Keep The Faith magazine Issue 124

Page 12


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Editor’s NOTE


Dear Readers

Here’s some good news: the cold chill of winter is now making room for the warmth of spring — a season that signifies new beginnings, which is reflected in this new edition of KeepTheFaith

We are now in Lent, that period of the year which directs us to Easter — the most important event in the Christian calendar. Christianity exists because of Easter. If Jesus hadn’t died on the cross, risen again and conquered death, Christianity would not exist and millions of people throughout history would not have experienced the life-changing power of God’s grace.

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, reminds us of Easter’s ability to touch people — no matter where they are on life’s journey — in his article about this momentous event. You can also read testimonies of individuals who have personally experienced the power of Easter to change lives.

March is also Women’s Month. Women contribute so much to this world, and they also comprise the backbone of many churches. With this in mind, KeepTheFaith has turned the spotlight on 24 Christian women making a difference in the Church and wider society. There is also content about the Mothers of Zion — mature, older women who are held in high regard within the Church; How to improve the mother/daughter relationship; and Standing with our sisters in Afghanistan. Check out our interview with Lola Tomorrow, an American businesswoman who desires to help Christian women build successful prosperous businesses. We say, “Bring it on!”

And, of course, KeepTheFaith is filled with interesting, informative and inspiring content to help you in all aspects of your life – whether it’s your emotional health, fitness, money or peace of mind.

If you enjoy KeepTheFaith and would like to order a box of magazines to distribute to your church or community, drop us a line. Please help us to spread the good news of what God is doing in people’s lives, communities and the wider world.


Marcia Dixon

To discuss how Keep The Faith could work with you, request a media pack or book an advert, please call 0203 868 0664 or email

24 “I’m a proud Christian - and proudly living with HIV” By Charity Nyirenda

26 Lola Tomorrow: The woman helping build wealthy businesses

28 Will new £100m fund help repair the damage of slavery? By Marcia

29 Standing with our sisters in Afghanistan By Dionne Gravesande

30 Should I save or invest? That is the question By Elaine Bowes


35 Abigail - The woman of faith and action By Karen Allen

37 Restoring and healing the mother/daughter relationship By Christine

38 Working towards a better you By Olivia

39 How churches can help couples through infertility and baby loss By Funke

40 Matters of the heart By Yvonne

41 Keys to a successful marriage By Mike Johnson

42 Keep the lamp burning so you don’t burn out By Dr T Ayodele Ajayi

44 The balancing act By Ngozi Cadmus

45 Remedies for hair loss By

46 Cook with Kirly-Sue By Kirly-Sue

04 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag CONTENTS ISSUE 124 06 Prayer Warrior celebrates her 100th birthday 06 NCLF calls on Church to support relief efforts 07 Honouring the Mothers of Zion
Juliet Coley 08 Spotlighting Christian women making a difference
Shining a spotlight on UK female gospel talent By Akosua DF 14 Are Caribbean, African and American gospel on equal footing? By Juliet Fletcher 16 The Gospel Shout
Andrew and Shireen Morrison 18 A global gospel music experience: Waymaker makes a way for Sinach By Tayo Fatunla 19 The strangers at the cross
Bishop Mike Royal 20 The Easter story transforms lives By Marcia
Dixon MBE 13
Dixon MBE
22 Happy 20th Anniversary to Street Pastors - The organisation that made the streets safe By
Walk the Ninefold Path in 2023 By Steve Bassett
and the
32 The good, the bad
ugly By Gary Clayton
33 Friends are good
By Rev Stephen Brooks 34 Pray those trivial
By Mark Sturge
26 22 8 16
It’s Your Move helps children take the giant step from primary to secondary school, with stories and tips from recent leavers, teachers and schools workers. These great, little books also feature reflections on how the Christian faith can help at this daunting time, making them the perfect gift for children in Year 6. A survival guide and journal to help children adapt to a new school. Top tips and stories from children who have already made the move Over 2 million children already helped to settle into their new school through this series Advice and space to reflect, alongside helpful Bible references Order from Scripture Union: visit or call 01908 856000 Save £5.50 on packs of 10 using code IYMEB23 before 31 March 2023 LEPROSY STILL EXISTS. BUT £24 WILL CURE SOMEONE LIKE ZAINA. Find out more by visiting or calling 01733 370505 “ ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. JOHN 10:10 NIV Registered Charity No. 1050327 |A Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales No. 3140347

Prayer Warrior celebrates her 100th birthday

Lena Maud Wisdom, a founding member of the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) in Stafford, recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

The centenarian, described as a prayer warrior by many, attended three events to celebrate this landmark birthday: a special church service; a community celebration; and a separate celebration with family.

Lena is excited about being 100. She said: “I feel good. And I’m just giving God thanks for letting me reach this age.”

She believes it’s God’s grace on her life that has enabled her to live so long. “I trust God, I give Him thanks and praise all the time, and I don’t have any wicked ways in my heart. If I see a sinner, I love them; if they are hungry, I feed them; and I have no wicked ways in my heart to say I don’t like this one or that.”

Although she gets support from carers, Lena retains her independence and still cooks for herself.

Over the years Lena has served her church in many capacities. She supported the Sunday school; cleaned venues where the congregation met for worship; hosted students from NTCG’s Ebenezer Bible school; and provided hospitality for pastors who visited the church. The NTCG UK’s first National Overseer, Rev Dr Oliver A Lyseight and his wife, Rose, became her lifelong friends.

Born in Jamaica to a Christian family, Lena is the third of seven children. By the time she was 14, both parents had died, and she went to live with her aunt and cousins in Kingston, where she washed and ironed clothes for a living. She also had her first child, Roy. She met her husband, Roger Wisdom, at a funeral and they were married in 1957. He died in 1995.

Lena followed 15 months later, because missing him so much had affected her health. They settled in Stafford, where Lena has remained, even following her husband’s death.

Lena has five children, 13 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Lena became a Christian after her husband Roger had surrendered his life to Christ in his bedroom. Roger came to Britain in the 1960s.

She remains determined to continue serving her Lord until He calls her home.


National church organisation, the NCLF (National Church Leaders Forum), has called on the Black Christian community to support the people of Turkey and Syria, following the devastating earthquakes in February that have to date caused the death of over 40,000 people. According to the World Health Organization, around 26 million people across both countries may be affected.

In a letter sent to church leaders and lay members, the NCLF has asked Christians to support relief efforts by either making personal donations; encouraging congregations to donate; or by donating through recognised agencies, like Action Aid, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Tearfund or UNICEF.

Many Turkish and Syrian community groups have been inundated with donations of clothing and items, such as blankets and toiletries, and have encouraged individuals and groups interested in giving support to donate financially through the recognised agencies.

Visit for more details.

06 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag Editorial credit: twintyre /
“I feel good. And I’m just giving God thanks for letting me reach this age.”


Juliet Coley writes about her forthcoming book, Mothers of Zion, which shines a light on the role mature women have played in building Britain’s Black Pentecostal Church movement

‘What a privilege, what a joy divine...’, to quote a line from a well-known hymn, is how I would describe co-editing Mothers of Zion: Windrush Women, Past & Present - Pillars of the Black Pentecostal Church. The journeys of these 40 wonderful Mothers drew back the curtains of my memories of the 1970s and ‘80s, when the Black Pentecostal Church was more traditional, vibrant and buzzing with young people.

I grew up in the New Testament Assembly in Leyton, east London, which was led by the late, formidable Rev Dr Io Smith MBE, who was a powerhouse and an inspirational woman. I watched her move, shake and kick down barriers way before her time. Because this was my reality - and my church was filled with strong, resolute women - this was something I thought was the norm.

Church Mothers featured in this book include Rose Lyeseight of the New Testament Church of God; Mother Bell and Jean Reynolds, who were members of Church of God in Christ; and Elfreda Francis, who was mother to the church and the mother of Bishop John Francis.

The Bible has so many positive descriptions of Church Mothers, including being:

• full of love and compassion, Isaiah 49:15

• amazing comforter, Isaiah 66:13

• blessed beyond measure, Psalm 127:3

• building a legacy of faith, 2 Timothy 1:5

Church Mothers were teachers, encouragers; they led by example; were fair but firm; full of

wisdom and experience; uncompromising and, most importantly, prayer and fasting warriors.

They were also no-nonsense, stylish individuals, whose bespoke hats and immaculate dress style made them stand out in the Sunday services.

Church Mothers were not afraid to tell the young sisters that trousers were for men and jewellery for Jezebels; would chastise if skirts were too short or arms left uncovered; and would demand they wipe off their lipstick and ‘face paint’. As a young Christian, I and many others would rub Vaseline onto our eyelids and lips, so they would shine - our discreet way of rebelling.

A Mother of Zion has the responsibility of raising the children of the church in the ways of God, and their impact is an everlasting legacy. Their skills and talents are what makes them unique.

Prayer and fasting are part of their daily diet. For these spiritual warriors, individual prayer would begin in their homes first thing in the morning and end last thing at night. A church-and-home prayer meeting with fasting would be held weekly, and they would visit the infirm and pray with them. Many overcame healing of terminal illnesses or prayed and fasted for a miraculous intervention on someone else’s behalf, and they witnessed victory.

Church Mothers were excellent cooks and the congregation looked forward to being fed free of charge during the interval of all-day services: stew chicken, rice and peas, curry goat, white rice and escovitch fish, with potato salad and coleslaw on the side. On sale after church would be tasty beef or veg patties, coconut drops, grater cake and gizzada.

Many Church Mothers were talented seamstresses and possessed sewing talents that were comparable to - and sometimes superseded - those of Vera Wang or Ozwald Boateng OBE, and they dressed the youth

and adult choirs in matching suits and gowns. Members of the Women’s departments were attired in immaculate two-piece outfits, which were crowned by original and flamboyant headwear.

They were also amazing fundraisers

Many church buildings were purchased due to the tenacity and fundraising drives led by Church Mothers.

They formed alliances and competed at building rallies to see who could raise the most money - amassing thousands of pounds in the process. This support enabled churches to accumulate building assets which has helped keep the movement going today. Many Church Mothers were also responsible for running pardner saving schemes, enabling families and individuals - in and outside the church - to purchase their own homes, buy furniture, or send money to their relatives in the Caribbean.

The Windrush Generation brought with them their diligent work ethic, which helped to build the UK in many areas, including the NHS, national transport system and car manufacturing industry. They also came with their amazing culture: their beliefs, religion, music, food, language and style. There has been so much negativity written about Windrush following the UK Government’s Hostile Environment policy, but our phenomenal female elders - the Church Mothers of Zion - should be saluted for their heroic and massive influence on the Black Church.

Juliet Coley is the founder of BlackJac Media. Mothers of Zion will be published by BlackJac Media on March 19, 2023.

Keep The Faith Exclusive Offer: Only £10.00 until 1st April 2023. Visit juliet and enter code KTF at the checkout. 07

Spotlighting Christian women making a difference

Britain’s Black community is filled with numerous Christian women who are making a positive difference in the Church and wider society. Some are doing so through their ministry and community activities, others through their professional endeavours, and others again are touching lives and inspiring many through their creative talents. All these women are seeking to fulfil God’s purpose and be a blessing at the same time.

Keep The Faith has turned a spotlight on some of these women. Have a read and be inspired.


Resident Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC)

Pastor Yemisi Ashimolowo is responsible for the spiritual leadership of thousands through her role as Resident Pastor of KICC, President of KICC’s Winning Women ministry and host of the Winning Women Convention, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last November. She also supports her husband, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, who has planted over 30 churches in the UK; 20 churches in Nigeria, with branches in Ghana, Kenya, Canada, Congo, South Africa, Togo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Malawi.

An in-demand speaker, Pastor Yemisi has spoken at events in the UK, Europe, USA and Africa. She is also a philanthropist. Her endeavours include supporting orphans; building a home for children in Uganda; and providing sewing machines to women in Sri Lanka.



Founder and CEO, The Hebe Foundation

Amie has over 30 years’ experience working with young people and founded The Hebe Foundation in 2007. This Christian youth charity runs a range of initiatives which empower young people to recognise and use their talents and gifts. Projects run by the charity include Britain’s Next Role Model, The Junior Apprentice and Urban Debaters. Amie is also an actor, writer and worship leader. She has received a number of awards, including the Wise Woman in Leadership Award and the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award. She also serves on a number of Trustee boards.



Head of Family & Systemic Therapy - Orri, Treatment Centre for Eating Disorders

Karen is a counselling and therapeutic specialist; a trustee of the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice; and Board Director of Hope Bereavement Support, which provides therapy for Black and minority ethnic clients experiencing bereavement, child loss and trauma. Karen is also a visiting lecturer at Oxford University in the Doctorate of Clinical Psychology Programme, and delivers groundbreaking international community interventions across generations in Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. She co-edited The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health, published in 2020, and is co-editor of Therapy in Colour: Intersectional, Anti-Racist and Intercultural Approaches by Therapists of Colour, scheduled for release in April 2023.

Connect with Karen on LinkedIn

08 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


Gospel Singer, Vocal Trainer

Lurine Cato is one of Britain’s most well-known female gospel singers. She is a multi awardwinning artist, whose accolades include a Wise Woman Award (2012), MOBO Award (2013) and an MBE (2020). Lurine has released several albums and is an in-demand artist who has performed in front of royalty. She was a lead vocalist of the B Positive Choir, set up by the NHS to encourage people to give blood, which reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent. Aside from performing on stages throughout the world, Lurine is involved in both charitable and community work, such as working with the Children’s Society, and she regularly shares her gift of song via prison ministry.



Director, Centre for Black Theology, Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education

For many years, Dr Dulcie Dixon McKenzie has been well-known in the Christian community for presenting a gospel show on BBC Leicester. She is now busy promoting theological education for church leaders, lay ministers and activists in her current role as the Director of the Centre for Black Theology at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education. Dulcie has a PhD for her research on the history of Black British gospel music and is looking forward to the publication of Reclaiming the African Caribbean Roots and Route of Black British Gospel Music. Dulcie has also co-edited a collective of studies in Black British gospel music alongside Dr Monique Ingalls and Dr Pauline Muir.



Founders, Living Loss

These two Christian women started Living Loss CIC 12 years ago to support people dealing with bereavement and loss, such as redundancy, ill health, loss of relationship and more.

Sharon and Dorothy have now developed a range of services, which include bereavement support groups, grief coaching and 1-2-1 counselling, and speak publicly at events across London about grief and loss.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of loss to the fore. In response to this, Sharon and Dorothy developed CPD-accredited training programmes, which they run in churches and ethnic community groups. Visit

PASTOR MARJORIE ESOMOWEI Co-pastor and Founder of the Wise Women Awards

Pastor Marjorie, as she is affectionately known, is a woman of many talents. She co-pastors Triumphant Church International alongside her husband, Clem. She runs Wisdom for Women International, a women’s ministry that runs prayer retreats, conferences and workshops and is founder of the Wise Women Awards. This event, held every March before Mothering Sunday, recognises the achievements of Christian women in the Church and society. Pastor Marjorie also supports those in need; supplies school uniforms for vulnerable children in Nigeria; and runs an orphanage for vulnerable children.

Visit www.wisdomforwomeninternational


Creative Director and Editor of Woman Alive

Woman Alive is currently Britain’s only monthly Christian-based women’s magazine and Tola Fisher is the first Black woman to serve as its editor. Since taking over, she hasn’t been afraid to touch on topical or taboo issues, such as whether it is OK for Christian women to freeze their eggs, singleness, sex, marriage, divorce, and business, as well as other inspiring Christian content. Whatever topic is covered in the magazine, faith is at the core. Aside from being an editor, Tola is an author - her first book, Still Standing –100 lessons from an ‘Unsuccessful Life’, was published in 2020. She is also a model and public speaker.



Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations at Churches

Together in England

Shermara Fletcher is a prominent Millennial leader. She served as a reader at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last September, which was watched by four billion people across the world. Shermara is a WFWP UN-recognised ambassador of world peace and Patron of the London Refugee Fund. She has been featured on national media and has contributed to several books, most recently in Young, Woke and Christian (edited by Victoria Turner).

Shermara has won numerous awards, including the MAB International 2022 Young Leader of the Year Award and a Wise Women Award. She also has a passion for social integration, minority communities and developing young people.

Connect with Shermara on Instagram




Gospel Singer/Songwriter

Becca Folkes is one of the leading gospel singers of her generation. She can regularly be seen in concert line-ups or as a worship team member at major Christian events. She is signed to Minstrel Records in Canada, and ministers around the world, testifying of God’s healing power. Some of Becca’s songs, like Control, have had over a million streams on the Internet, whilst other releases, like Baba, have been covered by several fans online. Becca recently joined the exciting new worship group, Manor Collective, and is currently finishing her debut album, EXODUS, which will be out soon.

Connect with Becca on Instagram



Founder and Director, The Kingdom Choir

When The Kingdom Choir, founded by Karen Gibson, sang at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018, little did Karen realise she would be launched into the gospel music stratosphere and become a leading musical force. One publication described Karen as ‘the godmother of gospel music’. Since then, Karen and The Kingdom Choir have performed regularly at major events, including the Invictus Games in Australia and the televised Pride of Britain Awards. They recently embarked on their second tour of the US in February 2023. Aside from choir directing, Karen serves as a gospel practitioner, motivational speaker and presenter. She has presented several BBC Songs of Praise programmes and was a contestant on series 15 of the Celebrity Masterchef competition. Visit


Spoken Word Artist

Poetess Jess is raising the bar where being a faith-based spoken word artist is concerned. This graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama can be seen on church, public and secular stages boldly reciting her poetry. Poetess Jess has been writing biblical-inspired prose since the age of 17, and uses her poetic gifts to express her thoughts, and views on current affairs, as well as motivate and encourage Christian and secular audiences. Platforms upon which Poetess Jess has been blessed to perform include leading TV station TBN, Premier Gospel, the BBC, the MOBO Awards, the Black Magic Awards, PIA (Poets in Autumn), and the Big Church Day out. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including Best UK Poet at the UK Entertainment Awards in 2021.

Connect with Jess on Instagram @poetessjessofficial



For almost seven years, Geneva London, 13, has been delighting audiences - firstly on social media and latterly on national TV - with her exceptional drumming skills. This young drummer has used her musical journey to show what’s possible when a person utilises their talent. She has attracted celebrity support and national and international media coverage because of the joy and passion she expresses in her drumming performances.

Achievements include being a BBC Teach campaign ambassador; playing on Sheila E’s (Prince’s former drummer) Christmas release, Little Drummer Girlz; serving as a guest music editor for Cocoa Girl magazine; and being an endorsed artist for global cymbal company, Sabian, and luxury American boutique drum company, A&F Drum Co, since the age of nine.



Comedian, Public Speaker, Playwright and Podcaster

Angie Le Mar is an award-winning entertainer and pioneer who is renowned for her all-round entertainment, teaching and writing skills. She is the first Black British woman to achieve success as a stand-up comedian and, in the process, has blazed a trail for others. Since committing her life to Christ 12 years ago, Angie has shared her comedic gift in church and reminded Christians the truth of God’s Word that states ‘laughter is a medicine’.

Angie is also a playwright, a public speaker, and hosts masterclasses on various topics. During the pandemic Angie launched We Walk Wednesdays, an initiative for women to join with others to walk in parks to promote positive

10 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

mental health and exercise. She recently launched her first-ever podcast where, alongside her daughter, Tru, they talk about the mother-and-daughter relationship and life issues like relationships, mental health and faith. Visit


Bishop of Croydon, Diocese of Southwark

In 2022, Rosemarie Mallett made history when she became the first Black woman to be appointed as Bishop of Croydon. Born in Barbados, Bishop Rosemarie grew up the UK. She was ordained a priest in 2005. Prior to her ordination, Bishop Mallett was a research sociologist and academic, specialising in international development and ethno cultural mental health. Alongside her bishopric duties, Bishop Rosemarie serves as the Southwark Diocese lead on Racial Justice. She regularly appears on BBC Radio Four’s Prayer for the Day; has led The Daily Service on BBC Radio Four; and is a spokesperson on racial and social justice issues nationally. She has also served as a trustee and director of several London charities which focus on building community cohesion.

Connect with Bishop Rosemarie on Twitter @RosemarieMallett


Founder and Director, AMC Gospel Choir

Audrey Mattis is one of the leading choir directors based in northern England/West Midlands. She is founder of the AMC Gospel Choir, who have been featured on BBC’s Songs of Praise and who perform across the UK and Europe. Audrey has also served as a musical director for Songs of Praise outside broadcasts. Aside from directing AMC, Audrey also directs Birmingham City University

work-based choir, BCU Voices. She studied music at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire; is a qualified teacher; and lectures at some of the top conservatoires in the UK. She also does vocal coaching. Aside from her involvement in gospel music, Audrey works with businesses, developing their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.


CHINE McDONALD Director, Theos Think Tank

Chine is currently director of Theos, the religion and society think tank. Prior to her present role, Chine was Head of Community Fundraising and Public Engagement at Christian Aid. She has over 16 years’ experience in journalism, media and communications across faith, media and international development organisations. She is the author of God is Not a White Man: And Other Revelations, and regularly contributes to programmes like BBC’s Thought for the Day on Radio 4’s Today programme, Prayer for the Day and The Daily Service. She is vice–chair of Greenbelt Festival and a trustee of Christian Aid and Christians in Media. Chine studied Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge University.



Octogenarian, Founder of Shades of Black, Author

Eunice McGhie-Belgrave, 85, has a life journey to share, which she does in her latest book, Learning and Growing: A Lifetime of Service by God’s Grace. She is renowned in Birmingham for her community work and has won over 50 awards, including a Pride of Britain Award and an MBE. Eunice set up the Shades of Black charity in 1989 to build cohesion following the Handsworth riots. During her many years of community service, this Jamaican-born mother and Christian has also served as a school governor and launched several gardening-related projects in Stechford.

Eunice worked with the Probation and After-care Service, and studies at Birmingham University. At the age of 58, she gained a qualification in community, advice and guidance work, so she could help more people.



Businesswoman, Property Investor, Angel Investor, Philanthropist and Podcaster

Camilita P Nuttall is one of a growing number of award-winning Black Christian women making a mark in the world of business.

Camilita is a self-made millionaire property investor. This serial entrepreneur is also a wealth and business coach, an angel investor, and


CEO of, which hosts networking and mentoring events for entrepreneurs wanting to take their businesses to the next level. Camilita also presents The Camilita® Podcast, where she provides business tips and interviews fellow entrepreneurs. Camilita is a businesswoman who likes to give back, and regularly provides education for children and families.

Visit for more details


Founder/CEO, Esther Community Enterprise

June is CEO and leader of Esther Community Enterprise (ECE), an organisation she founded 18 years ago. It’s a consortium of food banks across the UK and one of the largest voluntary organisations founded by a Black Christian woman here in Britain. Through her work at ECE, June oversees an army of 400 volunteers, who distribute food which feeds over 50,000 people each week. She is also a qualified social worker, welfare officer and author. June has received a number of awards for her work, including an MBE in 2016 and a BAME Baton Award in 2019.



Church Leader, Educator and Author

Rev Tomlin has a distinguished academic career, teaching nationally and internationally in universities. She was an Erasmus visiting lecturer in Holland and at The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Leeds and a Senior Research Fellow for the William Temple Foundation. She is also the founder and principal of the Kingdom School of Theology, with many years of pastoral ministry as the senior leader of Restoration Fellowship Ministries and a former healthcare chaplain. Connect with Dr Carol on Twitter

@DrTomlin and LinkedIn


Charity Founder, Speaker and Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA)

Clare Williams is a speaker and tutor at OCCA. Her work focuses upon questions of race, justice and culture, and what the Christian message has to say on these key issues. Clare is also founder of Get Real – an apologetics organisation that answers life big questions through events, discussions and social media. Prior to her work in apologetics, Clare worked for 10 years as an English teacher in London secondary schools.

Clare has a degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford University, and master’s in Leadership (2012) and Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity (2021) from the University of London.



UK Strategic Partnerships Manager, Meta and Founder, University Gospel Choir of the Year British-born Ghanaian, Lorraine Wright, is a multifaceted businesswoman, speaker, creator and personality. She is founder of the annual University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY) competition for which she received an MBE and, in her day job, she’s the UK Strategic Partnerships Manager for Community Partnerships at Meta (Facebook). Alongside her day job, Lorraine is committed to impacting and transforming lives through her multiple businesses across the UK and Ghana, including UV Talent – a music talent agency she co-founded in 2017. In 2018, this Oxford University graduate was named in the Powerlist as one of UK’s most influential people of African/African Caribbean heritage and is a recipient of a Black British Business Award. Lorraine attends Trinity Baptist Church and mentors young ladies.


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Akosua DF talks to Annatoria and Areatha Anderson two UK female gospel artists coming to the fore

2022 saw UK Gospel’s Sharyn, Asha Elia and Naffymar pull in a combined 5.6million Spotify streams. The ladies stand on the shoulders of gospel giants, Lavine Hudson, Lurine Cato, Rachel Kerr and Priscilla Jones, who have blazed the trail for a new generation of female artists. With larger-thanlife personalities dwarfed only by their powerful vocals and strong stage presence, this new breed of female talent is definitely world class. Two names likely to dominate the scene this year are Annatoria and Areatha Anderson Annatoria first caught our attention at Big Church Day Out 2019, when event headliner, Tye Tribbet, tossed her the microphone to sing a snippet of his smash hit, What can I do? A year later she stole the hearts of the nation with her powerful multi-octave range on The Voice UK, eventually taking home the crown and making history as the show’s youngest winner.


me, the night I truly won was when I watched it back at home with family and friends. Hearing my name announced and seeing them celebrate me, as though it was their own victory, moved me to tears. In that moment, I understood that some victories just don’t feel the same if you have no one to celebrate with.

Akosua DF: Last year, you nabbed the Premier Gospel Award for Best Newcomer and also took home the gong for the StepFwd Awards Afrobeat Song of the Year. Let’s talk about your massive Afrobeat hit, Stay with me, which currently has over 1.2million Spotify streams. Annatoria: To my surprise and in answer to prayer, Stay with me got so much love. To echo the bridge of the song, I was ‘overwhelmed’ [laughs]. I am African and think that, since that part of me will never change, I will always have an Afro gospel song waiting to bubble out of me.

Akosua DF: So, I know you have a very eclectic taste in music. I am curious to know who the top five most played female artists in your playlist are?

Annatoria: Ooh that’s a tough one, but right now I’d say Grace Tena, Brandy, CeCe Winans, Tori Kelly and Tamy Moyo.

Another artist likely to have a strong 2023 is Areatha Anderson. Her duet with Travis Greene at his 2022 London concert and Big Church Day Out, coupled with her appearance at Thy Kingdom Come alongside Nathaniel Bassey, Dunsin Oyekan and Victoria Orenze, helped raise her profile significantly.

Areatha Anderson

Akosua DF: Take us back to the night you were crowned winner of The Voice UK. Annatoria: Well... the night itself was unreal and, when I say unreal, I really mean it did not feel real. I always tell people that the moment I won didn’t feel like a victory, because there wasn’t a wild audience shouting, clapping and screaming (due to COVID-19 restrictions). For

Akosua DF (ADF): How did you get started in music?

Areatha Anderson (AA): “I was named after Aretha Franklin and had a prophetic word spoken over me at my baby dedication. God said He would use me in the gospel music industry. My mum was very intentional about praying that word into existence, and interestingly I loved music from a tender age.

I was that kid who always wanted a karaoke machine for Christmas and sang everywhere. As I matured, I grew to understand my calling. I did veer into secular music for a season [laughs]; I used to sing Afrobeats.

ADF: 2022 was a huge year for you, what can we expect in 2023?

AA: 2022 was crazy! I still can’t get over it. God did A LOT. I am so grateful for the people He connected me with and the incredible platforms He allowed me to minister on. 2023 is going to be more explosive. There is definitely going to be a live recording and I’ll be doing more collaborations.

ADF: Speaking of collaborations, which female gospel artists would you love to collaborate with?

AA: Jekalyn Carr – she is such a powerhouse and I think that would be a crazy collab. Victoria Orenze – I love the way she ministers…. and then my UK Gospel sisters, Annatoria and Shekinah. So hopefully I will get these collabs done in 2023. 13
Follow Areatha Anderson and Annatoria on social media - @areathaandersonmusic and @annatoria_
“I am so grateful for the people He connected me with and the incredible platforms He allowed me to minister on.”

Are Caribbean, African and American Gospel on equal footing?

Juliet Fletcher explores the rise of gospel from the Caribbean and Africa, and wonders whether these unique music forms get the same respect as their American counterpart

I sense we have come to one of those sea-change moments, and we can’t do anything about it! Indeed, maybe there isn’t anything to do, because this has been happening for some years now. Do we just go with the flow? That would be my suggestion. The way things are naturally panning out, I think rightly so. What am I talking about?


I know some may not like this, but gospel music is no longer just about American gospel sounds. Even our US cousins recognise this.

How do I know? Ever since Muyiwa Olarewaju performed at the BET Celebration of Gospel in 2009, the songs of multiple leading US gospel acts have changed. Since then, a string of popular acts has made a beeline for performing and recording on the African continent more than ever before, particularly worship artists. Examples include Israel Houghton, Todd Dulaney and Travis Greene.

No one can discount noticing that Bethel Music, Leeland, Darlene Zschech and, of course, Michael W Smith are just a few of the popular White Christian acts covering Waymaker by Sinach, who became

14 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

the first African to receive music industry accolades for this now classic song.

African Gospel has REALLY moved into the heart of American Gospel. When Muyiwa did that first-ever BET performance, music out of the Motherland began to be taken seriously by the US gospel and CCM scene. Ever since then, the (African) continent has grown in independent performances, productions and prominence. For example, there’s ‘The Experience’ – the annual event hosted by Paul Adefarasin, Senior Pastor of House on the Rock, Lagos, Nigeria. Artists like Tim Hughes are going there and are ‘blown away’ by what they’ve experienced (forgive the pun)!

African gospel artists alongside Sinach, who are having an impact on the world stage, include Nathaniel Bassey, Joe Mettle, Mercy Chinwo, Benjamin Dube and Dunsin Oyekan. Our relationship with US music has changed by and large due to the growth of African Gospel, but also from the growing confidence of the UK gospel scene. The original and exciting sounds of styles Africa has given us is, for any true creative artist, a superlative sensational sensation!

World, it was the people, the public, who made it happen. Marketing, yes. Promotion, yes. Visualisation, yes. But it spoke to people. It represented something to people. It became a language of the people. And the music producers and creative artists spearheaded it all the way to their hearts and minds. Is there a lesson to be learned here by our gospel sector?

I’m not suggesting in any way that we would be or should be seeking world domination. That’s sheer fantasy. However, what we do have is a Kingdom that has world reach; a people that extends across the world. In this Kingdom every tongue, tribe, people and nation has a part, an eternal role. And this will become more evident as we stretch our creative imagination. It’s one of the reasons why I like Integrity Music’s newest endeavour, entitled Songs of the Soil. It’s initiatives like these which will encourage freshness and innovation. It has to be natural – supernatural. This Kingdom we’re in is a naturally powerful place of creativity.

Now, I am not excluding the Caribbean gospel experience. What drove that? Some would say it was Donnie McClurkin’s Caribbean Medley, featured on his most successful live recording here in the UK over 20 years ago. Combine that with the rise of Caribbean reggae gospel artists, like Stitchie, Papa San, Carlene Davis, Marvia Providence, Chevelle Franklyn and Sherwin Gardner – to name just a known few. Marvia Providence, in particular, shook up Canada and the UK. We love our Marvia tunes. Reggae gospel is really underestimated - including its sales and growth – although in recent times it has got a bit quiet.


