voted by his peers to be the recipient of the TV’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards, receiving an overwhelming standing ovation. There are too many moments and stories to tell, however, so you’ll have to wait for the autobiography!

Did you know that stars are born, grow and die? And what does the Bible say about stars? Why do storms happen? And why did Jesus once shout at a storm? How do eyes work? And what amazing thing happened when Jesus met Bartimaeus? Creative partnership Scripture Union England and Wales are passionate about reaching the 95% of children not in church with the Good News of Jesus, helping them explore the difference He can make to the challenges and adventures of their lives. One challenge children may face is holding together an enjoyment of science and a faith in God. Even in primary school, they can become anxious, thinking that faith in God conflicts with an exploration of the wonders of science. The Faraday Institute works hard to show that Christianity and science are not incompatible, but instead interact beautifully. So we’ve partnered with them to create a set of Jesus- and science-focused resources, to help children who have an interest in science understand that it’s possible, at the same time, to have faith in Jesus. Our National Director, Myles MacBean, has a PhD in quantum physics. He says: “I don’t see any inconsistency between using the scientific method of exploring the universe and having a personal relationship with Jesus.”

Wonder Zone holiday club Published in autumn 2019, Wonder Zone encourages children to explore the wonders of the world and discover how the God behind it all wants to get to know them, through five fun-filled sessions for 5-11 year olds. There’s plenty of Bible and science, including a wealth of fun experiments. From the Bible there’s Solomon praying for wisdom, a look at some psalms, Jesus healing a blind man and telling a story about a lost son. The sessions also cover the wonders of the universe, light, colour, the natural world, robots and artificial intelligence. Wonder Zone comes with an easy-to-use leaders’ guide, free downloads from the Scripture Union website and two take-home booklets for children. And you don’t need to know anything about science to be able to use it!

Order your Wonder Zone resources today, and get ready to help children in your community explore the wonders of God and science. Visit su.org.uk/wonderzone.

BY MARLENE CATO www.keepthefaith.co.uk


22 FEATURE

BY MARCIA DIXON

PURSUING PURPOSE BEYOND THE PAIN There are many individuals, who have set up businesses as a result of suffering from debilitating illnesses that prevent them from taking full time 9 to 5 jobs. Keep the Faith spoke to three Christian women, who have not allowed their illnesses to stop them from living purposeful lives and pursuing their business goals.

M

arcia Spence runs Marcia M Publishing, which she started in 2014 after being diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Her company specialises in working alongside authors to publish their memoirs. Marcia was a Strategic Manager for Sure Start children centres around Sandwell. Her memoir, Geraldine’s Pearl, was published in 2016. KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): When did you find out you had a debilitating illness? MARCIA SPENCE (MS): In 2014 I was diagnosed with a chronic neurological illness called Trigeminal Neuralgia, the symptoms of which are excruciating pain, which leaves me unable to, eat, speak or sleep due to the intensity of the pain. At that time I was taking a cocktail of 27 tablets per day, the side effects of medication and the anxiety associated with this illness meant I couldn’t go out to work. I have since been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019, which now means that my whole body is in pain all of the time, and this has affected my mobility significantly. KTF: What inspired you to set up and run a business in spite of your ill health? MS: I set up this publishing house as it was the only thing I could do. If I was unwell during the daytime, I could sleep and work through the night on books. I could communicate with others via social media. I was also penniless at that time, as I hadn’t earned any money for over 12 months, and I was struggling to save my home from repossession. Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

Marcia Spence KTF: What does your business do, and can you describe a couple of the projects you’ve worked on? MS: The core of my business is to provide publishing services, support and PR for new and existing authors who want to tell their story. Our specialism is memoirs, however we have worked with fiction writers, such as Pamela R Haynes, author of Loving The Brothers, a story highlighting domestic abuse. We are currently completing two major projects: Learning and Growing Together, the memoirs of Mrs Eunice MeGhiee Belgrave MBE (aged 85), who still serves her community, and we are completing our first corporate contract with West Midlands Police to create a children’s book to demonstrate the day-to-day life of a Black police officer. KTF: How does your faith help you to cope with your illness and run a business? MS: The work I do now was given to me as a gift by God. It is my anchor and my divine purpose. I know that, despite my ill health, the journey over the past three years has been amazing. We work across many cities in the UK, and have clients in Holland, Portugal and Jamaica. My faith has brought me through everything. KTF: What does Christmas mean to you? MS: Christmas means celebration, sanctuary and family. I have three adult children and three grandchildren, so it is important to me that my family, who are of multiple faiths, feel the love of Christ during this period. This year, we hope it

will be extra special as, over the past few years, Christmas has been difficult due to my health, so my children are doing everything so I can just relax and take care of myself. KTF: What are your business goals for 2020? MS: 2019 has taught me to delegate further, to collaborate, and to develop partnerships. My more specific goals are to: 1. See more Marcia M Publishing House books in major bookstores and libraries 2. Double the turnover 3. Develop stronger partnerships in the publishing industry 4. Establish a training and development programme for authors and aspiring authors 5. Support my mentees through my coaching and mentoring to establish themselves as women of influence within their industries KTF: What message of hope do you have for those who are suffering from a debilitating/ serious illness, and unsure of what to do? MS: We can get through and find purpose for our lives despite illnesses. I am learning to enjoy and be truly thankful for the good days, and to accept the knowledge that I am gaining in the experience. I have learned that despite illness and disability, we all have a Divinely Designed Purpose, when we find that nothing can get in the way.

For more information about Marcia M Publishing, visit www.marciampublishing.com.


FEATURE 23

S

hana Lewis runs Christlike Creations, a bespoke cake, cards and candle making business, that she relaunched in January 2017. Shana lives with a life threatening condition; she has two shunts inside her brain and has had five brain operations in as many years. As well as being a exceptional cake maker, Shana is a talented singer and is part of the Gospel Ability Choir. KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): When did you find out you had a debilitating illness? What is it, and how does your illness affect you? SHANA LEWIS (SL): I first fell ill in August 2006. I didn’t officially know it was a debilitating illness until 2012. I had been living with a headache every day, which NEVER went away – not even once - and I was having seizures and collapsing a few times a week. I have two conditions: Hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain) and Chiari Malformation (where the base the brain protrudes in the spinal canal). As a result of these illnesses, I’ve had five brain operations and live with two shunts inside my brain, pumping fluid from it daily, and keeping me alive. I had to learn to walk, talk and use my hands again properly. KTF: What inspired you to set up and run a business in spite of your ill health? SL: My children. I wanted to be there for them, like my mum had been for me. The only downside in my childhood was we had very little money but lots of love, so with my children I wanted both for them: financial security and love. Also with my ill health, it was unlikely I was ever going to get employment, so I had to play to my strengths. I am a qualified chef of over 25 years, but I didn’t want to do that, so I chose the sweet side of being a chef. KTF: What does your business do, and can you describe a couple of the projects you’ve worked on? SL: I’m a bespoke cake baker/creator, making anything from simple mini cupcakes to almost full-scale sewing machines - from CAKE! Earlier this year I was commissioned to create the birthday cake of Bishop Wayne Malcolm. I also had the pleasure of making the Appreciation Cake to mark the 30th anniversary of Marcia Dixon writing about the Christian community for The Voice newspaper. I’ve made cakes for Pastor Marjorie Esomowei, Angie Le Mar, Sandra Martin of Gogglebox, and this summer I was commissioned to make 200 cupcakes for a pre-Wimbledon charity event that raised money for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund UK. KTF: How does working help you to cope with your illness? SL: I can’t even begin to express in words the absolute pleasure I get from working on my cakes, and the escapism it gives me from the pain I face on a daily basis. Creating cakes keeps me focused, determined and active - both physically and mentally. The thing about running a cake-making business is you can’t call in sick. It gives me a reason to say NO to this illnesss, to live life and to live it well.

KTF. How does your faith help you to cope with your illness and run a business? SL: Without my faith there wouldn’t have been a business to run! Actually, without this illness also, there wouldn’t have been a business at all! After I became ill, I think I became born-again AGAIN, lol. A new-found determination just rose up inside of me. I know it sounds cliché, but if God had brought me to it, He was going to bring me through it. I had to do my part too, and that was to TRUST HIM, along with praying, reading my Bible and attending church, amongst the other fundamentals of our Christian life. KTF: What does Christmas mean to you? SL: LIFE is what Christmas means to me. It’s a birthday, a celebration of the beginning of the life of Christ Jesus. I absolutely LOVE Christmas - more than my own birthday - and I LOVE my birthday, lol. Everything comes to life at Christmas all over the world. KTF: What are your business goals for 2019 and next year? SL: I’ll be introducing new and exciting things for Christlike Creations. They will definitely come to fruition in 2020. I’m also writing my first book, and that will be ready in 2020, as I turn 50 later that year.

KTF: What message of hope do you have for those who are suffering from a debilitating/ serious illness and unsure of what to do? SL: I have an acronym that has helped me along this journey and it is H.O.P.E - Hold On Pass Empty. When all else seems to be failing around you and you just don’t get it...still hold on. What else are you going to do? The other alternative is to end it all and give up, and who wants to do that? In Christ Jesus, your latter WILL always be greater than your past. So HOPE is the key.

