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

www.keepthefaith.co.uk

ISSUE 120

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Autism and new academic year

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FOND FAREWELL AFTER 16 YEARS

WHAT’S NEW IN GOSPEL VOL 1


Higher Education at Waverley Abbey College Be transformed through learning Waverley Abbey College’s part-time programmes equip you with skills and knowledge to release your God-given potential to operate in roles that help people. We provide vocational training in Counselling and Spiritual Formation, with an innovative new Leadership faculty opening in January.

Develop your Leadership Skills Grow into the leader you want to be. Our leadership programmes will develop your leadership potential. You’ll learn how your faith can be used as a force for positive change.

To find out more and apply, visit waverleyabbeycollege.ac.uk


Editor’s

NOTE

PUBLISHER/ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shirley McGreal

SUB-EDITOR Jackie Raymond

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Becky Wybrow

ADVERTISING Diverse Media Group Limited advertising@diversemediagroup.co.uk T: 0203 868 0664

MARKETING Josie McFarlane

PUBLISHED BY Keep The Faith Ltd 71-75 Shelton Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9JQ keepthefaithteam @keepthefaithmag keepthefaithmagazine www.keepthefaith.co.uk www.keepthefaithdirectory.co.uk

THE PUBLISHER WOULD LIKE TO THANK: Marcia Dixon MBE, Milton B Allen, Ben Harrell, M Jasmyn Allen, Joy Roxborough, Sophia Jones, Gary Clayton, Dr T Ayodele Ajayi, Vanessa Grossett, Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo, Dionne Gravesande, Natalie Downs, Luke Wareham, Marlene Cato, Martins Agbonlahor, Glen McKen, Tayo Fatunla, Grey Msonthi, Abigail Sanderson, Caroline McLafferty, Amanda Chalmers, Jo Duckles, Laide Olunloyo, Stephen Goddard, Brett Pitchfork, Tina Boyle Whyte, Melissa Agbonlahor, Edouard Lassegue, our supporters and advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.

ISSUE 120

Welcome to the latest issue of Keep The Faith magazine This is our 120th issue… What a wonderful journey it has been! I usually start this column with ‘In this issue…’ but not today. This is going to be my last issue as publisher/editor of Keep The Faith magazine. I feel now is the right time for me to step down and hand the reins of publisher/ editor over to a new team, and I am happy to inform you that the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) is going to be the new publisher of Keep The Faith. It has been a great 16 years as publisher! We have successfully published the magazine all this time, featuring so many amazing people and organisations, with years of continual support from amazing Christians, like Marcia Dixon MBE, who has supported me from day one, and was editor for a number of years; Rev Les Isaac OBE, who continually encouraged me when I was disheartened and tired; and our faithful writers, Juliet Fletcher, Dionne Gravesande, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Rev Stephen Brooks, Vanessa Grossett; our USA editor, Milton B Allen; Gary Clayton, Esther Kuku, Keno Ogbo, Grace Gladys Famoriyo… just too many to name, but they have written consistently for the magazine, year after year. The publication and team have won over 16 awards, and I was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2020 for Services to Tackling Youth Violence, Knife Crime and Poverty. The magazine has been a community magazine in every sense of the word - written by its readers and highlighting its readers. I believe it continues to be the only magazine of its kind in the UK. I have made so many wonderful friends through the magazine and via social media, and I plan to keep in touch and update my social media daily with my silly jokes and funny photos. I may even post the ‘odd’ serious post here and there… I hope you will continue to support Keep The Faith magazine with your wonderful articles, features and, of course, very valued advertising! Every blessing

Shirley McGreal MBE Find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

To discuss how Keep The Faith could work with you, request a media pack or book an advert, please contact Diverse Media Group. Call 0203 868 0664 or email advertising@diversemediagroup.co.uk


CONTENTS ISSUE 120

30 08 10

05 From Gangsta rapper to Gospel Preacher By London City Mission 06 Mary’s Meals launches emergency earthquake appeal for Haiti By Caroline McLafferty 06 Giving hope to Hani By Jo Duckles 07 Our Black History Roots By Tayo Fatunla

32

21 A plague on both your houses By Gary Clayton 22 The impact of COVID on personal finance By Laide Olunloyo

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24 Christian Resources Exhibition Special Feature 27 Food 4 Thought By Marcia Dixon MBE

08 Fond farewell after 16 years By Shirley McGreal MBE

28 The Global Impact of ‘What’s New In Gospel Vol 1’ By Ben Harrell with Milton B. Allen

37 Nurture by Nature By Dr T. Ayodele Ajayi

10 The National Church Leaders Forum - A Black Christian Voice By Pastor Ade Omooba MBE

30 Luke Wareham releases new worship song featuring Lou Fellingham

38 Preparing people with Autism for new academic year By Natalie Downs

12 Newly ordained Deacons and Priests in the Diocese of Southwark By Sophia Jones

30 Lurine Cato is ready to ‘Dance’

40 Not yet Uhuru By Martins Agbonlahor

15 Seeking the Peace and Prosperity of the City and its People By Dionne Gravesande 16 A career that values difference By Essex Police 18 Charity song set to raise funds and awareness of loss By Amanda Chalmers 20 When God looks at me, what does He expect to see? By M. Jasmyn Allen

04 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

31 Noel Robinson returns with ‘You Are Unrivalled’ By Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo

41 Living Stones By Gary Clayton

32 From knock-backs to front stage By Glen McKen

41 Target 626 By Melissa Agbonlahor

34 Changes in the publishing industry By Vanessa Grossett

42 Why we need more headlines of hope from Haiti, alongside updates on disasters By Edouard Lassegue

35 Journey of Generosity: More Blessed to Give By Joy Roxborough 36 The Bridge - Be present: The power to manage chaos By Tina Boyle Whyte

44 Emergency Africa COVID vaccines appeal By Mercy Ships 46 No time to waste By MAF


FROM GANGSTA RAPPER TO GOSPEL PREACHER From gang leader and gangsta rapper, DANIEL DOUGLAS celebrates his new calling - sharing the Gospel with those on the margins

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t’s 10am one grey morning, and Daniel Douglas, a missionary with London City Mission (LCM), is pouring morning teas and coffees outside their Webber Street Day Centre in Waterloo, London. An excited guest shows off pictures of his new flat on his phone: “I was sleeping in a tunnel,” he says. “And now this!” “That’s beautiful, bro!” bursts Daniel. “I’m so happy for you! Bless you!” Hands pointing upwards, he adds: “And you know what? We give thanks to Jesus!” It’s a life-changing turnaround for the guest, and an insight into Daniel’s own life transformation. “You know, the Lord is just incredible,” he says later. “A lot of the guys who come to us have substance abuse problems – crack and heroin. These are guys I used to sell drugs to – now I’m here serving them teas and coffees.’” Daniel, whose parents arrived from Jamaica after the Windrush era, grew up in a Christian home in Brixton. He’d always believed in God, but never really connected with the Gospel. By the age of 14, he’d first stopped attending church and then stopped attending school. Instead, he joined a gang and focused on his musical talent, taking on the name Cerose and recording a 12” vinyl at the age of 16 - the same age he first got arrested. Daniel’s successes in rap weren’t enough for him, and he started getting involved in gangs, selling crack and heroin to fund his lifestyle. By 2014, he was on the cusp of wider success and recognition. However, a turn of

events - fuelled by his criminal convictions - found him back in rural Jamaica with his parents, where he reconnected with his father, whom he had neglected in pursuit of fame. Every conversation would come back to a biblical theme, drawing on his father’s lifetime in Christian ministry. Daniel was unconvinced, but intrigued. He returned to London with a new desire to find out who God is. For six months, he threw himself into reading the Bible, researching other religions, devouring all the information he could get his hands on. His mind was blown reading the Bible. One day in June 2015, he was reading through Matthew’s gospel when it hit him that Jesus really died and rose again. “I started bawling like a baby. It came with a mix of emotions I can’t describe – mourning, liberation, rejoicing – all sorts of emotions, and that feeling lasted for three days. “Jesus, I love Him. He’s all that matters. Before, I used to care about money and success, but not so much now. I just want to be living for Jesus.” Daniel met Christian rap artists, and they encouraged him to apply to LCM’s Pioneer Programme, designed to train and support people from diverse backgrounds into urban gospel ministry. And so, with no school qualifications, a long criminal record and being a new-born Christian, he was accepted onto the course. Afterwards he started working at Webber Street - LCM’s day centre for people who are homeless. “Everything I do now is about Jesus,” he says. “Our calling is to preach the Gospel

(* https://www.bigissue.com/latest/social-activism/how-many-people-are-homeless-in-the-uk-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/)

- wherever you are and with whatever ability God has given you. “The path I’ve chosen isn’t easy; it’s very hard - especially when I see old friends celebrated in the newspapers, knowing that I’ve passed up the opportunities of that lifestyle. It still stings a bit, you know. And then I think, why would I go back to that? Jesus is real and He’s saved me.” Daniel had his father to tell him about Jesus. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people in London are unlikely to hear the good news of Jesus in their lifetime. This includes people who are homeless. Homelessness in London has doubled over the past decade*, and is expected to rise - a result of the furlough ending. But you can do something about it.

JOIN DANIEL, FOR THE GOSPEL, IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG On 20th November, will you sleep out to bring hope to people who are homeless? Take part in our Big Winter Sleepout, and raise vital funds to give hope to people living on the streets of London. Your support will enable Daniel and the team at Webber Street to continue to provide food and practical care, and to give those who are homeless in London an opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus. Join us on the night at Webber Street, or get together with your youth group, school, church, friends or family for your own Sleepout! It will be a night to remember! Find out more and register at lcm.org.uk/sleepout www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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06

Mary’s Meals launches emergency earthquake appeal for Haiti A UK-based global school-feeding charity is working to reach people affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti, and has launched an urgent appeal for those affected. Around half a million children have been left in need of emergency humanitarian help. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude disaster, and people are in urgent need of food, safe water and shelter. Mary’s Meals, which provides daily nutritious meals to children in schools in some of the world’s poorest communities, has been reaching children in Haiti for 15 years, and works closely with four well-established and trusted local partners across the country. The charity is now supporting those partners to deliver emergency ration packs to families in the worst affected areas. Daniel Adams, Executive Director of Mary’s Meals, says: “Before the earthquake hit, many communities in Haiti were already vulnerable, as the country struggles with ongoing political unrest and extensive long-term damage from previous natural disasters. This latest catastrophe has left hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need. “Alongside our incredible local partners, as funds allow, we will do all we can to reach as many people as possible with essential supplies at this heartbreaking time. We are grateful for the generosity of those who can help us reach families who are struggling to survive in the aftermath of this devastating situation.” Marie-Flore Chipps, Co-founder of Mary’s Meals’ local partner, Summits Education, added: “As we witness our country come together again with resilience and perseverance, support during this time will be pivotal in ensuring that communities affected by this disaster

GIVING HOPE TO HANI The real-life story of an eight-year-old Syrian refugee

will overcome its aftermath and thrive once again.” In Haiti, around 100,000 children currently receive Mary’s Meals each school day. Although the regions where the charity provides meals have not been directly affected by the earthquake, it is determined to reach those in critical need at this time. Mary’s Meals currently reaches more than 1.8 million hungry children in 19 of the poorest countries with a daily school meal. The promise of food attracts impoverished children to the classroom, where they can gain an education that will one day be their ladder out of poverty. Caroline McLafferty

TO DONATE TO THE APPEAL, PLEASE VISIT WWW.MARYSMEALS.ORG.UK/HAITI-EARTHQUAKE-APPEAL

06 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

The story of an eight-year-old boy, who fled Syria after his home was destroyed by bombs, is brought alive in a new World Vision interactive installation at Brighton’s Churchill Square Shopping Centre. Hani and his family are among the millions of people around the world who have been displaced due to conflict, natural disasters, political unrest or ongoing instability. In these dangerous places children are extremely vulnerable to violence, poverty, abuse and exploitation. “We were in the house sleeping. We woke up and suddenly we heard something go ‘booph’. The earth was trembling,” says Hani. “The next day we went to see our place. It was destroyed – glass was all over the ground and the walls had crumbled. I’ve forgotten my bicycle, I’ve forgotten all my toys, I have forgotten my computer. They are all gone, they are all in pieces.” Hani’s story is told on videos played inside the exhibition. Visitors walk through a recreation of the rubble of a Syrian house after the bombings. They are encouraged to consider what belongings they would take if they suddenly had to up and leave their homes. The installation includes a map of the route from Homs in Syria to the Bekaa (or Beqaa) Valley in Lebanon – where Hani and his family took refuge. But Hani has hope, thanks to World Vision’s work with refugees. His favourite part of the day is going to school, where he can get a strong foundation for handling anything life throws at him. World Vision respond where the need is greatest with life-saving interventions – providing food, clean water, education, healthcare, child protection and psychosocial support to children and their families, helping to rebuild their futures. Find out more about how you can help, by visiting www.worldvision.org.uk Jo Duckles Public Relations Executive at World Vision UK


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FOND FAREWELL AFTER 16 YEARS

I

can remember way back in 2005, when my friend and former colleague, Isabel Appio, asked if I wanted to buy a magazine from her. She had launched Keep The Faith magazine with the help of the late Barbara Campbell the year before. They had only published three or four issues, but decided not to continue with the title. At the time, I had recently left my role as the former CEO of The Voice Newspaper Group, and had set up my own online newspaper, Black UK Online, with two ex-Voice colleagues: the late, great Flip Frazer - the first editor of The Voice newspaper and founder of the acclaimed ‘Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame’, and a superb journalist, Mike Best - the then editor of The Voice. Neither of my colleagues were very keen to work on Keep The Faith, but my spirit told me to go for it. So I purchased the title with my own funds, and have never looked back.

