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ISSUE 78

AUDREY HOWELL talks about her amazing weight loss journey

Preparing young leaders for the future

BISHOP MELVIN &PASTOR YVONNE BROOKS on how to strengthen your marriage

A-Z GUIDE to landing your dream job in 2013

Churches respond to government plans to re-define marriage

X FACTOR FINALIST

JAHMENE DOUGLAS talks music, faith and the future


CONTENTS ISSUE 78

WELCOME 03

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Welcome! Happy belated New Year to you. I’m excited about the very first edition of Keep The Faith magazine for 2013. It’s filled with stories of encouragement, motivation and inspiration, plus some great interviews. Although Jahmene Douglas didn’t win the X Factor final, he’s a winner in our eyes because of his faith. In his KTF interview, he talks about his experience competing in the world’s most famous talent competition, and the role of faith in his life. You’ll also be left inspired after reading Audrey Howell’s account of her amazing weight loss journey. Shirin Aguiar-Holloway looks at the topical issue of same-sex marriage, and explores how Black church leaders have responded to government plans to re-define marriage. With February being the month of romance, we have some articles focusing on the many facets of relationships. Christian leaders, Bishop Melvin & Pastor Yvonne Brooks, reveal some insights about their long lasting marriage, and share how believers can build strong relationships. Zina Arinze talks about the pain of divorce; Philip Noel talks about his experience as a widower, and Ola Nubi writes about finding purpose and passion as a single. Here at Keep The Faith, we’re keen to help readers achieve their goals and dreams. With this in mind, Rev David Shosanya shares how believers can keep their New Year resolutions; Mildred Talabi provides an A to Z to help you find your dream job, and Gladys Famoriyo tells you how to maximise your life. Then there are the usuals, like Heart to Heart, Gospel News, Business Matters and Charity Affairs, and much more. It’s my sincere hope that you enjoy our first Keep The Faith for 2013. Happy reading.

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29 WELCOME 04 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon 06 Readers’ Letters

NEWS 07 News pages 10 C O V E R S T O R Y Will gay marriage become law? by Shirin Aguiar-Holloway

COMMENT 12 It is possible to keep your New Year’s resolutions by Rev David Shosanya 13 The best Christian leaders are also disciples by Rev Stephen Brooks 14 God understands our suffering by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts

INTERVIEW 16

GOSPEL 29 Britain’s first official Christian music chart - are you ready for it? by Juliet Fletcher 30 Gospel News by Marcia Dixon

INSPIRATION 33 Want to maximise your life? Take a half time break by Gladys Famoriyo

LIFESTYLE

COVER STORY

Interview with Jahmene Douglas 18

24 On process, purpose and passion by Ola Nubi 25 The commandment to love can be the hardest to follow by Esther Williams 26 Musings of a divorced single mum by Zina Arinze 28 The day my life changed by Philip Noel

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Audrey Howell - Rosemary Conley Slimmer of the Year

COVER STORY

Bishop Melvin and Pastor Yvonne Brooks

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FEATURE 20 It’s time to wage war against sexual exploitation by Dionne Gravesande 22 Faith, stories and the experience of Black elders by Dr Anthony Reddie 23 C O V E R S T O R Y Preparing young leaders for the future by Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins Keep The Faith R Postal Address: Suite 48 88-90 Hatton Garden London EC1N 8PN Tel: 0845 193 4431 Mob: 07743 846 300

COVER STORY

38 40 41 42 44

COVER STORY

A-Z guide to landing your dream job in 2013 by Mildred Talabi Did you really write that? by Amie Buhari Cyber Corner by Keno Ogbo Business Matters by Denise Roberts Charity Affairs by Lara Rufus Heart to Heart by Esther Fenty

Publisher: Shirley McGreal admin@keepthefaith.co.uk Editor: Marcia Dixon editorial@keepthefaith.co.uk Design: Becky Wybrow design@keepthefaith.co.uk Advertising: advertising@keepthefaith.co.uk Admin and Subscriptions: admin@keepthefaith.co.uk Twitter: @keepthefaithmag www.keepthefaith.co.uk www.blackchristiandirectory.com

Many thanks from Keep The Faith to: Rev David Shosanya, Rev Stephen Brooks, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, David Steele,

Editor Marcia Dixon editorial@keepthefaith.co.uk

Dionne Gravesande, Dr Anthony Reddie, Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Ola Nubi, Esther Williams, Zina Arinze, Philip Noel, Juliet Fletcher, Marcia Dixon, Gladys Famoriyo, Mildred Talabi, Amie Buhari, Keno Ogbo, Denise Roberts, Lara Rufus, Esther Fenty, Shirin Aguiar-Holloway, Jackie Raymond, our supporters and all our advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


04 WELCOME

FOOD 4 THOUGHT

BY

MARCIA DIXON

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LET’S GIVE MARRIAGE THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES

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ne thing I’ve noted, growing up in the African-Caribbean church, is its sometimes nonchalant attitude to relationships and marriage. Although it recognises the importance of marriage, it isn’t too concerned if marriages happen within the Church or not. This attitude, coupled with the fact that African-Caribbean churches are predominantly female domains, means that they are full of women who have never walked down the aisles, as well as those women who left church in their youth to have the children or husbands they desired, and then re-joined. I’ve never understood this lack of attention given to marriage and the family. Marriage and family were the bedrock of the African-Caribbean community during the years of mass immigration in the 1950s and 60s. And many churches/ denominations started life as small congregations, meeting in either homes or rented halls, with the original members often being the pastor and his family. Why do I mention this? Because I believe churches, in their focus on serving God and propagating the Gospel, did not give the full attention to supporting and encouraging marriages and, subsequently, the family that it deserves. We now have a situation where

African-Caribbeans have the highest proportion of single parent families than any other cultural group in the UK. Whilst it may not be the Church’s role to help people find partners, it should be doing all it can to encourage marriages and to strengthen the family. It isn’t hard to do. Churches can publicly pray for marriages and the family, alongside providing teaching on relationships; pre-marital counselling for engaged couples; courses for married couples, and support for marriages in crisis. I know many churches do provide this, but they can be more intentional about it. And in those churches/denominations where there are few or no men, ways should be found to reach men with the Gospel. I talk to single Christian woman all the time. And whilst many of them are happy with their lives, they often do confess to sadness and regret at either not getting married or having children, with some feeling that their lives have turned out as they have, due to their commitment to God and the Church. It’s my prayer that 2013 will be a year of fulfilled marital dreams for many, and that African-Caribbean churches truly recognise the value and benefit in strengthening and encouraging one of the world’s most important relationships - marriage.

Teach our children to respect each other’s bodies I’m greatly disturbed by the increasing numbers of stories I’m hearing, both personally and via the Media, of young girls being forced to perform a sexual act on their male peers. We should not be surprised that young girls are increasingly having to face dealing with this type of scenario. Society has sexualised childhood. Porn has become easily available, and children now listen to very overt sexual lyrics in songs, resulting in young boys believing they have the right to demand sexual favours from girls, and young girls believing they have to acquiesce to those demands in order to be liked. Parents need to step up to the plate and protect their daughters from this overt sexual exploitation, by teaching them how to value themselves and their bodies, and to equip them with the tools to stop others from taking sexual advantage of them. And to teach young boys to respect young girls. Period.

@keepthefaithmag

Don’t be a conformist “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 2:2 is a Scripture that is often cited. It’s a reminder to Christians that their lifestyle, motives and behaviour should reflect the faith they follow. Sometimes, believers find it difficult to do so because of the cultural and social - and increasingly legal - pressures they face. However, we should always remember that believers have struggled with these pressures since the start of Christianity over 2000 years ago. When contending with this issue, the following question must be asked: What does it mean to ‘conform to the world’? Christians conform to the world when they become worldly. 1 John 2:15-17 gives a brilliant definition of worldliness, stating, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - comes not from the Father but from the world.” Believers are called to reject worldliness and embrace holy living. It can be challenging, but if we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, it won’t be as difficult. Why? Because we’ll get the spiritual strength necessary to resist conforming. And how can one renew one’s mind? By participating in the spiritual disciplines that saints of God have always participated in when they want to live godly lives: prayer, fasting, Bible study, attending church and doing good works.