SHANA LEWIS

Cakes, For more info about Christlike hristlikeCreation/ visit www.facebook.com/C


24 FEATURE

F

ormer senior deputy head of a secondary school, Juliet Coley is now CEO of Black Jac Media, a company she founded after experiencing serious bouts of ill health. Juliet attends the New Testament Assembly in Tooting, south London. KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): When did you find out you had a debilitating illness? What is it, and how does your illness affect you? JULIET COLEY (JC): I have heart disease, following a heart attack in 2013 and quadruple bypass surgery in 2014. I also recently got the all clear after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018 and surgery in January earlier this year. I experience shortness of breath if I walk for extended periods and fatigue. Emotionally I used to worry a lot, more for people around me because with the word ‘cancer’ comes the association with death. Prior to my illnesses I was very active and always on the go. Recently I decided to take early retirement so I could slow down, spend more time with family and friends, and be more active within my church. KTF: What inspired you to set up and run a business in spite of your ill health? JC: My brain needs to be active, and my intention wasn’t to set up a business but to turn a negative into something positive. My son was the first author in my publishing company, and when I saw the positive effect being an author had on him, it was a no brainer to work with other children to develop their literacy skills and confidence; produce a great product at the end of it, and sell it locally, nationally and internationally. Seeing other people thrive was the best medicine. KTF: What does your business do, and can you describe a couple of the projects you’ve worked on? JC: The business works with young children, and supports them in becoming young authors. With my background in education I can work with young people and bring out their creativity, skills and natural talent. To date, we have published eight titles, with authors aged seven to 13, and have four books ready to be released before Christmas. Two of our titles have won awards: ‘Life Without My Mummy?’ and ‘Hey, Black Boy!’ by Romeo Bremmer, and our Christian colouring book, ‘My Favourite Parables’, written by 12-year-old Christian twins, Kriston and Kristoff Baker, is popular with Sunday school children. KTF: How does working help you to cope with your illness? JC: It gives me a focus, and working with

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JULIET COLEY young people in a publishing capacity gives me such a buzz, knowing it’s developing their confidence and self esteem. I have seen every young person I have worked with commit themselves to their projects, and work hard to complete their books and, through the process, get excited about what they have produced and accomplished. KTF: How does your faith help you to cope with your illness and run a business? JC: My faith is instrumental in everything I do. My reason for getting up in the morning. My purpose and reason for living. Hence my smile, my bounce, my positivity. All this is an amazing support with the work that I do. KTF: What does Christmas mean to you? JC: Christmas is my favourite time of the year and, for me, means love - the love of Jesus and the love of family and friends. It’s the time of year when I reflect on life and purpose, remembering the greatest story every told that began in Bethlehem. Traditionally, my family and I avoid the hustle and bustle of London and celebrate abroad. We either only treat

‘My faith is instrumental in everything I do. My reason for getting up in the morning’ the children or do a Secret Santa, so no one goes overboard with spending. KTF: What are your business goals for 2020? JC: It sounds crazy, but it’s just taking my time and working at a chilled pace on projects that I enjoy. I spent over 20 years making a difference in my corner of the world in Education, and now I want to spend my time working on projects where God can get the glory. My daughter, Yazmin, and I have just created a prototype for ‘The Living Word Game’, which is a Christian board game. This is our business goal, and it will be out the next year. For more information, visit www.blackjacmedia.com.


BISHOP DRDRED JOE AL

A champion for vulnerable people “The Church is a complex human space, a place of discipleship where diverse peoples and cultures grapple with what it means to be the people of God, living as sisters and brothers and salt and light in the world for which Christ died. Sadly, it hasn’t always lived up to this ideal,” says Bishop Dr Joe Aldred - author, broadcaster, church leader, and recently appointed Patron of the Christian charity, Thirtyone:eight, the UK’s only independent Christian safeguarding charity that works with churches and Christian groups to help protect children and adults from harm and abuse. Safeguarding in churches is increasingly making headlines, in part due to the government’s ongoing Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which has broadened its scope to focus on Christian denominations outside of the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches. When it comes to their safeguarding responsibilities, churches are expected to take reasonable steps to follow good practice guidance given by the government. Churches may claim God’s authority over their mission but, as charities, they are regulated in the UK by the Charity Commission. Therefore, their activities in pursuit of their mission must be subject to that authority, but perhaps, just as important for churches, is the biblical mandate to protect the most vulnerable people in society. Bishop Aldred, who is responsible for Pentecostal and Multicultural Relations at Churches Together in England and also a Bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy, says that when it comes to issues relating to abuse, the Bible is very clear on God’s expectations and the responsibility placed on His Church to create safer places for everyone. “I am afraid the Church’s record on safeguarding issues is not as good as it has needed to be,” explains Bishop Aldred. “Some of the reasons may be that society as a whole has not taken safeguarding seriously enough, and churches are part of society. I for one welcome the current and increasing focus on keeping people safe. Whether children, older people or vulnerable adults, everybody must both feel safe and be safe in our custody. Jesus, in His earthly ministry, shows how to be welcoming to people from all walks of life, typified by His ‘Let the children come to Me’ rebuke to His disciples for shushing them away. The Gospel is about salvation, redemption, flourishing in this life and the next, and the Church at all levels must simply work harder to ensure the value we place on the image of God in ‘the least of these’ is reflected in how we care for everyone.” Thirtyone:eight has been trusted by churches for over 40 years to help do just that, and continues to be recognised as the go-to organisation for

thousands of churches who already benefit from the charity’s complete safeguarding solution. The charity, which recently changed its name to thirtyone:eight, seeks to equip, empower and encourage the Church in responding to the biblical mandate laid out in Proverbs 31:8 to “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable” (CEB). In taking on his role as Patron, Bishop Aldred says he seeks to raise the profile of safeguarding within churches, and highlight the support that is available through thirtyone:eight to help them respond to God’s call to create a world where every child and adult can feel - and be - safe. Following the announcement of his appointment, Bishop Aldred said he is hopeful of the role churches can play in fulfilling this vital part of God’s mission. “Agapé love towards one another as individuals and groups is an essential component if the Church is to function as God’s missional instrument,” explains Bishop Aldred. “In the midst of its imperfections, the Church manages by the grace of God to be a catalyst for good more often than might be thought possible. Thirtyone:eight has been helping churches create and maintain safe spaces for many years, but it is not sufficiently well known in some spaces. I hope that my ambassadorial role as patron can assist even a little in making the organisation more visible, and its services taken up in more churches in the sector I work with and beyond, so that more lives may be protected.” To find out more about the services and support that are available from thirtyone:eight, and how they could help your church better protect the people you care for, visit thirtyoneeight.org or follow them on social media @thirtyoneeight.


26 FEATURE

Windrush Compensation Scheme - Addressing misleading media coverage BY MARTIN FORDE QC

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n May 2018, I was appointed the Independent Adviser to the Windrush Compensation Scheme, as the Home Office recognised that independent oversight was imperative if the Scheme were to have any credibility. Following a call for evidence, I carried out comprehensive consultations and visited affected communities throughout the country, to find out for myself how those affected had been unfairly treated and had been suffering in silence for years. I then looked at the common themes affecting these communities, and used the information I’d gathered to help design a scheme that would address all the issues.

‘...those affected had been unfairly treated and had been suffering in silence for years.’ The Scheme is comprehensive. It allows claims for deportation and removal, detention, loss of employment; loss of housing; loss of certain benefits; refunds of unnecessarily incurred fees paid in pursuit of immigration status; loss of access to services, such as banking, the NHS; loss of driving licences and university access, and impact on life, such as missed family occasions due to travel restrictions being imposed. There is also a wide discretion to compensate for novel or unusual claims. Hybrid claims spanning multiple types of loss are also catered for. So, for example, a person who was detained and then deported would have a claim for both those actions, as well as any financial loss caused, due to loss of employment, benefits or housing. This would also include claims for the impact on family life. Because the politicians stated publicly that people would be compensated for “distress and anxiety”, I looked at and incorporated bands of claims, which were very much based upon claims made for psychological or psychiatric damage in the Courts. Close family members, who may have suffered financial loss supporting primary claimants and emotional impact themselves, are able to make claims under the Scheme. Finally, where claimants are unfortunately deceased, claims can be inherited. Disappointingly, the Scheme has been thoroughly misrepresented by ill informed media comments from those who clearly haven’t read or understood the Scheme. This includes politicians who, rather than encouraging claimants or contributing valid constructive criticism (which, Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

if justified, would have led to the Scheme being modified), unfortunately seem more interested in politicising this tragedy. My concern is that unjustified and inaccurate criticism is dissuading claimants from coming forward, or is driving them into the arms of rapacious ‘No win, no fee’ lawyers. The overall cost of the scheme is not capped at £200 million (see The Andrew Marr Show 14th April 2019 with David Lammy). There is no overall cap; it will cost the Home Office what it costs! Neither has £200m been set aside for the Scheme, as one solicitor’s website claims. A claimant does not only receive £10,000 for wrongful deportation (Mr Lammy again). Both these statements are wildly inaccurate, but have received huge media coverage. I am therefore delighted to have been given the opportunity to correct this misleading media coverage. I have asked various media organisations for a right of reply, but have been thwarted at every attempt. All claims are bespoke, and will compensate for an individual’s personal circumstances. Where there are bands or tariffs, these will mirror Court awards and settlements or existing schemes, such as local government awards for loss of housing and Judicial College guidelines for the award of damages in personal injury claims. The Scheme is fair, accessible and comprehensive. It is under constant review, and I welcome constructive, accurate and fair criticism. My attention now turns to the just implementation of the Scheme and, in particular, supporting those who wish to make claims to ensure they are properly and fully compensated.

Of course, a degree of supportive documentation will be needed to support claims, just as it would be if a court case were pursued for damages. I have asked the Home Office to approach this with a ‘light touch’, however, as putting the onus on the community affected to produce documents is what caused their scandalous treatment in the first place.

‘I am determined that those who need and deserve this compensation receive it.’ My aim is to ensure, so far as I am able, that the Home Office pay fair compensation to those affected as soon as possible, and I am determined that those who need and deserve this compensation receive it. The Windrush Task Force has already helped around 900 people to claim benefits - in many cases backdated – and some have received five figure sums. Some of these payments are outside of the Scheme, but were instigated by the Home Office bringing such cases to the attention of the Department of Work and Pensions. The claim forms and guidance notes are on the GOV.UK website – simply type ‘Windrush Compensation’ into any search engine, or visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ windrush-compensation-scheme.