At Downing Street in 2015

08 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

Shirley with Bishop Joe Aldred and Bishop John Francis

Mike Best was the original editor, and he worked with a former designer from The Voice newspaper, but I decided to take over the role of editing and overseeing the design of the magazine from issue 20. I remember working on my first issue as editor and alongside our new designer, Becky, who was a young 20-something girl, still at university studying design. We both found it so hard to do the first issue - both of us were novices - and, although I had worked in media, my role was organisational, overseeing the team of professionals. Yet there we were, at 3am, trying to complete our first issue so that it could go to print the next morning. Becky was in tears; it was her first major design and she was stressed. And to add to her stress, at the last minute we decided to completely change the format, layout and design of the magazine, and our first front cover girl was the beautiful Carole Pyke. Becky excelled with the new design! 100 issues later, a married woman

with a beautiful daughter, she is still excelling at designing the magazine. The purpose of the magazine was to highlight people within the Black and Christian community, who were dedicating time and effort to better the lives and surroundings of others. We also wanted to support the small grassroots organisations, with the aim of raising their profile in order to garner support from the community. We were tired of the constant negativity around the Black community being spewed out by mainstream media. So, for Keep The Faith, choosing front covers was easy! But our covers were not without controversy. In 2006, the movie, Amazing Grace, was released, and there was great objection to the film’s content and worldwide calls to boycott the movie. We had included a feature about the words of the beautiful hymn and a great article about the film. At 7am - a few hours before the magazine was due to go to print - we still had no front cover! So I


Tributes from our contributors We asked some of the KTF contributors to say a few words...

t I was I am grateful and blessed tha while ine gaz ma able to be a part of the r you d use you were in charge. You ful der won a ate God-given talent to cre bt dou no will that long-lasting magazine e. com s continue for generation nity to Thank you for the opportu ine. gaz ma h write for Keep the Fait ain. rem and e Your legacy will continu d ase ple am I You will be missed, but o ont ving mo for you that you are ssed your next venture. Remain ble and favoured. Vanessa Grossett Shirley with Lord Simon Woolley

decided to use the image of the actor, Youssou N’Dor, who played the role of Olaudah Equiano. Somehow this cover made the newsdesk of CNN New York - for all the wrong reasons! The issue was handed out at a celebration at Westminster Abbey attended by HRH The Queen, HRH Prince Phillip and other members of the Royal family, and someone complained to all the news outlets, protesting about our cover. The news editor at CNN was humbled and full of praise when I explained our reasoning, and even Youssou N’Dor sent us a message of thanks, as he was sooo surprised to see his character on the cover! In the early days, the old assumption was that the Black Church community was made up mostly of old ladies, sitting in the pews in their big hats, singing and clapping, when in fact our members are some of the most powerful, influential and professional members of the BME community - old and young! Over the years, we have been recognised for our strong position in the community, and we were very grateful that the past four Prime Ministers and three London Mayors have recognised us as leaders in our field, and have often invited us to race and faith events at No 10 and City Hall. We have also been included in race and faith consultations with the heads of all of the UK TV channels, radio and print media houses, the Met Police, and with many great Black and church leaders, which include the Rev Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and Bishop TD Jakes. Baroness Oona King once said I was the first female media mogul that she had ever met, LOL. I love that! It has been a memorable 16 years, and I hope the next 16 will be just as exciting!

Shirley is a formidable woman, with drive, persistence and humility. I thank God for the platform she has provided that so many of us could express ourselves literally to thousands of people. Thank you, Shirley, for helping me to move from impression to impact. I pray the Lord will continue to keep you and yours until we can meet again. Rev Stephen Brooks

Thank you for being an inspiration over the last few years. Both personally, and as a contribu tor to Keep the Fa ith, you have enriche d my life and I am grateful for your de dication, passion and generosity. I wish you all the be st for the journey ah ead. Keno Ogbo

Shirley, you are a warm, caring, beautiful and intelligent lady, with an out-of-this-world sense of humour, who I instantly connected with because we are very similar: we love people and adore animals. What you have done with KTF has been simply amazing. Just one feature (or cover, lol) has transformed lives. Enjoy life after KTF and, when you are ready to set up your farm, I’M IN! God bless you and your family richly. Love you much. Juliet Coley (your saved-the-best-till-last cover girl!)

of “Shirley is a personification ing lead e courageous opulenc by serving.“ chair Ade Omooba MBE, NCLF

Shirley McGreal is one of the most selfless people I know. During her time serving as Publisher of Keep The Faith, Shirley ensured the magazine spotlighted the impact Black Christians were having in the Church and society and the good things they were doing in the community. She did so humbly and sacrificially. As Shirley steps down from her role, I wish her all the best in her new life as a retiree, looking after her family and much loved dogs Marcia Dixon - former Keep the Faith Editor, columnist and founder of Marcia Dixon PR

Shirley’s tenacity and ingenuity in spearheading this unique publicat ion for the UK Black Church community over so many years has been nothing short of miraculous. Keep The Faith has become an invaluable resource for which we are all in her debt. Have a happy, well deserved retirement, Shirl ey. Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, NCLF trust ee

“Shirley’s hard work and dedication, commitment and devotion have been the anchor for KTF magazine. Thank you for your tireless service and vision. Keep The Faith is, because you are!” Dionne Gravesande, KTF contributor and NCLF Secretary

generous… Warm, humorous, kind, that spring These are a few words Shirley. I to mind when I think of e, helpfulness should also add servic would be and supportive. The list ntioning her incomplete without me n and gentle acute business acume on. Thank but determined dispositi have done. you, Shirley, for all that you You will be missed! David Shosanya

Shirley is a phenomenal person. I don’t know anyone like her - a genuine TREASURE. She has been tirelessly resilient, patient, purposeful and determined. It’s an honour to be a small contributor to a big real dream. You have left an indelible imprint upon our hearts, and we are indebted to you as a community. God bless you in every way. Juliet Fletcher www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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The National Church Leaders Forum A Black Christian Voice BY PASTOR ADE OMOOBA MBE

Keep The Faith Magazine has an outstanding history, and we want to build and grow its legacy.

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he National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) is an organisation committed to facilitating a Black Christian voice in the UK. After much prior discussion and planning, the organisation emerged out of a meeting of key church leaders and workers, community organisers and business leaders, which was held at Kingsway International Church Centre (KICC) in London on Tuesday 10th May 2011. Over the decade, NCLF has benefitted from financial and resource support from several churches and agencies, as well as the time and skills of several individuals, key among whom has been Juliet Fletcher, who served the organisation in both paid and volunteer capacities. Progress in connecting with and representing the authentic voice of the UK African and Caribbean churches has been slower than hoped. In 2015, more than 200 UK African and Caribbean Church leaders were involved in the reflection, research, collation, publication and launch of the first ever Black Church Political Manifesto for Mobilisation. The publication coincided then with the General Election, and was widely commended by members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as other political, religious, and civic organisations and individuals. Work has

10 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

continued on the original manifesto with its nine sections: Church and Community; Criminal Justice; Health and Well-being; Political Mobilisation; Family; Youth and Education; Media, Music, Arts & Culture; International Aid and Development, and Economic Empowerment and Development. The latest iteration is available on the NCLF website. Since the formation of NCLF in 2011, trustees and volunteers have committed themselves to being a national strategic instrument of the UK African and Caribbean churches through various means. In addition to a series of awareness-raising events - hosted and supported by NCLF - the publication of the Manifesto for Mobilisation in 2015 still stands as our most impactful piece of work to date, finding resonance in religious, academic and political spaces across the country. Over the past five years, we have partnered with various organisations, particularly the Pentecostal Credit Union, to convene workshops with Black Church leaders in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and London. Particularly in 2020 and 2021, with the killing of George Floyd in the USA and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we represented a Black Christian voice in the press and media, in political and religious circles, responded to calls for evidence, and disseminated information via our website

Dionne Gravesande

and social media platforms. Our focus has been on the pervasive nature of structural racism and the disproportionate affects of COVID-19 on our community. We continue to share in wider concerns of how these and other matters affect the whole of the UK society and the world. Trustees and volunteers of the NCLF work to support, advocate and amplify the voice of our churches in society. We hope you are aware of some of these, and may even have attended one of our recent online conferences on Education, or the Church after COVID. Our next event is being planned for the autumn, exploring Black over-representation in the Criminal Justice System, acknowledging the existing


contribution of many African and Caribbean churches through prison outreach ministries, and chaplaincies supporting prisoners and their families. Our continued commitment to you remains unchanged. We are very aware that our national strategic, advocacy and representational role is complementary and supplementary to the work done by you and your national, regional and local churches. Our aim is to help cohere and amplify what is being done, so that there is a clear national Black Church voice and presence in the religious, civic and political national public sphere. It is against this background that the opportunity to acquire Keep The Faith (KTF)

magazine has been a blessing, and complements the work of the NCLF with stakeholders, further amplifying the voice of the Black Christian community in the UK. We believe that becoming owner and publisher of KTF - on behalf of the UK African and Caribbean churches - offers many great opportunities for the furtherance of the mission of the Church in this nation. We are in the midst of planning an NCLF and KTF church leadership reception at the next Christian Resources Exhibition, taking place 12-14 October 2021 at Sandown Park, Surrey,and will make an announcement soon. Recently, trustees, operating as a management team, have increased the

tempo of our work by capitalising on additional volunteering from: Pastor Ade Omooba MBE, Chair; Dr R David Muir, former Co-Chair; Dionne Gravesande, Company Secretary; Bishop Dr Joe Aldred - especially since his retirement from Churches Together in England in 2020; Dr Michel Sacramento, Treasurer; Pastor (Dr) Marcus Chilaka; Rev Celia Collins, and Rev Ron Nathan. Specialist volunteers continue to play a significant role in the work of NCLF: Dr Floyd Millen, politics and policing; Elsa Caleb, business development, and Rev Faith Maelys, communications. We are on the lookout for additional volunteers in other specialist fields of interest to the UK African and Caribbean communities, and so we welcome hearing from you.

Dr R David Muir

Bishop Dr Joe Aldred

Rev Celia Collins

Should you have any queries, information or anything to share with us for wider dissemination, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at info@nclf.org.uk or through our webpage at www.nclf.org.uk or Twitter @NCLFNEWS www.keepthefaith.co.uk

11


Newly ordained Deacons and Priests in the Diocese of Southwark By Sophia Jones, Director of Communications, The Diocese of Southwark

Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Rev Dr Karowei Dorgu with newly ordained Priests, in the Woolwich Episcopal Area (Picture credit: St Peter’s, Walworth)

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he Diocese of Southwark has seen a 30% increase (in the year to July 2021) in candidates from UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) backgrounds being recommended for ordination training. This equates to approximately five out of a total of 17 candidates - the highest percentage in recent years. In 2016 the number was 25%. And four out of those five candidates have also been recommended for leadership positions - incumbent status - meaning their potential

Gemma Birt

to lead a parish has been recognised. The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, said: “This is a very encouraging development, and reflects the intentionality and hard work of the Vocations Team to this good purpose over ten years. We all have a part to play in encouraging UKME candidates to be open to God’s call and explore vocational discernment. We must not lose sight of the need for our leadership in the Church of England, and this Diocese

Esther Jael Olabisi Akano-Adesoye

12 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

Adelaide Davies

in particular, to reflect the full diversity of our parish communities of faith.” “One of my episcopal priorities as Bishop of Woolwich is to celebrate our racial diversity as a gift of God, because God created us all in His image according to the creation narratives in the book of Genesis. And Jesus Christ died for the entire human race, and told His disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. So the need for the Church to reflect the diversity of God’s family

Lotwina Farodoye


Ian Luke-Macauley

Capt Nicholas Lebey

is both a creation and gospel imperative for us. That’s why the Southwark Diocese, in its Anti-Racism Charter, spells out the way forward and it is evidenced today in increased UKME vocations,” said the Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Rev Dr Karowei Dorgu.

our team of Vocations Advisers, Directors of Ordinands, and Examining Chaplains. There is still much work to be done, and we look forward to creating new initiatives which best serve parishes and chaplaincies in the Diocese of Southwark.” The Diocese serves 2.8 million people in the 16 local authorities of South London and East Surrey, through 356 places of worship – a Church of England presence in every community – and 106 church schools educating 37,000 young people. It embraces many diverse communities and a large number of major institutions, many with global significance. Ordinations in the Anglican Church take place at Petertide, the nearest Sunday to St Peter’s Day on 29 June, and on Michaelmas, around 29 September. In June, nine UKME Deacons and Priests from all walks of life were ordained in the Diocese.

‘...it is good news to learn that 30% of all the candidates, who have been recommended for ordination training beginning in autumn 2021, come from a UKME background.’ In March, the Diocese’s Synod unanimously approved the Diocese’s Anti-Racism Charter. Archdeacon of Croydon, the Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Diocesan Lead on Racial Justice, said: “The Diocese of Southwark has committed itself to an anti-racism strategy across all aspects of our diocesan life together. A key part of the Southwark vision is the identifying and training of future church leaders - lay and ordained - so the leadership better reflects the people and parishes we serve. Therefore, it is good news to learn that 30% of all the candidates, who have been recommended for ordination training beginning in autumn 2021, come from a UKME background.” Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Rev Canon Leanne Roberts, said: “We are delighted that our dedicated, intentional work over the past nine years or so has visibly borne fruit, and our current numbers show the Diocese’s commitment to ensuring that those who go forward for ordained ministry are truly representative of the people we serve here in South London and East Surrey. Under Bishop Christopher’s leadership, many people have given much energy and time to encourage vocations from the UKME community, not least the Rev Canon Roxanne Eversley in being our UKME Vocations Champion, and

Who are they?

DEACONS People are ordained first as deacons and a year later as priests. Henry Akingbemisilu, Thamesmead Team Ministry, is from Nigeria and studied in the UK. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, with a major in Statistics, and a Master’s degree in Telecommunications & Computer Network Engineering. Henry has worked in software developments, data engineering, data science and analytics, data centre migrations, infrastructure programmes, hardware and network implementations and desktop upgrades. He has three children. He enjoys travelling, playing the tenor saxophone and reading the latest in artificial intelligence. “My long-term goal is to be a part of the people God will use to transform unjust structures of our society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.”