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0845 193 4431


06 LETTERS

Readers’Letters We’d love to hear your views on Keep The Faith and the featured articles. Send your letters to KTF Letters, PO Box 574, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 9BW or better still, email letters@keepthefaith.co.uk

Rachel Kerrbeautiful inside and out

Word 4 Weapons is doing great work When people say that the Church is not doing anything, they need to take note of organisations like Word4Weapons (W4W). I was deeply encouraged by KTF’s report on the recent W4W Awards. It was heartening to learn that since W4W’s formation in 2007, they have managed to rid the streets of 6000 dangerous weapons. Michael Smith is to be commended for the great work he is doing in making our community a safer place to live in. Peter Jones, Coventry

Rev Jones deserved Church’s support Rachel Kerr is one of my favourite singers, so it was so wonderful to read about her in the Christmas edition of Keep The Faith. It was evident from the article that she is a beautiful person - both inside and out - who loves God. As a young Christian, I found it so inspiring to read about the important role that faith plays in her life, particularly as a young woman in the public eye. I watched Rachel on TV when she won her MOBO Award, and was so encouraged by the fact she used the platform to declare to the world that she is nothing without God. I look forward to reading more about her career, and pray she continues to touch and inspire hearts. Hazel Clarke, Birmingham

I was heartened to read of the support that Rev Carmel Jones, founder of the Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU), has received from church leaders since he was censured and banned from running a credit union by the Financial Service Authority (FSA). Rev Jones set up the PCU at a time when Black people found it difficult to get loans and, as a result of his initiative, was able to provide numerous Black church leaders with loans to enable them to buy their own church buildings. He deserves to be applauded for his pioneering efforts, not vilified. I hope that Rev Jones finds new avenues to use his many gifts and talents, and the Church finds a ways to celebrate and honour a man who has served the Black Christian community well. Roger Peters, Surrey

Wise Women Awards is inspiring I am so looking forward to the Wise Women Awards hosted by Wisdom for Women International and Keep The Faith magazine taking place on March 9. It’s great that there is an annual event that celebrates the contributions of Christian women in the Church and wider society. I was so inspired by last year’s event that I am organising for a group of women from my church to attend, so that they can be motivated and encouraged by the nominees and Award recipients to make a difference in the Church and wider society. Jennifer Oni, Guildford

@keepthefaithmag

Justin Welby is the right man It was interesting to read the views of Black Christians on the appointment of Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. I fully expected the Rt Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of Canterbury, to be appointed to the role, but I have to take comfort from the fact that God knows what He is doing, and that he is the right man for the post. Justin Welby appears to be a Christian leader with a broad range of experience which, I am sure, will put him in good stead as he grapples with the many spiritual, social, political and cultural issues that will confront him, as he attempts to provide spiritual leadership to the nation. My prayers are with him. Ade Martins, Oxford

Amazing Lord Taylor of Warwick interview I’ve just finished reading the interview with Lord John Taylor of Warwick. All I can say is what an interview, and what an experience he has gone through. I fully appreciate his candour and honesty, but I couldn’t help but wonder how Lord Taylor, who is a Christian, found himself in such a situation where he was falsely claiming for expenses. It’s unfortunate that he ended up in prison, however, I’m pleased to read that Lord Taylor is following the principles inherent within Philippians 3:13-14 by “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I’m glad to read he now has a passion to speak up for incarcerated young men, and to advocate that they receive more training and education whilst serving their prison sentences. My prayer for Lord Taylor is that God will use his experiences to reach people who need to hear a message of restoration, and that society will find the grace in their hearts to give him another chance to serve humanity. Cheryl Andrews, London


NEWS 07

Deitrick announces he’s engaged and father of a baby girl The gospel community is getting over the surprise New Year’s Eve announcement by popular gospel artist, Deitrick Haddon, that he is now engaged and the father of a baby girl.

“be the best father to my beautiful daughter and be the great husband I know I can be to my future wife and give God all glory! Goodbye 2012 & hello 2013.”

In an emotional FB statement posted on December 31, 2012, Deitrick wrote, “I can say 2012 was the most challenging year @ the same time the greatest year of my life because in the midst of all the darkness & depression that seemed to have no end God sent an angel to give me hope in the form of my baby girl.. Yes she was born out of wedlock which is absolutely wrong for a man in my shoes....but I must say that if it wasn't for that child & her mother, the negative headlines about Deitrick Haddon would have been more devastating than anything!!!” The singer posted up a picture of his daughter, named Destin Monet Haddon, and shared his hopes for 2013, which included leaving behind ‘all the negative energy’ and ‘owning his mistakes’. He also added that he wanted to

CHANGE HEARTS WITH CCEF We all know change is difficult - in our families, in our churches and in our world. And no change seems more difficult than change in the human heart, which is why, at Central Hall Westminster on Saturday 23rd February, Changing Hearts will be addressing exactly that issue. Changing Hearts is the first UK conference involving CCEF, the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, based in Philadelphia, USA. For over 40 years, they have been setting the pace in biblical counselling, by showing how to apply the Gospel to issues of everyday life, in order to bring about lasting change. David Powlison, who brings a wealth of experience in pastoral counselling, will help us understand how pastoral care has been affected by the ‘therapy revolution’, and help us rediscover confidence in the ‘cure of souls’. Tim Lane, President of CCEF, will show how biblical counselling can, and should, be a core ministry in our churches. The Conference will benefit church pastors, pastoral counsellors and, indeed, anyone who wants to know more about the way God’s Gospel changes us. Further details about the Conference can be found at www.ccef.org/uk, and you can book online at www.thegoodbook.co.uk/changinghearts. Changing Hearts is an initiative of a group of pastors and counsellors from across the UK, who have themselves benefited from CCEF’s ministry, and are seeking to develop a network so that more in the UK can benefit from CCEF’s approach. You can contact us by email at changing.hearts@ccef-uk.org.

New loan scheme for budding entrepreneurs Budding young entrepreneurs can apply for loans averaging £2,500 in a new £1million Government scheme, targeted at faith/ethnic minority communities. Through its official delivery partner, Elevation Networks, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills will distribute its Start-Up Loans to 350 young people for capital to start or grow a new business. 18 to 30-year-olds, living in England and looking for finance, can apply by filling out a brief application form. As the Start-Up Loan will be a personal loan, four or five people from the same company can apply for a loan to invest in the business. The final amount will be determined by the overall application, and there is no upper limit. Successful applicants will have access to a mentor, monthly training and other benefits. The loan is repayable within five years at a

fixed rate of interest, currently 3%. Capital repayment holidays are available (up to one year), but interest must be covered monthly throughout. Social entrepreneur and founder/trustee of Elevation Networks, Samuel Kasumu, will tour faith and community groups to promote the initiative this year. He said, “Many times, when the Government and other institutions deliver programmes, people from BME backgrounds tend not to be engaged for various reasons. “With us setting up a bespoke campaign in the coming weeks, we are confident that with the Start-Up Loans initiative there will be a legacy of inclusion that yields great results.” Email StartUp@elevationnetworks.org, or download application form from http://form. jotformeu.com/form/23542969221355, or for more information, visit http://www. elevationnetworks.org/startup/

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


08 NEWS

Leading Evangelical calls for Church to embrace same-sex relationships

Women’s Awards is must-attend event

The Christian community has been left shocked and surprised following a call by one of the UK’s leading evangelicals for the Church to re re-examine its attitude towards homosexuals, and be more accepting of same-sex relationships.

Keep The Faith is getting reports that women’s groups up and down the country are gearing up for the 9th Wise Women Awards (WWA), by encouraging their fellow Christian sisters to attend.