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28 FEATURE

REMEMBERING OUR HISTORY RICHARD REDDIE

is the Director of Justice and Inclusion at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland www.ctbi.org.uk

I

recently attended a ten-day Yad Vashem seminar in Jerusalem, Israel, where my fellow students and I studied the Holocaust, as well as the millennia-worth of anti-Semitism that paved the way for the Nazis’ vile actions against European Jewry. Aside from running courses, Yad Vashem contains an amazing museum, remembrance gardens, monuments, installations and other structures dedicated to remembering the Holocaust (or Shoah). One of the issues I found most thoughtprovoking at Yad Vashem were the parallels between the Shoah and the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans (TTEA or the ‘slave trade’). As a student of the latter, I have an extensive knowledge of all things pertaining to slavery and freedom. (Between 2005 and 2008 I was project director of Set All Free, the British churches’ response to marking the bicentenary of Britain’s ending of the slave trade. Equally, I am the author of ‘Abolition’, the best-selling book on African chattel enslavement in the Anglophone Caribbean.) In both instances, millions either suffered and/or died as a result of unspeakable wickedness, causing the world to reflect on how those who described themselves as Christians could permit this to happen. We also know that Christianity played an important role in each; several verses in the Gospels (Matthew and John) were twisted by some early Christians to accuse Jewish people of ‘killing’ Jesus, resulting in the anti-Semitism that characterised their experiences in Europe. Similarly, a variety of Hebrew and New Testament Scriptures were used by Christians to justify the enslavement and brutal treatment of Africans. The racism and ‘Afrophobia’ that took root during this era is still rampant today. For me, the real differences between the two remain in the way these histories are curated

Given the Church’s role in slavery and freedom, it will undoubtedly be part of this conversation, whether it likes it or not.

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and remembered. Yad Vashem is a well-resourced institution, largely staffed by Jewish academics, which tells the story of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective. Conversely, apart from the United States, there is very little of any historical or educational worth in the Caribbean or West Africa that does justice to the TTEA’s enormity. The Caribbean, possibly out of fear of offending White tourists, has nothing of substance that tells the story of African enslavement and freedom, while the slave museums in West Africa – if you can call them that – are invariably stuffed with the instruments of torture that punished Africans. Likewise, the African ‘slave forts’ and ‘barracoons’ provide a graphic example of the terror and violence of the human traffic, but fail to explore the impact this protracted activity had on African families, communities and society. Additionally, most European museums focusing on African enslavement are bereft of Black input; White academics are largely responsible for the lion’s share of the activities, with Black academics or heritage experts called in at the culmination to endorse what has already been assembled. The rationale for the aforementioned approach is the importance of impartiality and factuality regarding the events of the past. All the latter is true, but the race-related dimension of African enslavement, which still elicits anger, shame, embarrassment and discomfiture, means emotional detachment is virtually impossible. I know this because I have had to sit through many church events (often during Black History Month) where

White Christian academics over-emphasise Black collusion in African enslavement, and accentuate White Christian agency in African freedom. The ‘Black’ contribution at these events would usually involve a Gospel choir belting out spirited versions of Amazing Grace, the hymn written by the former slave trader turned abolitionist, John Newton. There is little doubt that the “nothing about us, without us” methodology ensures that one avoids what Yad Vashem describes as the ‘instrumentalising’ or ‘decontextualising’ of past events, which sees direct comparisons made between the Shoah and contemporary atrocities. No such sensibilities are extended to Black folks and African enslavement. During the 2007 slave trade bicentenary, two leading anti-slavery organisations devised a campaign which juxtaposed African slavery with its modern-day equivalent. They devised an image, which was a combination of a slave ship which morphed into an airplane, to highlight the way people have been trafficked into slavery. In doing so, they failed to acknowledge that as many as two in five Africans failed to survive the tortuous, protracted Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. Conversely, no such mortality rates or pain levels are experienced by modern-day ‘slaves’ on relatively short airline flights. I would argue that it is important for Black Christians to engage with this subject, as the issue of slavery-related reparations has resurfaced with a vengeance in those countries directly connected to African chattel enslavement. Despite its initial reluctance to engage with its history, there is now a strong and growing reparations movement in the Caribbean, which is being spearheaded by academic institutions. Equally, the USA had Senate hearings earlier this year on the matter, while in this country there is a vocal ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ (the TTEA genocide) campaign exploring reparations in their broadest sense. Given the Church’s role in slavery and freedom, it will undoubtedly be part of this conversation, whether it likes it or not. A sensible approach would be to engage with this history – warts and all – to ensure that we learn the lessons of the past and apply them to the present. Historic truth-telling will set us all upon a road which frees us from the chains of the past.


COMMENT 29

May the Prince of Peace Calm the Storm this Christmas By Rev Les Isaac OBE

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t seems as though Christmas comes around before we can even blink our eyes! 2019 has been a very uncertain year for many – if not all - of us: prolonged Brexit negotiations; the turmoil in Parliament, and the splits within our political parties… These have caused many of us to think that if this is what happens in our esteemed parliamentary institutions, what hope is there for the ordinary men and women in society? We have also seen another year of serious youth violence, with a record number of people being murdered by knife crime. The question on all our minds is: When will this end? and we wonder whether this will become the norm for us, as every day we seem to be hearing of the murder of yet another young person. We are not just considering the murder of young people, but the wider impact on families - both victim and perpetrator – on our communities and on society at large. Every day we turn on the TV or listen to our radios, and there is just as much turmoil, confusion and conflict on the world stage. One of the books I read this year was called The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs by Martin Mosebach. As I listened to the author at the book launch, and subsequently read the book, it was as if my eyes and my mind were opened to the immense suffering many people are facing in our world today. I take great comfort as I read the Bible, however. Throughout this year, I have been reminded in the Gospel of John chapter 14, when Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…” I am reminded that it was the same Jesus who said to the wind and the waves “Peace, be still.”

‘Peace is an inner quietness that keeps us calm in the midst of the storm’ Whatever kind of year you have had, how ever hard or difficult it has been, whether you have been disappointed or let down, Jesus came into this world to bring peace, and that peace is for every individual, every home, every community, every city and every nation on this earth. The Church and all Christians can be comforted by Scriptures: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day, in the City of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”” (Luke 2:8-14 NKJV)

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all over this Christmas period and beyond.

Rev Les Isaac OBE is the founder and CEO of Ascension Trust, and he pioneered Street Pastors in the UK in 2003. To date, Ascension Trust has trained over 14,000 volunteers and has approximately 280 initiatives in the UK, as well as projects in several countries around the world. For more information, visit www.ascensiontrust.org.uk

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


36 30 COMMENT

DIONNE GRAVESANDE

Global Ecumenical Relations at Christian Aid

We too were once strangers... I

t would be an understatement to say the story of Christmas is pretty impressive. There are ancient prophecies being fulfilled, events happening in the stars, merciless kings, and choirs of angels appearing to sing about the birth of God’s Son. It’s no surprise that churches, schools and theatres mount huge productions about the story of a young man and woman, who flee a hostile environment, ending up as refugees in Bethlehem. We are told Jesus was born to parents who, apart from their far-off lineage, wouldn’t really be considered anything special by others; they were outsiders in every meaning of the word. In fact, a lot of the people in the Christmas story did not come from Bethlehem, and for a host of reasons many of the people in the story are people on the move. Hold that thought. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), we live in a time where more than 28,000 people are being forcibly displaced every day. Over 65 million people - roughly the population of the United Kingdom - have fled their homes. One third of those (22 million) are classified as ‘refugees’ - people outside their country of origin, who are ‘unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion’. Today’s refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, surpassing what was then the largest mass human displacement in history. The majority of refugees are women and children, with one half under the age of 18. Millions of refugees have lived in protracted situations, waiting decades for resolution. One quarter of all refugees today are Syrian, with half of its pre-war population killed or forced from their homes in just the past six years. Many have wondered at the causes of this sudden surge in forced migration. War and conflict - especially longstanding wars - are the primary causes, but there are other factors: • Faced with economic deprivation, workers move in search of opportunity • Natural disasters and environmental degradation can cause large- scale displacement, especially when exacerbated by political tensions • Persecution forces people out of their homelands in search of safety and freedom In our connected world, we not only have more knowledge about these situations, but we are also more directly affected by them. So, faced with this global phenomenon, how are Christians to respond? The Bible speaks of charity and hospitality to strangers and sojourners, as well as care for the distraught and downtrodden. People who follow Jesus should take guidance seriously; together we have a special mandate to address the refugee crisis. However, the complexities of the refugee system and concerns over national security often overshadow the call to Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

justice and mercy. In this context it is concerning to learn some Christians are among those calling for their countries to close their doors to immigrants. I disagree. In my view, Christians should acknowledge that they have a role to play in what is the primary humanitarian issue of our day. Our mental picture of who a refugee is affects our attitudes towards them. Since the first international effort to address the refugee crisis of the early 1900s, citizens have expressed concern about immigrants’ impact on local culture and economy; refugees are strangers, often not speaking the local language, and not knowing local customs and ways. In recent years, national security has been at the forefront when weighing compassion for the world’s most vulnerable people against protecting one’s own, making resettlement seem risky. Even though our human nature makes us wary of strangers, there are times when God calls us instead to embrace the stranger. To do that we must allow our imagination to be shaped by our belief in what and who God is. In ancient books of Scripture, God decreed that strangers were also entitled to love and concern, so caring for refugees today is not merely a compassion or pity issue, I would argue it is a justice issue. Every Christian, besides belonging to the global Christian family, also belongs to another family - the global human family. With over seven billion people on the globe today, we must remember that we all belong to the same human family. This perspective humanises refugees, reminding us that they are more than statistics; they are people made in the image of God, deserving of our compassion and protection. Finally, perhaps the most compelling argument for caring for refugees is that, like them, we are sojourners. It is the brokenness


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within us that leads us to fear those who are different, and to fear that we do not have enough to give to others in need. But Jesus offers a challenge to those fears. Christ comes into this world so that God can be with us, all of us, and He binds us up together in His love (John 1). In the feeding of the five thousand, He rejects the myth of scarcity, and uplifts a conviction that, when we all give freely, there will be enough. But Jesus also asks us to sacrifice, to be willing to give up our comforts and even, sometimes, our security in the effort to build a world founded on something stronger than every fear and every evil and every brokenness: a world founded on grace. Refugees are especially vulnerable because they do not leave by choice. Once outside the borders of their country, they lose whatever protections of citizenship they had and are at the mercy of (and entitled to the assistance of) the international protection regime. While biblical hospitality needs not distinguish between persons, refugees do make an especially compelling case for hospitality and mercy. Within the CHRISTmas story, I find myself thinking that an interesting collection of people, cultures, beliefs and statuses, these people travelled from different places to congregate in a single place called Bethlehem to witness a single event - the birth of Jesus - who later become the Christ. The Bible is rife with examples of Jesus’ commitment to those who are suffering and oppressed. He makes time to heal a bleeding woman, even when it makes Him late to the house of an important official whose daughter is dying. He dines with a sex worker and tax collectors. He shares parables like the Good Samaritan that call us to care for even those whom we’ve been taught to hate or avoid (Luke 10), and teaches that when someone asks for our coat we should offer the shirt off of our backs as well (Luke 6). This is the ethic of generosity and grace that Jesus offers to all those He encounters, without regard to their background or social status. And He asks that we do the same, telling us that when we offer food, drink, shelter and relationship to those whom the world has labelled ‘least’, we also serve Him.