Shavaun Shodeinde

Henry Akingbemisilu

Gemma Birt, St John the Evangelist, East Dulwich, was born in London and grew up in Singapore. She is half-German and half-Singaporean and bilingual in German and English. Gemma studied law at university and worked as a solicitor. More recently she was an Assistant School Chaplain. She is married with four children and a dog. In her free time Gemma enjoys travelling, running (slowly!), cooking (by instinct and not by recipe), and drinking lots of tea. Capt Nicholas Lebey, Hook and Surbiton Team Ministry, Tolworth, is from Ghana, and moved to the UK 14 years ago as a missionary, serving in Northern Ireland. He trained with the Church Army in Sheffield, and was commissioned as a Pioneer Evangelist, working with young people in Bradford and South East London. Nicholas is married and has three children. A Chelsea FC fan, he enjoys playing and watching football. “I am passionate about mission and evangelism. I have always said to God: “If You are going to send me to a parish, send me to a place that is outward-looking in mission and enriching people in the community.” www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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two Race for Life events for Cancer Research. In church, she has been a youth leader, safeguarding officer and churchwarden. Ian Luke-Macauley, St Barnabas, Clapham Common, has BA and MA degrees. As a social worker, he held senior management positions, working with children and families in the statutory sector for over 25 years. Ian has been a lay reader for the same duration. He tries to stay active, having completed two London marathons. His favourite sport is cricket, and he plays as often as time permits. Ian also loves photography. Delorine Green and Congregation (Picture credit: Eve Milner)

PRIESTS Esther-Jael Olabisi (Bisi) AkanoAdesoye, Thamesmead Team Ministry, was born and brought up in Nigeria. She came to the UK to study, and gained a degree in Business and Finance and a Postgraduate degree in Education. She has worked within the Benefit Overpayment sections of two local authorities. She enjoys walking, travelling, cooking and entertaining friends. Adelaide Davies, United Benefice of Charlton, is from Ghana. She came to England in her early thirties, gaining a BSc in Health and Social Care. Her career is specialised in dementia and end-of-life care. Adelaide enjoys singing, cooking, photography, birdwatching and travelling. She set up a community interest project supporting young people and young single mothers to help bring about change for this marginalised segment of society. Lotwina Farodoye (Oxted Team Ministry) graduated from Cranfield University. For 25

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years she has worked in food marketing, business management consultancy and people development. Lotwina has contributed to Diocesan strategy as a member of Southwark’s Diocesan Council of Trustees, Diocesan Synod, and as Vice-chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance. She has a MA in Christian Leadership and is married with two teenage children. She enjoys travelling and all things ‘foodie’. “Being ordained is very special, and I am so humbled that God has called me to this vocation. My hopes for the future are that enabled by the Holy Spirit, I am able to serve God well, and to pursue all that He has called me to in a way that blesses people and gives Him the glory.” Delorine Green, St Peter, Walworth, is from South East London. She trained and worked as a nursery nurse and became a lecturer in a South London further education college, specialising in post-compulsory education and training. Delorine spent 17 years working in this field, and became Head of Curriculum for Childcare and Health and Social Care. Delorine has taken part in

Shavaun Shodeinde, St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common was born in South London and has a degree in Sports Therapy. She has competed internationally in athletics. She loves to travel and to try food fusions. Shavaun enjoys baking, particularly cheesecakes, reading fiction, art, interior design, acoustic music, vintage clothing, and a good BBC drama. “God calls diverse people to lead, and in responding to the call, through much prayerful discernment, it feels right for my walk in life, to take steps to serve in the name of Christ. I’ve had massive challenges, I’ve had to fight all the way on this journey, so getting to the day was a true symbol for the vocation that God gave me. I had made it through the prayers and love of all those that support this mission of God,” she said. Her hopes for the future are “for others that come behind me, that their calling is valued, as much as others who look different from me. The value of that calling is to bring people to acknowledge the fullness of who God is calling them to be.” If you would like to explore your vocation into the priesthood or lay ministry, find out more here https://southwark.anglican.org/ exploring-your-call/what-is-my-vocation/


Seeking the Peace and Prosperity of the City and its People DIONNE GRAVESANDE

Global Ecumenical Relations at Christian Aid

Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned Everywhere is war Me say war That until there is no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes Me say war

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oday, as I listen to the headline news scrolling through all my media channels, I am struck by these words of Bob Marley’s song, War. Some days I feel we are at war - whether due to ethnic and racial tensions, culture and fundamental beliefs, environmental catastrophes or protecting women and children (and all too often it’s a blend of these). The result is thousands are migrating and fleeing to find safe refuge in different cities and nations. You may have seen the slogan ‘Refugees Welcome’ across your newsfeed, and from the stories being told across television and radio, I am learning that, across the UK, people are opening their hearts and lives to refugees and saying ‘Welcome’ in a range of innovative ways. Some are supporting refugees to access education and housing, or to restart their careers. Others are helping them overcome trauma or have their voices heard. Local churches are also playing their part by becoming part of the Welcome Church network, by helping those who have lost homes and family and are recovering from trauma (www. welcomechurches.org). Seeking the welfare of the city where people have arrived, leaving a former life behind, is something the prophet Jeremiah spoke of. He was one of the feistiest, most outspoken

prophets of the Old Testament, mostly urging the people to stay true to their faith and to look after each other if they wanted to survive. But all his warnings were in vain, since the people had been forced into exile, they were a long way from home, and had to live in a different regime and culture. The people were cut off from their temple, from the Promised Land, from all that had held them together as a people. Their very identity as the people of God seemed to be in crisis., On reflection, however, those now living in the new reality realised Jeremiah’s words were words of comfort and hope. He does not tell them to cut themselves off from their new city or to denounce it for its failings; he calls upon the people to settle, and to pray for their new city, to work for its peace and prosperity. The land may be strange and some parts unwelcoming, but they are not cut off from their God. And neither is Babylon, but Jeremiah insists the people must still pray for it. They must put aside their hatred and despair, and see others as fellow citizens and children of God, caught up together in the drama of life. Similarly, we also see something of what that new covenant means in the gospel story, when Jesus heals Jewish and Samaritan lepers together. These people were outsiders, excluded from all society by the highly contagious disease that took their health and their freedom. The Samaritan was doubly excluded by the ancient law that set his people apart from the Jews. As we learn, they are both healed by Jesus and then reconciled, and Jesus extends His power and mercy towards them, without questioning their identity or their background. Today’s world can feel just as fractured and divided as those ancient empires. We’re all too well aware of how anxiously we cling to what we want and to what we feel makes us special, sets us apart, and gives us an illusion of power and control. A language of conflict and competition can easily arise, as groups strive

for domination and victory at each other’s expense, seeing themselves as locked in battles to defend themselves and their identities. We all know how dangerous this can be, as relationships break down and human beings slide into discord and violence, unable even to see each other as fellow human beings. But we need not despair or lose hope. God is present in the disturbing and unsettling questions raised by experiences at the margins, and offers to us a new covenant. It is a covenant that embraces all peoples and all places, to which all are invited equally, and in which all human diversity can be drawn into a harmonious unity. Our theology needs therefore to be transformed into a public theology if it seeks legitimation from and by the wider society.

Seeking well-being for our cities and our neighbourhoods is what is being defined by some as “progressive localism”, an approach that is outward and expansive. Working together and praying to God for the well-being of our cities and countries is imperative. Our well-being and the well-being of our churches are bound up with that of our cities and our immediate locations. As people of faith, we are called to close the gap between the brokenness of what is and what ought to be. We are called to a standard of truth-telling, even if that truth is uncomfortable, inconvenient and costly. www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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AT ESSEX POLICE WE

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olice

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VALUE DIFFERENCE

here’s strength in different ways of thinking, different backgrounds and different faiths, and if you’re looking for a new challenge, Essex Police could be the place for you. We have everything here – from beautiful fitthebill countryside villages to the buzz of our urban towns and cities, enviable coastline, and the pull of the borders of London. There’s no telling what any day will bring in the life of an Essex Police officer or detective. The police aren’t just in your county; they’re the heart of local communities, too. PC Rob Hance, one of the leads of the Christian Police Association, often supports members of the Association with any issues they may be facing, and says it has been a privilege within his career.

We want our officers, staff and volunteers to be as diverse as Essex itself, and to represent the best of us all. With the right values, and whatever differences you may think you have, Essex Police could be the place for you to change lives. Inspector Lucy Bearman, a mum of two who has been an officer since 2006, said: “I became a police officer 14 years ago after working with the police as a civilian member of staff for four years. “I saw first-hand what amazing work the police officers were doing, and how Essex Police were like an extended family to all its staff and officers.

“I could see how much the officers loved their jobs, and how helping others made such a difference to society and the community we live in, and I wanted to be able to play a part in that picture. “The thing I love most about my job is the opportunities it brings: the opportunity to try and improve the community I work and live in; to be a good role model; to gain knowledge through training and support given by the organisation; to progress into other areas or for promotion, and the opportunity to try amazing things you would never be able to try anywhere else! “I’m really excited to be able to share my experiences and give an insight into what it’s like to work in the police. “It’s a job I love, and I’d be delighted if my story can inspire others to sign up!” Whether you’re interested in our different specialisms – from detectives, to firearms, or our Marine Unit – or your passion is responding to real-time crime, or making connections with local community groups, there’s something for everyone at Essex Police. If you want to deliver justice to victims of crime, save lives, and be visible and accessible to the communities we serve, then we want you on our team. Don’t wait for this opportunity to pass you by – if you ‘Fit the Bill’, submit your application today.

To find out more, visit: www.essex.police.uk/fitthebill

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“I SAW FIRST-HAND WHAT AMAZING WORK THE POLICE OFFICERS WERE DOING AND HOW ESSEX POLICE WERE LIKE AN EXTENDED FAMILY TO ALL ITS STAFF AND OFFICERS.”


Apply Now

A CAREER THAT

values difference Join Essex Police

www.essex.police.uk/fitthebill


Charity song set to raise funds and awareness of loss An award-winning singer songwriter from Coventry has released a new single to raise funds and awareness for three local charities close to her heart. My Darling is the exclusive new track, written and recorded by MOBO-nominated musician Sandra Godley, in aid of Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly’s Wishes and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind. In collaboration with Surviving Bereavement founder, Tracey McAtamney, the project draws much-needed focus on the increasing mental health problems posed by COVID-19 in the wake of the pandemic. It is a particularly poignant piece of work for Bristol-born musician and BBC CWR host, Sandra, who is still grieving the loss of her own aunt to the virus in April last year. She said: “This track is based on conversations that I’d had with people like Tracey and others, who survived having lost people and having had a year out to think about that.

18 us on and Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag Find usFind on Twitter Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

Sandra Godley

“Because I work in broadcasting, people are telling me their stories of loss, grief and anguish all the time. I got to the point where I thought, ‘What do I do with all this?’ This is a real situation, and I need to help as many people as I can. “I wrote the lyrics for this, hoping it would offer some kind of comfort and a way of journeying these next few months and years. What I’ve found is that a lot of people haven’t been able to talk about it, because they haven’t been able to physically go and see someone in the family during the grieving process.” With four successful albums and a clutch of awards to her name, Sandra’s proudest musical career highlights include singing in the House of Commons, as well as creating and performing The Big Love

Song as a wedding gift for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, joined by a choir of mental health ambassadors on BBC’s The One Show, in 2018. My Darling marks a departure from Sandra’s usual soul and gospel style, instead following more contemporary musical influences to appeal to a wider audience impacted by COVID or other related losses. “I wanted this to be more modern in terms of the Billie Eilish, James Arthur and George Ezra-type sound. I was actually influenced by a lot younger artists for this song, when I usually tend to look backwards in time for a lot of my music. Most young people won’t have previously experienced the kind of trauma of the last 18 months, and I thought these artists were writing some really inspirational stuff for this ‘now’ moment,” she said. Through the work of the Surviving Bereavement Foundation, Tracey McAtamney has helped many others through their journey with grief by offering legal and financial advice, as well as practical and emotional support. Tracey, from Balsall Common, established the Foundation 16 years after being widowed with two sons at the age of just 38. Her husband Tony had died suddenly in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday in Spain. As part of the Foundation’s growth, she also recently qualified as a Grief Recovery Specialist, using an actioned, evidencedbased programme for moving beyond death, divorce and other losses, including health and career.


Sandra and Producer Matt Cossey

The past year has also seen a huge rise in demand for her personalised Memory Boxes, which contain specially chosen items that celebrate the life of a lost loved one. She said: “During lockdown, I delivered or posted 136 free Memory Boxes or Bags to children and young adults. I realised with us coming out of the pandemic we needed a way to reach more people. Music is that way. Sandra’s song is one of hope for all those people grieving due to the loss of loved ones, many of whom were unable to say Goodbye. “I am so grateful to Sandra for putting the words on paper, and then adding her voice – it is beautiful. The track could have been written for me when my husband died, when I was unable to say Goodbye 16 years ago!” “I am hoping that the song will provide hope for many, and that downloading it will ensure more children and young adults will continue to receive free Memory Boxes.” The single, which has been produced by Matt Cossey of Nexus ICA (Institute of Creative Arts) in Coventry, is being funded by an anonymous sponsor, and supported by Alsters Kelley Solicitors and Coventry’s The Telegraph Hotel, who hosted the official launch event on National Grief Awareness Day, on August 30th. Molly

Some of the proceeds will also benefit Warwick-based charity, Molly Olly’s Wishes, and local mental health charity, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind. Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011, following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter, Molly, from a rare kidney cancer. It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families, and help with their emotional well-being, as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books - both to directly children and also to hospitals throughout the UK. Rachel and Olly The Brave

The charity’s mascot is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave, who has his own Hickman line* and a detachable mane, which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series. Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “The death of someone close to us is hard at any time, but the restrictions and effects of the pandemic have made the grieving process all the more difficult. “Raising awareness of the struggle and the enormity of loss, and how it affects us all differently, and providing support through these challenging times is so important. “Molly Olly’s Wishes works with families

who sadly have a child at end of life; helps them to create memories, and supports their emotional well-being. We are extremely grateful to Sandra. It is a beautiful song, and we hope it helps highlight the awareness of loss and the work of charities.” Local mental health charity, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, is part of the national Mind organisation – delivering services and support for people with mental health problems for over 50 years. Recognising the importance of listening to, and working with, people who have experienced mental health issues, the charity aims to provide support for those who live with and are recovering from a mental health problem. This can mean providing access to information, a listening ear or providing more specialist support and services. Steven Hill, CEO of Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, said: “During the lockdown we were all forced into periods of extended isolation. This was difficult enough for those of us with close family networks, but for those of us living alone, this increased the sense of anxiety, of isolation, and of hopelessness. “The impact of this isolation, added to the trauma of loss and bereavement experienced across Coventry and Warwickshire, has exaggerated mental health issues for many, leaving them desperate for support at a time of mental health crisis.” My Darling is available now to download for 79p from any of the following outlets (accessed on this link): https://ditto.fm/my-darlingsandra-godley-featuring-matt-cossey Further information about Surviving Bereavement, or how to donate, can be found at: https://survivingbereavement.com

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes, or how to donate, can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk

Further information about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, or how to donate, can be found at: www.cwmind.org.uk

Amanda Chalmers

(* a narrow tube inserted into a vein in the chest and used to administer antibiotics directly into the bloodstream) www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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WHEN GOD LOOKS AT ME, WHAT DOES HE EXPECT TO SEE? BY M. JASMYN ALLEN

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s we emerge from a year of navigating a season of significant change, this is a perfect opportunity to take stock of where you are today and where you need to be in the future. Unlike most other life activities, such as the transition through a school curriculum, the expectation of advancing productivity levels at work and an increase in life responsibilities, our Christian walk has a fluid development approach that allows us to grow at will. Throughout Scripture, we learn there is an expectation of growth – God wants to see His children bear good fruit. Take a moment to reflect on these questions: • When God looks at me, what does He expect to see? • Have I made good use of the gifts, opportunities and time that I have been given? • How have I grown over the past 5 or 10 years? • What steps do I need to take to advance to the next season of my life? Growth can take shape in three forms: Depth, Breadth and Height. Let’s explore each of these below. GROWTH TYPE #1: DEPTH ‘Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him…’ Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Your depth phase is where you establish your roots by growing in knowledge. This type of growth often takes place entirely out of the limelight, requires a lot of discipline, and is the foundation of any growth plan. When the seed is placed into the soil, it first grows downwards to ensure there is enough room to develop healthy roots. The level of depth required will vary according to the seed or the plant, but with each stage of maturity, there is a new depth to be attained. GROWTH TYPE #2: BREADTH ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes…’ Isaiah 54:2 (NIV) Growth in God is generational; it expands beyond just you. That’s why the tree does not bear one fruit and then die. It produces to reproduce. This is your infrastructure for growth. Do you have the systems, processes, people,

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etc. in place? At this stage, you should expand your network and surround yourself with the right people who will help you grow. In order to expand your breadth, you will need to have a catalyst, cultivator and collaborator in your network. • Your catalyst will unlock what is on the inside of you. • Your cultivator is there to help you strategise. He or she is an honest sounding board, who is there to help you maximise on your strengths and develop your weaknesses. • Your collaborator is there to help you make the best use of your time, resources and talent. He or she will provide the structure and direction to stay focused and on course. GROWTH TYPE #3: HEIGHT ‘From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.’ Luke 12:48 (NIV) This is the growth that normally everyone sees, and is the fruit of your ability to perform at the level and progress required to take on more responsibility. We know the popular passage in Luke 12 that states ‘to whom much is given, much will be required’. This Scripture speaks of the person who knew and failed to act or who acted incorrectly.