Nonetheless, the proverbial ‘cake’ is a different mix. The slices of flavours have changed but have the sizes of the slices?

Music has always and will always go through changes. Most times those who experienced the popularity of one form, style or genre will espouse its virtues as ‘the best’. How many of us will remember the most popular music form of the 1980s? What about the 1990s? Who would have predicted that in 2020s the most popular and financially successful global music genre would be hip-hop/rap? A Black music form, the biggest across the world!!!??? And no, I don’t think hip-hop/rap will be the style to dominate the music out of our churches.

Truth be told, which was well-depicted in the 4-part BBC documentary, Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the

There is a convergence – a coming together. Is it for one genre or style to dominate? Can we rid ourselves of defining a sound to be THE sound? Or can we be satisfied with the ebb and flow of SOUNDS and from this recognise that the character of the sound is what is meant to be the dominant sound? Borrowing the concept from Apostle Paul, who wrote: ‘There are many voices in the world and none of them without significance’ (1 Corinthians 14:10), every voice or sound has meaning to those who understand that sound. So we need the sound that edifies, that produces fruits of righteousness to each other and to God. Are Caribbean, African and American Gospel equal? Based on our significance: Yes!

What we need above all, right now, is to have R E S P E C T! Respect for what our diversity brings. We need our factual histories, the living stories, the anecdotes of our times. As we commemorate Windrush – 75 years of being a part of the nation on these British Isles, my prayer is that we will see the Caribbean and the African Christian experience as one coin with two sides. This coin may have different markings, maybe even different images on either side (because we will always see our differences), but we are the same ‘trading coin’.

When we fully value each other, esteem each other, celebrate each other and trade together as one, something much more powerful and valuable will occur. 15
Juliet Fletcher is the Creative Director of Green Tree Productions and Windrush Church and Music. She is also the founder of the Gospel Music Industry Alliance.

The Gospel Shout

Eric Reverence’s new single, ‘Follow You’, could be his most personal yet

The brand-new single by Eric Reverence, ‘Follow You’, is a deeply heartfelt declaration of true worship, written by a popular worship leader.

‘Follow You’ offers a clear and uncomplicated medium through which listeners can connect with God by celebrating His grace, faithfulness and mercy, along with the fact that He never leaves our side, no matter how great the challenges we face may be.

The song centres around one of Eric Reverence’s favourite Bible passages: ‘I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me’ (Psalm 16:8 NLT).

Eric states: “With everything I have been through in life, all the pain and struggles, God has always been there for me and never forsaken me, so how could I not follow Him? For anyone listening to this song, I want you to know that it is such a joy to follow God because He will never let you down, and you will live a life of peace and fulfilment.”

‘Follow You’ is out now and available on all digital platforms.

Ché Sampson - The artist spreading hope in Christ

Arguably, the art of creating a great worship song boils down to the balance between conveying a powerful, striking message, while at the same time weaving this into an irresistible sonic fabric.

Often the emphasis can skew too far in one direction or the other. With the latest release from rising UK Gospel star, Ché Sampson, the marriage of message and sound is as harmonious as ever.

‘Peace Be With You’ is the latest single from Ché Sampson’s debut album, Break Of Day, which was released last month. The R&B-infused track features Fiona Yorke and Louise Richards, both of whom help to build the euphonious, layered textures that Ché Sampson is quickly becoming known for.

“I want listeners to know that, if you have Christ in your life, your struggles won’t be removed, but having Him there makes it all a bit easier. You have the peace of God in your heart,” Ché explains.

‘Peace Be With You’ was crafted by Ché Sampson alongside album producer, Marcus Johnson, who has worked with the likes of Kim Burrell and Lurine Cato. Johnson has

produced all the tracks on Ché’s new album, as well as genre veteran, Mark Beswick, who has penned a host of iconic gospel songs.

Aesthetically, the serene yet upbeat ‘Peace Be With You’ navigates new terrain to that of Ché Sampson’s other recent singles, such as the stripped-back ‘Believe’ and the comparatively choral ‘Perfect Peace’. ‘Peace Be With You’ leans into Ché Sampson’s contemporary, soulful R&B influences without ever straying from the inspiring sense of faith that underpins the song.

Despite Ché Sampon’s new album being her full-length debut, she has already become a familiar face for UK Gospel fans. Her distinctive vocals were sought after as back-up vocals for Eternal, Des’ree and (the late) Noel McKoy. Once her solo career started gaining momentum after the release of New Every Morning in 2013, Ché committed to an artistic approach that is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in today’s mile-a-minute world: patience. Now she has unleashed her first ever album into the world, one that has ‘Peace Be With You’ at its heart.

VisionsTVOnline is a platform that promotes UK and international Christian music. To learn more about their promotional services, email and the team will be happy to help.

CalledOut Music gears up for London concert with release of new single

One of the premier artists within the UK’s Christian scene, CalledOut Music, has released his brand-new song, ‘Worst Days’

The stirring single celebrates the comfort and assurance that comes from knowing God is by your side throughout your journey, regardless of how many times you stumble (‘How high / How wide / How deep / Is Your love...’)

Reminiscing on how this track came to be, CalledOut Music says: “‘Worst Days’ is a song I wrote when I got home at the end

of a really bad day. Inspired by Ephesians 3:17-18, I found comfort in writing my heart out to God. There are days where it feels like I’m not doing all I should be doing in my walk with Him.”

It’s a relatable message for many of us. As he was creating the song, CalledOut Music realised how deeply and broadly ‘Worst Days’ could resonate: “As believers we may not have it all figured out; we will have imperfect days that make us question everything. This track is for the believer who feels condemned or unworthy. I hope this reminds us to lean into God’s abundant love and live from that place. We couldn’t earn His love because we already have it. All we need to do is bask in that love and LIVE!”

After touring the US and Europe, CalledOut Music is now gearing up for his hotly anticipated headline show at the Dominion Centre, London, on March 4, 2023, which promises to be an unmissable occasion.

Attendees will be looking forward to hearing him dust off an array of tracks from his rapidly growing catalogue, including the sinuous, up-tempo ‘I Am Free’ and the addictively euphoric ‘Joy’. Fans will also be hoping CalledOut Music performs songs from his latest studio album, My Beautiful Reality, which featured high-profile appearances from Guvna B, Samm Henshaw and more.


Life Goes On - New release from

Collistar’s latest song, ‘Life Goes On’, shares the pain in the mundane. This mellow UK garage track intricately examines the past, present and future worries of a young man in London. The West London prodigy recently teamed up with Hydration Records to reach out to UK listeners with a welcome offering: a timely, reassuring anthem in an age of confusion for many.

Collistar continues to establish himself as the primary social commentator of Christian hip-hop. He first rose to prominence during the grime revival of 2019. Witty, ironic and quintessentially British, his music dissects the cultural heart of the UK. With an increasing number of plays on BBC Radio 1Xtra, his recent album, G.N.T.G, was awarded Album of the Year by MRXCY Music.

After deleting his debut project, Welcome to Britain, which had accumulated millions of plays, Collistar’s debut single ‘1952’


reintroduced the artist as a Christian rapper. With a balance of old fans and new, there is an alluring sense of mystery surrounding Collistar’s musical direction. Will there be a Welcome to Britain 2, and will he live up to the potential he first showcased back in 2019? If ‘Life Goes On’ is anything to go by, Collistar’s prospects certainly seem bright.

Coco Dupree makes her eagerly awaited return to Christian R&B Music

Just like her love for Christ, Coco Dupree can’t be contained or confined. Having made her name as a widely acclaimed professional dancer and back-up singer, Dupree continues to expand her artistic expression of faith.

Back in 2011, Dupree announced herself on the Christian R&B stage with an eclectic and genre-blending range of singles, such as her high-profile Triple O collaborations, ‘Real Talk’, and ‘Take It Away’

The South-East Londoner then chose to dedicate her skillset towards building a successful dance career, while still satisfying her musical impulses through a variety of illustrious back-up singing credits.

For instance, Coco Dupree was asked to offer her vocals on songs by numerous big-name artists, from Wretch 32 to Pixie Lott. Now, though, it’s time for Dupree to step into her own spotlight.

Almost exactly a decade after she released her debut single, Coco Dupree dropped her faith-filled, R&B-inspired song, ‘Done It’, in 2021. It’s an introspective, beat-driven anthem that highlights Dupree’s dexterous, serpentine vocals. The track finds the UK artist reflecting on the innumerable ways in which Christ has offered her much-needed guidance and respite from her struggles.

Off the back of the single, Coco Dupree has returned to the studio and is currently perfecting her upcoming project. The album will incorporate a range of stylistic influences and will venture into exciting new sonic terrain.

But amidst all the experimentation and musical shape-shifting that Coco Dupree is becoming synonymous with, at the heart of the record there will be the same unwavering, unflinching commitment to Christ that has continually formed the bedrock of Dupree’s creative endeavours.

for tickets. 17
‘Life Goes On’ is available on all digital platforms.


From Africa to Australia to the US, Nigerian gospel artist, worship leader and songwriter, Sinach, has inspired and touched lives with hits from her catalogue of inspirational songs, such as Waymaker, Rejoice, I Know Who I Am, He Did It Again and The Name of Jesus

I was first introduced to Sinach when listening to I Know Who I Am, at my local assembly. I loved the song and was curious to find out more about her, so I did a YouTube search and stumbled across more of her music. Since then, I haven’t stopped listening to her inspiring songs.

It isn’t man who discovers a talent but, like the Bible says in Proverbs 18:16:

‘…your gift will make room for you.’ Sinach’s gift has truly made room for her throughout the world. She has performed throughout Africa and across the globe, in some of the world’s largest churches, including Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, USA, which is pastored by Joel Osteen, the popular American televangelist.

Waymaker is the most popular song to date by Sinach, which she performed at the annual Experience Global concert, hosted by Paul Adefarasin, founder and senior pastor of House on the Rock. This well-known Nigerian church leader recently celebrated his 60th birthday. Inviting Sinach to sing at his world-famous music event provided a fitting platform for these two renowned Christians, who have shared their gifts and callings, and have blessed others in the process


the soup kitchen at church, wherever. In supporting others, He calls us to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him.

To many, Jesus is just a stranger, and the story of Easter is opaque. In the gospel accounts, there were three strangers who encountered Christ at His crucifixion: three seeming strangers who were profoundly transformed by their encounter with Him.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of Simon of Cyrene, a worshipper of God from Libya, Africa, who was visiting Jerusalem with his two sons, Alexander and Rufus. As the Roman soldiers led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. We’re not given the reason why Simon was picked out, perhaps it was because he was an outsider, a foreigner, perhaps he was a Jesus sympathiser, but as the crowds shouted and jeered, he was the one forced to carry Jesus’ cross.

The cross is the ultimate symbol of suffering and pain. By bearing the cross, Christ identifies with the suffering and pain of humanity. But by carrying Jesus’ cross, we identify ourselves with the One who carried our sorrows and was acquainted with grief. For every mother who has lost a son to youth violence; for every family who has lost a loved one through the pandemic; for every person traumatised by police violence, Jesus whispers: “I bore your pain.” I don’t believe pain in and of itself is redemptive, but it’s simply a fact of life. The story of Simon of Cyrene reminds us that in His humanity, even Jesus needed someone to carry His cross. He calls us to help carry the burdens of others, even those we may meet for the first time, in the community, in

Jesus is nailed to the cross between two criminals. ‘One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise”’ (Luke 23:39-43).

It doesn’t matter how we have messed up, what we have done or failed to do in our lives, we are never too far gone to be saved by Jesus. I grew up listening to people share testimonies of how their lives were transformed by the Gospel. I remember as a young teenager being transfixed as I listened to how former criminals and gang members found Jesus as Saviour. I don’t care what has gone wrong, what badness has gone down, there is life for a look at the crucified One!

Finally, there’s the centurion, overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus, seeing all that had happened, who ‘praised God and said: “Surely this was a righteous Man”’ (Luke 23:47 NIV). There is something counterintuitive about a senior Roman officer, who is supervising the crucifixion of Jesus, acknowledging who Jesus is. We often think there is no hope for the oppressor. We think they’ll never change and are undeserving of mercy and redemption. The book of Jonah tells the story of how the prophet ran away from God because he didn’t think Nineveh was deserving of being given one last chance. Bob Marley sang ‘Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?’

As we confront systemic injustice in society, issues like educational failure, child poverty

and racial injustice, our instinct is to write off those who are part of those systemic structures as being beyond hope. And yet God can impact their lives. Is it possible that those of us who are engaged in mercy ministries that support the last and the least are catching the attention of those in power, who could do more to change the status quo?

I was at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2022, along with Sajid Javid, the then Health and Social Care Secretary, when he was so challenged by the sermon spoken by Rev Les Isaac (founder of Street Pastors) that he left his breakfast in Westminster Hall, went to his office and wrote his resignation letter to the then PM Boris Johnson. People refer to it as the sermon that brought down the government. I prefer to think of it as the sermon that brought a politician to his senses and called for integrity in politics across the board. As God touched the heart of the centurion and the heart of a senior British politician in 21st Century Britain, God can still shake the hearts of those in positions of power and influence.

In one way or another we were all strangers before we encountered Jesus. Ephesians 2:13 reminds us: ‘but now you who where once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.’ Whatever our background, life experience or position in society, God wants to draw us near. This Easter, may the words of that great Fanny Crosby hymn be our heart’s cry: ‘Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to the cross where Thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to Thy precious bleeding side.’

In this Easter reflection, Bishop Mike Royal reminds us that Jesus came to save everyone. No matter their status, position or behaviour, Christ offers the hope of new life for all 19
Bishop Mike Royal is the General Secretary of Churches Together in England. For more details visit

The Easter story transforms lives

Jesus’ death and resurrection during the first Easter over 2000 years ago transformed human history. Keep The Faith talks to two individuals whose lives were transformed by Jesus’ sacrificial act

God and in prayer; spending quiet time, meditating on God’s Word; listening for God’s direction; and stepping out in faith. I am trusting the voice of the Lord to lead me in His pathways for my life.

KTF: In what ways do you feel you are serving the Lord through your work and/or ministry?

PDE: I feel like I am serving God with the many experiences I have gone through in my former life. It is somewhat ironic that God now uses me in the lives of those experiencing substance misuse and those involved in crime and gangs. It’s a privilege to feel part of a solution rather than part of a problem.

KTF: Easter is one of the leading events in the Christian calendar. What does this time of year mean to you?


Keep The Faith (KTF): What motivated you to become a Christian?

PASTOR DAVID ELWIN (PDE): I have two friends who became Christians in 1999. At that time, I had been hooked on crack cocaine for about 15 years. When I saw their transformation – and the fact that they were telling me it was Jesus who had changed their lives and that He could change my life also – something on the inside of me desired what my friends had experienced. That was the trigger that saw me give my life to Christ two months later.

KTF: What was happening in your life when you made the decision to follow Christ?

PDE: My life, before I accepted Christ, was one of criminality and drug addiction. I was constantly in and out of prison from the age of 17 to the age of 32. I found it hard to be a father to my child at that time. My mental health was at an all-time low, with my doctor suggesting that I be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

KTF: What difference has becoming a Christian made in your life?

PDE: Becoming a Christian has enabled me to have a real sense of purpose, dignity and sense of destiny for the future, when once upon a time I felt like there was no hope for the future.

KTF: How has your faith influenced your career/ministry path?

PDE: My faith has influenced my ministry path through my personal relationship with God. Time spent disciplining myself in the Word of

PDE: Easter is always a timely reminder for me of the sacrifice and price Jesus paid to save me of my sins, and for Him to have had me in His thoughts and plans to redeem me. This is something I am mindful about daily as I am so grateful for my salvation.

KTF: Lastly, what are your hopes for 2023 where your faith and walk with God are concerned?