This is an exciting opportunity to invest in yourself and your existing and emerging leaders. For one day only, LEAD UK will be hosting Dr John Maxwell at the Bethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich. This is an unparalleled opportunity to sit under the teaching of a world-renowned authority on leadership and personal development. John C. Maxwell, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach and speaker, has sold more than 30 million books. He has been identified as the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. magazine. His organisations – The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation – have trained millions of leaders from every nation in the world. It is very important whom you listen and learn from, and vital to position yourself in the right place to take you to the next level. This day with Dr John Maxwell will accelerate your learning and growth. Investing in yourself will prevent hours of difficulty and will bring many rewards into your personal life and your spheres of influence, including your church and business. So often we bring the same mindset, thought process and strategy into our leadership role, and yet expect improved results but, realistically, to improve the results we must first invest in ourselves. Don’t delay, make a quality decision today to make the investment, and book your gold or platinum ticket to intentionally be in the room. Rev Dr Keith Poole CEO & Founder of LEAD UK www.leaduk.org

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32 COMMENT

Caring for ‘the least of these’ will bring God’s favour and progress BISHOP DR JOE ALDRED

is an Ecumenist, Broadcaster, Speaker and Writer

I

am growing increasingly concerned about the nature of liturgy and sermonising that seems to be gaining prominence in Britain - particularly in some Black Pentecostal churches. This trend is characterised by the way it, probably unintentionally, blames worshippers for lack of growth and progress; ignoring a clear biblical precedent that although we ‘plant and water’, it is God who causes increase. The narrative progresses along the lines that the cause of lack of growth is because worshippers are not close enough to God, not praying enough, not giving enough - just not enough. It may be worth remembering that it is Satan whom the Bible calls ‘the accuser’ of the saints (Revelation 12.10). This focus on perceived inadequate human agency instead of divine agency, which is the ultimate means by which all are drawn to God, plays into many Black people’s insecurity, lack of self-worth, lack of self-esteem, and general sense of being ‘not good enough’ in western society; and this in the very space that ought to give those same people a greater sense of security, self-worth, self-esteem, and of being enough, by God’s grace.

The idea that we need to be closer to God, need to pray more, need to give more, need to be more than we are – an idea that is front and centre in some Black Pentecostal churches - reinforces the western lies about Africans, and is even more dangerous, because it is an idea being propagated by ourselves and in a supposed spiritual space. Too many Black people have imbibed ideas about Black inferiority for far too long. It has damaged us, weakened us, and often turns victimhood into self-hate or self-loathing. This may explain the week after week rush to the altar by some so desperate to be ‘fixed’ - a form of self-flagellation. In desperation, they repeat the very thing that has not changed their circumstances in the past, in the hope that it will. There is also the triumphalism of some in the congregation, cheering on the liturgist or preacher as they whip up emotions, often using ill-prepared sermons focused on human inadequacies, rather than on the power of God to redeem and empower. Those of us, who are followers of Jesus Christ, believe the Gospel that the God who in Jesus overcame suffering and death is interested in our liberation, our salvation, in this life and the next. We believe that God is interested in justice, peace and love - especially for the oppressed, the outcast, the excluded. We believe we’ve been called as disciples to follow the Good Shepherd who leads us beside still waters and restores our souls. I personally continue to sign up to this Way because of Jesus the Liberator I have come and am coming to know more day by day. It is simply not helpful to have the tables turned on disciples of Jesus to become blameable for the lack of progress some leaders expect. Misdiagnosis can often be fatal. Our liturgy and preaching would do better to focus and shine light, not on Jesus’ disciples’ inadequacies - that will always be with human ‘clay jars’ - but on the power and adequacy of God to transform. To do otherwise is to feed the victimised mental slavery that started over five hundred years ago, and continued under colonialism and neo-colonialism. This contributes to our people’s susceptibility to feeling ‘less than’, ‘never enough’. A ministry that focuses on God in Jesus who redeems, transforms and empowers

will attract new and sustain old followers of Jesus. From observation, I can think of a few more areas that if addressed are likely to bring people to respond to the Gospel. These are the things that were central to the ministry of Old Testament prophets and the ministry of Jesus: justice for the wronged against; liberation for the oppressed; care for the widow, parentless, the aged, children and the poor, and liberation for the oppressed by sin, principalities and powers. Leaders will do well to remember that our churches are not omnipotent; instead, they are flawed agencies that need to constantly keep under review their tendency to preserve institutional, cultural and doctrinal ‘sacred cows’ that stymie spiritual growth and confidence in God.

‘Wouldn’t it be truly unworldly if special food tables were reserved for the widows, orphans and the aged, not for bishops and VIPs?’ Finally, Pentecostal church leaders should think long and hard about how to put the needs of ‘the least of these’ first, and way ahead of taking from the needy to give to those who already have more than enough. Wouldn’t it be truly unworldly if, at the next convention or assembly, the special food tables were reserved for the widows, orphans and the aged, not for bishops and VIPs? Wouldn’t it say something to the world if the special offerings collected went to those most needy, not those already well paid? Fellow leaders, when we scrutinise the reason for the lack of the progress we crave, let us first ask: is the way we operate pleasing to the God of justice, for whom the last is first? And the last thing we should do, is to absolve ourselves and the institutions we operate and instead reverse-blame those we are called to protect. Remember, ‘it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’ (Galatians 5.1).


COMMENT 33

FOOD 4

BY

MARCIA DIXON

THOUGHT marciadixonpr.co.uk

marciadixonpr

A leading PR specialist and journalist

Marcia-Dixon-Public-Relations

Christmas - A time of reflection

CREATE SAFE SPACES

The approach of Christmas and a New Year is an opportune time to undergo deep contemplation about one’s faith and life.

In an effort to improve my public speaking skills, I recently took a comedy master class led by comedian, Angie Le Mar.

Christmas enables us to think about Christ’s birth in the humbling setting of a stable - His resting place was a manger - and how He was born to save mankind from their sins. We can consider what the coming of Jesus has meant for us personally, and how His birth has impacted how we live out our lives and the positive difference we are making in the lives of others. This should all be done before we starting thinking about how many presents we are going to buy, or money we’ll spend sharing gifts with friends and family. And the end of a year offers time for reflection on failures and successes, the highs and the lows, the paths taken during the course of the past year, and the excitement of making plans for the forthcoming one. There are occasions when we are so blessed we can look back on a year filled with more highs than lows: we may have passed important exams; got that promotion; experienced the birth of a child; got married, or achieved a longed-for goal. Then there are times when we look back with disappointment, because of the lows and difficult life experiences, such as redundancy, bereavement, illness or broken relationships. Whatever type of year we’ve had, a New Year offers us a chance to start over, just like the birth of Jesus offers mankind the chance of a new beginning to make things right with God. If you have hopes to make 2020 – the start of a new decade – one of your ‘best years ever’,

here are some points you may wish to consider, as you get ready to set your goals and take on the challenges a New Year brings. 1. God is the author and finisher of our faith, so put Him first 2. Love God, yourself and your neighbour 3. Forgive those who’ve done you wrong, and let go of bitterness, grudges and envy 4. Write down your goals 5. Get mentors who can help you achieve your goals 6. Go beyond your comfort zone, and do something you’ve never done to get what you’ve never had 7. Start turning those long-held ideas you have into reality 8. Travel in order to see more of God’s beautiful creation and expand your world 9. Ask God for more faith, so that you can achieve that which seems impossible 10. Pray about everything.

I didn’t write any jokes - I know I’m not a comedian - but I learnt invaluable insight and knowledge about performing and speaking in public. One exercise that filled me with trepidation, but turned out to be a liberating experience, was when everyone was asked to share their initial impressions of their fellow students. In the main, the comments were mainly positive, and even when they had something negative to say, it was shared in such a caring, humorous and compassionate way, there was no time to get offended. It was an important exercise to undertake, and reminded me of the time when Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” in order to gauge how He was viewed by others. The question was more for the disciples’ benefit than His. But it’s a question we should ask of ourselves and others more often. There are people in churches – including leaders - who unknowingly hurt and upset members and visitors, due to their lack of awareness of how they are perceived, and the impact their behaviour has on others. The Bible says that ‘iron sharpens iron’ and, whilst we know this saying applies to friendships, it can also extend to the wider church community. Let’s share, in a spirit of truth and love - and some humour - how we experience each other in a way that makes us become better people, and enables us to swallow painful truths.

BENEFITS OF RETREATS There’s one thing I would recommend all Christians do at least once during the course of 2020, and that’s to attend a retreat. I’ve attended several over the years, and what I enjoy about them is they give you the opportunity to get away from your everyday life, and worship the Lord in a relaxed environment, free from everyday cares and worries. Not only do you get opportunities to form deeper bonds with other people, but you also get a chance to pray in peace, and receive prayer or ministry if you need it.