There are four categories of competence: 1. You don’t know what you don’t know 2. You know that you don’t know, and often times do nothing to correct this 3. You do what you know, but require some guidance or effort 4. You do what you know with mastery When a student comes to the end of the university term, there is an expectation that they should have acquired some form of knowledge and understanding of the elements outlined on the course syllabus. If they followed the programme, attended the classes, and put in the extra reading time, there should be evidence of growth. Based on this evidence, they can expect to graduate to a higher level where they can be entrusted with more responsibility. When Jesus stood before the fig tree in Mark 11, when fruit is in season but He found there was no fruit, He was disappointed. When God looks at you, and considers where you have been planted and the resources at your disposal, will He see the right level of growth? Will there be any fruit in season? If you’re uncertain, I encourage you to not waste this moment. Take intentional steps to grow your knowledge and network, so you can be elevated to a higher level of responsibility.


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t the beginning of lockdown, when travel was restricted and restaurants, shops and cinemas were closed, I couldn’t help thinking about a line from the musical, Kiss Me Kate, based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew: ‘Where is the life that late I led? Where is it now? Totally dead! Where is the fun I used to find? Where has it gone? Gone with the wine.’ It also reminded me of a humorous reference in The Spectator, which described Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s top scientific adviser, and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty as ‘the two gentlemen of Corona’ – referring to the Shakespeare comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

But when the Prime Minister, Health Secretary and Professor Whitty all got COVID-19, it didn’t take long to realise that those in power are as vulnerable as the rest of us and that, try as we might, none of us is truly in control. Only God is! But where is God in all this? And what does the Bible have to say to us during this devastating period? Did God send the coronavirus, or allow it? When the Tower of Siloam collapsed, Jesus said: “Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In other words, bad stuff happens, and no one is exempt. It’s our relationship with God that’s important – now and eternally – hence Jesus’ call to repentance. Tragedies such as Siloam are common to all. We are, as Romans 8:20-22 indicates, the inevitable casualties of a world that’s subject to bondage and decay – doomed to frustration because of the Fall. On the other side of the coin, Matthew 5:45 reminds us: “Your Father in heaven… causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” In other words, we are also the recipients of God’s ‘common grace’ – whatever our relationship with Him. As Psalm 145:15-16 reminds us: ‘The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time’ – regardless of whether we belong to God or not. Passages in Job 1-2, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 13:16 and Luke 22:3-31 also remind us that there’s an enemy – the devil.

GARY CLAYTON is a

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

A plague on both your houses Satan, Scripture tells us, hates mankind, and is responsible for the sad, bad and wicked things that happen in the world, despite the constraints imposed on him by God. But the Bible also shows that – whether we like it or not – God really does punish people for their rebellion and sin. There’s the account of those who perished in the flood (Genesis 6-7); the condemnation passed on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19), and the plagues sent to afflict Pharaoh and his people (Exodus 7-11). Because of their disobedience, 14,700 Israelites died of plague in the desert (Numbers 16:49); Ananias and Sapphira perished because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11), and Uzzah, who was told not to touch the ark of God but nevertheless did so, was struck down as a result (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

for which we can nevertheless give thanks? What about the things we were able to do before lockdown? The church services we were able to attend, because we live in a country where there is freedom to worship. The family and friends our reliable roads, cars and public transport system enabled us to visit. The technology that now allows people to work from home, see family and friends, attend church services and take part in Bible studies and house groups… Are we sometimes guilty of taking the many good things God gives us for granted? And what about the fact that the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in many people watching church services online, who would never have entered a church building? As Psalm 107 reminds us, in times of trouble and adversity, people often turn to God.

‘HE WILL BRING GOOD OUT OF EVEN THE HARDEST SITUATION’ (Romans 8:28) If God is all-powerful, which He is, then He must surely have allowed the pandemic to occur, though it is the devil who delights in death and seeks only to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10). Ultimately, however, because God is love (1 John 4:7-9), and His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). He will bring good out of even the hardest situation (Romans 8:28). For many, this is a time of terrific stress and strain, bereavement, job loss and financial difficulty. But if we are called to ‘rejoice always’ and ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), are there things

With souls being saved because of lockdown and uncertainty, that is surely something for which we can praise Him, even if the life we used to lead now looks decidedly different. Gary Clayton is married to Julie, the father of Christopher (17) and Emma (14) and works for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). To learn how MAF pilots enable the Gospel to reach people in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, visit www.maf-uk.org www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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The Impact of COVID on Personal Finance and some Practical Advice on Good Stewardship LAIDE OLUNLOYO

FCCA MSc DChA is Head of Finance at Jesus House, London

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used to enjoy walking down my local high street, but lately the empty shopfronts have become slightly depressing. Businesses that survived the first - and even the second lockdown have been unable to bounce back in the third. The unemployment rate in the UK has soared, and financial vulnerability has never been more at the forefront of our minds. Merriam Webster defines vulnerability as ‘capable of being physically or emotionally wounded’, so it is little wonder financial vulnerability often impacts people deeply.

Although I have worked as an accountant for many years, there was a time in my life when I fell into debt myself. As I helped others plan their finances, my own spiralled out of control. The impact was massive - not on just my mental health but also my physical and spiritual health: I lacked sleep and suffered hair loss. When you are in debt, anxiety and frustration begin to build, and everything feels out of control. Prayer feels ineffective and pointless, and the hope that Scripture has to offer seems empty and meaningless. Having a strategy and being in control of your finances enables you to make better decisions. President Biden famously said: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” As Christians, faith is the bedrock of who we are and what we do - and that includes managing our finances faithfully. The world of money often feels complex and tricky to navigate, so I’d like to suggest five biblical principles to help manage your finances, as we move into this post-COVID season.

Christ Jesus.’ Remembering that God is the generous giver of all we have, keeps us humble and protects us from worshipping money. We do not have the title deed for our possessions, and will have to give an account to God on whether we have used His gifts responsibly. 2. Be generous Luke 6:38 says: ‘Give, and it will be given to you.’ You may feel like you do not have enough to give, but there is always something in our hand to give. In Genesis 26, Isaac sowed in faith during the famine, and received a 100-fold harvest. There is blessing in giving, and treasure in heaven. 3. Budget carefully In Luke 14:28, Jesus says: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Budget and plan your finances to ensure you have enough not just to start a project but also to finish it. Think about your values and what is important to you, and reflect that in your budget. 4. Avoid the debt trap Proverbs 22:7 says: ‘…the borrower is slave to the lender.’ Buying on credit, without the means to repay, can become incredibly dangerous.

‘As we empower one another with practical steps to manage our finances, we can find freedom from financial vulnerability.’ powerfully about financial vulnerability. When I got into debt, I had no older women in my life keeping me on the right path or teaching me from their mistakes. As we empower one another with practical steps to manage our finances, we can find freedom from financial vulnerability. This post-lockdown season is an amazing opportunity to teach these principles to the younger generation - and to be reminded of them ourselves! The onus is now on us to ensure we reflect our faith in our finances. Laide holds a First-Class degree in Accounting with Taxation (London Guildhall University); Fellowship with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); Masters degree in Charity Accounting with Cass Business School; a Diploma in Charity Accounting with the (ICAEW), and Diploma in Charity Management (ICSA). (This article previously appeared on premierchristianity.com, April 2021.)

5. Save wisely Proverbs 21:20 says: ‘The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but the fools gulp theirs down.’ It is wise to set money aside and not rush to spend everything we have. These five principles will equip you to make wise, biblical decisions regarding your finances. In the easier, pre-COVID days, many of us lost sight of these principles. Often all we need is a plan, the belief that change is possible, and the courage to start. ‘Living Fearlessly’ the theme of this year’s Uncommon Women Conference - speaks

1. Remember God is our source Philippians 4:19 says: ‘God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in

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www.keepthefaith.co.uk



Emotional return for organisers of Christian exhibition

The UK’s leading annual exhibition of Christian resources returns to Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey (Oct 12-14) – and readers of Keep The Faith can claim a free ticket worth £8

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lmost 18 months after doors closed on their last exhibition, organisers of the Christian Resources Exhibition, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, are gearing up for an emotional return to Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey (Oct 12-14 2021). A comprehensive, three-day programme of seminars and workshops will help churches, old and new, respond to the many changes and opportunities brought about by the pandemic. Fresh resources will be available in areas like new technology, social media, streaming, creative arts, home groups, mission, youth and children’s work. Expert advice will be on hand from more than 150 exhibitors, covering everything from church seating to heating, computers to communion wine. More than 4000 visitors are expected over the event’s three days. With significant online congregations now plugging into traditional church services, Mission Worship Wednesday (13 Oct), featuring musicians like Graham Kendrick and Noel Robinson, will consider how we bring together physical and digital. “We will equip visitors with fresh ideas and strategies to go again in a new season for church and community,” said Mission Worship’s Mat Owen. “Come and worship – and be inspired by what God has for us all as we reach out to a shaken world.” “Hundreds of churches have harnessed new technology during the pandemic, reaching countless thousands who would never darken their doors on a Sunday,” said CRE owner,

Steve Goddard. “A number of our specialist exhibitors, guiding churches with live streaming on a weekly basis, will help others take the next steps. While ‘old normal’ might feel comfortable, ‘new different’ is the future.” Derek Clare, who formed New Day Audio Visual Specialists more than 20 years ago, thinks many churches are now reaching three distinct groups. “Firstly, there are those in the church building,” he suggests. “Another group feel unable to return, but may well do so in the future. The final ‘congregation’ are people not previously reached, but who tune into services online. COVID-19 has been a disaster for the world, but created the biggest opportunity ever for mission.”

With finance a major concern during the pandemic, John Keskeys of Stewardship, will use a biblical framework to consider some healthy and unhealthy financial indicators in churches, with a view to helping them become more financially resilient in the aftermath of COVID-19. Alice O’Brien, from Dutch company GIVT, will speak on Digital Giving and the Hybrid Church (12pm, Wed 13 Oct). “With churches now existing physically and online,” said Alice, “we will explain how a unique digital giving solution is already being used by hundreds of UK churches.” Aware that many potential visitors are keen to come to CRE but are COVID-cautious, the organisers have moved part of the exhibition from the main Surrey Hall to the Esher Hall below – allowing the creation of wider aisles. Other possible safety measures will depend on government stipulations at the time. “Discovering resources online has been especially important during the pandemic,” said Steve Goddard, “but nothing is better than meeting the person behind the product. Face to face beats mouse to mouse, every time.” • CRE National 2021 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey • Opening hours: Tue 12 and Wed 13 Oct, 10am-5pm; Thu 14 Oct, 10am-4.30pm. • Visit www.creonline.co.uk for more information and to book tickets. Tickets cost £8 on the door, but are free for readers of Keep The Faith who register in advance


Windrush: Looking back, looking forward at CRE National

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ith Black Lives Matter in the headlines, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for diversity in church and society, CRE National 2021 (Oct 12-14, Sandown Park, Surrey) will run a unique, three-part series on the Windrush Legacy. The initiative will be presented by Roy Francis, a former BBC TV Songs of Praise producer, music consultant, agent and author of Windrush and the Black Pentecostal Church in Britain (Filament Publishing). “There are a lot of misunderstandings about Windrush,” said Roy. “CRE National is the ideal place to celebrate what Windrush Roy Francis

Christians brought to Britain, and the impact their inheritors – African Christians – are now having on the country.” Part 1 – Windrush: Words and Song (11.30am, Tue 12 Oct) The first presentation will look back at the music Caribbean Christians brought to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Produced by Roy Francis and featuring the Ken Burton Singers, the presentation will show how choruses and songs made popular by the Billy Graham Crusades, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Reeves, American spirituals and Edwin Hawkins (in particular ‘Oh Happy Day’) influenced Caribbean worship, and remain a fitting legacy of Black Pentecostal faith today. Part 2 – From West Indian to Caribbean Christianity (12pm, Wed 13 Oct) A mixed bunch arrived in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s – ordinary workers, pastors, nurses, teachers, students and members of churches. They came to help rebuild Britain and brought their liturgy, music and songs. Les Isaac of the Ascension Trust and co-founder of Street Pastors will show how West Indians established their churches in Britain – and will assess their legacy.