PDE: I have many hopes for 2023, however I continue to pray in faith for the reconciliation of my four children and my three grandchildren. I also want to disciple as many unto the Lord as He brings into my life this year.

20 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
Pastor David Elwin is Senior Pastor of Victory Outreach Church in Hackney, east London. A former drug addict, he shares how meeting Christ changed his life. He is also the director of a recovery home that provides rehabilitation services for men caught up in the cycle of crime, drug addiction and alcoholism.
Muyiwa Olarewaju is Station Director of Premier Gospel, and presents a show on the station. Muyiwa also presents worldwide show Turning Point International and he is an award-winning worship leader.

KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): What motivated you to become a Christian?

MUYIWA OLAREWAJU (MO): My story of giving my life to Christ is a hilarious one. I wasn’t a popular kid, and the subject of people’s jokes. There was a chap I had known as a kid, who told me about a church where he could introduce me to girls. Rev Les Isaac, founder of Street Pastors, was at that time the youth pastor. The young people I met were so vibrant, confident, and loved Jesus madly, and were everything I thought I would like to be. I got involved in the youth group through that. I got to hear the Gospel preached and gave my life to Christ.

KTF: What was happening in your life when you made the decision to follow Christ?

MO: My life was in upheaval. I was experiencing economic hardship, emotional upheaval. I was away from my parents and living in a house with my siblings. It was difficult and really hard. I was 13 and working. My life was turned upside down on an Easter Monday. I had gone with the young people to a conference at the East London branch of the Apostolic church. I sat, listening to the preaching of the Gospel whilst thinking my feet stank! However, when the preacher invited people to accept Christ, I prayed the prayer and said: “Jesus, if You’re real, come into my life.” My life changed.

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KTF: What difference has being a Christian made in your life?

MO: Being a Christian has been my salvation. I was a young person who was ashamed of being African because they called me an “effing African” at school and put bananas on my table. Christianity was the avenue where I rediscovered myself, and found family, a sense of identity, direction and completion. Christianity changed my life.

KTF: How has your faith influenced your career/ministry path?

MO: I wanted to be a pop star. I worked for Sony Music with the agenda to do pop music, but as my faith grew, I heard more clearly the destiny I have, which is to be a minister of the Gospel and to share the good news. That has shaped the decisions I made. I chose to work for a Christian broadcaster instead of the BBC or ITV, knowing it wasn’t as well rewarded financially but my focus was different. My faith in Jesus has shaped everything I’ve become.

KTF: In what ways do you feel you are serving the Lord through your work and/or ministry?

MO: I firmly believe I’m serving the Lord, not just because I work for a Christian organisation with the radio or TV show I do. I believe I’m serving the Lord in the choices I make. When there’s the opportunity to do something for clout or for views, I do it to share the Gospel, which is not always terribly popular but I’m glad I have the opportunity to do so.

KTF: Easter is one of the leading events in the Christian calendar. What does this time of year mean to you?

MO: Easter is a time of reflection. There’s also a lot of work because there’s a lot to prepare for broadcast and for doing ministry bookings as well.

KTF: Lastly, what are your hopes for 2023 where your faith and walk with God are concerned?

MO: During 2022, Premier Gospel formed a partnership with Apple. We are in talks with other major platforms, like Amazon, Spotify and Google, to amplify the sound of gospel music in pop culture so we can touch even more lives.

Visit for more details

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HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO STREET PASTORS The organisation that made the streets safe

Marcia Dixon MBE reflects on the work of Street Pastors, and how it grew from an organisation started by three men to one that is making social, political and international impact

I can hardly believe it. Street Pastors, one of the projects birthed by The Ascension Trust and one of the most well-known national church-based community initiatives, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Street Pastors is one of the few charity initiatives I’ve journeyed with since inception and, as a result of doing so, I’ve seen it grow into an international organisation with teams in the UK and abroad.

I was present in Rev Les Isaac’s home in 2003, when he, along with David Shosanya and Ian Crichlow, discussed launching a community initiative called Street Pastors.

They were inspired to form Street Pastors following a New Year shooting of four female

friends attending a New Year’s Eve party in Birmingham. Two of the young ladies tragically died and the incident made the media headlines. It made the nation aware of the gun and gang violence taking place in the UK’s urban areas.

In launching Street Pastors, David, Ian and Les believed placing men and women on the streets to provide pastoral care to troubled youth could play a major part in addressing what was becoming a major problem.

I attended that now historic first meeting because I had volunteered to do PR work for the fledgling organisation. I too was concerned about the rising youth violence occurring at the time and wanted to support Christian organisations keen to address the issue. Street Pastors was one such organisation.

It was amazing to see the response of both the Christian and wider community to Street Pastors as information about the scheme began to be rolled out. When public meetings were held to galvanise support for the initiative, they were packed with church leaders and lay members passionate about

addressing the issue of guns, gangs and violence that was then being constantly featured in the media. Excitingly, the Media – religious, ethnic, regional and national –reported on plans to set up Street Pastors as a response to youth crime and gangs.

Those initial meetings, coupled with media coverage, encouraged Christians to

22 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

come forward to train as street pastors, and the first training sessions – which I attended – took place in Brixton, at the offices of The Ascension Trust. I was with the team when they first went on patrol in Lambeth, and I actually served as a street pastor for a while on the team in Hackney when it was launched in 2003. What was interesting was when Street Pastors were out on the streets in those early days, the public really welcomed our presence, were encouraging and thanked us for working to make a difference.

Fast forward to 2023, Street Pastors is now a highly visible, highly regarded, national community imitative, well-respected by the people in the pew, as well as in local and national government circles. It is operational in 250 towns and cities across the UK, with 8000 street pastors currently serving their communities in patrols every Friday and Saturday night. Street Pastors is also international and based in Jersey, Gibraltar, Ireland, the US and the West Indies.

speech at the annual Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast held at the Houses of Parliament.

He spoke about the importance of integrity in government – at a time when the Media was filled with stories of a government with questionable integrity. The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, was in the audience. He was so moved by the speech, he resigned from government, citing a lack of confidence in the then Prime Minister’s leadership. His resignation caused ructions in the party, culminating in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation and Conservative Party elections for a new leader. When interviewed about his decision Mr Javid said this: “It might sound a bit strange, but I was listening to the sermon by this amazing man, Rev Les Isaac – you know, he started Street Pastors.

and last year, Pastor Les stepped down from his role as head of Ascension Trust to serve as its President. He makes way for the new CEO, Bejoy Pal, a young leader who is set to continue the good work of Street Pastors and of the umbrella organisation of Ascension Trust, in impacting lives and communities, training young people to participate in evangelism and fostering Christian unity.

Big plans are in the pipeline to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Street Pastors’ launch. This includes a Street Pastors march on April 18 – from St Mark’s Church, Kennington, south west London, to St Matthew’s, Brixton, where a special civic service with local dignitaries will be present and, on April 22, a special service thanking God for blessing the work of Street Pastors will be held at St Mark’s. Other events are planned too.

If anything, Street Pastors’ success is a reminder to us all, that when Christians step out in faith to deal with a societal issue, God is with us and it’s His desire that we succeed in making a difference and having a positive impact on people’s lives. Visit

The Street Pastors idea has been extended so there are now school pastors, rail pastors, college pastors, prayer pastors and response pastors. And Street Pastors isn’t just focused on addressing youth crime and violence; it also supports and promotes community safety.

If you Google the phrase ‘Street Pastors’, and click on the News tab, you’ll see the depth and breadth of the impact Street Pastors is having in local communities as its teams are featured in numerous local news stories. If you check out the Street Pastors website, you’ll find details of the numerous accolades Street Pastors teams across the UK have been awarded.

I had many interesting experiences during my time doing PR for the Street Pastors. Those I can remember include going on a Street Pastors patrol with Michael Howard, who at the time was leader of the Conservative Party; attending a Street Pastors conference, where the guest speaker was the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson; having a good time at the annual Street Pastors banquets; and being present at a gathering where the guest of honour was the High Commissioner of Antigua. The island of Antigua has taken a special interest in the organisation, as one of the founders, Pastor Les (as he is affectionately known) is Antiguan by birth.

And just last year, Pastor Les caused a political earthquake when he gave the keynote

“I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind. I went straight back to my office and drafted the resignation letter and went to see the Prime Minister later in the day.”

Now, 20 years since Street Pastors’ formation, two of the original founders have moved on to pursue other professional goals, 23

“I’m a proud Christian – and proudly living with HIV”

I was diagnosed with HIV almost 20 years ago now and have lived well with the virus ever since. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in that time and grateful for those I’ve met along the way.

One of my biggest achievements is being part of National HIV Testing Week (6th February) and working with the Terrence Higgins Trust. My face has appeared on billboards and bus stops as a woman living well with HIV. I did this to encourage others in my community to get tested quickly and easily at home.

It’s simple – like a lateral flow test for the coronavirus. And, of course, most people who test get a negative result.

When I first saw my face looking back at me, I was jumping up and down. I said to myself: ‘I am free. I am not hiding. I am sticking up for other people and I will help educate those who see it to get tested.’

I speak publicly about living with HIV to show that all the rumours about HIV are false. It has been 20 years and I’m not sick. I am not dying. In fact, I’ll live equally as long as if I wasn’t HIV positive. The medication I take keeps me well by suppressing the virus, and means HIV can’t be passed on to my partners. I am not “contagious” or a risk.

My faith and going to church have helped me to process my diagnosis, and my church community in north London remains a key part of my life. I don’t feel able to talk about HIV there though, and I’ve heard stories of other churches not being very up to date on HIV.

I hope that is changing, because it would be so powerful to hear our faith leaders preaching about the progress that has been made and playing an active role in saying: “No, that isn’t right” about many of the horrible things people say about HIV.

The reality is that there will be people like me in many, many congregations. You can’t see our HIV status, but we are impacted by the stigma and the hurtful things people say.

I was diagnosed in 2003, following my first-ever HIV test. I didn’t know a lot about HIV back then, but I’m ashamed to say the views I held about people with HIV back in Zambia weren’t very pleasant.

I was in a relationship with a man when I discovered what he told me were his sleeping

pills. But these were not sleeping pills; they were in fact his HIV medication.

After that I went to get a HIV test because my friend said I should. I was absolutely convinced I would test negative. Back then, you had to wait two weeks for the results – now you can do it at home in minutes. Throughout this time, I still didn’t think I had contracted HIV… until the results came back positive.

The doctors tried to educate me about HIV and what I needed to do, but I wasn’t listening. I was in shock. At that time, I didn’t have a smartphone so I couldn’t just Google the answers to my questions or look up the Terrence Higgins Trust website.

I stayed with my boyfriend for two weeks after finding out my status, but then made the decision to end the relationship. I never told him why. I saw him recently and we said hello. I don’t feel anything for him. I have forgiven him and moved on.

The fact is he obviously hadn’t been taking his medication properly, which is why he passed it on to me. If he had been taking his medication every day, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to become HIV positive.

But I’m glad I know my HIV status and am managing it well with my medication. HIV is just a condition; it doesn’t define your character. It doesn’t make you a good or bad person. I take my medication every day and then I get on with my life.

So my message is: get tested for HIV. You’ll most probably get a negative result. But whether positive or negative, you can then make the best decisions to look after your health and well-being. And, if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of our health and the health of those around us.

Order your free HIV test

Testing for HIV is now quick and easy. You can do it at home by ordering a free test kit from which will be posted through your door in plain packaging.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Terrence Higgins Trust in confidence on 0808 802 1221 or

24 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
STARTSWITHME.ORG.UK ORDER YOUR FREE HIV TEST It’s the only way to know if I have HIV, so I can stay in control of my health.
by Terrence Higgins Trust for HIV PREVENTION ENGLAND Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (reg. no. 288527) and in Scotland (SC039986).Company reg no. 1778149.
Photography by George Powell.

The woman helping women build wealthy businesses

Lola Tomorrow is founder of Faith Figures, a company that hosts conferences and provides mentoring for women of faith to build prosperous businesses. Lola was in London recently to encourage, motivate, empower and inspire Black women to reach for the stars where their business is concerned.

This Chicago native has travelled the world as part of former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s events team. She then set up her own events company and worked on the Grammys, Oscars, and other major events. Her desire to see Christian women succeed in business led to the establishment of Faith Figures.

During her time in London, Lola spoke with Keep The Faith about her work, her mission, and her desire to raise up a new generation of successful business owners who are also excited and passionate about their relationship with God.

KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): You were recently in London to share how Christian women can build thriving businesses and retain their faith. Why was it important for you to share that message here?

LOLO TOMORROW (LT): It’s a God thing for me. I believe there have been women praying for the solution that Faith Figures brings. In my company we say all the time: “The world has been waiting for your arrival. People are praying for the solution that your business brings.” When those prayers go up, God then commissions a person like me, who had no plans of coming to London, to come here because He’s answering the prayers of His people. I’m excited about helping women do big business but doing it in partnership with God.

KTF: Following your first-ever event in London, what impression do you have about the Black business community here, and how would you describe your mission?

LT: It’s very different to American - in a good way. Women are hungry for something new. They are hungry for someone who can speak to their spirit and speak to their business at the same time. I am a business mentor to women of faith in business who desire to do big business, whilst honouring God and the wealth legacy on their life.

KTF: You have a great resumé, which includes working on the events team for former First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as on the Grammys. How did that come about?

LT: Through serving. Serving connects you to destiny, which connects you to purpose. Every major opportunity I’ve walked into, I’ve walked in through serving in the right environment at the right time. With Michelle Obama the story is simple: I was right out of college and working for an organisation that Michelle Obama was a part of, and from doing an event where she was the guest speaker, I was offered a job. Two weeks later, I was travelling the world with the First Lady. From there, I was in the right rooms; connected to the right people; doing the right things; and then the Grammys and a lot of other major contracts came.


KTF: How has your faith impacted your approach to business?

LT: I’ve learnt to do business in partnership with God. If the client or money don’t feel right and something in my spirit is not right about it, I have learnt how God leads and guides me on what project I should do, and what I have peace about. And it’s not to confuse the peace of God with just a challenging client. The way God shows up in my business is that He’s leading and guiding me in every decision.

KTF: How have you interpreted the phrase ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ as you build your business and encourage others to build prosperous businesses?

LT: I really believe as believers we’ve misunderstood the core value of that saying. What I really believe is that without rulership of the Holy Spirit, money has the potential to be evil. If the Holy Spirit is your ruler, money is your resource.

KTF: Can you tell me a bit about your family background?

LT: My father is American-Nigerian. My mother is American. She was a teenage mum; she had me at 17. One thing my mum did, was to instil God and faith into me. Faith has been a core part of my upbringing. My father is less on the faith side. He’s a traditional Nigerian parent who wants me to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. What Dad instilled into me is the drive and the passion I have to do what I do.

Up to the age of nine I went to church because my mum told me to go to church. But something happened around that age where I fell in love with church. I laugh about it now but my punishment as a kid would be “You’re not going to church tonight!” and I’d be crying! Looking back, I just loved the presence of God. Church was a core foundational piece of my childhood.

KTF: What inspired you to become a Christian?

LT: I’ve been doing church all my life and thought I was a Christian. It was when I was in college, aged 17, where I had every plan on living my life, being wild and free. The two things I wanted to do in college were to get drunk and have sex. I was on the college campus probably nine days before I gave my life to Christ. God literally came and found me. I got saved at 17 - with no pastor, no worship band. I had an encounter with God like I’ve never experienced in my whole life. I just so happened to be a virgin at that time; I’d never drunk alcohol or taken any form of drugs and, since that day, my life has been consistently based on Jesus Christ’s teachings.

KTF: How did you find your purpose?

LT: The cool thing about purpose that I’ve learnt - and that I help women to embrace - is that you actually don’t find purpose you walk into it. I think I’ve spent eight or nine years of my life looking for it, asking: “Where it is, God?” I’ve got to find my purpose. I meant well, but I exhausted myself searching for something that just needed me to be present in the now. I have learnt that purpose happens through being present in the now.