In a lengthy article written for the February edition of ‘Christianity’ Magazine, Baptist Minister Rev Steve Chalke argues that the Bible paints a picture that is accepting and supportive of permanent, faithful, stable homosexual relationships. He wrote, “Rather than condemn and exclude, can we dare to create an environment for homosexual people where issues of self-esteem and wellbeing can be talked about; where the virtues of loyalty, respect, interdependence and faithfulness can be nurtured, and where exclusive and permanent same-sex relationships can be supported?” Rev Chalke, who has spoken at major Christian events like Spring Harvest, and shared platforms with prominent leaders such as Billy Graham, says his views have come from intense Bible study and prayerful reflection. Rev Steven Clifford, leader of The Evangelical Alliance, the representative body for 1million Christians, has expressed regret at Rev Chalke’s comments. In a written response, he stated, “While I understand and respect Steve’s pastoral motivations, I believe the conclusions he has come to on same-sex relationships are wrong. It is with both sadness and disappointment that I reflect on how Steve has not only distanced himself from the vast majority of the evangelical community here in the UK, but indeed from the

Rev Chalke

Church across the world, and from 2,000 years of biblical interpretation.” Rev David Shosanya, the Regional Missions Director for the London Baptist Association and Keep The Faith columnist, states that whilst the Black Christian community will be shocked by Rev Chalke’s statement, they should stick to their unique interpretation of Scripture on this issue. “Black Christians hold a traditional evangelical position, which has been the default position of the Church since its inception. Because it’s a position that’s being challenged in today’s culture, it doesn’t mean that the Church or Black Church should embrace the changes being called for. However, it’s necessary that we continue to engage in the debate, so that it continues to include perspectives unique to the Black community.”

The Wise Women Awards will take place on March 9 at the London Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel, London SE1. Angie Le Mar will be the host. This year’s guest artistes are Clif & Marie and Dayo Bello. The WWA is the only UK event that celebrates the contributions of Christian women in the Church and wider society. It’s the brainchild of Pastor Marjorie Esomowei, founder of Wisdom for Women International (W4WI) and co-pastor of Triumphant Church International in Tottenham, North London, and is jointly organised by Keep The Faith magazine and Wisdom for Women International Pastor Marjorie said, “The WWA provides the Christian community with a great opportunity to acknowledge and recognise the great role Christian women play in the Church and society.” Shirley McGreal, publisher of Keep The Faith stated, “The WWA is a must-attend event on the Black Christian calendar. It brings women of all ages together for a night of glamour, fun and inspiration, and I always leave uplifted because of the inspirational work Christian women are doing in their respective communities.” There’s still time to nominate a woman you know for a Wise Women Award. Nominations close on February 4. Visit www.wisewomenawards.org to make your nomination and buy your tickets, or phone 020 8800 6001.

SCHOOL WINS BATTLE TO STAY OPEN A Christian school, which teaches children who have fallen out of the traditional education system, has won its fight to stay open after the Department of Education (DoE) threatened to withdraw its licence to teach. The Chrysolyte Independent Christian School (CICS) based in Southwark, South London, was threatened with closure last year following complaints to the DoE from three parents, who claimed that teachers, including co-founder Rally Ikiebe, unlawfully hit their children whilst at the school. Following a tribunal, the DoE judicial panel could find little justification to close the school. Rally Ikiebe was pleased with the conclusion. She stated, “We feel relieved; the pupils and parents are very relieved and supportive.” And, to add to the victory, the school was informed that the police had dropped investigations into the allegations, for which Rally had been arrested. The Ikiebes’ passion to help children achieve education has led to former pupils winning places at leading independent and grammar schools, including Dulwich College and Emmanuel College. The school held a special thanksgiving anniversary service to give God thanks for the victory, and are now looking forward to what 2013 holds. @keepthefaithmag

Angie Le Mar


10 NEWS

WILL GAY MARRIAGE BECOME LAW? Shirin Aguiar-Holloway finds out how the Church has responded to government plans to re-define marriage and allow same-sex couples to legally wed

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hurches in Britain must wake up and realise that they will not be protected by government safeguards when it comes to refusing to perform same-sex marriages, and that pastors could still be taken to court to justify their stand, a Christian campaign group is warning. Last month, the Government unveiled plans to permit same-sex couples to marry. Outrage over this attempt to redefine marriage has led another outraged church leader to call for a national referendum on marriage. Although the Government says it will not force religious bodies to perform services, there’s widespread concern that government assurances about legal protections for faith groups ‘hold no water’, and that mainstream religions could face various legal challenges if they refuse to marry gays. In spite of broad public opposition, a cross-party majority among MPs in the House of Commons means that only opposition in the House of Lords now stands in the way of the plans becoming legislation this year. The Coalition for Marriage (C4M), a joint initiative by Christian Concern, the Evangelical Alliance, CARE, and the Christian Institute, is battling these plans, and almost 650,000 have signed its petition to support the legal definition of marriage. C4M is also campaigning among MPs to demonstrate popular resistance to their plans. C4M spokesman, Reverend Ade Omooba, told Keep the Faith: “The Government say they support love, commitment and sacrifice, but that’s a way of deflecting from their real purpose. The real issue is that you are redefining marriage by law. That is what we are challenging.

Rev Yemi Adedeji @keepthefaithmag

“Some of my own grandchildren will be born into a society that has redefined marriage by law, not by God, and that’s what we’re fighting against.” Rev Omooba, who is also founder and director of Christian Concern, says the safeguards being offered by the Government to churches are not worth the paper they are written on. This is because members of the gay lobby are already announcing they will fight against the Government making it illegal to have same-sex marriage in the Church of England. Rev Omooba said, “They are already trying to contest it. That’s why the safeguards are not safeguards. People can still take pastors to court on this issue, and we will have to justify it. So this is why we are seriously calling on the Church to wake up and take a stand. We have gone to sleep.” He urged Christians to visit the C4M website, where they will find all the tools they need to fight the Government’s plans. Meanwhile, Rev Yemi Adedeji, the recentlyappointed Director of the One People Commission at the Evangelical Alliance, wants a national referendum on the redefinition of marriage. He said, “We must continue to petition the Government and then what we need, as a last resort if all doesn’t work, is a referendum on the redefinition of marriage. People must have a say, not the politicians at Westminster. It's nothing to do with gay marriage. It’s the redefinition of marriage that we are against. “There is overwhelming support from the ethnic minorities, ethnic migrants and ethnic churches, who are saying they are going to be affected in future, because this is absolutely alien not only to their religious stand, but also to their social belief and their philosophical standing. “It is not about whatever the politicians want to do. The politicians should leave alone the Godenabled institution of marriage between man and woman. Don’t teach our children to accept what is not fundamental about our upbringing.” Keep the Faith asked the PM’s office for a comment on a national referendum, and was directed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A spokesperson said, “Marriage is hugely important, and we believe that allowing all couples to marry is the right thing to do. We recognise that there are many different views on our proposals, and that is why we held a public consultation to gather all views on this issue, and to understand how we could best do this. “We understand this is an emotive issue, and our proposals will be thoroughly discussed in both Houses of Parliament.”

SHIRIN AGUIAR-HOLLOWAY

What churches can do: • Visit c4m.org.uk and sign the petition • Pray • Write to your MP

The Government’s consultation on marriage • It was launched on 15 March 2012, and received more than 228,000 individual responses, the largest ever response to a government consultation • 53% of individual respondents to the consultation supported the proposal to allow same-sex couples to get married; 46% were against • The Government received petitions with over 500,000 signatures opposed to the proposals • Dr David Landrum, Evangelical Alliance’s Director of Advocacy, said the consultation was run like an “election in a tinpot state.”

Reactions from other faith leaders The Pope used his New Year’s Day message to publicly warn David Cameron that his plans for same-sex marriage will undermine the family: “Such moves by politicians are ‘an offence against the truth of the human person’.” Angry Muslims are demanding the same exemption on gay marriage as the Church of England. The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents 500 mosques and community organisations, claimed the law was ‘utterly discriminatory’, and said they were ‘appalled’ by it.


www.keepthefaith.co.uk


12 COMMENT

It is possible to keep your New Year’s resolutions! Very few people keep their New Year’s resolutions, but Rev David Shosanya demonstrates how you can achieve your 2013 goals if you are determined, have faith, and call on God for help ................................................................