FREE CRE TICKET

FOR READERS OF KEEP THE FAITH Entry to CRE National 2021 (Oct 12-14) costs £8 on the door but, as a reader of Keep The Faith, you will receive a FREE ticket if you register in advance. All you have to do is: • Go to www.creonline.co.uk/tickets • Complete registration, entering the discount code KTF • Print out the ticket sent to you by email And be sure to visit Keep The Faith at stand U13. See you there!

Ken Burton

Part 3 – African Churches and their Worship (2pm, Thu 14 Oct) Why are there are so many African-led churches in Britain today? What do they believe, what is their purpose, and why are they growing so fast? What is ‘Reverse Mission’, and why is it central to their theology? David Shosanya, former Regional Director of The London Baptist Association and a speaker, theologian and African minister, knows this church community intimately, and will offer many of the answers.

Bagging a better future for Indian ‘Untouchables’ Promise Bags is an Indian business giving holistic freedom to women trapped in caste-based discrimination, poverty and hopelessness. “Our mission is to offer freedom to Dalit (or Untouchable) women, trapped in 3000 years of a caste system in which they have been treated with less dignity than an animal,” said founder and CEO, Elisha Chowtapalli. The company currently provides employment for 12 women in a safe, loving and caring environment. The women create beautiful and high-quality leather and jute bags, handcrafted with heart and passion, samples of which will be on sale at CRE National 2021. “We produce 100 per cent genuine leather bags,” said Elisha. “Each and every small detail is taken care of. Our dream is to employ 100 women by 2025.” She brought a selection of

Promise Bags to CRE National 2017 – and

sold out! This year she will show visitors a variety of products suitable for individual, family, church or business needs. Forty per cent of profits from sales go towards a not-for-profit education project with Dalit children, started 13 years ago. • Promise Bags are on stand A54 at CRE National 2021 www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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FROM EXCLUSION TO INSPIRATION:

THE PCU STORY

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Elaine Bowes

The perfect opportunity to raise awareness of their business and financial services for the Pentecostal faith community. That’s how Elaine Bowes of the Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU) sees the opportunity to exhibit at CRE National at Sandown Park (12-14 Oct). “We are especially excited to be sponsoring – jointly with our partners Good to Give – Windrush: Exploring the Legacy,” said Elaine. “The theme is particularly important to us, as our establishment came about as a direct result of the financial and faith-based exclusion that Windrush migrants faced when they arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971.”

26 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

PCU’s founder, Rev Carmel Jones MBE, addressed the discrimination faced by Black communities - and Pentecostal ministries in particular - after experiencing an episode of race-based exclusion in an Anglican church in 1955. “When you come to our stand, you will learn more about his experience and how he was inspired, 25 years later, to set up The Pentecostal Credit Union,” said Elaine. In addition to the Windrush legacy events, PCU will host a panel discussion at CRE (12pm, Thursday 14 October) under the title: ‘Exploring diversity and difference in the church’. With John 17:21 in mind, ‘That they all may be one…’, the panel will comprise of imminent and learned commentators and practitioners in the field of equality, diversity and inclusion in the church. “We will focus on current issues of racial

FREE CRE TICKET

FOR READERS OF KEEP THE FAITH

For details visit www.creonline.co.uk/tickets

Rev Carmel Jones MBE

diversity and include the 40-plus-year journey of The Pentecostal Credit Union in traversing this territory,” said Elaine. “We hope you will join us and our partners, Good to Give, and spend some time on our stand to see what we do.”

• PCU are on stand U7 at CRE National 2021 • Good to Give are on stand U6 at CRE National 2021 • Keep The Faith are on stand U13 at CRE National 2021


FOOD 4

THOUGHT marciadixonpr.co.uk

marciadixonpr

BY

MARCIA DIXON MBE A leading PR specialist and journalist

Marcia-Dixon-Public-Relations

SUNDAY SCHOOL IS AN IMPORTANT TRADITION TO CONTINUE

BE YE TRANSFORMED EVEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY Many Christians, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, will often read Romans 12:1-2 to remind themselves of how God wants them to live. In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote: ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will’ (Romans 12:1-2). This Scripture is applicable to all Christians - no matter their age, or the culture/society they live in. Christians are called to always be countercultural, but the age we currently live in offers unique challenges to our faith – many of them coming via the Media. The 20th century was the age of mass media. Technology enabled the quick dissemination of images and ideas - some of which are in total opposition to the Christian ethos and lifestyle - via cinema, radio, television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. The advent of social media this century has made it even worse.

With mass media, power was concentrated in the hands of gatekeepers; social media is available to all, and has made it possible for individuals - irrespective of their opinions and lifestyle - to share their voice to anyone who will listen, and potentially build a mass audience. Sometimes that audience includes believers. The Media is one of the most influential forces on this earth, and Christians are not immune to its influence, especially in these challenging times. Therefore, it’s crucial for Christians to always remember they serve the Lord God Almighty – and to constantly remind themselves they are called to influence the world, not the other way around. The Apostle Paul makes it clear we must be totally devoted to God, and we must allow the Holy Spirit to influence our thoughts and our hearts, so we can become more Christlike in our behaviour and thinking. Doing so will enable us to build the resistance needed to withstand worldly pressures and temptations that seek to draw us away from Christ. There is much in this world that seeks to distract us from pursuing God’s purposes, but if our constant prayer is for God to renew our minds, it’s a prayer He’ll always be sure to answer.

WALKING TO WELLNESS

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uring the lockdown I made sure that walked daily to maintain my sanity and my weight. Walking alone is good, but I have found that walking with others is much more fun - especially after joining We Walk Wednesdays. It’s an initiative started by comedian Angie Le Mar in May this year, to provide a place where people could gather outdoors to meet, enjoy laughter therapy, walk together and end with a Candy Dance (aka ‘Electric Slide’) to music. As a result of it being posted on social media, people have been inspired to set up their own walks, and it now takes place in four parks across London and also in Sheffield. The sense of shared camaraderie has been fun, and some celebrities who’ve joined the park walks include newsreader Charlene White, Diane Abbott MP and journalist Brenda Emmanus. I hope to continue the walks during the autumn season, as my focus is now on optimising my health and fitness, and what better way to do so than walking and talking with others?

I

t’s noticeable that as the descendants of the Windrush Generation have become more assimilated into British society, they are dropping some important cultural traditions. Sending their children to Sunday school is one of them. Whether they were Christian or not, the Windrush Generation sent their children to Sunday school. Most had attended Sunday school themselves in the Caribbean, and recognised the value of their children doing so, and in my view it’s a tradition that should continue. Through attending Sunday school, children learn about Bible stories; get taught the difference between right and wrong; make new friends, and get the opportunity to learn new skills, like speaking and performing in public. When I was a young child, I attended the Sunday school at the United Reformed Church down the road from my house. I used to love dressing up in my Sunday best clothing, and attending the lessons. I still remember my Sunday school teacher. She was an English lady called Mrs Phillips, who was a wheelchair user. Whatever disability she had did not stop her faith shining through, however, and it was obvious she loved teaching children about the Lord. I particularly loved the fact that every year we would receive prizes based on our Sunday school attendance – usually a faith-based book, which was almost always a good read. I believe parents do a disservice to their children by not sending them to Sunday school. Faith is taught, not caught - the same with having good positive values. Sunday school will help your child in both areas as well as continue an important cultural tradition. www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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The Global Impact of

‘ What’s New In Gospel Vol 1’ B Y B E N H A R R E L L W I T H M I LT O N B . A L L E N , GLOBAL MUSIC LINK EDITORIAL TEAM

‘What’s New in Gospel Vol 1’ is a dynamic collection of music that delivers the Word of God through melodic expressions of joy, faith, triumph and trust.

This gospel compilation, global in scope, features new music from awardwinning artists, as well as hidden gems from emerging talent that together form an exceptional and diverse collection of performances. ‘What’s New in Gospel Vol 1’ is here to deliver your favourite flavour of gospel and, perhaps, an undiscovered taste of something new. Red Revolution PTY LTD (South Africa) has distributed the compilation in association with Global Music Link, LLC (USA) and All Access Africa LTD (London). The partnership of these three entities serves as a reflection of the artists represented from across the globe. Global Marketing Support Services are supplied by Ndamix Music Group (USA). “Loving the ‘What’s New in Gospel Vol 1’, which has some of the best ‘angels’ sent to do an amazing duty. Listen out for some of the great female artists that we have featured on UGN Radio, including Sarah Téibo (UK), Tneek (UK), Deborah Denise (USA), Joy Fak (India) and the amazing Kim Pratt (USA), who is also a presenter on UGN. Don’t forget the males now! Disappointment does not exist on this project!” Dave P of The Dave P Morning Show on www.ugnjamz.com Keep The Faith highlights the amazing artists who make up this compilation from various regions.

28 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

Sarah Téibo

Tneek

UNITED KINGDOM: Sarah Téibo – is a UK Gospel chart-topping singer/songwriter and worship leader, who has continued to smash boundaries. With an extensive impact in Europe, Africa, Australia and the USA, Sarah aims to share her passion for God on a global scale. Tneek – an empowering rapper from London who, while commenting on our turbulent times, always manages to keep faith at the centre of her music ministry. Victoria Tunde – a passionate worship leader, who shares her love and devotion for God through her music.

AFRICA: Bongi & Collin – an award-winning South African music duo, who are accomplished and forward-thinking artists, authors, songwriters and composers. Jane Bossia – her ministry is dedicated to sharing God’s love and the life-changing message of the Bible through the songs and calling God has given to her. She is based in Cote D’Ivoire. Jesse Priestly – a Zimbabwean Christian music recording artist, who uses his music to inspire, by sharing his personal life experiences and testimonies of victory that the Lord has brought him through.

Jane Bossia

Joy Fak – gospel recording artist, who delivers a bold proclamation that “God will be praised!” through her music and life.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Deborah Denise – a music producer, singer, songwriter, keyboard wizard and vocal arranger. She is also a survivor, with a stated mission to spread the Word and give God all the honour, glory and praise possible. G.L.O God’s Love Only – an international rapper and singer/songwriter, who is a groundbreaking artist on permanent assignment from the Lord to minister wherever the people are. Her heart is filled with love, and she has made it her business to spread the Word. Deborah Denise


G.L.O God’s Love Only

Maurice Griffin

JJ Hairston – a Billboard Music awardwinning gospel artist, who makes music that will bring peace in the midst of your storms. Hairston delivers a bold declaration that God is mighty, and we all need to take note. Tasha Nicole

Kim Pratt

Martin Luther Wardlaw

Latice Crawford – a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter, who connects with listeners through her refreshing, unique approach to delivering the Word of God in song.

Todd Dulaney

Martin Luther Wardlaw – a songwriter, composer, producer, actor and engineer, who creates music for the world to enjoy. He has a full plate, but makes time to lift his voice to sing to the glory of God. Maurice Griffin – a musical artist, who has happily broken barriers with his pop-influenced, up-tempo hit song, ‘Love Peace Happiness’. Mr. C.H.U.R.C.H. – a multi-nominated Christian hip-hop artist, whose acronym stands for Change, Humility, Unity, Righteousness, Character, Hope. He is a man after God’s heart. In 2009, he became a widower and a single parent. Fighting through his loss, he never lost focus on God, family and ministry. He is the Pastor of Heart of God Prophetic Movement, where he preaches the Gospel from street corners.

Jabari Johnson – a contemporary gospel artist, who blends rock, RnB and worship. A gifted guitarist, Johnson brings the living Word to life through his music. Jonathan McReynolds – a Grammy award-winning artist, who paints relatable, realistic pictures of life and its challenges, while pointing listeners to God as the ultimate solution. His music urges us to not focus on our flaws, but to focus on the Father.

Renwick Duesbury – born in Guyana, raised in the UK, and residing in the USA, he has seen the world and wants to tell it about God. His reggae-infused delivery will have you moving your feet and your heart. Tasha Nicole – a gospel singer, who knows what it’s like to need someone to help you pick up the pieces. She is committed to using her gift to motivate and uplift, and no one does it better.

Todd Dulaney – a Grammy-nominated artist, who lifts his voice to show us the power of praise. He reminds us we don’t have time to dwell on tribulations, because we will be too busy giving glory to God – as it should be. ‘What’s New in Gospel Vol 1’ embodies a resilience that can only be found in the peace of God, and will shift the atmosphere as soon as you press play. This groundbreaking compilation will move you no matter where you call ‘home’. ‘What’s New in Gospel Vol 1’ is available now! Ben Harrell is the founder of Ambitions of a Writer, and the creator of Billboard and Bookings 101. Find out more at BenjHarrell.com.

Keyla Richardson – a praise & worship leader, who is a passionate, contemporary gospel performer ready to share her sound, her talent and her message with the world. Kim Pratt – a lyricist, who writes songs from a place of intimacy between herself and God. Her artistic transparency is one to take note of, as her thought-provoking delivery prompts you to reflect deeply on your own life.

JJ Hairston

Jonathan McReynolds

Mr. C.H.U.R.C.H. www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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LUKE WAREHAM RELEASES NEW WORSHIP SONG FEATURING LOU FELLINGHAM Luke Wareham, a worship leader and songwriter based in the south west of the UK, has released his new single, ‘Honour You, Lord’, featuring renowned songwriter and recording artist, Lou Fellingham, and produced by Manchester-based Dan Stirling. Luke wrote the song with his friend, Matt Caddick, whilst reflecting on Psalm 29. They feel Psalm 29 is a prophetic Bible reading for this season of living in and coming out of lockdown. It says: ‘Honour the Lord, you heavenly beings; honour the Lord for His glory and strength. Honour the Lord for the glory of His Name. Worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness.’ Their prayer is that the song would help people to focus on the holiness of God, whilst speaking into people’s everyday life situations. Luke says: “We pray this song will help the Church to sing out praise to God again, and focus on His holiness as we come out of lockdown. 2021 might not have delivered the fresh new start that many of us had hoped for, but we can walk through the rest of this year knowing that we have a God who loves us, is for us, and will never leave us. We need to be proclaiming this good news and telling others about the eternal hope and joy we have, even as we come out of a pandemic. Ultimately, we hope this song will draw people to Jesus.”