Faith Figures is a global organisation and regardless of what I want, the world will know my name and the work I do on behalf of helping women partner with God to scale.

KTF: What are your key successes to date?

LT: Two of my key successes, which most people wouldn’t expect me to say, is this: 1) my emotional well-being as a woman - I’m very proud of the work I’ve done with myself; and 2) the level of healing and wholeness between me and my mother when we’ve had what I consider a toxic relationship. Those are key successes for me. I did an interview and the woman said: “I thought you were

going to say because I made a $1million in a day.” That doesn’t equal success to me because what happens when you’re not making money? You’re now depressed because you’re not successful. I’m looking at my evolution as a woman and as a believer. I am really proud of the woman I’ve become and am becoming.

KTF: Anyone who follows you on social media cannot accuse you of not being real, especially as you share insights about your dating experiences. Why is that?

LT: I’m not very public about being a virgin, but when people hear that you date a lot, they automatically assume I’m having sex with all the men. I believe dating is healthy and there’s a way to date that honours yourself and still honours God. Every time I date a guy, I get clarity on what I need.

So many women are afraid to date. I had one woman tell me that she felt online dating was demonic. I don’t have any understanding how she can rationalise it as being demonic. I feel it’s because we’ve over-spiritualised this relationship process. And I think Christians think we shouldn’t have to date.

I think sharing helps me connect, and helps people to relate to me more.

KTF: What does the future hold for Faith Figures, in terms of developing further links and building your business here in the UK?

LT: I feel that my large Faith Figure Conference that we do in the States will come to Britain, at some point, in the next 2-5 years. There are Americans who need to enter this land to see something new, to see something different, and there are women who are here who need to be exposed to something new and different. I believe the UK will be the second largest market for us outside of America. We had women who travelled from Scotland, Birmingham and people from France to attend the Faith Figures London launch. I was pretty impressed that London is not just for the people in London; it’s a hub for people in this part of the world.

KTF: What message do you have for people who run businesses here in the UK?

LT: More than anything, when it comes to business you need divine partnership with God. That is the secret sauce to success. I can’t echo that enough. The other part is relational currency. The right relationships will bring the right resources to your business, that happens by being led by the Holy Spirit on what relationships you need to foster. If nothing else, when people think of Lola Tomorrow, I want people to think of the woman who partners with God to do big business whilst honouring Him. 27

Will new £100m fund help repair the damage of slavery?

After discovering it benefited financially from the transatlantic slave trade, the Church of England (CofE) recently announced it is setting up a £100million fund to be donated to communities adversely affected by slavery. Keep The Faith asked Christians their views on this development and how the funds should be spent.

I think the Church of England has made a very bold move to right the wrongs of the slave trade with this new fund. Whilst most denominations seeking to address this issue are still exploring what reparations justice might look like, they have given us a precedence and something to think about. I think if part of the compensation can be used to fund the training and mentoring of racial justice advocates across the parishes and dioceses of the Church of England, that would enable the Church to continue to address issues around racial injustice.

The Church of England’s move to set up a £100m fund to address the past wrongs of the slave trade evokes mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, restitution is a key part of the Christian conversion experience. We see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8, a man who had harmed many people by exploiting his power as a chief tax collector, being converted and declaring: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Yet, on the other hand, you must wonder why has it taken the Church of England 300 years to make this restitution? This money should fund education, especially the historical and damaging legacy slavery has had on people to this day. This money should also be used to address social and economic issues that affect Black people today, including medical, housing and social justice.

The CofE’s actions follow initiatives by the Baptist Union, the Quakers and the United Reformed Church, banks and universities. It’s an example to others of the need to address historic wrongs when it is clear that present society both benefits and suffers from what previous generations have done. Reparations for slavery should not be paid to individual descendants of enslaved African peoples, but directed towards economic, educational and infrastructural development in Britain and in the former colonies. Nothing should be done to impair the agency and self-determination of Black communities who are not resting on their laurels, waiting for handouts. It must always be up to Black communities to determine how any funds are spent, and that their use fits within their ongoing self-determined construction of the future they envisage for themselves.

the resistance of racism? There’s serious work to do, but this is a necessary start.

I believe the money should be given to community leaders and grassroots leaders - both in the UK diaspora and in the Caribbean - to freely decide what they would like to do with it.


The CofE recently committed £100million to reparations for the evil of slavery, and I believe this is a start on the journey towards repair. It’s important to unpack what reparation really means. When we consider the generationslong atrocities committed against those brutalised enslaved, and the lasting impacts of slavery today, is this amount even a drop in the ocean?

So how will the Church seek to repair the trauma caused, communities torn apart, tribes separated, power taken, languages lost, the dominance over others…? How will it join in

This £100m fund is a good start in rectifying wrongs done to Black people, but there are problems. We have to ask why is the Church doing it now? I think this is an example of political expediency rather than moral courage. This fund gets off to a problematic start, if the descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade have not been engaged, as the narrative has already been created. In the broader context, although £100m appears to be a big sum, it doesn’t even cover the pain and suffering of enslaved people. Reparations isn’t just about money; slavery was not just economic. It was spiritual; it was the destruction of world views, lifestyles. Can the money to do the job? No, because it has to be married to and placed alongside other kinds of repair. If a nation or family is the benefactor of unjust actions or unjust gain, they have a responsibility in the present to atone for that. The notion of historical injustice requiring recompense is a deeply biblical idea.

28 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


During this coming season of Easter, Dionne Gravesande calls on the Church to remember Afghan women in their prayers

February may have been a month of love and romance for some, but for women in Afghanistan it was a moment filled with anguish and loss.

Afghanistan has a tumultuous recent past. In the last three decades, the country has been occupied by troops and international forces, and in the years in between it has been ruled by militant groups and the Taliban. Throughout the changing political landscape of Afghanistan during the last 50 years, women’s rights have been exploited by different groups for political gain, sometimes being improved but often being abused. Many international commentators argue that Afghan women are the ones who lost most from the war and militarisation.

I recently learned that, until the conflict of the 1970s, the 20th Century had seen relatively steady progression for women’s rights in the country. Afghan women were first eligible to vote in 1919, just a year after women in the UK were given voting rights, and a year before women in the United States were allowed to vote; but during coups and occupation in the 1970s, through civil conflict and then under Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan had their rights increasingly rolled back. Under the Taliban, women and girls were discriminated against in many ways as Islamic Sharia law was enforced. Women and girls were banned from going to school, studying or working, and from being involved in politics or speaking publicly.

Women were essentially invisible in public life. If a woman left the house, it was in a full-body veil (burqa), accompanied by a male relative. If she disobeyed these discriminatory laws, the punishments were harsh. A woman could be flogged for showing

an inch or two of skin under her full-body burqa; beaten for attempting to study; and stoned to death if she was found guilty of adultery.

As war in Afghanistan took hold in early 2002, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated: “There cannot be true peace and recovery in Afghanistan without a restoration of the rights of women.”

have both created a complex humanitarian crisis. With the Taliban in government, local media are not allowed to broadcast specific messages on gender-based violence, but it is encouraging to read some faith-based organisations have been able to elaborate on the ‘safeguarding women’ message through the teachings of faith principles, particularly as they relate to God’s all-encompassing love and a God-given right to dignity and equal worth, in which both women and men are both actors and owners of the dynamics within our societies.

In the years following, many schools opened their doors to girls, and women went back to work. There was progress towards equality: women’s rights were enshrined in a new constitution in 2003, and in 2009 Afghanistan adopted the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law. When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the violence and discrimination against women and girls returned. Like many women, Afghan women are aware they have the right to fight to protect their bodies from being the site of unwanted sexual relations. Still, many do not find themselves in a position to defend their most treasured possession, their body. Hence today, women are still routinely discriminated against, abused and persecuted. There is much to be done before the equality of political rhetoric becomes an everyday reality for women in Afghanistan.

After four decades of war, the compound effect of climate change-induced drought and the COVID-related economic disruption

According to data from the World Health Organization, globally, 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and as I reflect on this disturbing fact, I am reminded of Hagar’s story in Genesis 21:8-2. This story contains all the elements for a TV drama, in which God reminds us afresh that we should keep our eyes on Him and not on the acts of our oppressors. It would be a wonderful testimony to our faith in God if more people were to grow in their belief that God offers protection on all sides - even though the desert experience continues to be ongoing, frequent and harsh for too many women and their children. A task of the Church in this context is to acknowledge aspects of the past which seem to have a stranglehold on the present. These periods of remembering are very important, so let us not forget! Life and church in the Middle East call for constant learning from our history and reflecting on our present, secure in the knowledge that God is with us always.

I hope and pray Afghan women find resonance in this story and remember God has made all peoples in His image, and His desire is for all to experience fullness of life. 29 DIONNE GRAVESANDE
‘There is much to be done before the equality of political rhetoric becomes an everyday reality for women in Afghanistan.’
Global Ecumenical Relations at Christian Aid


We are all familiar with the concept of saving. A saver will regularly set aside a sum of money in a vehicle to which they can gain instant or easy access. These savings will provide security that, should an emergency arise, the saver can bear any costs without the need to borrow. People may also save for a large item or event - such as a car, deposit on a house or for a wedding - and need to access that money immediately, without a notice period. Anyone putting money aside in this way will want to get the best return on their savings with respect to interest payments. Saving is essential and at PCU we encourage our members to save regularly; to include savings in their budget plans; and, where feasible, to continue to save even when they are repaying a loan through the credit union’s ‘save as you borrow’ principle. Research has demonstrated that a savings mindset develops an element of financial empowerment and resilience in the saver, and a ‘future focus’ with respect to making their money work better for them in the longer term, i.e. investing.

down as well as up, so you need to ensure you understand about investing, and that you have the right type of investment for your personal tolerance of risk.

Questions relating to how you start investing, when and what type of vehicle you should invest in require careful research and consideration. You don’t have to be an expert to be a successful investor, but taking some time to understand what you’re investing in should give you a better chance of achieving your financial goals.

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there are five essential steps to help you choose investments that suit your needs and aims, helping you to become a smarter investor over the long term.

1. Are you really ready to invest for the long term?

Before you are ready to invest, it’s worth making sure that your immediate financial circumstances are in the right shape. Prioritise paying off any short-term debt; build an emergency cash fund; and consider investing more via your workplace pension. The following are definite noes:

• Do not use your emergency cash fund to invest, and

• Never invest using a credit card

2. How does your investment choice affect what you might get back?

the potential reward - but also the higher potential for losses. It’s important that you work out how much risk you’re willing and able to take. The FCA advises that, with high-risk investments like crypto, contracts for differences (CFDs) and mini-bonds, you should be prepared to lose all the money you’ve invested should things go wrong.

4. What’s the investment going to cost in fees/charges?

Expect an investment company to charge for the services you use, but as these charges can impact your investment returns over time, it makes sense to understand what they are. Comparing products from different providers - and what they charge - can help you get good value for the investment services that best fit your needs.

5. Are the company and investment regulated?

Before buying any investment, an important first step is to check that the firm is regulated by the FCA. You should also make sure the firm is authorised to sell you the product they are offering. Not all products or services sold by regulated firms are covered by FCA regulation ( financial-services-register).


So, what is an investment?

An investment is an asset or item acquired with the goal of generating an increase in the value of that asset over time. Investments are not an instant access matter. It requires a long-term commitment to leave the funds in the chosen investment vehicle long enough to grow. It is important to note, however, that the value of your investment can go

Most people who choose to invest do so in funds that spread risk across multiple companies, industries and even countries. Spreading your risk can help to build long-term gains. Diversification is the practice of spreading your investments around, so that you limit your exposure to any one type of asset. This practice is designed to help reduce the volatility of your portfolio over time.

3. How much risk are you exposing your money to?

Investing involves taking a degree of risk. Generally, the more risk you take, the higher

When you invest, it’s your hard-earned money that’s at stake! So, it makes sense to take some time to research your investment options to give yourself the best chance of success. Getting advice from an FCA-regulated Financial Adviser can be helpful.

Whichever route you choose when investing, learning about the risks and opportunities of any investments you are considering should help you to become a smarter investor over the long term.

30 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
Elaine Bowes sheds light on the difference between saving and investment, and provides tips on how to go about investing your money



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An evangelical Bible teacher once said that, although he enjoyed visiting a particular bookstore, “Because a number of publications are based on bad theology, the Christian bookshop can be one of the most spiritually dangerous places on earth!”

The same is true, potentially, of English language Bible translations.

A 2009 article by the American Bible Society noted that, over the centuries, there have been about 900 English language versions, paraphrases or portions of the Bible.

Helpful websites, such as Bible Hub, provide more than 40 easily accessible English language translations; BibleGateway offers 62; and nearly 70 - with the Find A Bible website listing about 208 English versions.

Having hundreds of versions available wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if every translation was good! But are they?

Popular paraphrases, like The Message, tend to render well-known portions of Scripture practically unrecognisable, while translations, like the Good News Bible, can sometimes sacrifice accuracy for ease of reading.

And then there’s The Passion Translation, the work of Dr Brian Simmons who, on 17 September 2014, preached: “We are the Word made flesh again. We are the re-incarnation of Jesus Christ, the corporate expression…

“We’re the seed of Christ, the forty-second generation. We complete the genealogy of Jesus. Christ is no longer a man, He’s a people. You and I carry like Mary. We will bring forth the Christ. The second coming is the be-coming of the Lord…

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. There will be a feet company. A Satan-crushing company that will devour like a threshing sledge. They will devour every work of the enemy.

“They will be untouched and unhindered

by sin, darkness, even death. They will carry like Mary and it will be as though the second coming had come!” (‘Glory of the Last Days’, session 2, part 2, Jubilee Church, Sydney.)

Another version, the 2012 Queen James Bible, describes itself as ‘a big, fabulous Bible’ – though, as an online article focusing on offbeat Bible translations notes, ‘The Queen James version is just the KJV [King James Version] with any verses condemning homosexual acts altered.’

The tongue-in-cheek article, ‘9 Alternative Bible Translations to Spice Up Your Devotional’, also says: ‘If the Bible teaches that homosexual acts are immoral... then all you have to do is change the Bible. Problem solved!’

Other even more unusual versions include The Bible in Cockney: Well Bits of it Anyway; Ee by Gum, Lord! The Gospels in Broad Yorkshire; The Klingon Language Version of the World English Bible Psalms; and The LOLCat Bible Translation Project

gender-free, politically correct version is being produced by a team that doesn’t even believe in God? One which aims to include everyone and offend no one – except, of course, committed Christians.

Working out which versions actually represent God’s inspired, infallible, authoritative Word can be a difficult task, with some no doubt falling into the category of what Paul refers to as ‘a different gospel’ (Galatians 1:6-7, 2 Corinthians 11:4).

Because God’s words are true and sufficient, Scripture consistently warns against editing or changing them. Instead, we’re told to test all things. In today’s seemingly headlong rush to make Scripture ‘relevant’ or acceptable, this unfortunately includes testing versions of the Bible!

It reminds me of a friend shuddering as he recalled the time a man selling Bible commentaries at a Christian conference called out: “You really should buy this. It’s better than the Bible!”

Then there’s Bible Emoji: Scripture 4 Millennials (available on iTunes); The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation; and The Unofficial Bible for Minecrafters: New Testament Stories from the Bible Told Block by Block, plus a number of graphic novel versions aimed at children – some illustrated by people who’ve worked for Marvel and DC Comics.

There’s also The Street Bible, a 530-page paraphrase ‘using MTV-style dialogue’, and the Nano Bible. The latter, said to be ‘the world’s smallest Bible’, can fit on a fingernail and is so tiny you can’t actually read it!

Who knows if, even as I’m writing this, a

For centuries, the translation and distribution of the Scriptures cost Christians, such as William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale and John Rogers, either their liberty or their lives. Now, believers can buy comparatively low-cost versions that might possibly harm their spiritual life.