REV DAVID SHOSANYA is a Regional Minister & Director with the London Baptist Association

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@keepthefaithmag

Professor Shiv conducted an experiment involving two groups of undergraduate students. One group was asked to memorise a two-digit number, and the second group a seven-digit number. Both groups were invited to take a short walk through a hall, and were offered a choice of two snacks: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit. It was noted that the students who were asked to memorise the seven-digit number were twice as likely to choose a slice of chocolate, compared to the students who were asked to memorise the two-digit number. Professor Shiv noted that the explanation for this behaviour was that the students who had been asked to memorise the seven-digit number had utilised a greater capacity of their prefrontal cortex, and concluded that “those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain - they were a “cognitive load” - making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert.” Fascinating!

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It is normal at this time of year for individuals to be focusing on what their resolutions are for the New Year. Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolutions are centred on our aspirations regarding our families, our health and our work: we want better relationships; a better quality of life; a greater sense of wellbeing, and a better work-life balance. They are no doubt noble and worthwhile aspirations which are to be encouraged. However, they are also often very short-lived, and equally focused on and driven by our own personal needs and interests. In other words, our resolutions are unintentionally, disproportionately, excessively focused on the here-and-now, on the immediate feelings of success or accomplishment that we experience, both in respect of our personal needs and spiritual aspirations being realised, rather than on longer term and more substantive changes. In fact, extensive scientific research has been undertaken to understand why New Year’s resolutions are often broken soon after they have been started. The main reason for the failure in making New Year’s resolutions happen is a lack of willpower. This may appear obvious. However, there are very strong scientific reasons why we lack the necessary willpower to make our resolutions last. Research conducted by Professor Baba Shiv at Stanford University has conclusively demonstrated that the lack of willpower needed to make resolutions successful is determined by the strength of the ‘reward’ brain cells that operate willpower, which are located in the prefrontal cortex, the area right behind the forehead. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is also responsible for helping us to stay focused; handle short-term memory, and solving abstract tasks.

... be practical about what you want to change, and how you are going to change it.

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The point being made is not that New Year’s resolutions should not be a feature of our lives as Christians. Any resolve to improve on who we are is biblically based and commendable. If they assist and inspire us to make small, cumulative changes over a prolonged period of time, then they are worthwhile and will no doubt enhance our lives. However, if they are purely emotional and sentimental desires that we have naively

embraced without intentionally counting the cost then, regrettably, they will fail, and we will be left feeling disappointed and frustrated, perhaps even believing that we have failed ourselves as well as God, and end up feeling discouraged or spiritually attacked. So what do I suggest? Firstly, be practical about what you want to change, and how you are going to change it. Secondly, set achievable goals that are easily attainable, so you can be motivated by realising them. Thirdly, be realistic about the time and energy - read determination that it will take to create new habits that will replace the old ones. Fourthly, create a plan that outlines how you are going to create the new habit. Write it down. Discuss it with a friend (one that knows what they are talking about). Review it. Make the necessary modifications and/or adjustments that are required. Don’t be rigid! Be determined and philosophical when you ‘fall off the wagon’ and lose your way. Get up and try again. Pray for the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit. The ability to remain focused and to realise our New Year’s resolution is more likely to be retained, if our focus is not solely on achieving a goal that only benefits us as individuals but that also makes a contribution to the lives of other people, even if indirectly. This does not mean that formulating a New Year’s resolution should have no personal benefit. It should. Rather, I am suggesting that being motivated not only by what you want to achieve, but also by what you want to outlive you, ie. your legacy, gives additional impetus. My hope and prayer is that the many New Year’s resolutions that we have made will be a source of inspiration to us and to those around us.


COMMENT 13

The Best Christian Leaders are also Disciples Rev Stephen Brooks examines the important disciplines of discipleship and mentorship, and why the Church needs more of both

REV STEPHEN BROOKS is National Development Manager for Excell 3 (National Black Boys Can Association)

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ne thing we need to see less of in 2013 is the number of Christian leaders addicted to attending church, and an increase in the number of leaders who are real disciples and followers of Jesus. Because many church leaders have not been trained to be a disciple, they can be easily tempted to chase after what is not godly, and give in to the temptation of their perceived self-importance. When leaders are not following Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they are not being good shepherds (1 Corinthians 4:15). Instead, they take their lead from selfish desires. Consequently, they focus on getting what they want rather than what God has for them, and become self-serving, only helping others as it makes them feel better about themselves (Romans 12:3). Due to the numbers of self-serving Christian leaders, members are often spiritually malnourished and in conflict, because the shepherd is leading them astray. Every one of us, including Church leaders, is called to be involved in Christian discipleship. Christ calls us to encourage and equip people, so that we can all worship Christ and live out a real, effectual, impacting Christian life (Matthew 28:19-20). The most important thing Jesus asks us to do as believers and as a Church is to make disciples. Remember, Jesus' purpose for His three years of earthly ministry was the discipleship and equipping of the 12 Disciples. He was focused on teaching them about the Kingdom of God, and encouraging the disciples to see beyond their present situation and the life to come. With His teaching, Jesus entrusted His Church to the care of the people He taught (John 17:18-20). They were to replicate themselves to others. Today, as increasing numbers of pastors lead independent churches, we are witnessing the demise of some Black-led church organisations. Too many pastors are not

accountable and, as a result, make too many mistakes, or their ministry remains stagnant and an ineffective influence on the world. The Christian faith is an imitative faith, beginning with Jesus` earliest words to the men and women who would become His disciples. “Follow Me” may be the simplest description of Christian discipleship; the simplicity is deceptive, as it assumes a complex relationship through which an individual becomes educated for the purpose of God. Jesus was a teacher at a time when the relationship of a rabbi and disciple was understood and widely practised. The kind of teaching that Jesus provided was very different from the classroom instruction of today’s seminaries. It was lived, experienced, tasted and touched by the disciples; no matter where they were, they were always in the classroom. Jesus intended a similar strategy for spiritual discipleship for the Church.

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Spiritual discipleship requires something more than traditional western forms of instruction.

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In the book of Acts, we have a beautiful example of the initiation of a spiritual mentor/ mentee relationship: Philip, a disciple of Jesus, met a public official who was reading the Scriptures. Philip’s simple question, “Do you know what you are reading?” and the response of the Ethiopian diplomat, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” exemplifies perfectly the mentor/mentee attitude. A good spiritual mentor creates a hospitable space of trust and intimacy, and can discern the move of God in the mentor. They also recognise potential in people; have experience, and is affirmed by others for having a life worthy of emulation. They are also familiar with contemplative prayer, listening and spiritual disciplines. A good mentee is an individual who desires spiritual growth and maturity; can be vulnerable

in sharing intimate issues of life, and responsive and respectful to the directives of the mentor. They also have a teachable attitude; are submissive, faithful and obedient and, most importantly, desire to serve God wholeheartedly. Spiritual discipleship requires something more than traditional western forms of instruction. It requires a relationship with a teacher of life, who is able to convey what was learned from the teacher’s own faithful mentor. Paul articulates with precision that the past provides a power for the present: “For I have received (paralambano) from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took a loaf of bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said “This is My body that is broken for you, do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24). Paul insists the church in Corinth must understand the great ‘paralambano principle’, ie. “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.” Paralambano is a technical word for the transmission of tradition from one person to another, from the past to the future. In the receiving and passing on of the traditions of the faith, timeless grace is poured into a present moment. One great spiritual mentor I knew was the late Bishop Norman L Wagner, who led the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). He was known all around the world as the preachers’ preacher, but to many he was also a spiritual mentor, who had many sons and daughters. His protégés, like Bishop A Glenn Brady, Bishop Wayne Brantley, Bishop Dr Iona Locke and Bishop Melvin Brooks - to name a few - today have impacting and empowering ministries that are affecting thousands around the world. The effective leader is one that has been discipled, is mentoring, has been mentored, is building relationships and has been accountable (2 Timothy 2:2). An effective leader aims to be like Christ.