Honour You, Lord is available to stream and download on all music platforms, and the brand new lyric video is on YouTube. The chords to the song are available to download via SongSelect. Download here https://linktr.ee/warehamluke

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH LUKE HERE: Facebook @lukewarehamworshipmusic Instagram @wareham luke YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/ UCjyJUyJuJFE24JsIuv8OyLw Twitter @luke_wareham

30 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

LURINE CATO IS READY TO ‘DANCE’ Lurine Cato’s new EP release will keep your feet movin’, head boppin’, body swayin’ and hands praisin’ ‘Dance’ is the latest offering by multi award-winning artist, Lurine Cato MBE. This five-track EP - a melting pot of genres that energises and feeds the soul - will be released this October. Lurine teams up with smash-hit producer, Ian Copeland Green, on this EP that comprises the title track, ‘Dance’, which is an exhilarating, contemporary gospel track; ‘Lamb of God’ - a pop-afro dance track; ‘Love Like an Ocean’ - a pop-house anthem (plus a radio edit version), and ‘Power’ - a re-release of Lurine’s anthem classic. Helen Yousaf - worship leader, prophetic inspirational artist and friend of Lurine’s - painted the large piece of original art that appears on the cover of the EP, which she gifted to Lurine. Helen started painting when the EP was being developed. She was able to capture the movement of the dancers and completed the painting at the same time the EP was completed. Cato explains her inspiration for ‘Dance’ as this: “Why would we want to dance, when there’s so much going wrong in the world, such as famines, natural disasters, wars, heightened rules and regulations, racism escalating, extraordinary deaths, etc? Well, the Bible says in Isaiah 61:3, ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified’.” ‘Dance’ provides the ideal sounds for you to dance until you’re filled with joy, to dance in your bare feet until you just can’t stop, or to listen to while walking out and about or driving in the car. So get ready to dance - and enjoy the freedom - so that the Lord may be glorified! EP Track List • Dance • Lamb of God ft Tneek • Love Like an Ocean (radio edit) • Power • Love Like an Ocean (extended version) For more information, visit www.lurinecatomusic.com All Social Media @LurineCato


NOEL

ROBINSON returns with ‘You Are Unrivalled’

BY AKOSUA DWOMO-FOKUO

UK worship leader and artist, Noel Robinson, has a strong passion for global revival, and travels extensively, leading and teaching principles of worship in the 21st century Church. His new song, ‘You Are Unrivalled’, was written in response to the global shaking and uncertainty that became the narrative of the upheavals during the pandemic. Like many, the silent question in Noel’s heart these past 18 months has been: ‘Where is God in all of this?’ and God answered Noel’s question with the song, ‘You Are Unrivalled’ - an anthem that powerfully declares the sovereignty of Jesus. The theme of Jesus as being unrivalled brings alive the thought and truth that He is above all things, even in this season of uncertainty. Akosua DF (ADF): What are your aspirations for this new single? Noel Robinson (NR): My primary aspiration for the single is that it will challenge people to look up in this season. ‘Lift up your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help…’ The pandemic has impacted everyone in the world. It has impacted every area of our cultural context and it has shaken everything. The one thing that hasn’t been shaken is who He is.

He’s the supreme Being. God is Jehovah El Roi, the God who sees and knows it all. He’s Jehovah Elohim, He is almighty. I am trying to encourage the listener to look up, despite what’s happening around them. God is still on the throne. The second aspiration would be to challenge us to reflect on our lives. We’ve turned a lot of things into idols and technically put these things above the knowledge of God. In the bridge of the song, I’m challenging us to not let the things we possess become our idols. “Let nothing in our breath be compared to You. Let nothing we possess take the place of You, Jesus.” ADF: You’re a worship leader and an artist. Which of those two hats do you find easiest to wear, and why? NR: I kinda put the two words together and say I’m a worship artist. I don’t believe it’s two hats. I think the only two hats we wear are the one that represents one’s gifting and ability and the one that represents ministry. But both of them come together when you say ‘music ministry’. Because of my musicality, I am able to give people a musical experience and worship experience at my concerts. As a lead worshipper, I’m able to do both. I don’t see the separation. I’m a worshipper and

my role is to reveal Jesus, so I either do that through the word or through performance. I don’t separate the two, but if people do, then that’s their choice. ADF: If you could potentially tour with any artist or band, who would you choose? NR: I’d definitely love to tour with Muyiwa or Sinach. Hitting the road with Leeland or Matt Redman would be great, too. For more information about Noel, visit www.noelrobinson.com www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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FROM KNOCK-BACKS TO F Gospel artist Monique McKen shares her journey to becoming crowned the BBC Gospel Singer of the Year 2021 and the headline artist for the recent BLAC Awards.

M

onique began singing alongside her siblings at the age of three but, like many PKs (pastors’ kids), the pull and excitement of the world drew Monique away from church. At the age of 16, not only had she left church, but she had left home too. Monique went from singing gospel to singing secular music overnight. By the time she reached her early 20s, she was in demand as a session singer. “From my teenage years to my late 20s, I got to record and perform with great artists, such as Michael Bolton, UB40, Beverley Knight and Steel Pulse. I loved singing and being on the road. It was the most natural thing in the world to me, even though it was hard as a single parent.” Although Monique was no longer in church, her ‘seed of faith’ continued to grow. Even at her lowest moments, Monique felt that God was ever present. “I always knew my parents and grandparents were praying for me. If it weren’t for their prayers, I know I wouldn’t be here today.” Monique recalls the moment she planned to take her own life: “I had reached the deepest depths of depression, but God stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of what I had to live for.

“I had a deep desire to continue singing, and it didn’t matter what I sang as long as I was on stage singing.” When you reach that low, you forget there are people who love you. In fact, the enemy tricks you into thinking they would all be better off without you, but God revealed that lie - just in the nick of time.” That same night, she turned to God and asked Him for help. Monique continued to session-sing, whilst she attempted to rebuild her relationship with God. “I had a

32 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


FRONT STAGE

University Fair 2021 Sat, 30th October 12:00 - 17:00

Royal Lancaster London Hotel | W2 2TY

deep desire to continue singing, and it didn’t matter what I sang as long as I was on stage singing. I went as far as entering competitions, like X-Factor, The Voice, VH1’s Born to Diva and auditioning for roles in theatre - not because I wanted to be famous; I just wanted to sing.” Each rejection knocked Monique’s confidence and, in 2013, after her failed audition to be part of the cast for The Lion King, she vowed she would never enter another competition or audition for another show again. Monique began to focus her time on singing in church, and finally felt the fulfilment she’d been longing for. Then, in 2020, she received a message with a link to the trailer for the BBC Gospel Singer of The Year competition. Remembering her decision never to enter another competition, Monique dismissed the message but she couldn’t shake it from her mind. “I was in a different place spiritually, and although my desire and passion for singing were great, I had no intention of doing anything outside of God’s will for my life.” Not wanting to move without God’s endorsement, she put the decision in His hands through prayer. Two days before the closing date, she received a ‘Yes’ from God, and submitted her entry to the BBC. To Monique’s astonishment, at the age of 47, she was crowned the first ever BBC Gospel Singer of The Year 2021 against strong competition. Her heart-stopping rendition of Lionel Richie’s classic, ‘Jesus is Love’, received rave reviews from judges Alexandra Burke, David Grant and Heather Small, solidifying Monique’s status as a bonafide gospel artist. “After so many knock-backs it was hard to believe that I had actually won!”

Meet 50+ UK Universities

Register Now

ukunifair.co.uk For more information, visit www.moniquemcken.com By Glen McKen www.keepthefaith.co.uk

33


Vanessa Grossett

www.theauthorscare.co.uk

Changes in the publishing industry

I

recently read an article in the Guardian newspaper where they featured Yaa Gyasi, an American– Ghanaian author who wrote the book, Homegoing. She was expressing her experiences of being a Black author. She stated that Homegoing climbing back on the New York Times Best Seller list, after the murder of George Floyd and so many African-Americans, was bittersweet; she is making a living from the pain of the past. She felt the questions asked of Black authors when they are being interviewed, compared to their White counterparts, is totally different. The latter get asked about the ‘craft of their writing’, whereas Black authors feel their work is treated like some kind of medicine. She also stated: “We shouldn’t be back here again” and “When it seems like all is changing for some, it is not.” After all the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism protests, has the publishing industry taken heed and changed the way i t operates, to being a more welcoming platform for Black professionals?

The changes! Looking back on my own experiences, I am pleased to say there have been some positive changes. Publishers are more receptive about receiving manuscripts from Black authors, and are open to the main characters being Black, Brown or from another ethnic group. In the past, when I would submit manuscripts on behalf of my clients, editors would tell me they have no ‘commercial value’. The underlying tone was that books by Black authors don’t really sell, and people won’t

34 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

understand the characters or buy the books. We know this is a myth. Unless a Black author was a celebrity or an already established writer, new authors would not get a chance - even if they had a brilliant manuscript. This is why many authors took to self-publishing, because of the frustration they had with being overlooked, and some have been very successful at it. Now editors are a lot more accepting, willing to review material, provide contracts, are a lot less dismissive, and are pleasant to communicate with. Another major positive change is publishers have been advertising internships - particularly for those in underrepresented groups. Publishers are talking with groups, like the Black Writers Guild, to find out what they can do to improve going forward, to make the industry a better platform for Black professionals.

Improvements There definitely needs to be improvement i n terms of management and editors within publishing houses - especially the major ones - as there is not enough cultural diversity behind the scenes, especially now there is a call for writers from different ethnic groups. Also, the statistics for the amount of new Black authors being published is still low in the UK. Some publishers continue to see investing in Black authors or other ethnic groups as a risk, even though there clearly is a need for more books that represent different cultural backgrounds. Publishers need to stick to their commitment to ensure they publish a certain

amount of books from ethnic writers, and do more - not just front of stage, but also behind the scenes.

We still need to do our part Some writers are sceptical about the changes, because there has been a lack of trust and division between Black writers and publishers. Some believe this is just too good to be true, and can miss out on opportunities. Writers need to see this as a great opportunity to get their work out there. Though publishers are accepting more underrepresented authors, writers need to remember they are a business, and books still need to sell. Therefore, writing about oppression, slavery and racism - though they can be accepted - is not always of commercial value. We also need positive representations of our culture, and not always write about the oppression. When there are applications available for an internship position, publishers still do not get enough applicants from ethnic groups. This is a chance to learn about the industry, and to put views across that publishers may not even be aware of. In conclusion, yes, there is still much to be done, but there have been positive changes, as people are no longer willing to be silent. We need to start seeing each other as people; we all exist for a reason on God’s planet Earth, and all have a part to play make the world a better and fairer place. Happy writing. Vanessa


Journey of Generosity: More Blessed to Give JOY ROXBOROUGH

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

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he Journey of Generosity is a life-changing journey that leads people on an interactive exploration of the joys of living generously. While not a prescriptive Bible study, the programme is Christian-based, rooted in Scripture, and encourages participants on a journey of reflectively unpacking the biblical principles of generosity. It is, however, open to all people, regardless of their religious background. The aim of the programme is to ‘give the gift of conversation’, allowing participants, who will usually already be enamoured by Jesus’ teachings on the blessedness of giving over receiving, an opportunity to have their hearts further captured by Jesus and generosity. The Journey can be undertaken in one of three ways: a sponsored two-day away retreat; a one-day sponsored journey that requires a venue, with lunch and refreshments provided, or a virtual journey, consisting of two, two-hour sessions, with no sponsor required. Sponsors are usually individuals who have the means to sponsor events, or individuals who can sponsor themselves. All manuals and materials required are sponsored by the Journey of Generosity (JOG) organisation at zero cost to participants. JOG will also arrange for official invites to be sent out. On the Journey, participants can expect to hear stories of how generous giving has transformed whole communities, and to discuss with like-minded individuals the connection between generosity and the abundant life. Funds are never solicited during these Journeys, so people attending - and these are usually people who already love generosity - are afforded the opportunity to think about generosity deeply and to talk about it honestly, without the usual problem of the people talking with them wanting something from them. Bossie Ackerman, one of the programme facilitators in the UK, said: “The Journey of Generosity transformed my life into understanding it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Journey of Generosity retreats and conferences are currently hosted in more than 60 countries and 30 languages. The idea was

inspired in the late 1990s, when four friends, who were already living generous lives, noticed that societal giving was on the decrease. The friends began meeting with others like themselves to have conversations about generosity. The idea grew and other people began to ask to be included in these conversations. The idea has been demonstrated in varied and creative ways. In Mizoram State, North East India, for instance, women, who are themselves quite poor by Western standards, have revolutionised the concept of generosity through the practice of ‘Buhfai Tham’ or ‘Handful of Rice’. This is, essentially, putting aside a handful of rice each time they cook a meal. The rice is donated to the church, where it is used to serve the community, and the surplus is sold and proceeds used to support church missions. Buhfai Tham has been practised in Mizoram since 1910, and has become a way of life among people from all walks of life there. As a result, 95% of the 900,000 Mizoram population are Christians today, and churches in the region are able to support hundreds of missionaries, including overseas missionaries. In Kampala, Uganda, Bishop Hannington Bahemuka was invited on a Journey of Generosity workshop. People in the village where he served had been displaced by war, and forced to flee to refugee camps where conditions were abysmal. Despite this, he

encouraged the believers in the camps to share what little they had. The first project saw refugees giving in order to provide blankets for the orphans in the camp. One little girl said she felt loved by God when she received her blanket. Bishop Hannington said it was the first time they saw the generosity principles coming to life. Later, when they were able to return to their village, they found it completely demolished. Bishop Hannington again inspired the people to look to their own resources and to give in order to rebuild the community. Rather than expecting help from Western countries, they utilised the concept of generosity and each person gave their time, skills and resources to rebuild homes, churches and schools, and established businesses until the community was thriving again. Bishop Hannington speaks of the grace of giving that has transformed his community and the people themselves, who once gave out of a sense of duty but grew to give from hearts of joy, as they witnessed the impact their generosity had made. “This message can work in any country and in any situation,” Bishop Hannington said, “because surely generosity is transformational.” Bossie Ackerman has conducted Journey of Generosity workshops in his local church in Wolverhampton, and is willing to speak with anyone who would wish to learn more about them. Email bossiea@yahoo.co.uk for further information. www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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THE BRIDGE

BE PRESENT: THE POWER TO MANAGE CHAOS BY TINA BOYLE WHYTE

Global Music Link Editorial Team tinaboylewhyte@gmail.com

‘We walk by faith and not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7)

E

very day and everywhere we are being confronted with different circumstances in life - whether good or bad. And with those daily experiences, we make conscious and unconscious choices. Have you ever been driving somewhere, and you’ve gone into a daze, but your subconscious mind has taken over and got you to where you needed to go? Yes, we have all done it. There is so much going on in life that we can’t afford to go on autopilot; however, it happens more often than we realise. Everyone has been overwhelmed by the multiple stimuli we all have been constantly bombarded and inundated with on a daily basis. Last year, it was COVID numbers for how many were infected, hospitalised and eventually died. This year, it has been the number of people taking or not taking the vaccine. In fact, across the world many have begun experiencing contentious environments around whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. There are some who believe one dominant theory, and others believe in other theories. If you are unable to stop the chaos of varying voices, and don’t know where you stand on this matter, you will find you’ll be tossed about by every thought that comes your way. So I challenge you to evaluate where you are. As a practitioner, my intention is to help people grow and develop, so they can move from where they are to where they want to be in life. I want to talk about mindfulness, which Google defines as ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.’ The second definition is ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the

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present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations’ (The Oxford Dictionary). Mindfulness is keeping your mind present, moment by moment. As mentioned above, there are so many thoughts that can take you away from being present. What other factors keep you from being present in the moment? Family matters, children, in-laws, work, school, money… and the list goes on. We find ourselves worried about the past, while planning for the future. Worse yet, these thoughts are often driven by fears of missing out or even by regret for previous decisions. I know and I understand. I am an ambitious planner. I have been reminded to remain present. Present what, present where? I ask myself. One day I was praising in church, and I heard it very clearly in my spirit: I needed to be present. I realised this was about being present in my spirit, soul and body. I have realised I have a foundation in God that enables me to be present and have peace and rest at the same time. Many people have strategies for remaining present, like breathing, centering and

meditating, but here is what I recommend: meditate on the great inheritance we have in God our Father. Meditate on the promises He has given us in His Word. Meditate on how you can make a difference by letting His light shine through you.