Today – with the exception of John Wycliffe, whose body was exhumed, burned, and the ashes scattered in the River Swift because he translated Scripture into English – Tyndale, Coverdale and Rogers would probably be turning in their graves!

Gary Clayton is married to Julie, the father of Christopher (18) and Emma (15) and works for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). To learn how MAF planes assist missionaries, ministers and Bible translators in some of the world’s most isolated areas, visit
32 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


Rev Stephen Brooks shares why we all need friends and the positive impact they can have on lives and mental health

All of us would agree that we have different relationships with different people, classifying some as family, friends, loved ones, acquaintances, and others as enemies. We share our most intimate moments with those who know us the most and who can empathise and support us when something unexpected or troubling happens in our lives. From our collective experience of the COVID lockdown and the implementation of the ‘social bubbles’, we have all had to consider who constitutes our inner circle.

In the book, Making Friends, Making Disciples, Lee B. Spitzer uses the image of concentric circles to identify a relationship hierarchy and the expected number within each group.

He suggests:

1. Best Friends: the two or three closest loved ones in the small centre circle

2. Special Friends: the 3–5 closest friends outside the centre circle

3. Social Friends: the 7–12 people one spends a great deal of time with

4. Casual Friends/Acquaintances: the 50–200 people you know by name and might socialise or work with

5. Non-friends or Enemies in the outside circles

Spitzer’s assumptions are not a science, but it is interesting to note that Jesus had many followers, twelve apostles and a close circle of three: Peter, James and John. He shared some things with everyone and more personal things with the apostles, eg. Matthew 13:10-11: ‘Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do You speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”’ Jesus reserved His most intimate moments, like His Transfiguration, for His inner circle: Peter, James and John.

There is a lot of evidence that shows that good friends encourage healthy behaviours. Friends can help you set and maintain goals. They can watch out for you and give you notice when any unhealthy behaviours get out of hand and provide emotional support when you’re going through hard times. When Job was experiencing his many trials, three of his friends arrived to “comfort him” (Job 2:11), but they turned out to be “miserable comforters”, in Job’s opinion (Job 16:2).

Studies have shown the depressed were twice as likely to recover if they had happy friends. You will be less likely to perceive a tough time as stressful if supported by a good friend. A lack of friends can cause you to feel lonely and without support, which makes you vulnerable to other problems, such as depression.

Good friends provide a positive influence in your life. If you make friends with people who are generous, help others or are ambitious, you are more likely to develop those values yourself, and in turn become the best version of yourself.

There are lots of examples of good friendships in the Bible to inspire us in our own relationships.

Abraham reminds us of dependability and going the extra mile for friends when he gathered hundreds of men to rescue Lot and all his possessions from captivity (Genesis 14:14-16).

Ruth and Naomi’s relationship was forged between different ages and different cultures. Ruth became friends with her mother-in-law, and they looked out for one another through hard times (Ruth 1:16-17).

David and Jonathan formed a friendship almost instantly. Have you ever met anyone with whom you just clicked, and you knew they were going to be a good friend? David and Jonathan were just like that (1 Samuel 18:1-3).

Paul talks about the loyalty of his friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus, and their willingness to look out for each another (Philippians 2:19-26).

Being a good friend is a form of evangelism; it’s a very effective way of practically sharing our light and salt. Being friendly can reach people who are estranged from church as well as those who would refuse help from a church ministry. The most wonderful thing about being friendly is that almost every Christian can get involved with it and be a practical example of God’s love. “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (1 John 4:11).

I would suggest an amendment to Spritzers’ hierarchy circles: the addition of a new centre, which is occupied by Jesus Christ and on which all the others are centred, ie. the God circle.

If God is not the centre of our friendship circle, it will lead to continuous misunderstandings and status confusion. We need a good relationship with Jesus first, if we are to navigate our journey through life into eternity. Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Rev Stephen Brooks is leader of Mount Peniel Church in Stafford

My grandfather often said: “Some people bother God too much.” I understood what he meant. His conviction was that some Christians, instead of taking personal responsibility for their decisions and subsequent actions, passed them on to God. Subconsciously, however, it caused me to think that I should get on with the trivial things of life by myself and reserve the ‘big’ things and situations for God. Therefore, my question is: does God see some of our prayers as trivial? Or, more precisely, does God answer trivial prayers?

When thinking about trivial prayers, I am referring to those ‘throwaway’ prayers, eg. “Lord, what colour shirt should I wear today?” “Lord, please let my bus come a bit late today.” “Lord, help me to buy the winning multimillion-pound lottery jackpot ticket.”

“Lord, I pray that my favourite team will win their next match...” Already we can see the dilemma with these supposed ‘trivial’ prayers. They may well have significant consequences for ourselves and others. In some cultures, dress codes are essential, as is the day’s occasion. One might start the day in the worst possible way, and missing the bus for a necessary appointment would make a bad situation even worse. A context-based response to our question would make every prayer essential and valid.

Observing children praying that their teddy bears listen to them and do what they are told might also be considered trivial. So is asking God to make their parents relent on a decision, or for a wish from the fairies, especially when it is funnier than realistic. However, even these prayers are, at the very least, an acknowledgement by a child of their limitations. They recognise that help and support are needed from a more able and powerful Being.


I am convinced that trivial prayers invite conversations with an omnipresent God. It helps us to be ourselves and comfortable with God, and strengthens and grows our friendship with Him in ways that do not take anything away from the parent/child, powerful/vulnerable, master/servant relationships.

Our trivial prayers are a reasonable response to the exhortation to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). They bring God into our hopes, dreams and delights. Trivial prayers also get God out of our devotion closets, our secret and sacred spaces, and into our fun and down times. In addition, our trivial prayers ensure that God is not employed or deployed for specific roles and tasks and then ‘released’ once the job is completed. Our conversation with Him is continual. This way, we do not see and use God as a member of our private board or as a mere consultant when the stakes are high, and when capacity and capabilities are low.

prayer requests is then seamless. God becomes the God of everything, and we better understand that if it is important to us, it is at least important enough to have a conversation about with God.

There is no inclination that the psalmist excluded trivial things from the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4-5). Trivial accompanies the serious, the mundane, the pain, and all the other experiences we have. It neither displaces nor distracts from the well-rehearsed list of needs.

What causes us to suppress trivial prayer or avoid making room for them? John, the apostle, invites us to ask God for what we want and be assured that we have it (1 John 5:14).

Could it be that the lack of wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11) started as a trivial prayer with no expectation – just small talk about how to redeem the situation? If so, we might be surprised by the outcomes of trivial conversations with God.

There is a temptation to caveat, clarify and contextualise Scripture to the point where it seems foolish to accept its inference or sense in a childlike manner. Confidence in God is confidence in being childlike. The outcomes of our trivial prayers could be meaningful, valuable and much needed. So, give it a go and see if God answers trivial prayers.

Trivial prayers acknowledge that God is a God of the little things as well as the big things. We also grow in confidence and faith in ourselves and in God when those small and seemingly insignificant prayers are answered. The transition to meaningful and significant

As for me, I will continue to pray for Arsenal FC to win the Premier League title in 2023.

Mark Sturge is the former General Director of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance and a former Head of England at the international development charity, Christian Aid. He is now pursuing doctoral research in leadership at Durham University.
Prayer is the main way to communicate with God, but many Christians wonder whether He hears prayers about seemingly trivial matters.
Mark Sturge says He does
34 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


There are many heroes in the Bible who are given the title ‘heroes of faith’. One such woman, found somewhat hidden within the pages of the Old Testament, is Abigail, who was indeed a woman of great faith.

Abigail is one of the many women who could be considered as an underrated heroine. She is described as a woman of good understanding, of a beautiful countenance, and is introduced to us in 1 Samuel 25. Hers is an insightful, interesting and inspiring story of how the faith of one woman intercepted what could have been a story with a tragic ending.

This is how the story goes...

Abigail was married to a very wealthy man named Nabal. They owned property, servants and livestock, so they were doing very well for themselves. However, this beautiful woman of good understanding happened to be married to a fool. In one version of the Bible it literally says his name means ‘fool’ (1 Samuel 25:25 NIV).

In a nutshell, the story tells of an encounter that occurred between Nabal’s men and King David’s men, which was about to result in a potential ‘gang-style warfare’. David was raging when he heard about Nabal’s response to his request for assistance and, as a result, he devised a plan: to kill Nabal and everyone associated with him.

Abigail heard about the situation through one of her servants and was immediately forced to take action. It would be an act of great faith, considering her position as a woman in a male-dominated society. Her actions could have easily been interpreted as dishonouring and disrespectful to her husband; nevertheless, she was prepared to take that risk.

What is intriguing about the story is that Abigail clearly knew her husband because

she didn’t confront him about what she had heard, neither did she consult him about her planned action. Instead, she used her intuition, her intellect and her ability to intercede to prevent the mass destruction of her household. (I urge you to read the entire chapter; it is a page-turner loaded with lessons about the power and purpose of a good woman.)

What I absolutely love about this story are the lessons it teaches us about FAITH. Abigail was a woman of great faith, and she exercised her faith in the most incredible way, fully embodying and executing what the Bible says when we are told in the book of James 2:17 about the importance of the covenant relationship between FAITH and WORKS.

‘Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone’ (James 2:17 KJV).

There are three things that stand out to me each time I read this story:

1. Abigail used her head

She had to think fast for a solution to the problem that was facing her and her household. She didn’t have the time to prolong or procrastinate.

2. Abigail used her hands

She had to use what she had within her reach to gather what she needed to get the job done. Everything she needed was right there.

3. Abigail used her heart

She pleaded with King David from the bottom of her heart. Abigail knew she didn’t have a strong case, but she had faith enough to do her best.

Abigail was faced with a life-or-death situation, literally. David was planning to annihilate her husband and everything that belonged to him, so she had to act, and fast. She activated her FAITH and got to WORK.

‘Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched corn, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. And she said unto her servants, go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal’ (1 Samuel 25:18-19 KJV).

The activation of Abigail’s faith makes her a legend, in my opinion. She was not prepared to allow her family or her household to be destroyed because of her husband’s foolishness, so she put her FAITH to WORK and, as a result, she won David’s favour and ultimately won his heart.

There is so much to be learned from the story of Abigail about using your head, hands and heart and doing the work. Though it may not be immediately obvious, her actions are a demonstration of great faith. 35
Karen Allen is an author, speaker, preacher and founder of the Place of Dreams - a CIC that delivers personal development and spiritual empowerment programmes. She is the pioneer of J.O.E Ministries - an acronym for Jesus Over Everything, a safe place for ‘misfits’
Karen Allen shares why there is much to learn from Abigail – one of the most underrated female characters in the Scriptures

Restoring and healing the mother/daughter relationship

Why the mother/daughter relationship is so important

The relationship that exists between mother and daughter is the strongest of all parent-child bonds and defines the pathway for the daughter’s behaviours and beliefs to formulate. Behaviours and beliefs are often passed down from generation to generation and lay the foundations of the mental and emotional well-being of the daughter. In most instances, the first voice of influence a daughter hears is that of her mother.

How an unhealthy relationship with mother impacts a daughter

When a healthy relationship does not exist between mother and daughter, it impacts the daughter in her behaviour; her ability to retain and process information; her communication; and her educational journey (if she is a student). It can also affect her lifestyle choices.

Different types of mother/daughter relationships

An ‘Enmeshed’ Relationship is where the role of the mother and daughter becomes entangled. In this kind of relationship, the mother provides her daughter with love and attention, but tends to exploit the relationship, and can become very narcissistic, domineering and controlling because she feeds her own needs by living through her daughter.

An ‘Empathetic’ Relationship is where the mother/daughter role is reversed, and the daughter becomes the parent. This can result in resentment and anger from the daughter, especially if there has been conflict.

When I was growing up, my relationship with my mother was challenging, making it very difficult to establish a healthy mother/daughter bond. As an adult, I recognise that some

aspects of the enmeshed relationship existed between my mother and myself. Negative words spoken to me had taken root and affected how I viewed myself, my relationships, my behaviour and how I showed up in the world. My younger self was not a very confident person, but I have learnt, accepted and embraced the undeniable fact that with God, no experience is wasted! Even the negative ones.

are key to healing a fractured relationship and resolving conflict.

I embarked on a journey of healing for my inner childhood wounds that affected the adult in me. I received counselling and prayer, then progressed to forgiveness towards my mother and forgiveness for myself. Many of us need to accept that our mothers did the best with what they had.

Dealing with the after-effects of unhealthy mother/daughter relationships

How mothers can foster a good relationship with their daughters

Mothers need to take the lead in building the relationship with their daughters, by providing them with space to grow and develop with confidence and making a place available where honest conversations can be shared - even if what the mother hears is not pleasant. It’s also helpful if the mother can guide her daughter about setting healthy boundaries. Mothers need to make peace with their past and prepare to be vulnerable and honest when sharing their own lived experience with their daughter(s).

Repairing a poor mother/daughter relationship

It’s important for the mother and daughter to talk to each other and have courageous and uncomfortable conversations. Take time out to respectfully listen to each other. If words are not easy to say, write a letter to each other. Clear communication and asking for forgiveness

When a daughter knows her mother’s story and journey, she will understand her choices and recognise that her mother was - and is - a woman who has also experienced life challenges and did her best. Once a daughter accepts this, and makes the choice to forgive her mother, it can release any negativity she may have and enable her to move on with her life. No one can change the past, but we can change the way our future story ends.

The pain, the purpose and God’s plan We don’t often know why we go through some painful experiences, but I recognise for myself, that my faith in God and trusting His plan for my life have now enabled me to share my journey of the pain, the purpose and God’s plan.

I am also blessed to share that my mother is still alive, 92 years young. Time may have tampered with her memory, but I am still able to love and converse with her. I now love my mother with a clean heart of love and not out of duty.

36 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
Christine Giscombe is an award-winning mentor, an accredited Emotional Intelligence coach and founder of Born to Excel®. She also hosts the ‘Mother & Daughter Conversations®’ - a space where healing from past hurts can take place. Visit for more details
‘Mothers need to make peace with their past and prepare to be vulnerable and honest when sharing their own lived experience with their daughter(s)’
Christine Giscombe, founder of Born to Excel, shares the importance of the mother/daughter relationship and how to repair it when it is broken

A lifetime of love

And they both lived happily ever after… If only life were so simple! Whether you are preparing for marriage or have been married for decades, there is always something new to discover about each other. It can take a lifetime to get to know each other especially as we grow and change through life’s experiences. We may arrive starry eyed in church for our wedding but none of us know what lies ahead. Adjusting to each others habits, sharing a home together, sleepless nights with a restless baby, unexpected ill health, shift work, demanding jobs, redundancy, expectations of in-laws, and money pressures are just a few of the challenges we can face. It’s so easy for the demands of life to squeeze out time for each other, yet the strength and resilience of our relationship is so important.

Our weekends for engaged or married couples give you space away from the day-to-day pressures of life to focus on each other, to talk and dream, and to rediscover more of the love that first drew you together. Find out more about yourself, learn better ways of communicating, how to develop deeper trust and intimacy, and what God wants for your marriage. On the weekend, experienced married couples share some of their ups and downs and what they have discovered and you have space to reflect and talk in privacy about your own

journey together. The weekend is free apart from a small booking fee and you have the opportunity to make a donation towards future weekends.