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34 COMMENT

ROMANS, COUNTRYMEN OR FRIENDS? GARY CLAYTON

is Copywriter and Editor at Mission Aviation Fellowship: www.maf-uk.org

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aving got to a time in life when I’m beginning to think about my own mortality, I’ve started thinking about my funeral. Ironically, it’s one of the rare occasions when people gather to say nice things about us but, sadly, we’re not even there to hear it! It all seems a terrible waste, particularly if you’re the kind of person who’s a little insecure and could probably do with a bit of positive feedback! So perhaps we ought to be a little better at providing friends and fellow believers with constructive comments while they’re still here to hear it. I know one fellowship that does this quite well. Those who belong to a prayer group use birthdays as an opportunity to say what they like, appreciate or admire about the person who’s been granted another year of life. They describe how they see God working in the person’s life, or relate something they’ve done that’s inspired or encouraged them. The aim is to highlight the qualities their friend has been given to equip God’s people for works of service, ‘so that the body of Christ may be built up’ (Ephesians 4:12). Although this has the potential for embarrassment, it can also be quite moving. (I remember one occasion when someone new joined our group and said to the birthday boy: “I don’t know anything about you but, from what

they’ve all said, you seem a nice person…”) But making friends isn’t easy. Every day after school, I used to chat at the bus stop with a guy called Brian. One day, the timetable changed, and Brian’s bus no longer came before mine. But, when I tried to talk to him at lunchtime, Brian just walked away. It turned out that the only reason he talked to me was because it gave him something to do whilst waiting for the bus. I thought Brian was my friend, but I was wrong. To be honest, I’m not really sure how good men are at making friends. We can play sport, discuss politics, and deal with the surface things of life, but how well do we do when it comes to expressing our emotions, hopes and dreams? And yet the Bible is full of expressions of warmth, appreciation and emotion - from David and Jonathan, to the letters of Paul. So there must be a better way. After all, the term ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ conjures up something a little more intimate than, say, ‘We the People’, ‘fellow stakeholders’ or ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ – even though Romans is a book in the Bible, and it does make mention of Paul’s ‘dear’ friends, Epenetus, Ampliatus, Stachys and Persis. And yet, at many churches, there can be a desperate attempt at avoiding any form of eye contact or physical affection whatsoever! A brief smile is sometimes as good as it gets. On the other hand, if we’d seen some of our fellow believers celebrating an England goal during the 2018 World Cup, by means of shouts, hugs, cheers and much backslapping, we’d have witnessed something that was distinctly non Anglo-Saxon!

That said, affectionate friendships can only occur if we dare to go deeper; try to get to know one another better, and truly view fellow members of the congregation as family (Matthew 12:48-50). But do we operate on a level deep enough to share our problems or bear one another’s burdens? Or are we only surface-level Christians, who merely discuss politics, religion, sport or work? The Bible refers to us as living stones (1 Peter 2:5). But the whole point of stones is that, when placed one on top of each other, they remain where they are. They stick together! But are we being built into a solid spiritual structure, with Jesus as the Cornerstone – one that can withstand any storm – or are we more like Lego: brightly coloured bricks forever capable of turning into completely different structures? So how should believing friends behave? According to Scripture, friends rejoice in our good fortune (Luke 15:6-9); strengthen one another (2 Corinthians 12:19); speak lovingly to one another (Philippians 4:1), and encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). They rebuke and advise one another (Proverbs 27:6, Proverbs 27:9); exhorting each other to abstain from sinful desires, and make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace (1 Peter 2:11, 2 Peter 3:14). They comfort one another (‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you’ - 1 Peter 4:12); stimulate one another to wholesome thinking (2 Peter 3:1) and, in the words of 1 John 4:7-11, ‘love one another’. So why not give it a try? By doing so, we can build up the body of Christ and may even ensure that there’ll be one more person present to say nice things at our funeral. Gary Clayton is married to Julie, and father of Christopher (15) and Emma (12). He is Copywriter and Editor at Mission Aviation Fellowship. To learn how MAF’s 131 aircraft serve some of Africa’s remotest and most isolated communities, visit www.maf-uk.org

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COMMENT 35

Christians and clothes ‘WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT YOU BUT ABOUT GOD. WE ARE HERE TO GET GOD’S ATTENTION, NOT MAN’S’

REV STEPHEN BROOKS New Jerusalem Church, Birmingham

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ew topics evoke greater reaction in churches than the subject of Christian apparel and modesty. As soon as any preacher speaks on the subject of modesty and apparel, they are hit with: “The Bible says that ‘God is only interested in the heart but not the external appearance’” (1 Samuel 16:7). However, these verses do not teach that we should not judge immodest dress; they merely teach that we must not judge hypocritically (John 7:24). Also, God judges both the outward and the inward of a person. In some churches, it is almost a statement of faith to say: “Dress as you feel comfortable. God doesn’t care what you wear.” We cannot escape the fact that our outward appearance tells much more about who we are than many of us realise. William Thourlby, a clothing consultant who advises executives and presidents on ‘How to package yourself for success’, says that when people meet you for the first time, they will make ten judgments about you based solely on your appearance. These relate to: 1. Your economic level; 2. Educational level; 3. Trustworthiness; 4. Social position; 5. Level of sophistication; 6. Economic heritage; 7. Social heritage; 8. Educational heritage; 9. Your success, and 10. Moral character. Note that our appearance reveals not only our social, economic and educational levels, but also our ‘moral character’. This means that clothes and appearance should be of particular concern to Christians committed to living by biblical, moral values. In Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command, and the Bible says: ‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.’ However, this was not good enough for God; He Himself clothed Adam and Eve because they could now no longer walk before God in innocence (Genesis 3:8). Adam and Eve were afraid of their nakedness because of the shame it brought and, in Genesis 3:10, their shame of being naked is explained as the consequence of the guilt of sin, which is why they hid from the Lord. Manmade coverings were by implication pronounced ineffective in dealing with sin. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges the Roman believers: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your

bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ When attending church, it is expected that you dress in a way that reflects the morals and standards of that particular church. One driving principle of New Testament teaching is that we act in such a way towards one another so as to prevent each other from stumbling in our walk with God (Romans 14). The way we dress, then, is important. The implementation of dress code rules varies from age to age according to the changes of fashion. The rules also vary according to circumstance. Working on a farm, for example, requires different attire to attending a formal dinner. Nevertheless at all times, in all circumstances, we should be careful to uphold God’s standards in how we dress.

The expression ‘modest apparel’ is from the Greek word ‘adios’, meaning reverence or free from shame. The world’s fashion encourages immodesty, seduction, flamboyance and shame in its clothing. The world says: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” This generation is more sexually educated, active and tempted than any other in history. Certain forms of dress may be modest but not appropriate. Just as we are not to dress seductively in church, we are also not to dress like a movie star or a princess/prince. Worship is not about you but about God. We are here to get God’s attention, not man’s. Any person who tries to steal God’s glory is doing a foolhardy thing. So how should we dress in corporate worship? Formally? Casually? The Bible says virtually nothing about what clothing to wear when we come before the Lord in worship – the only exception being the ritual Levitical laws of the Old Testament, which no longer apply in the new covenant. We shouldn’t be mistaken into thinking that clothing doesn’t matter to God, however; it matters a great deal. In his article, What should we wear to church?*, Jon Bloom writes that God explicitly tells us what He wants us to wear in church: ‘All clothing - formal, casual, work, sport, beachwear, sleepwear, underwear, headwear, every kind of wear - can be a source of great pride. There isn’t a clothing item or style that we can’t turn into an expression of self-centred, self-worship. But, if we clothe ourselves with humility, if we ‘count others more significant than ourselves’, and ‘look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others’, then no matter how we dress, we will honour and reflect Christ (Philippians 2:3-4).’ So, then, we should dress in a way that draws people to Christ and not to ourselves. May God give this Church a generation of modest, virtuous and sensitive believers, who have a meek and quiet spirit that God delights in. May we also remember our outward appearance is a constant silent witness of our Christian identity from within. (*https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-should-we-wear-to-church)


36 LIFESTYLE

ESSENTIALS FOR ENTREPRENEURS

An essay on Customer Experience KENO OGBO

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

Preamble I am a fan of the film trilogy, The Matrix, and one of my favourite scenes is when Neo goes to visit the Oracle and sees a sign in Latin above the door, which translates in English to ‘Know thyself’. This particular section of the scene stayed with me a long time, and continues to be a key motivation in my journey of self-actualisation. It is a journey that most entrepreneurs go through. They buy personal development books, read and practise success principles, mindfulness, meditation and reflections, self-help books, podcasts, TED Talks and a host of other resources to help them become the best version of self they could ever be. This is a good thing, and the entrepreneurial mindset is a key factor for business success. However, it is not the most important.