‘It is important for us to remember that when we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in any situation, He will.’

I personally have felt really rested in my personal relationship with God through Christ. I have really allowed the Holy Spirit to lead me in the moment. It is important for us to remember that when we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in any situation, He will. I realise it is hard to connect with our spiritual guidance in the often chaotic environment we live in today. However, this is the time we need to do it the most. Be present in the moment with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I promise you, when you rest and you’re present in the moment, He will take you from where you are to where you want to be. Blessings to you! Be present.


Nurture by Nature DR T. AYODELE AJAYI is a Consultant Psychiatrist, a radio host, author and is on the pastoral team of his church

Using the outdoors to promote mental well-being Nature was the theme of the UK Mental Health Awareness Week in May, and rightly so, because there is plenty of good research supporting the role nature plays in protecting and promoting the health of our bodies and minds. Our relationship with nature – how much we notice, think about, and appreciate our natural surroundings – is a critical factor in supporting good mental health and preventing distress. So profound is this impact that ‘ecotherapy’ - the practice of being in nature to boost growth and healing, especially mental health - is now a recognised well-being intervention. Ecotherapy, also referred to as green care, is an emergent concept from ecopsychology, a term originally coined by an American cultural historian, Theodore Roszak. Psalm 8:3-4, which reads: ‘When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?’, readily comes to mind when thinking about the therapy of nature. A recent Mental Health Foundation study showed that 45% of respondents in the UK reported that visiting green spaces helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic. The nurture from nature goes further, however, as those who notice and connect with nature are also known to derive other benefits.

Which nature? Nature has various forms when it comes to mental well-being - from green spaces (parks, woodland, farms, fields, gardens or forests) to blue spaces (rivers, beaches or canals, waterfalls, and the blue sky), there is plenty to engage with. Even indoor plants, window boxes and trees in urban areas count as nature with benefits for well-being. Amazingly, watching nature documentaries has also been shown to be good for our mental health. Other simple ways to connect with nature include activities that involve using our senses to explore its beauty. Intentionally smelling flowers, listening to the sound of the sea or the flow of a river; indulgingly exploring the intricate beauty of elements of nature - the sky, pebbles, leaves, insects and birds - are ways to do this. Walking in the woods whilst smelling the fresh forest air, and listening out for nature’s soundtracks from the chirping of the birds and rustling of dried leaves can also be therapeutic. Engaging in creative activities in natural habitats, such as drawing or painting in the woods or on the beach; singing or dancing in green spaces, or even writing or journaling in the park are all means of deepening our connections.

Nurture by nature Engaging with nature has been associated with reduced risk of mental health problems, feeling happier, improved life satisfaction and positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, improved concentration, and enhanced creativity. Specifically, being in a green space has been linked to less anxiety, fewer symptoms of depression, lower stress levels,

and improved ability to connect with other people. Spending time in nature is known to help children with attention problems to think more clearly. The benefits derived from exercise, such as walking or running, seem to be boosted when done in natural environments rather than indoors. Apparently, there is something about being outdoors in nature that has a beneficial effect on stress reduction, above and beyond what exercise alone might have produced. The reasons why spending time in nature has these effects on us are complex, and are still being understood. The social contact, physical exercise, and exposure to natural light all seem to play a part. Vitamin D derived from natural sunlight has also been associated with regulating moods.

Recreating outdoors indoors If nature has such profound benefits on mental well-being, how about making the effort to recreate the outdoors in your living and work areas? What can you do? An aquarium or artificial fountain at home or in the office; potted plants, paintings of wildlife and scents of the outdoors can have enhancing effects. A simple, but profoundly beneficial activity that can be overlooked is decluttering our living areas to create a sense of space and light. You can also bring nature indoors by listening to audio and video recordings of nature on the television and online. Listening to recordings of nature’s sounds on headphones can be soothing and calming. I am interested in hearing how you engage with nature. Do you have a sweet spot you go to, like I do? Let’s hear from you by email – tripartcare@gmail.com

www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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PREPARING PEOPLE WITH AUTISM FOR NEW ACADEMIC YEAR How Christian organisations can help

NATALIE DOWNS

is a doctoral researcher and part-time lecturer for young people with cognitive and physical disabilities

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or almost two years now, students and their families have experienced interruptions with their educational timetables, due to a number of COVID-related lockdowns. Naturally, these changes were unexpected and caused much uncertainty because little was known about the virus. Suddenly, the lives, routines and levels of independence we were accustomed to had to be adjusted as our understanding and awareness of the virus progressed. In the context of a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), keeping a routine and structure is particularly important. When changes are required, advance notice can oftentimes help to prevent unnecessary stress and anxiety. Understandably, though, advance preparation is not always possible. However, making at least provisional plans to prepare a person with ASD for the new academic year (2021/2022) is vital, while awaiting government guidance regarding the easing of restrictions. ASD is an umbrella term that, according to the DSM-5 Manual* (2013), consists of the following neurodevelopmental disorders: • Autism Disorder • Asperger’s Syndrome • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder • Catch-all diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS). Furthermore, people on the Autism Spectrum are commonly associated with difficulties in their social communication and interaction, and also with restricted and repetitive interests or behaviours. These will vary from individual to individual, depending on the diagnosis and where they are classified on the spectrum. Estimates suggest there are approximately 700,000 people (1 in 100) in the UK with ASD, and they all come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless, in terms of ASD, the data and research on the lived experiences of families from Black and multi-ethnic backgrounds are limited. One reason for this is the lack of approaches and

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support that are sensitive to people’s heritage and cultural identity. Here, then, is an opportunity for Black and multi-ethnic Christian communities to follow the instructions of Romans 15:7 (NLT): “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” First and foremost, we should try to see everyone as Christ does, by loving each person regardless of their situation, and knowing that the power of prayer is the foundation for all relationships. This should then be backed up with accessible (strategic plan) and practical applications (support).

OFFERING SUPPORT Supporting a person on the Autism Spectrum and their family can include the following steps: • getting to know about ASD, by making use of free charitable services and scholarly research papers available

• identifying the experts within your Christian community - for example, teachers, mentors or doctors • creating a survey to identify the affected children and young people within your own congregation (if not already done) • asking families about the services they have access to outside of their educational establishments, and considering potential collaborations • asking how you as an organisation can play a role in supporting the family within the Christian organisation context, eg. making exemptions so the child does not need to queue to be signed in for children’s church • committing to pray for the families, because ‘the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power’ (James 5:16)

• staying up to date on government guidelines for returning to school • encouraging families to prepare students to go back to school during the summer holidays, by including fun educational activities in their daily routines (*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used in the US. In the UK, we use the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases)


Good News is an evangelistic newspaper used by churches, missions and individual Christians across the UK to share the good news!

TAKE THE GOOD NEWS TO YOUR COMMUNITY!

Full of engaging testimonies of ‘ordinary’ Christians and celebrities, this full colour monthly is specially designed for giving to not-yet-Christians. It’s an easy way for church members to get into conversations about Jesus with their friends and family. Rob McEwen, an evangelist in Hemel Hempstead, says: “The Good News newspaper is, in my experience, the finest piece of outreach literature I have come across in over 30 years of being an evangelical Christian.” Another evangelist, Duncan Hunter from Manchester, says: “Good News is

superb – the layout looks great and the testimonies are very powerful. I cannot wait to distribute the latest issue, praying that many will respond!”

You can give it away in many ways, for example: • Door-to-door in your neighbourhood or at open air outreaches • Gifts for guests at church services and events • Through groups that use your church building, e.g. parents and toddlers, Messy Church, exercise classes, etc. • Giving to family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues • Giving to visitors to your church café, shop, foodbank, market stall, etc. • To patients when visiting hospitals, residents in care homes or inmates when prison visiting

great value. For a free sample pack, email: mandy-goodnews@ntlworld.com or call 0115 9233424. At Christmas and Easter, Good News produces special seasonal editions which can be overprinted with local greetings. The newspaper is a member of the Evangelical Alliance and is run as a registered charity (no 1167287) and gives away copies to inmates in over half of the prisons of the UK. For more details see www.goodnewspaper.org.uk

Good News comes in packs of 25, and at a cost of only 15p each plus p&p, it’s

A church in Plumstead, London, gives

away copies of Good News on their street Shoebox_130mmx89mm_production.qxp_Layout 1 28/06/2021 11:31 Page 1

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SHOE BOX APPEAL Give a precious gift this Christmas Download instructions or call 01349 830777 for a leaflet

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www.keepthefaith.co.uk

39


NOT YET UHURU “Uhuru!” yelled the tumultuous crowd, as they headed towards Lusaka, the Zambian capital, waving red banners. Amongst them was a bevy of beautiful ladies, their ebony skin aglow with balls of sweat as they danced to the beatings of drums, maracas and other percussion instruments. There were some European tourists too, who seemed ignorant of what was going on, but the shrill voice of one of the drummers put the scene into perspective: ‘Uhuru umekuja leo,’ loosely translated as ‘Freedom has come today.’ They were celebrating the victory of the country’s opposition leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), who defeated the incumbent President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF), in the tightly-contested presidential election of 12 August, 2021. In this vein, I congratulate the winning candidate, but in doing so, I must also salute the humility of the outgoing president, Mr Lungu, who displayed cheerfulness and all tenets of fairness - even in defeat. He knew he had lost the election, but nevertheless, accepted defeat graciously and congratulated the victor. This is good for African politics, unlike other cantankerous aspirants of yesteryear, whose names leave a sour taste in the mouth: Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, the Ivorian Gbagbo, Angola’s Savimbi, Moi and Kibaki of Kenya and others who took politics as a do-or-die affair – and who, in defeat, resorted to guns and machetes, cashing in on tribal allegiances and turning their streets and alleyways into rivers of blood. I’m glad these ‘statesmen’ are now irretrievably buried in the garbage heap of history. President-elect Hichilema’s ascendancy to power marked the country’s third peaceful change of power, which began in the ‘90s with the late President Kenneth David Kaunda, who saw the global political pendulum swinging towards multipartyism and swung with it, signalling the demise of the one-party state, and the emergence of the multiparty system in the country. Understandably, it is not a bad thing that Mr Hichilema and his followers have rolled out the drums and cymbals, but with the celebration and the accompanying bacchanalian feast snowballing into successive

40 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

BY MARTINS AGBONLAHOR

is a criminologist, journalist and author based in Manchester.

nights, I would say with all modesty and without any fear of contradiction, that the honeymoon is over. The President-elect has a lot on his plate, and the enormity of the task ahead cannot really be underestimated. China, today, has a stranglehold on Zambia’s economy because of the huge debts owed to that country. Zambia is also indebted to the tune of millions of dollars to the IMF as well as other international lenders, yet these ‘development loans’ poured into the country have not aided the generality of the populace, who are presently groaning under the yoke of poverty, as a whopping 40% of them earn less than $1.25 a day. President Hichilema, who himself is an economist, must put on his thinking cap and address this.

Top Left - Mr Lungu, Main - Mr Hichilema

He had said in his inaugural speech that he is an “action president” who would ensure that “no Zambian shall go to bed hungry.” These are fine words to the ears, but the president must put his money where his mouth is and translate this into reality. He should help heal the wounds of unemployed and starving youths, as the country’s unemployment rate stands at 23% and is still rising. To take this further, Zambia must diversify its economy, and not be like Nigeria, whose reliance on oil led to the dearth or, put succinctly, the death of cocoa, rubber, iron-ore and coal, which were our mainstay in the sixties. Now the oil fields have been sucked dry by our avaricious

politicians, and our economy is in a shambles. Zambia should learn from our extreme short-sightedness and stop her total reliance on the copper industry. Agriculture and mechanised farming, in particular, must be encouraged. The tourism industry also needs a boost. Soft loans should be given to upcoming entrepreneurs of small-scale businesses to shore up their fledgling businesses. Another aspect the new president should look at is corruption, which has become the country’s bane, hindering and stultifying progress. Business operations in the country are riddled with corruption, bribery and kickbacks, as well as redtapism. If the new president must do a good job, he must jostle the country’s judiciary from its deep slumber, and ensure that any corrupt official dragged before it is punished, no matter how mighty or connected they may be. Secondly, I urge the new president to initiate an immediate overhaul of the country’s Anti-Corruption Act, which though purporting to ‘prohibit extortion, money laundering and corruption,’ is actually a lame duck, constantly circumvented by corrupt businessmen who grease the palms of government officials with wads of dollars, and escape the so-called ‘long arm’ of the law. Health-wise, Zambia is still reeling under the weight of HIV/AIDS - not least the rate of infant mortality, which has risen to 43 deaths per 1000 live births. Worse still, there are excruciating reports of women in rural areas with no access to clinics being forced to give birth unassisted. This must stop, and I don’t think one would be asking for too much if the new president were to establish clinics and dispensaries in the country’s hinterland. As President Hichilema wows the entire populace with tons of promises reeled out to the delight of his admirers, it is really not yet uhuru for the new regime, until it lays out solid programmes that will better the lot of the suffering people and put Zambia as one of Africa’s functioning states. That’s the way I see it. Martins Agbonlahor - His recent novel, Another Poor Cow – the Dangers of Tradition in Rural Nigeria, is available on Amazon and all online bookstores.