For more information on the National Black Boys Can Association visit www.blackboyscan.co.uk

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14 COMMENT

GOD UNDERSTANDS OUR SUFFERING Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts states that, whilst it’s difficult to understand why people suffer, we should derive comfort from the fact that we serve a God who understands our suffering

REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain

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ressed in a military vest, a heavily-armed young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December 2012 and opened fire, shattering the quiet of this southern New England town, leaving the nation reeling at the number of young lives lost. Within minutes, 26 people were dead: 20 children and six adults. Earlier this year, stunned Norwegians attempted to come to terms with the most pernicious manifestation of evil since World War 2. Anders Behring Breivik took a public ferry to Utoya Island, galvanised political elite campers and, for some 90 minutes, coolly and methodically shot 92 young people, hunting down those who fled. Both these incidents display the random and arbitrary nature of suffering. It has no favourites, leaving its victims baffled at its voracity. Whether it is financial difficulty, a loveless marriage, loneliness, bereavement, unemployment, homelessness or poverty, suffering can be overwhelming, and the strategies adopted to address it limited. Calling for just prayer can sometimes be an excuse for burying heads in the sand, whilst developing a theology of suffering without neglecting the discipline of prayer can prove helpful for suffering persons. The Hebrew community and Christ included both these two elements when dealing with the ambivalent nature of suffering. Beginning with the Hebrew community, for all of their privileges, history and rich tradition, they were not immune from suffering. The finest Hebrew minds were transported to Babylon to strengthen the Babylonian economy. Brick by brick the Hebrew slaves, away from the luxuries of their homeland, worked day and night. Admittedly, their suffering was self-imposed, but suffering is suffering, pain is pain - self-imposed or not. To assist this context, it is important to remember that the pre- and post-exile narratives were put together as an attempt not only to make theological sense of the history of oppressed people, but to articulate the response of God in the face of oppression and suffering. How God responds to human suffering is an immense question. As for the Hebrews, there were times when they felt completely abandoned by God; yet there were times when they believed that, despite their enslavement, the Temple remained a concrete symbol and reminder of the intimate presence and love of their God. Their perspective of God fluctuated, which is an understandable response to suffering. This is to be human. To believe that God loves you on Sunday, yet the same God is apparently absent on the Monday, is to be true to our humanity when face to face with circumstances that we are unable to manage. Here is the question: how do African and Caribbean Christians tend to respond to suffering? Often citing Paul’s writings in Roman 8:28, we say to ourselves and others, “And we know that

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in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I must say, I do sometimes find this traditional Christian view on suffering problematic. It is indeed right to locate suffering within the providence of God; after all, He is God. But to imply, as I think the text does, that all suffering is God-willed, ordered within the divine purposes of God, and that He wills - even predestines - all suffering, is not easy for me to grasp. For, does it not suggest to the disabled person desiring to walk; the single person desperate for marriage; the childless couple yearning for children; families living in poverty; persons young and old fading away because of cancer or some other malignant illness, that God has willed their suffering and approves it? In developing a theology of suffering, therefore, I have learnt to value how Christ deals with His own suffering and that of others. In becoming flesh, Christ fully participates in His humanity and that of others. Christ’s famous words, ‘May this cup pass Me by,’ is a clear and direct acknowledgement of the intense experiences that engulfed Him, as the reality of the cross and its implications loomed large. The Romans would frequently ensure that a crucifixion lasted for days. Christ, the colonised Jew, would have heard the screams of the dying, as their bodies and wills were crushed by the solders. Such horrific pictures of torture will have informed and largely defined the life of Christ as one who learned how to weep with those who weep, and suffer with those who suffer. To fully enter into the pain of another is the highest expression of empathy. Even though I am not able to quote Romans 8:26 with absolute confidence to family friends who recently lost their fiveyear-old child, I can say, where appropriate, that the Word who become flesh knows exactly how they feel and remains ever-present in their grief. It is with regret that the grieving are not always fully restored, and there are times when the blind are not healed, yet the listening, participative, empathetic Christ is ever present in our suffering, which is the testimony of Job and others before and after him. As a famous liberation theologian used to say, “In our suffering, God is there!”


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16 INTERVIEW

Jahmene Douglas Jahmene Douglas captured the public’s heart, whilst a contestant in the UK’s most famous talent show, X Factor, last year. People loved his singing; his humble attitude; his love for his family, and the fact that he’d overcome a difficult childhood and had retained a positive attitude. Jahmene’s mother was a victim of domestic violence, for which his father was imprisoned. Due to his openness about his childhood experiences, Jahmene was appointed as the first ever Ambassador for Children and Young People for domestic violence charity, Women’s Aid. During the show, it became apparent that Jahmene was also a Christian; a lover of gospel music, and sang in the choir at Bible Life Church in Swindon, where he is a much-loved member. Although Jahmene was the runner-up in the X Factor final, the public will still hear from him, as he has signed a record deal with Sony Music. He spoke to Keep The Faith about his experience on X Factor; his love for gospel music, and how faith in God has impacted his life. KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): Congratulations on reaching the final of X Factor. That was a great achievement. What was it like being in the final? JAHMENE DOUGLAS (JH): Thank you! It was an overwhelming blessing. It was also a moment of release, singing ‘Let It Be’. I felt I was being a vessel, and that I had to pass the love on through music. The final was a turnaround moment for me, a moment of realisation that I had so many people supporting, and the doubting had to stop, so I let go.

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KTF: What was your favourite moment(s) whilst in X Factor? JH: For me, it’s always about the people I’ve met from all walks of life. You learn so much from the people around you, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great, inspirational people. When it comes to moments, it is hard to choose: from spending time with Nicole; the contestants; meeting Samuel L Jackson, or meeting the truly amazing Katie Piper. So my favourite moment would have to be the fact that I applied for all of this to happen in the first place.


INTERVIEW 17 wisdom and love. My mother tried getting us into Sunday School, but it was quickly stopped by my father, but I’ve always had that centre of faith, and I felt that I could use my singing as a vessel of that love to help others who felt the same kind of ‘lost’ that I did throughout the years. Music is powerful, and has helped me a great deal, and my faith is merged into it.

KTF: What was it like living in the X Factor house with the other contestants, and being treated like a celebrity when you went out to special events? JH: The whole experience has been a blur, and I would say it’s been hard to embrace each moment because they are so overwhelming and incredible. Because of that, I’ve been floating from place to place in disbelief that all these amazing things are falling into place for me.

KTF: Your church and the gospel choir you were part of were featured on X Factor. How long were you in the choir, and what did you enjoy most about going to church and singing gospel? JH: When I was living with my father, we weren’t allowed outside, so church wasn’t really an option. Moving into Swindon without his control, a college friend suggested her church to me. I went along, and as soon as I entered the building I had to walk on the stage to sing ‘Just a Prayer Away’ by Yolanda Adams, because my friend had told them I was a singer. Ever since that moment I stayed in that church, which was mainly made up of extremely welcoming Africans. There is always love in that place, and I would always leave uplifted. I used to sing solos, with the choir, in the choir, but I kept trying to push the youth in the church to sing more rather than me singing every week. The thing I enjoyed most about church was the ever-flowing love - 1 Corinthians 13:8 ‘Love Never Fails’.

KTF: How did you feel performing on stage with your mentor/coach, Nicole Scherzinger, during the final, and what support did she give you during the show? JH: ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ is one of Nicole’s favourite songs and also one of mine, so for us to learn about each other’s lives and to grow close as friends, to have that moment to share on stage with such a wonderful woman, was moving for me. I felt even in rehearsals, singing that song with her, that it was one of my greatest achievements for my spirit. She has continuously uplifted me from the beginning until each passing day, with her funny little motivational texts.