If you asked a founder or entrepreneur about the key to successful sales, I expect they would give one or more of the following answers: • Hard work and persistence/confidence • Know your niche and area of expertise • Know your product or service Do you have any other answers? I bet you do, but I would like to suggest an answer that may not be too popular. Introduction The answers above are all correct, but in the Digital Age, the most important key to successful sales is ‘Know your customer’. This essay addresses the central role that knowing your customers plays in Digital Transformation. It highlights an example of a brand that strategised profits over value elements, then goes on to focus on customer experience before proposing a way forward for businesses to think about their customers. The secret behind digital disruption In the past few years, we have seen some of the biggest brands on the planet disappear. Remember Blockbuster? This high street brand was disrupted by Netflix, but how did this happen? Didn’t Blockbuster have access to the same technology ‘Netflix’ had? Yes, it did. In fact, Hastings, founder of Netflix, had a meeting with Blockbuster’s CEO to discuss how the technology would work with Blockbuster. The failure of Blockbuster was not a technology failure; it was a failure to put the customer first in its business model. You see, Blockbuster made most of its money from charging its customers late fees. So it wasn’t going to risk that massive customer base by offering customers a subscription service, where the customer paid a monthly fee and would never, ever pay any late fees. The rest of the story is easy. Netflix made everything easy for the customer: it made video rentals easier via a subscription model; customers browsed videos online, and selected which movie they wanted to watch;

it got sent out to their homes by mail and, once returned, customers could simply order another movie with no extra costs and no late fees. Their users loved it, and told others - the power of networks kicked in, and Blockbuster’s fate was sealed even before video streaming became mainstream. Get a taxi In the same way, the traditional taxi system has not been disrupted by technology. The fact is, it is easier and a much more enjoyable and shared experience to book a taxi with the disrupter company than the incumbent. Think about any other area of disruption, including FinTech: the experience of the vendor and the purchaser is much more enjoyable than with the incumbent. Digital Transformation and customer experience Having worked with small- to medium-sized businesses, I can say that the term ‘digital transformation’ is one of the most misunderstood. For some, it meant selling online, or building a more visible and credible online process, or delivering some of its services online. But none of those are correct. To answer the question: ‘What is digital transformation?’ we have to ask a different question. What is customer experience? If I asked you to describe Customer Experience in one word, what would you answer? Service? Smile? Efficiency? You may go on to say ‘Being treated nicely’, ‘Knowledgeable sales staff’, but if we asked Gen X or Gen Y/millennials the same question, they would wrap up their answers in one word: digital. • on demand • accessible 24/7 • accessible anywhere (where they are) • collaborative, where customers are key influencers • quick

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LIFESTYLE 37

This is no surprise. Our life experience is now mostly digital. We do not need statistics to tell us that people now spend an incredible number of hours on their mobile phones daily. People have twice as many interactions with a brand on mobile than anywhere else, including TV, in-store, etc (Google 2017). Our playtime is now digital, social interactions are digital, research is digital, communication is digital, shopping is digital. Our experience is digital Our experience of life is so digital, it seems we take time out of the digital world to enjoy a real-world experience, rather than the other way round. If you don’t believe this, track your activities over the next five days. See how you communicate with family and friends. See how you consume entertainment; how you search for items to shop; how you get information. Now look at your tracking results. How much of this was enabled by digital resources? So if your customers have such an intensely digital lifestyle already, how does your business match up? This is the question you have to ask of your business. Start with the obvious questions. Can you imagine a business without an email address or phone number? Neither can I. We even expect small businesses to have an internet presence. If not a website, then at least a Facebook page or Instagram profile.

Conclusion Delighting your customers is the secret ingredient of succeeding in tomorrow’s digital world. Everything else is secondary, including the technology. To remain relevant, SMEs should dedicate their time to developing a strategy which encompasses understanding your customers and changing the way you think about them.

RULE BREAKER RISK TAKER DEAL MAKER BE THE DIFFERENCE

Three things to learn from your customers: 1. How they use their products or services 2. The pain points of customers 3. The related, unmet needs of customers Three ways to think about your customers Think again. Customers are not just purchasers or end users, but influencers and shapers of your business, so invite your customers to be part of your success, your processes or your changes. Think again. Customers do not just come as a single purchaser, but as a connected network. Be a source of content, and become part of their digital conversations. Empower your customers. Think again. Customers have high expectations; they want you to be present, faster, always on, everywhere, and anticipating their next requirements.

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38 LIFESTYLE

BY M. JASMYN ALLEN

COURAGE AND PASSION If you’re planning to be successful in 2020, there are two essentials that must be part of your wardrobe: Courage and Passion!

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ourage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens you. It took courage for Martin Luther King Jr to be a voice protesting against segregation in America. It took courage for the group of 802 passengers to board the HMT Empire Windrush when it first launched in Germany in 1930 to embark on a journey to a country that was far from their native land. It took courage for David, son of Jesse, to stand up to Goliath and the Philistines. It took courage for Moses to get closer to a burning bush, when every fragment of his being was urging him to run away. Courage is like Clark Kent’s wardrobe change from the suit and tie to the blue, red and gold spandex onesie with a branded ‘C’ on your chest, and the only flight that you’re prepared to take is the one that will bring you face to face with your destiny. Inside of each of us, there is a desire to do something great, but oftentimes this great idea is challenged and suppressed by fear. Psychologists define fear as an emotion that is induced by a perceived threat that causes a change in behaviour to either flee, freeze or attack. The

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Bible defines fear as a spirit in 2 Timothy 1:7, which states: “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” Courage requires us to have faith. We believe that God is our provider, but how many times are we afraid to step out and launch something if the financial resources are not in place? Remember, it was not until Abraham raised his knife to make the sacrifice of Isaac that the ram appeared in the bush, but fear will cause us to demand the visibility of the ram before we move in obedience. As believers, we must have complete trust in God. Alongside courage, you will need passion to succeed. Passion is the intense desire you feel towards something. It is your Why? factor, and the fuel that will keep you going. Launching a new business - or stepping out in ministry - is not going to be a journey without challenges. At the start of a project, there is often great excitement, but as time progresses and things become business as usual, the momentum can easily begin to dwindle. If you are not careful, this can cause you to consider throwing in the towel. How many times have we found ourselves in an unfavourable situation, where we ask the questions: “Why am I doing this?” and “Why am I putting myself through this hassle?” Often, unless there is a good answer, there is a high probability that you will decide to quit. It is therefore very important for you to have a clear understanding from the outset, what your Why? factor is. If 2020 is going to be the year that you step out, take charge and follow your dreams, then your next course of action is to develop a can-doand-will-do-at-all-cost mindset. Proverbs 23:7 teaches that as a man thinks, then so is he. Just like you would visit the gym to shed excess weight and tone your muscles, you will need to embark

on a ‘mind gym’ regime to get rid of the negative thoughts that are contrary to your growth. With a weight loss programme, you are conscious of the foods you consume because of their adverse effect on your weight loss goal. The same principle applies to your mind. To have a mind for success, you must be selective of the content you mentally consume. To help your journey towards a healthy mind, consider creating a mind diet plan, by preparing a series of affirmations you can recite for the next 90 days.

Red represents courage and passion.

As a physical reminder to help keep you on track, also consider adding a splash of red to your wardrobe. Red represents courage and passion. It also serves as a strong reminder of the great blood that Jesus Christ shed for us on Calvary, so that we can go forth and be all that God created us to be.

M. Jasmyn Allen Founder of SOIL: Step Out In Leadership Author of SOIL: Step Out in Leadership Vision Journal (ISBN: 9780368063404) Website: www.soilconference.com Email: soilconference@gmail.com


LIFESTYLE 39

BECOMING A MAGISTRATE Top five myths about being a magistrate

GRACE GLADYS FAMORIYO www.gladysf.com

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ver the last three and a half years, I have had the privilege of sitting as a Justice of the Peace, also known as a magistrate. I sit in the Adult Criminal Court as well as the Family Court and, I have to say, it has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made. Sitting as a magistrate has widened my understanding of the diverse issues in my community (and beyond), and has allowed me to take steps to tackle some of them through the courts, using the powers granted to me. By the way, tackling these issues is not always about punishment, but also rehabilitation and reintegration. Myths About Magistrates For the last three years, I have served my community in various voluntary capacities. However, I was completely unaware of the great work an army of thousands of men and women, across the country, were doing in their local communities as magistrates. The reason for this was because of the myths I believed about being a magistrate. So, I want to dispel some of these myths. Myth #1 - You need a legal background This is not the case at all, and there is no

requirement to have any legal background, experience or training. In fact, magistrates come from diverse backgrounds. My peers include teachers, carpenters, consultants, business owners, IT experts, street traders and more. What the judiciary look for are specific qualities and competencies, which they identify via the recruitment process. Myth #2 - You could mistakenly sentence someone incorrectly It is amazing the number of people who fear they may end up wrongly sending someone to prison. This is unlikely for a number of reasons. Firstly, you receive training. Secondly, the sentencing of offences is done using Sentencing Guidelines and a judicial sentencing decision-making structure. Thirdly, there are three magistrates sitting on the bench, and all form part of the decision-making process. Lastly, we have a Legal Adviser (aka Legal Clerk) to guide you on matters of the law. So you have support to ensure the right sentence is passed. Myth #3 - You cannot be a magistrate if you have a religious faith The magistracy welcomes people of all backgrounds and faiths between the ages of 18 and 65. Whilst holding a particular faith is in no way a barrier to entry, what is of great importance is ensuring magistrates, faith or no faith, do not display any bias or prejudice that would affect justice being served. Myth #4 - You get paid as a magistrate Magistrates are not paid. They are considered unpaid officers of the Court. However, you can claim travel expenses and subsistence. There is also a provision made for those self-employed who need recruit cover for when they sit in court.

Myth #5 - You have to give up a lot of your time to sit as a magistrate The requirement for magistrates in the UK is 13 full days or 26 half days a year. The rota is set at least six months ahead, and you indicate when you are available to sit. If you work for a company, speak to your employer, as several companies consider the valuable work magistrates do a part of their corporate responsibility.