TARGET 626

LIVING STONES

BY MELISSA AGBONLAHOR

Cold icy blades approach, daggers are thrown my way, spears shoot across the terrain, arrows trying to hit a target. Ding! The clock strikes. Even time betrays me.

BY G A R Y C L AY T O N

What to do? When to leave? Where to hide? These three questions roam my mind. Transferred from brain cell to brain cell, each battling for supremacy.

Masked, like Zorro or the Lone Ranger, Strangers in LEGOLAND-length bread queues. Washing our hands like Lady Macbeth, We follow the rules and so ‘cheat’ death. The Wise Men of SAGE and ‘glad tidings’ of vaccine Should really remind us of our need for God, As we refashion, refine or find new ways to worship Spirituality supplanting entrepreneurship. Though cinemas closed and playhouses shut, We have all the humdrum drama we need. Following the beat of an unhurried drum, Our pulses still pound – may God’s Kingdom come! So, due to His love, and through His great mercy, God uses such times of unwanted adversity To bring selected saints-to-be Into His arms, and onto their knee.

But all I can hear are soft drops. Perhaps the teardrops of another? Target! The one word, the one noun, the one lasso that manages to rope me in. The lit torches come closer. The hurricanes holler louder. Those eyes grin deeper. Before I succumb, before the heavens finalise my fate, I have but one last request. Silence bellows... Hue? Melanin? Skin? Components that make you, you and make me, me. Religion, ethnicity, tribe. Dark skinned, light skinned... Is that ENOUGH? Is that enough justification? Is that enough of an excuse to make me a target? Does that justify the fear welled up deep inside and the mistreatment meted out on me?

And so God came to the unchurched and churchless, To those seeking the Saviour in their houses and homes. Places far simpler than COVID-closed churches, New life now breathed into once lifeless stones.

Gary Clayton is married to Julie and the father of Christopher (16) and Emma (13). He is Copywriter and Editor at Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) – www.maf-uk.org – whose 138 aircraft bring the love of Christ to 26 developing countries.

PACT welcomes Christians to adopt

Target? Is that what I have become? Is that what I have been reduced to? Target! ... I want an answer, I want it now. Something concrete, something cogent.

“My church welcomed my boys with open arms.”

We are all born equal, you tell me. We all have rights, you say. Then where are mine? Lost through time? Why aren’t they respected? I thought and still think that diversity is such a beautiful ingredient, what makes us so unique. Because behind it all, we are all human beings craving love, craving protection. Because behind it all, we are all human beings with that samebeating-heart. Daggers are thrown my way, cold icy blades approach.

Do something amazing

Adopt with PACT

- JOY, PACT ADOPTER

Parents And Children Together

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”

pactcharity.org/enquiry 0300 456 4800 PACT partners with

- MATTHEW 18:5

www.keepthefaith.co.uk

41


Why we need more headlines of hope from Haiti, alongside updates on disasters BY E D O UA R D L A S S E G U E

O

ver the last few weeks, we have watched heartbreaking scenes coming out of Afghanistan: images of desperate families fleeing the advance and then occupation of the Taliban. Most recently, we looked on, horrified, as suicide bombers took the lives of over 100 people in Kabul. We follow a God of justice and compassion, and feel His pain in the suffering we see. The situation has understandably dominated the headlines. But, as Afghanistan drives the news agenda, we risk forgetting about the rest of the world – stories of both suffering and overcoming that need to be told. As the Vice President of the Latin America and Caribbean Region for the international child development charity, Compassion, I have seen how the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on 14 August has come and gone from the news cycle - faster than most people had time to register it had even taken place. We’re tired of Haiti being portrayed as a place of poverty and disaster, but news coverage is often critical in getting the necessary response and support we need as a nation. Instead, we would love to see headlines that highlight even the smallest efforts of progress to slowly help turn the country around. Positive stories to share include those of the Haitian people’s resilience in the face of a crisis, and how the church is growing stronger and more responsive. We have learnt valuable lessons from the 2010 earthquake that struck our capital - and my hometown - Port-au-Prince, and foundations have been laid for Haiti to build a more sustainable future for its people. It is usually the buildings, rather than the tremors and storms themselves, that take people’s lives. People are afraid to go home; afraid to cook in their kitchens; afraid to sleep in their beds… Trauma like that can have a real impact on both the children and their caregivers. I remember, after the 2010 earthquake, our teams met with local church leaders to assess the situation, as they’ve done now. When they visited those impacted, one little girl raised her hand and said: “Please pray for my mom that she would stop crying.” For a child to see someone they love and count on, overwhelmed and distressed, it is just as traumatic for them as when the earth shook. After the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, one of the most important things Compassion has done for the

42 Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

community is work with our local church partners to rebuild homes, using paraseismic standards to stand up to future storms and earthquakes. When visiting a church in Torbeck, after Hurricane Matthew, we went in and rebuilt a school that had collapsed, which is now used for the children to gather as part of their Compassion development activities. In 2010, we relied on foreign engineers and technicians to build the schools that had been destroyed, because we had a hard time finding that competency in the country; but, in 2016, we used the Haitian engineers who had learnt from the expatriate engineers. Fast forward five years and that same school building survived the recent earthquake. However, the church building we did not touch has crumbled. Buildings all around the school have disappeared. We praise God for the work that we were able to do. Even so, we grieve for those we have lost. The earthquake took over 2,200 precious lives. Among them were 18 children supported by Compassion - their young lives, full of potential, cut devastatingly short; as well as another 70 lives of caregivers and siblings of children and families we work with through our local Haitian church partners. Trauma and loss have been experienced by so many, yet I am always in awe of the resilience of our people. Together we can make a difference, and together we are indeed making a difference. We have the foundations for

change, but we need support. I strongly believe that the Church worldwide has an opportunity to come alongside fellow believers to bring about effective change and support, by helping with the immediate needs of children and families, but also building on the foundations that have already been laid to protect families for the future. Amid the despair around us, as Christians, we can be the arms and the feet of Jesus; we can make a difference in the lives of many. This, for me, is what gives me hope in the midst of tragedy. To find out more how you can support Compassion’s efforts to rebuild for the future of the children and families impacted by the earthquake, go to compassionuk.org

Edouard Lassegue was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He studied abroad, earning a bachelor’s degree in Bible education and a master’s degree in both School Administration (1987) and Organisational Leadership (2011). He started a church in Haiti in 1987, which resulted in many ministries that still serve the community today. Edouard was named Vice President of the Latin America and Caribbean Region of Compassion International in January of 2007. Prior to this, Edouard served as the country director of Haiti for nearly 11 years, and was then promoted to Central America and Caribbean Director. The Latin American and Caribbean region has approximately 690 staff in 12 countries. The work that Edouard and Compassion International staff do directly impacts nearly 930,000 registered children in more than 2,900 projects throughout the region.


Have you ever considered adoption? Adoption Counts is the Regional Adoption Agency covering the Local Authorities of Manchester, Cheshire East, Salford, Stockport and Trafford. We are currently appealing for the Black African and Caribbean communities to come forward and consider adoption. All children deserve to have a safe and secure home and the right to prosper in their own community. We want to hear from anyone who feels they could offer a child a warm and loving home, and the Black African and Caribbean communities are well known for their family values, compassion and strong community networks. If you’re thinking about adoption, and live in or around the above areas, please visit: adoptioncounts.org.uk


In the fight against the virus, we are all in this together

Amadou, a key health worker in Guinea, is waiting for vaccines to arrive.

Ubuntu is a simple but profound African philosophy. It is often translated: “I am, because we are.” Ubuntu recognises the worth of every person. It says we must work together to overcome challenges. As we regain freedoms, thanks to the NHS vaccination

Amos 5:24 says, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” In a step towards vaccine equality, Mercy Ships has

roll-out, millions of people in low-income countries are

launched an emergency appeal to help meet the funding

now facing a third aggressive wave of COVID-19 with no

shortfall for vaccination delivery across West and Central

vaccination in sight and no possibility of hospital care. In

Africa.

July, the World Health Organisation alerted the world that coronavirus deaths were rising rapidly in Africa, surging by 80% in four weeks. The Delta variant is sweeping through African nations and it’s the poor and the frail who are dying.

Together with Africa

If you’ve had your vaccine doses, you’ll know the relief of

The upsurge in cases across Africa is endangering the lives

feeling that you and your loved ones are safe. The truth is, 8

of the most frail. Their immune systems are weakened, so

out of 10 COVID vaccine doses have gone to people in higher

they are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract

income countries.

COVID-19. The limited number of African key workers are

Meanwhile, less than 2% of Africa’s population are fully

also at risk. People like Amadou - a 46-year-old nurse and

vaccinated. This is an injustice. It’s simply not right that the

beloved Guinean community leader, simply known locally as

poorest in Africa are last in line to be protected against the

‘the doctor’.

virus.

Amadou administered vaccines to babies and continued to care for his patients - despite a large tumour growing in

“ We call for a new global deal for COVID-19 vaccine for all, together with Africa against COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges.” Dr Pierre M’Pele, Mercy Ships Ambassador for Africa

www.mercyships.org.uk/together

his own throat for over 15 years. Thankfully, Mercy Ships were able to reach Amadou before COVID-19 hit Guinea, and we removed this growth - otherwise his community could have lost the only person they called ‘doctor.’ People living in many African nations with fragile health systems already have little or no access to medical care.


www.mercyships.org.uk/together

Vaccinate the Vulnerable Please, will you give your urgent donation now to this emergency appeal to vaccinate the vulnerable across West and Central Africa. Your gift of £20 could cover the cost to fully vaccinate 5 frontline healthcare workers in Liberia; £45 could transport 1,593 doses of vaccines to rural communities; and £90 would provide training on the new vaccines, testing Amadou, after the surgery to remove his facial tumour.

and treatments for all health workers in two healthcare facilities in rural Benin.

Many African countries lack doctors and the necessary medicines and equipment to respond to the pandemic. Approximately 70% of hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa don’t even have access to a pulse oximeter, to measure the

Please give your urgent donation right now. Visit mercyships.org.uk/together to stand side by side with our fellow brothers and sisters. In the fight against the virus, we are all in this together. #TogetherWithAfrica

saturation of oxygen in a patient’s blood, a vital and low-cost tool to fight COVID-19. Now, exhausted nurses and overstretched doctors, like Amadou, are desperately waiting for COVID-19 vaccines to arrive. They are praying it will come in time to save their family, friends and neighbours.

Registered Charity Nos: 1053055 (England & Wales), SC039743 (Scotland)

mercyships.org.uk/together


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No time to waste This year has been one to remember. We were told to stay isolated and avoid contact with others – an alien concept for us in the UK. Yet for those living in places like Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique and Timor-Leste, being so far from roads, education opportunities and healthcare is their daily reality. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), which brings help, hope and healing to 27 developing nations, flies light aircraft across hostile landscapes to eliminate precious hours, even days, from travel times. The resulting flights are often lifesaving, as well as time-saving.

Liberia MAF Liberia team received a call for an urgent medevac — a five-month-old baby Sangai needed urgent treatment for a parasitic flesh-eating condition and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). Given that she lives in a remote northern Liberian village near the Sierra Leone and Guinea border, her family feared she would not survive the tenhour motorbike journey to ELWA Hospital in the capital Monrovia. Thanks to MAF, mother and baby were medevaced straight to the hospital in just one hour by MAF pilots Roy Rissanen and Steven Biggs.

After two operations, the little girl is responding well to treatment.

Papua New Guinea In the village of Pyarulama, a young woman needed to be taken to Kompiam Hospital to receive treatment for wounds on her arms as a result of domestic violence. Pyarulama is a remote community in Enga Province, which is surrounded by rugged mountainous terrain and fastflowing rivers. Aside from days and days of difficult hiking, this community’s only means of transportation to a healthcare facility is by air. A 20-minute flight from MAF’s base at Mount Hagen saw Pilot Mathias Glass reach the woman where he proceeded to secure her into the plane. A local spoke with Flight Programmer Jasmine Puk, who joined the flight that day:

MAF is our lifeline, we don’t have another means of travel. Having taken off again,they landed at Kompiam just 12 minutes later, where an ambulance was waiting to take her to the hospital there. This one-hour round-trip helped change the ending for this young woman.

Mozambique Over 70,000 people fled Palma on the northeast coast of Mozambique following terror attacks on earlier this year. MAF affiliate Ambassador Aviation has rescued more than 1,000 refugees on 150 flights in an emergency evacuation effort. On the first two round-trips from Palma to the region’s capital Pemba, the Ambassador Aviation team evacuated 13 adults, 12 children and 6 babies. ‘Although just an hour’s flight away from their remote town, they were going to a city with a different language. Getting on a plane, as foreign as it was to them, was the least scary thing they’d done — they had fled violence,’ says Jill Holmes of the MAF Disaster Response Team.


In addition to evacuations, Ambassador Aviation has flown in mobile phone tower engineers, cables, a power supply and repair equipment in a bid to restore damaged communications infrastructure.

For over 75 years, MAF has been flying over jungles, mountains, rivers and deserts to help vulnerable people in hard-to-reach places. Every six minutes, an MAF plane is taking off or landing somewhere in the world to bring medical care, emergency relief and Christian hope to thousands of communities.

The team prepared the aircraft, and the woman was safely flown from her island to the hospital on the mainland.

The 13-minute flight saved her hours of uncomfortable travel over the sea. On their way back, there was a request for another medevac. This time it was a woman who had given birth to triplets and needed post-natal help, and another mother with a newborn baby. With four newborn babies and two mothers, this medevac needed two aircraft. The MAF Timor-Leste team was able to transport the mothers and the babies safely to the waiting ambulances in the capital city Dili.

Timor-Leste MAF Timor-Leste received a call to medevac a woman with a complicated pregnancy. She had been in labour for over 24 hours and the birth wasn’t progressing fast enough.

MAIN An ambulance awaited the MAF plane at the airport in Dili, Timor-Leste. FAR LEFT Baby Sangai and her mother. LEFT A wounded woman was secured on a stretcher and flown to Kompiam Hospital, PNG. ABOVE A plane-load of Mozambican refugees were transported to safety in Pemba.

HELP US TO CONTINUE FLYING FOR LIFE INTO 2022 AND BEYOND It costs just £60 to fuel an MAF flight and reach the furthest corners of the world. Please consider giving a gift today. PLEASE USE BLOCK CAPITALS

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