KTF: You’ve now signed a record deal with Sony Music. When will your debut album come out, and what kind of music should we expect on it? Will it include any gospel songs? JH: Whatever music I make will be music from me, music from my heart and, to me, when the message is love ... it’s gospel. I am not compromising myself when it comes to music; it will always be authentic, and I will always try my utmost to keep the music classy, because that’s what I’ve been brought up listening to. KTF: You’ve been through a lot, having seen your mother be a victim of domestic violence. How has that experience impacted your approach to life and relationships? JH: Life has thrown many things at my family and me, but I’ve always tried to learn from things to grow into a stronger person. It’s easy to let these things take over and push you down into an even lower place. It’s not always easy, but that just encourages me to strive for better. I think it’s important to stay in the light of positive change, not just for yourself, but for those that look to you for strength because they’ve been through something similar. It’s nice to know you can pull through and still have inner happiness. I’ve been lucky to have been blessed with an incredible mother, who has brought me up

with amazing standards and morals, so I have always promised myself to never disrespect my mother by straying too far from what she’s taught me. I am in no rush to find a relationship, because I believe in going with the flow; you can’t chase love, it finds you. When you finally have it, cherish it, but let it breathe.

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KTF: We read that you prayed with Nicole before going on stage. How important is prayer to you? JH: Prayer for me is zoning out and stepping out onto another plane and walk of life. A place where you can watch, observe, listen and understand life. So prayer, for me, especially before I go out to sing, takes me to that peace of mind to make that much-needed connection with the people listening. Nicole is very much on the same wavelength as me, and completely gets me.

Music is powerful, and has helped me a great deal, and my faith is merged into it.

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KTF: How does your family feel about you reaching the final and getting a record deal? JH: I think it’s just a massive break for my family to finally have some type of stability and security. KTF: Can you tell me a bit about your faith in God and why it is important to you? JH: Ever since I was younger, I have always believed in some kind of higher love, but at that time I was too young to understand, but I knew about prayer. There were a lot of dark times, but my mother’s inner happiness and strength have shown me that there was something ‘other worldly’, something higher, that place people delve into to find hope, strength,

KTF: Who are your favourite gospel artists? Will you be dueting with any gospel artists on your debut album? JH: My favourite gospel artists! The list is endless: Karen Clark Sheard, The Clark Sisters, CeCe Winans, Lashun Pace, Yolanda Adams, Patti Labelle, Kim Burrell, Kirk Franklin… It would be a dream to work with any of them because they are extremely inspirational! KTF: Aside from your album, what other projects will you be involved with during 2013? JH: During 2013, my main project - other than music - is to tend to my role as the Youth Ambassador for the ‘Women’s Aid’ charity. It’s a cause that hits home, and I’m really looking forward to helping out as much as I possibly can. Domestic violence is such a common thing; the statistics are shocking. It surprises me that there isn’t more in the way of Government help and funding. I would love to make sure people knew they definitely had somewhere to go that was 100% secure, with solid help. KTF: Lastly, what impact are you hoping that your life and music will have on the world? JH: A strong faith is a contagious thing; I just hope to lead by example with nothing but love in everything I do. Like Jahmene at www.facebook.com/ TheOfficialJahmeneDouglas/; follow on Twitter @jahmenedouglas, and watch on YouTube www.youtube.com/jahmenedouglas

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


18 INTERVIEW

Bishop Melvin Brooks & B ishop Melvin Brooks and Pastor Yvonne Brooks are a ministry-orientated couple, who have a passion to strengthen and support marriages and relationships. The couple have been married for over 34 years; are parents to three adult children, and co-pastor New Jerusalem church, a thriving ministry based in Aston, Birmingham. Their overwhelming desire to help couples build strong marriages inspired them to present a well-received programme on Revelation TV in 2012 called Marriage Matters. They have also spoken about the subject at seminars and conferences throughout the world, and co-authored a pre-marital counselling manual entitled “Prepared for the Future”. In this revealing interview with Keep The Faith, the couple reveal how they became ‘marriage gurus’; how they met; the role faith plays in their lives and relationship, and share tips on things couples can do to strengthen their marriages and build an unbreakable bond.

Keep The Faith (KTF): You recently presented Marriage Matters, a TV series about marriage on Revelation TV. What inspired you to do so? Pastor Yvonne Brooks (PYB): From early in our marriage, our peers have turned to us and asked for counsel, advice and support. It was natural for us to share what we knew. Then, as we moved into pasturing, we offered pre-marital counselling to our members, and it just grew from there. When we were given the opportunity, by Howard and Leslie Condor, to present this show on Revelation TV, we were very happy to take up the offer. KTF: What kind of responses did you get to your series? PYB: The feedback that we got blessed us a great deal, and made us realise the importance of discussing issues around marriage and relationships. Many marriages are failing due to lack of knowledge. It made us realise that people want information; they want to succeed, and that there are huge gaps in our learning and experience as people. KTF: What are the main marital problems that you both deal with, and how do you help couples overcome them? PYB: The main problem that couples are experiencing is a failure of communication. This impacts on every other area of their lives: sex, money and the ability to build lasting and satisfying relationships. Over the last five years,

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we have seen pornography becoming an issue in marriages, where it’s mainly the husbands seeking satisfaction online. There are also issues with abuse, and mental and emotional cruelty. We deal with most of these issues through counselling and prayer. We also refer couples on to other counsellors, who have areas of specialism. We encourage couples to attend marriage encounters that help to deepen their levels of satisfaction within their relationships. KTF: Divorce is on the increase amongst Christians. Why do you think this is, and what can churches do to help couples build strong marriages? PYB: When couples grow lukewarm in their faith, they start to believe the world’s propaganda that they deserve to be happy, and that it is their spouse’s responsibility. This, in some cases, causes individuals to become disappointed, leading to unfaithfulness. Failure to develop ourselves spiritually; starting a family; unemployment, or undue pressure of any kind - these can all cause problems. Some couples also have unresolved issues in their past. The church should ensure that couples are prepared for each life transition, by providing ongoing teaching and training programmes on marriage and parenting.

KTF: How have you overcome challenges/ difficulties you’ve experienced as a couple, and remained married so long? PYB: Well, for me, there is no one I would rather spend my life with. I have a husband who has integrity. He is human, so he has many faults, but who hasn’t? If he were perfect, he wouldn’t want me, would he? As a backdrop to my marriage, I made a commitment that I would stay and work out whatever needed to be worked out. I also have the understanding that whoever I was married to, there would be challenges. I also think about the effect my failure would have on those who look to me to be an example. What would be the legacy for my children and grandchildren? Most of all, it would turn the message that I preach into a lie, and would not bring glory to God, whom I love with all my heart. This spurs me on, and keeps me creative and resourceful. KTF: How did you both meet? Bishop Melvin Brooks (BMB): I first saw Yvonne singing on the National Choir of the organisation of which I was a part. Following that, we met at youth meetings and church services that were held all over the country. We became pen pals.


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& Pastor Yvonne Brooks KTF: How did you know/decide that Yvonne was the woman for you? BMB: Somehow, from the moment I saw Yvonne, I believed she was the one. It wasn’t plain sailing, but she became that special one, and after 34½ years, she is still the special and only one. KTF: Pastor Yvonne, how did you decide Bishop Melvin was the man for you? PYB: Among my peers he stood out: he was manly, he was a worshipper, and he worked hard. He really cares about people. He was somebody whom I could respect and look up to for leadership. I felt he would look after and protect me, and never abuse me in any way. I felt he would be a good father to our children, and I believed that I loved him. KTF: How long have you been married, and what do you like most about being married? PYB: We have been married for over 34½ years. The thing I enjoy most about being married is having someone who truly cares about me, and who is there in good times and bad. He is my personal cheerleader and encourager. BMB: I love my wife, our children, our life together, our relationship. Yvonne is a motivator, one who listens to my ideas, and of course interjects and supports. Yvonne has a fantastic sense of humour, absolutely brilliant. She’s great fun, creative and insightful. At home, we call her “green fingers”; whatever she touches becomes fruitful. Yvonne is constant; she was there when I was seriously ill, taking care of me and making sure the ministry stayed focused. She invested time with my family and friends. KTF: Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing? PYB: I spent the first eight years of my life in Jamaica. I had very strict parents, and they were already in church many years before I was born. At the age I am now, looking back and taking everything into account, I can honestly say my parents did the best they could, and tried to push us as far forward as they could. They gave me Jesus. BMB: I was brought up by my grandmother, as my parents left Jamaica when I was 1½ years old. Apparently, my gran told my mother when she was about to leave for England that she couldn’t take me with her, as she was not sure if my mother would return, and so my mother obeyed her mother (LOL). My upbringing was brilliant, because I received love and care unconditionally from my grandmother (Miss Eliza Smith), and although I grew up not knowing my parents, I never felt parentless. However,