‘...being a magistrate has been rewarding and a privilege to serve my community and country.’ Your country needs you Believe it or not, magistrates sit on 95% of cases that come to court in the UK. As of today, there is a national shortage of magistrates, so if you are looking for a way to serve your community, I would ask you to consider this prestigious role. You can find out more at www.gov.uk/ become-magistrate. I also offer virtual support/mentoring through my growing community of aspiring magistrates. Visit www.gladysf.com/becomeamagistrate to download my FREE eBook, How To Become A Magistrate. In closing, being a magistrate has been rewarding and a privilege to serve my community and country. I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it. Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo, Author, Speaker and Justice of the Peace. Find out more www.gladysf.com/becomeamagistrate

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40 LIFESTYLE

The GIFT of Drawing on History 30 Years of OUR ROOTS BY TAY O FAT U N L A

O

UR ROOTS has been a Black history cartoon column series featured in various publications at different times - and also in UK’s The Voice newspaper - for over 30 years. The history of the Black race is what Tayo Fatunla has been illustrating and disseminating. OUR ROOTS is a journalistic and historic journey, which Tayo Fatunla first created as ‘African Sketchbook’, when he was a student at The Kubert School in New Jersey, USA. Steve Pope, the then editor of The Voice in 1989, wrote to Tayo (when he lived in Hackney, East London) asking him to visit The Voice premises in Coldharbour Lane, as he was interested in featuring Tayo’s work in the paper. Tayo remembers sitting down with Steve Pope and Yvonne Taylor (on whose page the series featured in The Voice) to discuss how to run the feature in the weekly paper. Tayo’s initial challenge was to research about Black history makers from the UK and from all works of life internationally. His idea was not to focus on one particular Black race, but Black race in the Diaspora. It worked, and the interest in OUR ROOTS from all quarters grew bigger and bigger - beyond his expectations. He is thankful to God for this. Tayo believes that, just as it says in the Scriptures, his gift has made room for him. “I tried doing other things to earn some income, until I realised that the work of my hand was already there: drawing cartoons.” In the course of drawing OUR ROOTS, Tayo

has also featured Christian achievers and history makers. One such is the missionary, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who in Nigeria turned the English Bible into Yoruba, a language spoken in the southern part of Nigeria. OUR ROOTS has also featured Elizabeth “Lisette”Denison, who used her life savings of $1,000 to build a church in Grosse, Michigan, US. Jerry Robinson, the creator of the Joker, ran a US-based syndicate called Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate. He showed an interest in OUR ROOTS, and the series was syndicated in the US newspapers, starting in News Sentinel, a Fort Wayne, Indiana newspaper. Yumy Odom, President and Founder of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC), says: “Long before I met Tayo - 2018 winner of the East Coast Black Age of

Comics Convention (ECBACC, Inc.) Pioneer/ Lifetime Achievement Award - I was very familiar with his work via the New York Amsterdam News, which I read for 25 years. I enjoyed the Pan-African (World) history Tayo shared. His work was, and still is, referenced in our many ECBACC workshops and presentations, demonstrating the relevance of OUR ROOTS even after 30 years.” The British Museum loved the OUR ROOTS series, and commissioned Tayo to do 10 African Kingdoms illustrations for its ‘The Wealth of Africa’ online educational resource. Artistic ability isn’t easily identifiable in the early stages of childhood. Tayo discovered he had an interest in drawing in the latter part of his primary school years, and believes that his gift to draw and inspire, and to educate and inform others comes from God - and he is thankful. He believes everyone is gifted, and that a Christian should make every effort to develop whatever gift a child is demonstrating, so that it can be used for God’s Kingdom here on earth. Because of this, Tayo has been conducting cartoon workshops and sessions for children for several years. It has been 30 years of God’s goodness, and Tayo is looking forward to even more.

Tayo’s illustrated ‘OUR ROOTS: Black History Sketchbook’ is available. For more information, call 07802 970511 or email tfatunla@hotmail.com


SUPPORTING PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS Imagine your pastor has been imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Or perhaps your church building has been vandalised – or destroyed – by hostile government forces or religious extremists. Maybe you and your family have been threatened or intimidated, simply because you are Christians. What would you do? What would you want other Christians to do if they heard about your suffering? The Apostle Paul wrote of the Body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV). Is that true? If so, how do we express that today? Release International is a ministry from, to and within that one Body of Christ, and is active in more than 25 countries around the world. In those countries Release works through trusted Christian partners to support, care for, equip and pray with those who suffer persecution for Christ and the Gospel. In the current edition of Release’s magazine,

Voice, you can read, for example, of how Christians in Pakistan continue to face discrimination, persecution and imprisonment for their active faith and ministry. But you’ll also see one of Release’s partners coming alongside those who suffer, to care for and to support them. You can read about what it is like to be a faithful Christian today in North Korea, Iran and Eritrea. Persecution challenges our faith. Like all forms of suffering, it may prompt us to ask: “Why, Lord?” “Why didn’t you prevent that?” We may not have simple answers, but we do believe and trust in a God who is sovereign over all things. The Bible teaches us that God is working out His purposes – and will not be thwarted.

The Psalmists often wrestle with suffering generally – and opposition, in particular – and find it drawing them to that sovereign God in prayer. And so, Release seeks not only to raise the voice of persecuted Christians - and to ask you to support them – but also calls you into a meaningful fellowship with those who suffer for their faith; that, with them, you may learn lessons of Christian discipleship. As the writer of Hebrews puts it: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3). Kenneth Harrod

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Release International is a Christian ministry that helps you engage with your persecuted brothers and sisters by praying with them, by responding to their practical needs and by sharing the journey of true Christian discipleship TORTURED FOR CHRIST with them. Request Release International’s quarterly magazine and receive a free copy of Tortured for Christ to read or watch.

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and imprisoned for in the 1950s and 14 years 1960s, with three of them confinement. He was repeatedly torture spent in solitary and maintained a d, yet developed Christ-like attitud e of love towards his tormen tors. This is his inspirin and forgiveness to remember our g story and his call persecuted brothe rs and sisters who even today sufferin are g for the sake of Jesus Christ. “This book was singular ly instrumental in of the free world awakening the conscien to the horrors experien ce ced by our brothers sisters behind the and Iron Curtain.” Charles Colson “When you have read this No generation should book, pass it to your children. miss this story.” Rob Parsons “Tortured for Christ must have a place but also in our hearts.” not only on our bookshelves Jim Graham

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Without question, The Father’s heart breaks for the poor and the oppressed. We hear this echo in verses like Isaiah 1:17, where God calls His people to “Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Our Bibles are crammed with verses about bringing justice to the poor – in fact, there are over 2,000 examples! Many prophets were sent by God in direct response to a nation’s injustice, such as when Micah utters the famous verse, “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Beyond the Old Testament, Jesus Himself modelled compassion for the poor. He began by declaring: “Good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18) and He spent time with the destitute, blind and lame. Later, in Matthew 25, Jesus taught when we feed the hungry and visit the sick, we are serving Him (Matt 25:36). As Christians, we are called to bring hope to the poor and healing for the sick – and to confront injustice wherever we find it. There is great injustice in our world. Take healthcare, for example. Living in the UK today, we never have to worry whether we’ll be able to afford a doctor or a lifew w w.merc y ships .org.uk

saving operation. Less than 3% of people here do not have access to medical treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, 9 out of 10 people are living without access to medical care and surgery. We have the NHS, but thousands of Africans have no help and no hope of safe surgery. That is where Mercy Ships comes in. Sisters Salamatou and Mariama had never left their village high in the hills of Cameroon because of their twisted legs. The six- and eight-year-old sisters didn’t get the important nutrients they needed during the crucial years of bone development. Without strong bones, the pressure of walking caused their legs to grow incorrectly, resulting in a condition called Valgus. Because of their malformed legs, they both found it difficult to walk to school and only sometimes managed to attend. Their parents felt guilty when they first knew


something was not right. “I felt bad that we did not have any money to take them to the hospital,” recalled their mother, Mymoona. “I was worried about them and their future. If I didn’t do anything, I knew they would have a hard time in life.” Mymoona was so worried about her daughters that it began to take a toll on her health. So when her husband, Debo, heard about Mercy Ships, he led his girls down the mountain on horseback, making the brave journey to the coast. “We didn’t know the hospital was actually in the ship. We’ve never been to a ship before,” said Debo. “When I first came I was afraid for my girls, but then I saw many children like them and the fear went away.” The first day after their surgeries, Salamatou was up and walking around, challenging her sister, who was convinced the straightened casts didn’t contain her legs. Clutching at the familiarity of her toes, Mariama watched her older sister stand tall. Soon, their strong personalities were evident as they each watched competitively to see what the other was achieving. During their rehabilitation exercises, their parents learned about the importance of nutrition. The ship’s dietician gave them valuable information about crucial nutrients, like calcium, before sending the family on their way with plenty of vitamins to aid the girls’ healing. “They told us about the importance of eggs, fish, and vegetables,” said Mymoona. “We will be sure to tell the other families in the village so it can help us all.” Salamatou and Mariama returned to their village with newly straightened legs! And Debo and Mymoona returned ready to share what they had learned about nutrition during their time on the Africa Mercy. “The route down the mountain was too much for the

girls before, and I thought they would never go down. Their lives are far better now, far improved,” said Debo. “Now, they will be able to commit to school and use their education. Before, my heart was anxious for my family, but now I am content.” Mercy Ships has launched a new campaign, #ChangeTheOdds, that will see the UK government match public donations to Mercy Ships until December 31st 2019. Your simple act of mercy can #ChangeTheOdds for thousands of people. Your donations and match funding from the UK government will support the volunteer crew to provide even more surgeries, training and medical capacity building in Senegal. The UK government funding means public donations to #ChangeTheOdds will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2 million. Join Mercy Ships and help save and transform more lives in West Africa, lives like Salamatou and Mariama’s.

For more information on how you can #ChangeTheOdds please visit

www.mercyships.org.uk/changetheodds Give before December 31st and the UK government will double your donation. Together we can end the surgery crisis. Registered Charity Nos: 1053055 (England & Wales), SC039743 (Scotland).


44 MISSION

These 5 unstoppable girls are bein

G

irls are being denied their basic rights every day. They’re being robbed of their dignity, removed from their classrooms, or placed in violent and dangerous situations. When families face economic hardship, it’s often women and girls who suffer disproportionately. But girls are also the key to ending poverty. When women and girls have an equal part in development, we see a positive ripple effect across their families, communities and nations. We’re sharing stories from five incredible girls we have the privilege of knowing, who are overcoming the issues poverty places in their paths, thanks to the support of their local churches. Meet the unstoppable girls who are defying the odds.

to the invaluable support she’s receiving from her Compassion sponsor, who provides her with books, school uniform and tuition fees through their monthly donations. Thanks to this support, Shanti is able to give back to her community, by tutoring her neighbour’s children for free. “I like to teach them, since it allows me to expand and practice what I know. It also helps me develop my teaching skills. My goal when I complete my education is to become an excellent teacher.”