“God has begun something beautiful in our marriage and we will be forever grateful to you for making it possible for us to attend this incredible weekend.” C&M

“The weekend came at a much-needed time for us. We were coming out of the pandemic and the challenges that the illness of loved ones and the pressure of uncertainties caused for our families and us. The weekend enabled us to escape life and its responsibilities and focus on ourselves, our marriage, and our future. This ministry has blessed us and helped our marriage to reach a healthy 10-year milestone this year. “ X&S

“The memories of this will stay with us forever.” G&A 37 A time for just the two of you Discover how you can deepen your commitment to each other by developing a new way of communicating. A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime Engaged Encounter is a weekend away to equip and encourage couples preparing for marriage. Whether you are Engaged or Married, we have a weekend just for you! Cultivate your romance and deepen your commitment Discover new ways to help you communicate better Find your Weekend at: A chance to enliven your relationship A weekend just to focus on each other Find your weekend at: ‘‘Engaged Encounter should be compulsory for all engaged couples, whether Christian or not. What an eye-opener.’’ ‘‘Our Marriage Encounter weekend transformed our lives, helping us to remember how much we love each other.’’ Alternatively, please call Ray & Val Humby on 01689 820466 Anglican Marriage Encounter (Registered Charity 292594) exists to strengthen and enrich marriages

Roses are red, violets aren’t blue, but did you know that God loves you? Yes, that’s right! Woman, you are loved by the One who created you. Called to be a helper (Genesis 2:18) but, let’s face it, it can feel like you’re everyone’s helper except your own. God said: “Love others as yourself” (Mark 12:31). The trouble is... you put others first and neglect your own health and fitness.

The consequences can be many - including fluctuating weight, sagging skin and reduced energy levels. It can even leave your immune system less able to fight infection and disease, which is not part of His divine plan for you!

For some women, it can feel like they are just not getting any fitter. Despite visiting the gym, going walking and running after children, they simply feel they are not making any progress. They just don’t feel they have the time to fit any healthy habits into their day and even feel they are “going backwards”.

Poor health is the inevitable price of such choices. However, the good news is Jesus has already paid the price for you to ‘have an abundant life’ (John 10:10). Remember, the Bible said: ‘You are God’s temple’ (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Time to love yourself

The time has come for you to look after yourself, rather than berating yourself. This will ensure you stay looking and feeling good for years to come.

If you feel you have wandered off track; felt changes in your hormones, or even felt demotivated, stop feeling guilty! Instead, use these 15 tips to love yourself, stay on track and keep motivated:

1. Slow down or simply take a ‘pause’. Find a bathroom, close the door, take an extended ‘toilet break’ and talk to God. He is no respecter of where you speak with Him!


2. Reassess your priorities to learn why you’re not sticking to a health and fitness routine. Mix up your routine - both the timing and the type of exercises you do.

3. Consider your priorities and your vision for your health, then formulate a plan.

4. Increase the exercise intensity during the ovulation phase of your cycle; it will help reduce the pain.

5. Be wise during your menstruation phase. Don’t attempt to work out as intensely as you would usually, as your iron levels will be low.

6. A long walk can really help improve your blood circulation.

7. Drink water. It assists the cooling system from hot flushes, aids digestion, removes toxins, keeps joints subtle and gives you firmer, fresher skin.

8. Drink an organic cup of fennel seeds, rosemary, mint, turmeric, ginger or agnus castus to ease digestion issues and period pain.

9. Reduce your sugar intake at least 14 days before your cycle. Sugar causes spikes in your blood levels and raises food cravings, so swap it for wholegrain foods, instead, to keep your energy levels, mood and hormones happy.

10. Increase your intake of magnesium-rich, green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and fish. These will help with your mood, cramps, headaches and other PMS symptoms.

11. Avoid crash diets as they will wreak havoc with your hormones and blood sugar levels.

12. Watch your salt intake, as that may cause water retention and swelling in the body. It may be a sign your adrenal glands aren’t functioning as they should. Try replacing salt with healthier flavour enhancers, such as lemon, lime and fresh herbs.

13. Maintain a good posture. Years of bad habits may have led to weak back muscles. Core exercises, resistance bands and stretching help with this.

14. Strength exercises are key! These will help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and tighten up the muscles under loose skin, so your body appears firmer. Need help? Do these simple exercises right now, using this FREE guide at:

15. Incorporate Udo’s Oil in your diet; it consists of a blend of omega 3-6-9 oils. I have used this for two decades and have found it reduces inflammation; boosts metabolic function; promotes joint health; and gives me radiant skin. For a 20% discount, visit and enter this discount code at the checkout: 20%ScriptFit

Are you ready for change?

Head over to or, if you have any health and fitness-related questions, email me at

Olivia Williams is founder of ScriptFit, a qualified health and fitness coach, personal trainer, weight loss and exercise specialist, nutritionist and public speaker. For more information visit
38 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
Health and fitness coach, Olivia Williams, gives tips on how loving yourself can improve your health, increase your strength and build your fitness

How churches can help couples through infertility and baby loss

I opened my eyes to a room full of medics. Things didn’t look right. I faintly heard the voice of the registrar asking me: “Do you understand? There is no heartbeat.”

I shrugged it off, prayed he was mistaken, and secretly hoped my baby would be born alive.

Labour progressed and at 11:12am my first baby was born. There was just silence.

This was a moment I had been waiting for after 16 months of trying to conceive and a nine-month pregnancy journey.

I slipped in and out of sleep, but caught a glimpse of my husband working vigorously to resuscitate Isaac, our son, possibly believing for a miracle.

Isaac was placed into a Moses basket right beside my bed. Every now and again, I would peek at him sleeping peacefully.

There were no words to describe the depth of my pain.

In 24 hours, my life had taken an unexpected turn. My hope, dream and joy had vanished - just like that!

We had gone from planning to tell our loved ones our baby had arrived to thinking of what type of burial we would want for Isaac.

What would the future hold? How would I/we get through this?

Trying again

Four months later, I became pregnant the second time. We decided to do everything in our power to ensure we took our daughter, Faith, home.

But, on 13 February at 11.23pm, Faith was born prematurely at 23 weeks.

And after a 10-hour battle, she drew her last breath - on Valentine’s Day - cuddled in my arms.

Living again

My plan was to take it one day at a time. There were good days and there were bad days. Having a supportive network, including my husband and family, made this journey easier. My Christian faith helped me to process my loss, my disappointment, and I began to hope again. On Christmas Eve, in the same year we lost Faith, we were blessed with a baby boy, born full term and healthy. Three years later, we had another son.

A big issue

This experience isn’t unique to me and I only realised how big the issue was when I went online in search for support.

Did you know?

• 1 in 7 women have difficulty conceiving

• 1 in 4 pregnancies end in baby loss

• 2 million babies are born stillborn every year (UNICEF)

These women exist in every church. Infertility and baby loss are often a hidden issue, a taboo subject, and couples usually suffer in silence.

My plan

Following my experience, I chose to walk alongside other women who are trying to conceive and have experienced baby loss. My goal is to raise awareness and break the stigma around infertility and baby loss.

And to ensure no woman walks this journey alone.

What can churches do?

Here are ten things churches can do to support women and men experiencing infertility and baby loss.

• Start by being educated on these issues, and ensure they learn from reputable sources.

• Provide a safe place for women and men to talk about their experience and listen to them non-judgementally.

• Remember their much-loved babies on their birth dates, if known.

• Avoid jumping to conclusions about the cause of their infertility/baby loss and be sensitive. For instance, believing infertility is a punishment as a result of their past and that they are not meant to be parents; or suggesting they can “always have another baby”.

• Encourage church members who have walked this journey to provide a shoulder those affected can lean on.

• Signpost them to groups and organisations for additional and expert support.

• Respect their decisions and prayerfully support them.

• Consider the best ways to celebrate and involve them on occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

• Recognise the intersectionality of infertility and baby loss, and give them space if required and the room to express their emotions.

• Reassure them they are loved, not alone and no less of a woman (or man) whether they become parents or not.

Looking to set up a support group?

Funke and her team are looking to replicate the Waiting Room model in churches. If you would like to set one up or need advice in this area, reach out to the team at

About Funke

Funke is an award-winning mentor, author and speaker. Her first book, ‘Always a Mum; How I survived my baby loss’ addresses issues of motherhood in relation to loss, living again and finding purpose in pain. Her second book, ‘Believe’, will be published in 2023. Last July, Funke launched The Waiting Room - an online support community for women (also open to men) who are trying to conceive and have experienced baby loss. She brings her vibrant messages to women’s conferences, leadership forums and career events. Find out more about her at 39

Ministry leader and pastor, Yvonne Brooks

Matters Heart of the

life issues

My husband is undermining my confidence

I’ve been keeping my feelings of anger under wraps but feel I’m going to explode. A new couple recently joined the church and my husband and I have befriended them. I like the wife; she’s a professional, immaculately groomed woman and reminds me of what I used to be - until my husband and I made the joint decision that I should stay at home to look after our two young children before they start going to school. I miss the excitement of work, but the sacrifice to be with my children until they start formal education was worth it.

towards yourself. I sense you are committed and loving, just by the life choices you are making. Please don’t allow your spouse to diminish you or make you a junior partner in your marriage. You are still the woman you were, so don’t allow negative words to disempower you.

I suggest that you make an appointment with your husband - get a sitter if you can. Have an agenda of your concerns (I suggest one or two issues at a time) and express your feelings in a calm way, taking ownership of your own emotions. Talk about how YOU feel! Speak about how you want to be treated. If he forgets, don’t be afraid to gently - but firmly - remind him. If that fails, seek Christian relationship counselling.

The new couple at your church should not be your focus; concentrate on your relationship. Consider doing some part-time work if you can. This will give you your own interests and boost your confidence. Establish a budget for your upkeep (hair, nails, self-care, etc) and wardrobe. Adopt a new attitude towards yourself. Remember who you are to God - royal, chosen, unique - and your husband will see a new you. Finally, I encourage you to have someone you can speak to on a regular basis, eg. a counsellor, mentor or friend. Pent-up anger, internalised, will turn to poison in your system. Speaking about your feelings will help your perspective and give vent to your feelings.

Pastor Yvonne: Dear Peter, thank you for your great question. We are here on Earth to fulfil a specific purpose; therefore it is very important that we identify what that is. There are clues in your personality and character, in the things you like, and in what you are passionate about. Reading your Bible and devotionals about purpose, and praying to seek the heart of God and His direction will all prove fruitful.

There are many books that have been written about the pursuit of purpose. There are also tools you can utilise, including personality profiles, which will provide insight into who you are. Some authors you can search for include Rick Warren and Dr John Stanko. Both writers have aided me in my purpose journey. Once you step onto your path of purpose, continue taking small steps to do something towards it every day. Attend conferences and seminars about purpose and find others who are on their purpose journey too. Always remember to be intentional; life is best lived on purpose. God bless you

If you would like help with a problem, email Your details will not be published.

Pastor Yvonne Brooks is a co-pastor at New Jerusalem Community Church, Birmingham, and founder of Woman of Purpose, a ministry that encourages women to fulfil their purpose. She is also a speaker and author. For more details visit

What’s upsetting me is that my husband is now constantly asking me why I can’t dress like this woman; saying I’ve become boring; I’ve lost my spark; and I’m not the woman I used to be. My husband’s comments are hurtful, and I’ve lost my self-confidence. I like myself and I don’t like being made to feel I’m not enough. How should I deal with this issue that’s arisen in my marriage?

Pastor Yvonne: Being a mother myself I can see the journey you are on to adjust and accommodate your family. It will get better; it can be better ‘today’ with just a small shift in perception and attitude that only you can make

My best wishes to you.

How can I find my life’s purpose?

I’m a new Christian who’s loving life. I enjoy going to church. I’m surrounded by loving people and my pastor’s sermons are really helping me in my walk with Christ. I have started to think about what my life’s purpose is. I want to fulfil whatever God’s purpose is for me. What steps do I need to take to discover God’s will for my life? And, once I find out, how do I go about fulfilling it?

40 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
, provides wise, compassionate and insightful advice to readers experiencing problematic

KEys to a successful marriage

Mike Johnson explores the biblical purpose of marriage and how couples can build relationships that reflect their faith in God

The fact that we are seeing marital trends in society reflected in the Church should not come as a surprise because we do not exist in a parallel universe; the Church is a microcosm of society. However, as people of faith, we are called to higher standards and appreciation of spiritual things. ‘Not as the world’ do we live, love or grieve. So how do we prepare to enter and maintain fulfilling marriages?

Step one is to ‘Understand the Purpose of Marriage’. Believers need to look at the heart of marriage and realise it has a deeper, eternal purpose.

The physical relationship cycle includes the first meeting, dating, engagement, marriage, honeymoon, and setting up home. All these have a spiritual equivalent, and they are used by God to reveal His plan of salvation. The spiritual cycle sees Christ declaring that He knew us before we were formed. When we fall, He woos us with words like, “Come, let us reason together.” We become engaged to Christ when we give our heart to Him, and publicly express it in baptism. Our wedding ceremony takes place in the sky when Christ comes again to receive His Bride (His Church. Our honeymoon is the 1,000 years we’ll spend in heaven, and then we’ll return to the re-created Earth to live with Christ forever (Revelation 21). The spiritual purpose of marriage is intended

for the mutual salvation of each other.

Step two is to ‘Understand the Call to Marriage’. Marriage is good and honourable, established by God to serve multiple purposes, but is it for you? There is no compulsion to marry, but society and the Church can make single people feel inadequate for being single. The call to marry and the choice of a partner should be carefully evaluated; they may meet your physical profile but what about the spiritual connection? The Holy Spirit gives us the answers before we do things, but our desire to please self overrides the warning, resulting in our churches being littered with failed marriages because individuals decided to go ahead and “hope for the best”, and now find themselves in loveless relationships.

Step three is to ‘Understand the Mathematics of Marriage.’ Too many single people feel incomplete unless they are united

with another. If you enter a relationship in that frame of mind, you will always be looking to someone else for your fulfilment. The mathematics of marriage is one plus one equals one - two ‘complete’ individuals coming together to make one in mind and purpose, working for the mutual salvation of each other.

Step four is to ‘Understand the Language of Marriage.’ ‘For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is Head of the Church’ (Ephesians 5:23). We tend to stop at the headlines with this one, but there’s a little pin that, when it is pulled, obliterates the thought of the husband lauding it over the wife. It’s the word ‘as’ and means that the husband is being compared to Christ as Head of His Bride (the Church). What did He do for His bride? He loved His bride so much that He sacrificed everything for her.

Step five is to ‘Understand the Hurts Within Marriage’. Infidelity, abuse, separation and divorce are the most hurtful aspects of marriage. None of these are in God’s physical or spiritual plan for marriage. Under no circumstances should you remain in an abusive relationship, but should you kill the marriage? Consider how many times you have been unfaithful to Christ. You pray and seek forgiveness and believe that you are forgiven, and the next time you fall, you do the same. So, should we treat erring partners the same way? That’s not a mandate for anyone to go and do what they want and think ‘My partner will forgive me.’ If we think that way with Christ, it’s called presumption and is not recommended. In (Malachi 2:16) the Lord says He hates divorce. We know He has had to ‘put away’ Israel, but He never cut them off; His love for them has never diminished. It was always with the proviso that ‘when they came to their senses’ and returned to Him, He would receive them back.

A successful marriage is one where two equals enter to become one and to work in co-operation with the Holy Spirit for the mutual salvation of each other - one in which we treat each other the way we expect Christ to treat us.

Mike Johnson is founder and CEO at Life Radio UK, a Christian radio station sharing the Gospel and covering topics on health, family and the community. Visit for more details 41


Dr T Ayodele Ajayi explores some of the causes of burnout and suggests some remedies to this distressing condition


Traditionally, the first quarter of the year is renowned for personal and organisational goal setting, vision casting and planning. As noble as these are, the exclusion of buffers and safety nets to prevent burnout can derail the best of intentions. Burnout is a real-life experience that compromises potential, production, processes and purpose, irrespective of the industry.


Burnout is not a medical diagnosis. Given the interest in the subject, it is unsurprising that it has attracted several definitions over the years. This is since American psychologist, Herbert Freudenberg, coined the term in 1974. Freudenberg had used it to describe the consequences of severe and high ideals in ‘helping’ professions. Most recently, the World Health Organization defined it as ‘a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’ (2019). Another popular definition is ‘a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by a long-term involvement with situations which

are emotionally demanding’ (Mateen & Dorji 2009).