being a boy and living in the country, many of my family used me to do all kinds of work for them, but I never felt in any way unwanted. I went to school, went to church, and eventually came to England in 1971. KTF: How has your faith impacted your life? PYB: I don’t want to sound sanctimonious, but my faith over the years has become my life; I live by faith. BMB: My faith has impacted my life, by empowering me to do all I was told I could not do. I have travelled to many countries, preaching, teaching and mentoring. I have been used by God to influence changes around the globe. I have met key leaders. My life, my family, my friends, my whole life is because Jesus saved me, and is using me to impact the lives of individuals, families, communities and nations. KTF: What events/initiatives have you got planned for 2013 to support marriages? PYB: We have an on-going programme in our church to prepare couples for marriage. We believe that failure to prepare is preparation for failure. Some couples need reality orientation as to the purpose of marriage. We will also be hosting some events.

KTF: What message would you like to share with couples wanting to build strong marriages and keep their love alive in 2013? PYB: You have to treat your marriage like a garden, giving it regular attention. A garden doesn’t become overgrown suddenly, but due to neglect and lack of attention. We must weed out negatives, and spread the fertiliser of kindness and tenderness. We must water it with prayer, love and compassion, and take time to sit in the garden and enjoy what has been planted. You will have to renew some of the plants periodically. Increase your knowledge and skill levels by taking refresher courses. Couples must make real time for each other, and pray with each other. Husbands need to take their wives out as often as possible, and do things that show appreciation. Wives need to make time for their husbands; learn his love language, and make him feel like the man he dreams of being.

Bishop Melvin Brooks and Pastor Yvonne Brooks will be hosting a retreat for married couples from 22-23 February, 2013. Visit www.rebeccapresents.co.uk for more details.

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20 FEATURE

It’s time to wage war against sexual exploitation Dionne Gravesande explores the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation, and challenges Christians to offer compassion, understanding and healing to those who are victims of it

DIONNE GRAVESANDE is Head of Church and Young People’s Relationships at Christian Aid

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and intent on threatening, punishing or controlling young women by means of forced oral sex, anal and vaginal rape. Rape is much more than forced penetration; it includes insult, humiliation and aggression. It is violence expressed in its maximum form. The impact on the victims’ lives is devastating; many suffer depression and a range of emotional disorders, as well as the physical consequences of infections and pregnancy, which make rape even more traumatic. Globally, millions of women are trafficked for sex on a supply and demand basis. When many people hear about ‘trafficking’, the picture of sexual exploitation comes to mind, and it is one that women's rights groups and, increasingly, evangelical Christian groups like Shared Hope International, International Justice Mission, and Love146, use explicitly in their campaigning. It is only by speaking out about this terrible wrongdoing that we can confront it and challenge the culture of turning a blind eye. To treat women or men as sexual objects is inhuman and immoral.

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he was a 23-year-old Physical Therapy student who, with a male friend, boarded a bus in Delhi in December 2012. Six men locked the door, and savagely raped her for hours, and assaulted her with a metal rod. They dumped her (and the friend) naked in the street and, after bravely fighting for her life, she died. Every fibre of my being screamed NO! So high profile is this case, it was reported that several legal companies refused to defend the men involved, and so the world watches and waits for justice as India deals with this evil deed. Of course, our hearts and prayers are with the victim’s family, but what of the six men? How does our faith cause us to respond to those who cry ‘Crucify!’? Across India, people are responding in massive protests to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ In India, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and few see justice. Globally, a staggering 7 out of 10 women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. It’s 2013, and the brutal, venal, global war on women must stop. We can start by drawing the line in India, but sexual abuse and violence are not India’s problem alone. The figures here in the UK are extremely worrying, too, particularly as they relate to children. Thousands of children are raped and abused each year, with many more cases going unreported by victims and unrecorded by the authorities. According to a study by the Office of Children’s Commissioner, a range of traumatic and violent sexual crimes - perpetrated mainly against girls by male teenage gang members and groups of older men - draws an alarming picture of serious sexual crimes against children: girls groomed, then drugged and raped at seedy ‘parties’ in private homes and warehouses, organised by groups of men for profit or pleasure; assaults in public parks, schools and alleyways by gang members, influenced by violent pornography,

To treat women or men as sexual objects is inhuman and immoral

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Exchanging money, shelter, food or other goods for sex or sexual favours, from someone in a vulnerable position, is sexual exploitation. Threatening or forcing someone to have sex or provide sexual favours under unequal or forced conditions is sexual abuse. In my view, this cannot be the will of God. As a Christian, it's easy to become disillusioned with the state of the world, when we see society turning its back on God’s standard of living, but we need to do more than retreat into a holy huddle behind closed doors, which is actually what secularists criticise us for.

So what could be the healing message for women who experience sexual violence? First of all, we need to recognise the validity of their claims. “We believe you” should be our response. “You are not alone, and we are with you”. As in times of old, the safety and well-being of girls and women should be a priority, and the commitment of the Church is very important in standing with those affected by exploitation. The healing ministry should reach both the women and men involved, however challenging that may sound; repentance and forgiveness are real elements of Christian understanding and maturity. Our love should be visible to the community. Scripture tells us that, while healing people, Jesus broke the myths that distanced them from God and prevented their full participation in society, and we should do likewise. Christ made it possible for people to turn to the God of life to regain their dignity and self-respect; become fully integrated into the community, and praise the living God (Mark 2:12). With Christ, it is possible to be freed from feelings of guilt and shame for both victim and perpetrator. While it might be a task to get someone, who’s not a Christian, to take the Bible at face value and accept its teachings, that is not an excuse to keep quiet and do nothing. The challenge is to prove that Christianity - and its principles - is relevant, by demonstrating that it has far more to offer than alternative philosophies and ideologies. We are driven by truth, and truth is ageless and should not be affected by public opinion. Jesus reminds us of God’s gift to all, and of His intention that all may enjoy life in abundance of wholeness, happiness and well-being. Whilst the journey to reclaiming wholeness and peace is a long one for those who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation, let us, as the Church, walk the dark places with the broken-hearted, bringing light and healing by way of love, compassion and prayer.


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22 FEATURE

Faith, stories and the experience of Black elders Theologian Dr Anthony Reddie reminds us of the great wisdom to be learned from the ‘Windrush Generation’ about life, faith in God and overcoming hardship

DR ANTHONY REDDIE is a Black Theologian, author and editor of ‘Black Theology: An International Journal’.

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ne of my earliest memories is sitting in a small plastic bath, being bathed by my Auntie ‘Dotty’, the older sister of my mother. I was about 5 years old, and this was Bradford in the late 1960s. I am the eldest child of Lucille and Noel Reddie, both of whom came from Jamaica to the UK in the late 1950s. I was born in 1964. What I remember very clearly was sitting in the bath and being interrogated by my Auntie, who was asking me who had broken her glasses earlier that day. She knew it was me who had broken the glasses, but I was denying it. She looked at me and said, “Now, tell the truth and shame the devil, Anthony.” This was a remarkable woman, who had lost children and a husband; had lived through remarkable hardship - first in Jamaica and then in 1950s England - and, through it all, her hard work, fortitude and commonsense wisdom, born of experience, had carried her through. As I grew up in working class Bradford, I realised that I was being shaped by the wisdom and experience of my older relatives. The ‘Windrush Generation’ were a group of people whose life experiences were shaped by the historic struggle to make life in the Caribbean after the horrors of slavery, and by the on-going deprivations of colonialism and structural racism. When I began my postgraduate studies, looking at Black Christianity in Britain and across the African Diaspora, I realised that an important element, which had been underexplored, was the theological and faith legacy of the Windrush Generation in Britain. I could not have undertaken postgraduate studies for a doctorate without the hard work and fortitude of this generation of people. In order to address this shortcoming, I decided to undertake some research with older Black people, looking at how the combination of faith in Jesus; the experience of wrestling with the inheritance of slavery, and the oral traditions passed on through succeeding generations had created a legacy that had transformed Britain.