Florence

Shanti

1) Shanti, fighting for education, Bangladesh 15-year-old Shanti belongs to one of Bangladesh’s largest indigenous minority groups. One of the greatest challenges children like Shanti face is that the Chakma people mainly speak their own tribal language rather than the majority language, Bengali. This puts children from this group at a disadvantage in the educational system, where only Bengali is spoken. Children from the Chakma group tend to drop out of school to join their family in agricultural labour which perpetuates the cycle of poverty. With a passion for her studies, Shanti has accomplished something unheard of in her community: she’s trilingual, understanding not only Chakma, but also Bengali and English. Shanti has broken the mould for girls, thanks Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

2) Florence, taking a stand against FGM, Kenya Florence Lomariwo’s lifelong crusade against FGM started with her own narrow escape. When she turned nine, she learnt that she was to undergo FGM, then be married. “An old man had approached my family to arrange a marriage with me,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to be married, so I ran away and lived with well-wishers, who supported my desire to complete my education and make something of myself.” Her determination paid off. After finishing secondary school, Florence enrolled in a teacher training college, and later graduated with a degree in education. She then married the man of her own choice - a privilege few women her age knew. This gave Florence the credentials and platform she needed to effect change. Today, Florence runs a school and rescue centre for girls who escaped FGM and early marriage. Through Florence’s dedication and hard work, Chemolingot Primary School is home to more than 150 young girls, who have been rescued from FGM and early marriage. Among the girls who have found refuge at the primary school in the past, 11 are currently attending public universities and colleges, and 49 are attending various high schools around the country. In 2016, Florence’s church, African Inland Church Chemolingot, partnered with Compassion to launch a project and register children into the

sponsorship programme. Today, 252 children gather every Saturday at the local church to participate in different activities and lessons. As part of these Compassion project activities, Florence is helping ensure the children in her community receive ongoing education about their rights. She is also making sure parents are provided with training about the dangers of FGM. 3) Noojee, tackling child marriage and bridal kidnapping, Thailand “I didn’t want to marry him, but it’s tradition,” Chompuu says. At only 13, she was another victim of the age-old custom of bride kidnapping. Bride kidnapping and child marriage are common among Chompuu’s people, the Hmong. According to tradition, a male can abduct a girl and lock her in a room, after which he can claim her as his bride. 17-year-old Noojee, also from Chompuu’s Hmong village in Thailand’s northern hill country, is living a different life. She is unmarried, and she is pursuing an education. The difference in Noojee’s life is largely attributed to her local church’s partnership with the Compassion Child Sponsorship Programme. Noojee’s parents are subsistence farmers, and live in the same house with six other families in their clan. The families share their earnings equally with the others. “It was quite a challenge when Noojee was first registered in the programme,” recalls Lursak SaeJang, the director of the project. “Her family had the typical mindset that girls don’t need education and must remain at home to serve the family.” But when Noojee’s father witnessed the transformation in his daughter, who was becoming a strong and courageous person through the influence of the church and its Compassion programme, he decided to take the family to church. Over time, the whole family placed their faith in God. “In my community, there are so many expectations on me because I am a girl,” says Noojee. “But I am so thankful that my family are Christians, and that my parents support me in going to school.”

Noojee


MISSION 45

ng empowered by the local church “I love my friends!” says Cleidy with shining eyes. “They are very helpful to me if I need anything. If I need a pencil, someone will give it to me. Or if I need extra help at home, someone helps me.” Despite being born without hands, Cleidy has learnt to write thanks to Jamin, her tutor at the Compassion project. Thanks to his support, Cleidy discovered a love and a talent for writing, which has earnt her the title of best letter writer at her project. “Every year, Cleidy wins the prize because of her enthusiasm and the beauty of her writing, as well as the colourful drawings she makes,” says Jamin. “I feel so proud of that.” Thanks to the love and support of those around her, Cleidy is becoming the girl Victalina knew she could be – a girl with dreams, opportunities and a bright future.

Monica

4) Monica, fighting against child labour, Tanzania Seventeen-year-old Monica and her 15-year-old sister, Esther, are best friends. They grew up doing everything together. They went to school together, did chores together and even wore each other’s clothes. The sisters live in a small mud hut in the remote village of Mvumi in Tanzania. Their parents, Stephano and Pendo, are subsistence farmers and work on a small piece of land. Putting food on the table was a daily struggle for Stephano and Pendo, let alone covering other necessities. With no other choice, Stephano and Pendo decided to pull their youngest daughter Esther out of school, and send her to live with an aunt to work as a maid. Monica was able to stay in school thanks to her Compassion sponsor. Through sponsorship, Monica’s school fees and supplies were covered, and she was able to finish primary school. When Monica failed to achieve the grades for a secondary school place, her Compassion project enrolled her in a vocational course. Today, Monica has a qualification in tailoring, which she is using to bring in an extra income for the family. Thanks to this support, Esther has come home and is reunited with her best friend - her big sister. Monica’s hope is that Esther will be able to participate in the same vocational training programme. She says, “I want my sister to take a tailoring class as I did. I think she would be good at it.” 5) Cleidy, overcoming disability prejudice, Guatemala In Guatemala. Cleidy was born without hands, something that would have marginalised her if it hadn’t been for her tenacious spirit and the

support of her local church. Cleidy’s mother, ashamed of her daughter’s disability, abandoned her when she was three years old. From that day, Cleidy has lived with her grandmother, Victalina. “I was sad about what my daughter thought of Cleidy and how she felt. I knew that because of her disability, it would be challenging to care for her. But I trusted in God,” Victalina recalls. Believing in her granddaughter’s abilities, Victalina made a bold decision to move her to a local public school. “I knew it would be a big challenge to Cleidy because there were no resources to support her additional needs, and she would be treated like a child without limitations. Still, I believed it was a good idea because she is an exceptional girl,” says Victalina, with fierce pride in her voice. As well as attending school, Cleidy is also part of church-based Compassion project. It turned out that most of her classmates were also church friends, and they were glad to help her with any difficulties that arose.

Cleidy

Empower the next generation of unstoppable girls Every day, poverty tries to cut a girl’s childhood short. It places barriers in front of her, stopping her achieving her full potential. It steals her hope and self-belief. You can remove these barriers by sponsoring a girl. Through your support, you’ll ensure a Compassion-sponsored girl receives education, regular health check-ups, nutritional support, vocational training, and the love and support of the local church. Through your letters, you’ll also have the opportunity to speak words of hope and encouragement over her life. Visit www.compassionuk.org today.


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

FIVE LIVES, ONE FLIGHT Imagine how it would feel to save someone’s life. Now think about having that feeling again. And again. And again. And again. All in one day. Saving one life is a privilege few of us may ever experience, let alone saving five. But it happened to two MAF pilots not long ago.

Meet Ester Ester gave birth early one morning in a small village called Yapsie deep in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands. After a difficult and complex labour, her retained placenta caused lifethreatening complications. By sunset, staff at the small aid post were still battling to stop the bleeding. Tragically, Ester’s baby died.

The team prayed, and radioed Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) — Ester’s only hope. Receiving the call, pilots Mathias Glass and Ryan Cole planned a medevac (an emergency medical flight) to the Yapsie airstrip at sunrise – it was too dark to fly as it was now night-time. They prayed that Ester would hold on until morning.

Meet Osa and her unborn child

The plane could land at Telefomin en route from Yapsie. One patient had become three.

Meet Kolina As the pilots woke, Ester clung to life, Osa writhed in labour, her unborn baby fought to enter the world, and Kolina battled with excruciating pain from intestinal problems at the Telefomin clinic.

As the pilots slept and Ester clung on to life, Osa was writhing in labour. Struggling to deliver a breached baby, the midwife at the Telefomin clinic knew both lives were at stake. An emergency operation was needed at the city hospital if mother and child were to survive. The midwife prayed and radioed MAF — Osa and her baby’s only hope. As night fell, Ester was left fighting for her life. The team needed urgent medical help — but who could reach them in time? By foot, it would take days to reach the city hospital, travelling across treacherous mountain paths. Ester probably wouldn’t survive until morning.

It was clear to staff at the clinic that Kolina needed to get on the same flight as Ester and Osa, to receive the help she needed at the city hospital. She too was in a critical condition. Three patients had become four.


Meet Lucy As the pilots prepared for take-off, Ester clung to life, Osa writhed in agony, her unborn baby battled to enter the world, and Kolina struggled to manage the pain, Lucy was diagnosed with tuberculosis. It was a miracle that MAF was on the way! This too was Lucy’s only way to receive medical treatment. Because of her age, she would never have survived the overland journey. Four patients had become five.

One aircraft, five survivors Thanks to the expertise of MAF pilots Mathias and Ryan, and the aviation charity’s ability to respond, all five patients reached Tabubil city hospital in time. Each woman received the treatment she needed. Lucy remains in our prayers as she receives life-saving medical care. Kolina’s intestinal pains were due to an unexpected and complicated pregnancy. She will remain in hospital until the birth of her baby, safe in the hands of a midwifery team. Osa gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Rosalind. Both mother and baby are doing well. Ester continues to mourn the loss of her baby but has now returned to

Yapsie to continue her recovery after the surgery that saved her life. MAF carries out more than 4,000 medical flights each year, bringing lifesaving help to those without access to hospital care. For almost 75 years, MAF has helped thousands of isolated people receive the life-saving help they needed to survive.

Please help us fund more flights. Just £5 a month could help fuel one medevac each year, saving at least one life.

I WANT TO FUEL MORE LIFE-SAVING FLIGHTS It costs just £60 to fuel a flight like the one Ester, Osa, Kolina and Lucy were on. Please consider giving a gift today. PLEASE USE BLOCK CAPITALS

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Keep The Faith Issue 111  

Welcome to our last issue for 2019 and what a great year it has been for our magazine. In February 2020 thankfully, we will have been publis...

Keep The Faith Issue 111  

Welcome to our last issue for 2019 and what a great year it has been for our magazine. In February 2020 thankfully, we will have been publis...