It occurs when an individual feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands of their job or endeavour. Burnout can affect anyone - from the high-flying chief executive to the overworked employee, stay-at-home parent, clergy or lay preacher. Interestingly, it is never a sudden but always an insidious event. The progressive nature can make it difficult to identify and easy to accommodate. That is, until the inevitable happens: complete inability to function in one’s role.

The three core features of burnout are emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing and reduced professional efficacy. Emotional exhaustion manifests as feelings of being emotionally overextended by one’s work (or ministry) with pervasive effect on the ability to carry out work effectively and an associated negative impact on relationships and life outside work. Emotional distancing is marked with unempathetic, unfeeling and impersonal responses or feelings of negativism or cynicism to work. Ultimately this results in progressive reduction in professional efficacy.


The features of burnout can be physical or behavioural. Easy and chronic exhaustion, frequent headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and shortness of breath can be associated symptoms. Feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, suspicion or overconfidence and invincibility or omnipotence are other red flags to watch. Damaging coping attempts such as use of alcohol, illicit substances,

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sedatives is not uncommon. The Mayo Clinic website has a helpful 10-item checklist for self-assessment (see for details).


According to Freudenberg, burnout is more likely in occupational contexts that require significant amount of emotional work and empathy, personal involvement and intrinsic motivation. The other risk factors that have been named include heavy workload and long hours. On a BBC TV Question Time in January 2023, Prof Clare Gerada, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, disclosed that the confidential mental health service for UK doctors and dentists now sees as many professionals every week as they were seeing every year when it was commissioned in 2008!

Other vulnerability factors include work-life balance struggles; working in a caring profession; feelings of little or no control over work; and personality traits of being perfectionist. Committed and dedicated workers who have no boundaries in place are also at risk.

Working for employers with no clear job expectations nor social support for employees; a hostile, dysfunctional workplace; and

disregard for employee work-life balance can make one prone.


The recovery process starts with first identifying and admitting the condition. Denial and feelings of invincibility can be hinderances. The role of empathetic managers, seniors, mentors and family members to flag this up cannot be underestimated. Speaking to a healthcare professional, such as a GP or occupational counsellor, may be necessary. Anxiety and depression are common co-existing conditions with burnout which may require independent interventions.

Gaining as much control over work is key. Working from home, reduction of contracted hours, ring-fenced midweek rest days (for ministers) and prioritisation of regular rest breaks and holidays fall within this remit. Cultivating calmness in the workspace - using plants, furnishing, colours and decluttering - has a place. Prioritising self-care in terms of adhering to adequate sleep, exercise and dietary regime can be of benefit. Putting accountability processes in place to embed these changes may be required. Taking a personality test can be informing as to the cause of burnout. Visit for a free test.

Assertiveness training could shed light on the need and how to set boundaries. The use of coaches and career mentors can offer an unbiased view and a fresh insight on your approach to work. Ultimately a change of job role/employer or retraining is a last resort. The way to see it is, burnout is heavily expensive. No job, vocation or ministry is worth the price of losing your physical, mental or family health.

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Dr T Ayodele Ajayi MBchB FRCPsych is a consultant psychiatrist, founder and convener of the Tripart Care Emotional Wellbeing Hub and has a YouTube channel called TriPart Care.

As Christian women, we all want to hear those timeless words from the mouth of our King: “Good and faithful servant”. In personal development, success is not defined as the attainment of the goal but as the journey towards the goal. This perspective is very encouraging, but I would challenge it and say it is not how God views success.

Scripture is clear that we, as children of God, must obey His commands, and anyone called by Christ’s Name will be judged. Thus, a good and faithful servant becomes the standard every Christian woman must aspire to. Have you been faithful to God’s commands, to the instructions He has given you to fulfil your purpose on this earth? It is true that the most expensive place is the graveyard, because so many people die with their dreams, with the purposes God intended them to complete but they failed to. Then it is fair to say that whatever your hand finds to do, God expects you to remain diligently faithful to its completion and to do all things for His glory.

Women in Britain have had to become multifaceted. They perform many roles and appear to move seamlessly between each one, depending on the context and on the demand of the function. But, when a critical eye is cast, the roles are not as fluid as they might first appear, and so many women, especially Christian women, feel they have to choose one role over another. Can they be both businesswoman and mother? Both wife and minister in their local congregation?


Or do they have to choose between their professional and parental roles; their professional and ministerial roles; and their personal and ministerial roles? Is each role balanced, and can they give 100% in each role, or will aspects of each role be sacrificed to give themselves fully to the other role? These questions haunt most women because society and the Church have placed the bar of the perfect and ideal Proverbs 31 woman so high.

It’s worth noting - given the various waves of feminism that have impacted the Church’s relationship with women - that men are never asked to choose between different roles. Men are typically judged by how well they lead their household and on their financial contribution to their households. Comparatively, women are judged by how they manage their homes and children. But that is not the only role women currently inhabit. Thus, there is no denying that women face a unique set of pressures our ancestors did not have to face, due to their more defined role in the household and exclusion from roles in the public sphere.

There are many lessons we can learn from Deborah the Judge. Two chapters are dedicated to her and her feats. From her life, we can see she was not just a judge, but also a prophet, a mother to the nation of Israel, a worshipper, a warrior and a wife. She operated in these roles concurrently. When she instructed Barak, she gave a prophetic word of the impending victory of Israel whilst also judging Barak for his hesitation. Her ability to alternate between roles and still function in harmony

is an essential skill we can acquire.

What insight does Deborah have in successfully manoeuvring her diverse positions? Her identity was rooted in her Father. She understood her assignment and the roles needed to fulfil them. When they come to faith, many women never fully gain the clarity needed to complete the assignments given to them. They spend a great deal of time being a Jonah - running away, afraid of what they are being asked to do.

To build resilience - the ability to bounce back from adversity - is to have a deep and unwavering understanding that God is for us, He is with us, and He equips us with everything we need through the Holy Spirit, His Scriptures and the community He has placed us in.

Once it is understood that our identity in Christ is immovable and unchangeable, we are a new creation. God has given us the power to have dominion on earth through the daily renewal of our mind. We can control our thoughts and thus change our outlook and perception.

If you struggle with your identity in Christ, success will remain an elusive concept that evades you, and the roles, functions and positions you inhabit will always be in disharmony.

44 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
In today’s world, women hold a multiplicity of roles. Ngozi Cadmus writes how faith in God can help women manage the home/work/life conundrum and experience fulfilment
Ngozi Cadmus is a psychotherapist, social worker and business strategist. She overcame depression and suicidality to become a leading mental health and leadership expert with over 15 years of experience in the Mental Health sector.



Hair loss is a far more common problem than many people think, and it is estimated that 15.4 million people deal with hair loss at some point in their lives.

What is it?

Hair loss can range from mild to severe baldness. Hair can fall out for a variety of reasons, including medical. Hair grows from the root of your hair follicle, and the blood in your follicle goes to your hair root to provide oxygen to help your hair grow.

• Telogen effluvium is the most common type of hair loss, and normally happens 2-3 months after the body has experienced great stress, such as a prolonged illness, major surgery or an infection. It can also happen before a change in hormone levels, such as after childbirth. When experiencing this type of hair loss you will notice significant amounts of your hair in your comb, on your pillow or when you shampoo your hair. This kind of hair loss does not have bald patches; your hair will just get thinner.

• Medication side effects - Hair loss can also be a side effect of certain medications, so always check with your doctor what the side effects of any medication will be.

• Symptoms of an illness - Hair loss can be a symptom of a medical disorder, such as lupus, a thyroid disorder, anaemia, a nutritional disorder - especially if you have a lack of protein, iron, zinc and sometimes biotin. There have also been reports of hair loss after having COVID-19. Sometimes your hair will be affected if you lose weight suddenly or have a restricted diet that does not replace your vitamins.

• Tinea capitis (fungal infection on the scalp) - This is a patchy hair loss which is affected by fungi spreading on an area on the scalp. This will automatically affect the hair root and fall off.

• Alopecia areata - This is an autoimmune disease, and usually occurs when the hair falls out in small to large lumps. This can also happen to young children. Your immune system plays a large part in how your body operates and unfortunately your hair will be affected by this.

• Traction alopecia - This hair loss has nothing to do with the body; it is mismanagement of the hair follicles. We underestimate how delicate our follicles are, and tight hairstyles will damage the hair follicle and cause hair loss. Tight braiding, cornrows, or pulling the hair in one direction in a ponytail will all damage the follicle and unfortunately, in some cases, cause almost permanent damage.

• Trichotillomania - This occurs when hair is pulled and twisted constantly by someone who has a psychiatric disorder.

What to look for

The normal amount of hair that should fall out on a daily basis is 50–100 hairs. If you find yourself losing unusual amounts of hair, your hairdresser, trichologist or doctor will diagnose and treat your hair accordingly. Do not ignore the early signs of hair loss Early treatment will help slow or stop hair fall.

When will my hair grow back?

It depends on why your hair loss occurred in the first place. I cannot stress how important it is that you see a professional

making sure you have the right nutrition or supplements to aid hair growth.

These are:

• niacin (vitamin B3)

• vitamin B complex

• ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

• tocopherol (vitamin E)

• biotin

• iron

• zinc

• selenium

Here are some of the things you can do to help slow down hair loss:

• Keep your scalp clean

• Do not share head coverings

• Sleep with a satin scarf/pillow

• Use the right hair care products

• Massage your scalp daily

• Choose the right hairstyles

• Try to limit heated hairstyles

• Exercise

• Try to have enough rest

Health-related hair loss should be discussed with your doctor or trichologist or, in mild cases, your hairdresser.


soon as you

experience severe hair loss

Although your hair may have fallen out quite quickly, it will take several months to grow back, as the hair is being repaired from the follicle before it appears on top of your scalp.

How can I avoid hair loss?

Hair loss can occur at anytime depending on what your body is going through. There are a few things you can do, including

In my personal experience of treating clients with mild to severe hair loss, natural remedies have a great effect, but it takes time and patience. There are some great natural recipes in my book, 21 DIY Recipes for Curly Afro Hair. Some of the recipes can also be used on straight and wavy hair. Enjoy your hair.

Fore more details visit 45
specialist, Verona White, looks at the various types of hair loss and how to deal with it Verona White is a hairstylist, wig technician, natural hair specialist and author of 21 DIY Recipes for Curly Afro Hair.

Cook with Kirly-Sue

Welcome to ‘Cook with Kirly-Sue’. I hope you will become a regular participant with me in discussing food and drink.

‘Cook with Kirly-Sue’ is a celebration of the foods I like to eat. Simple enough, right? But this is only a start, because I hope you’ll share your favourites with me and all the other Keep The Faith readers! I will always share tasty, easy-to-make recipes and cooking tips with you.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via my social media handles, @KirlySuesKitchen

Welcome to 2023 - new year, new opportunities, and a chance to create a new you. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day and having a healthy breakfast is a good habit to get into.


1. Raspberry oat bars

These are easy to make and can be eaten hot or cold. The recipe is below, and you can swap the raspberries for any other berry you like.

5. Porridge

There are many different types of porridge - oats, cornmeal, plantain… - so just choose your favourite. All can be made with your preferred non-dairy milk.

6. Pancakes

You can make pancakes with only three ingredients - oats, almond milk and banana - mashed together.

7. Smoothie bowl

This became popular in the USA in the early 2000s. A smoothie bowl is thicker than a normal smoothie. Use 1½ cups frozen fruit, 1 banana, ½ cup vegan yogurt and ½ cup orange juice (plus any more to get it to blend).

8. Vegan full English

This comprises vegan sausage, mushroom, tomato, toast (with vegan butter), carrot, bacon and beans.

9. Scrambled tofu and spinach on toast

10. Fresh fruit salad with vegan yogurt


Oat layers:

• 250g cups oat flour

• 200g oats

• 3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed

• 50g flaxseed meal

• 1-2 tbsp water

• 3 tbsp almond butter (or other nut/ seed butter)

• ½ tsp cinnamon

• Pinch of salt

For the filling:

• 400g raspberry (fresh or thawed from frozen)

• 100g date paste

• ½ tsp vanilla extract

• 1 tbsp arrowroot starch

• ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line an 8-inch baking pan with baking paper and set aside.

2. Avocado on wholemeal toast

This has got to be one of the quickest and healthiest breakfasts to make. You can add a slight sprinkle of salt and a light dusting of cayenne pepper to taste.

3. Granola

This is a great breakfast - consisting of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, raisins, etc. - that is usually baked until crisp, toasted and golden brown (see recipe below).

4. Overnight oats

This popular breakfast offers a range of health benefits, due to its rich fibre and protein content.

Oat layers: In a large bowl, combine oat flour, oats, banana, ground flaxseed, water, almond butter, cinnamon and salt until combined and crumbly.

Filling: In a separate bowl, coarsely crush the raspberries and date paste with a fork. Add arrowroot starch and mix to combine.

Assembly: Firmly press half of the oat mixture into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Then evenly spread with the raspberry mixture on top. Finally, coarsely crumble the remaining oat mixture over the filling.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden. Allow to cool completely, in the pan, on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cut into 16 bars. As an option, drizzle with vanilla icing.

Vanilla icing:

• 150g soaked raw cashews (soaked for 2 hours)

• 100g almond milk

• 3 soft medjool (medjoul) dates

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend all the ingredients until smooth, and drizzle onto the raspberry oat bars.

This recipe is named after my Aunty Verna, as she taught me to make this lovely and versatile breakfast. Serve with non-dairy milk or use as a topping on non-dairy ice cream. I also use it as a snack. I store portions in small plastic containers and eat with a spoon whenever I’m out and about.


• 500-700 grams rolled oats (the large, old fashioned, grained type)

• ¼ cup coconut (half shredded and half grated)

• 3 tbsp unrefined brown sugar

• juice of 3 large oranges

• ½ teaspoon nutmeg

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• pinch of salt

• 1 tsp almond essence

• 1 tsp rosewater

• ½ cup crushed peanuts

• ½ cup sunflower seeds

• ½ cup sesame seeds

• ¼ cup flax seeds (linseed)


• Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

• Mix together the oats, sugar and coconut.

• In a separate container, add nutmeg, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, almond essence and rosewater to the orange juice.

• Add the orange juice mixture to the oats mixture.

• Stir with clean hands until all the mixture is moist.

• Place onto baking sheets and spread out into one even layer.

• Stir every 10 -15 minutes.

• During the final 10 minutes add the nuts and seeds.

• Allow to cool, then store in airtight containers.

Kirly-Sue (aka Susanne Kirlew) is an award-winning published author, vegan social media influencer and TV presenter. Kirly-Sue was named as one of the Top 100 in the Lift Effects Star Awards. She has a total of 40,000+ followers across her social media. Visit for more information. 47
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Cook with Kirly-Sue

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Free online events for churches

pages 43-44


pages 42-43

KEys to a successful marriage

page 41

Matters Heart of the

page 40

How churches can help couples through infertility and baby loss

pages 39-40


page 38

A lifetime of love

pages 37-38

Restoring and healing the mother/daughter relationship

page 36


page 35


page 34


pages 33-34


page 32


pages 30-31


page 29

Will new £100m fund help repair the damage of slavery?

page 28

The woman helping women build wealthy businesses

pages 26-27

“I’m a proud Christian – and proudly living with HIV”

page 24

HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO STREET PASTORS The organisation that made the streets safe

pages 22-23

F lexible Study Options at London School of Theology

page 21


pages 20-21

The Easter story transforms lives

page 20


page 19


page 18

Life Goes On - New release from

page 17

CalledOut Music gears up for London concert with release of new single

page 17

Ché Sampson - The artist spreading hope in Christ

page 16

The Gospel Shout

page 16

Are Caribbean, African and American Gospel on equal footing?

pages 14-15


page 13

Spotlighting Christian women making a difference

pages 8-12


page 7


page 6

Prayer Warrior celebrates her 100th birthday

page 6

Editor’s NOTE

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