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The result of this research, interviewing countless numbers of older Black Christians in Birmingham, London and Yorkshire, led to the creation of one of my earliest books, Faith, Stories and the Experience of Black Elders: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land, which was published in London by Jessica Kingsley in January 2001. One of the central features of the book was an attempt to capture the dynamic quality of Black Christian faith, and how those qualities had influenced succeeding generations of Black people. I was reminded of the crucial imperative that the Christian faith is more caught than taught. I had learnt this from one of the great Black woman scholars in the US, Ella Pearson Mitchell who, in turn, had adapted it from St Augustine. Faith, Stories and the Experience of Black Elders: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land outlines the way in which personal narratives (testimonies, if you will) are a crucial resource in both the content and the process by which matters of faith, spirituality and identity (personal and corporate) are established. The crucial person from whom I ‘caught my faith’ was my mother. The lessons of ‘Telling the truth and shaming the devil’, or ‘If you want good, then your nose must run’ or ‘The higher the monkey climb is the more ’im get exposed’ were life lessons that taught people how to live, how to endure hardship, and how to win through. A central part of the research was the importance of proverbial wisdom, ways of knowing and learning the truth that arises from experience. Such proverbial wisdom is summed up in a series of wise sayings.

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The ‘Windrush Generation’ were a group of people, whose life experiences were shaped by the historic struggle to make life in the Caribbean after the horrors of slavery, and by the on-going deprivations of colonialism and structural racism. One of my favourite stories that came out of the research, which is detailed in the book, is the importance of not being ‘craven’ - excessively greedy. I remember several of the older Black women repeating the phrase “You shouldn’t be too lickey lickey and nyamey nyamey.” In the tropical weather of the Caribbean - especially before refrigeration where food goes off very quickly, being greedy and wanting to eat food without checking it first is a dangerous, bad habit to develop. In writing the book, I realised that the radical and politicised work of Black Liberation theology, which I have helped to pioneer in the UK alongside others, is underpinned by the steadfastness and strength of character of these ordinary Black people of faith. The book is an old one now. It didn’t sell that well when it came out. Given the challenges and problems we have in our many Black communities in Britain today, we could do worse than reflect on the values bequeathed us by the Windrush Generation. Faith, Stories and the Experience of Black Elders: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land reminds us that we have travelled this far by faith, and by the perseverance of dedicated people whose legacy to us has been the gift of knowing how to live.

Faith, Stories and the Experience of Black Elders: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land is available at www.amazon.co.uk


FEATURE 23

PREPARING YOUNG LEADERS FOR THE FUTURE Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins writes that churches can prepare young people for leadership by giving them opportunities to lead, so they learn firsthand from more experienced leaders ...............................................................

PASTOR CELIA APEAGYEI-COLLINS is CEO of the Rehoboth Foundation

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We are not limited by what we don’t have, but by what we don’t do.’ Leadership is God’s ideal for every human being, and should be an integral part of what we pursue and produce. Like beauty, leadership is hard to define, but is recognisable. Leadership is INFLUENCE - the means by which one person modifies the attitudes, behaviour and actions of others, mostly towards a purpose. POWER, which can be defined as a leader’s position, values, character, charisma, expertise and competence, as well as resources, is what enables leaders to influence. No one looking at the state of our world today will disagree with the assertion that we are in short supply of morally-sound, solutionoriented leaders. This fact is exemplified by nations lacking morality, ineffective governments, dysfunctional families, and Christian communities struggling to make impact. Yet, communities can be changed when they are influenced by transformational leaders. Such leaders don’t just appear, but must be developed and deployed proactively for all spheres of life. Transformational leadership occurs “when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.” Howard Hendricks says, “The greatest means of impacting the future is to build into another person’s life”. Within each Christian leader is the potential for limitless reproduction - which is our task. Traditionally within the church, leaders are mature in age, but what about the forgotten force of young emerging leaders? Joel 2:28: includes them as an integral part of God’s end time army. Biblical history is rich with examples of leaders who understood their duty to the future, and accepted their own limitations, by coleading at varying degrees with younger leaders, appreciating the fact that the young had fresh perspectives as well as skills and anointings needed for the future. God used this model as a way of preparing people for key tasks. Leaders possess something unique and

peculiar to impact the seasons and generations they live in. David’s request to build God a house was refused, because David's hands were bloodied. Warfare was about to be replaced by seasons of peace and economic boom. Neither David nor Adonijah, being warrior leaders, had the necessary skill sets required to lead Israel into this new and unfamiliar season. God provided Solomon, who had different thought patterns. “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great” (1 Chronicles 29:1). David mentored Solomon by sharing success secrets and affording him internship opportunities, by co-reigning with him while he was still king. Solomon gained confidence, ‘experimenting’ with leadership in a safe environment, accessing David’s contacts, etc. Discerning Solomon’s administration to be different, David doesn’t ask Solomon to mimic him, but allows for essential change and creativity. Emerging leaders don’t want to be ignored, tolerated or controlled; they desire mentoring and opportunities to lead.

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Biblical history is rich with examples of leaders who understood their duty to the future, and accepted their own limitations by co-leading at varying degrees with younger leaders.

When Moses died, Israel's future was secure; a young capable leader, Joshua, had been developed over many years, having served and co-led under Moses. Timing was strategic. As Israel’s first Prime Minister, putting policies and infrastructure in place and a great administrator, Moses realised that the unction for leadership in the future was going to be different, so he nurtured Joshua the young warrior into leadership. Joshua observed Moses’ relationship with God; learned management skills, vision casting/ implementation, etc. Moses, discerning that Joshua was not administrative like him, but was skilled in warfare, allowed him to lead battles. Without both generations co-leading with their unique capabilities, the battle against the Amalekites would have been lost. Later, under Joshua as senior leader, Israel

won greater victories, because Joshua had been allowed to hone his skills under a leader with foresight. Jesus and Paul put their protégés into leadership positions, and trusted them to represent them whilst they were still alive. Today, God surrounds us with potential young leaders who hold the key to Kingdom advancement. We need to give them a chance. I am someone who was given early leadership opportunities. Pastor granted me opportunities to contribute to decision making, as well as learn from my mistakes. At Rehoboth Foundation, we have young people from our Young and Emerging Leaders Forum on our Board, and I admire their insightful perspectives, zeal and efficiency. Leadership is less a theoretical matter than an actual hands-on, ongoing practice. Leaders desiring to impact the future, and raise up a generation of young leaders need to: • See potential in people • Be prepared to give the younger generation leadership responsibility and internship opportunities • Make them part of the decision-making process • Recognise they possess influence, and position them relevantly • Be tolerant, patient with mistakes • Train and equip • Share authority, power and glory • Have foresight, and suggest needed development steps • Possess gifts and abilities that build up and encourage Co-leading remains one of the few options for developing strong, effective leaders who, through modeling, leading and mentoring, will learn the art of leadership. This method can help reduce the tendency among church leaders to cling to power, and ensure that no season lacks adequately prepared leaders. “The man who beats the drum doesn’t know how far the sound goes.” Leaders, beat on….

Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins is CEO of the Rehoboth Foundation, which provides leadership development, and runs the mentoring organisation, ‘The Company of Women’. Visit www.rehobothfoundation.com for more details. www.keepthefaith.co.uk


24 FEATURE

On process, purpose and passion Ola Nubi writes that being a single Christian can be enjoyable and fun, as individuals have time to explore the world, follow their passion and learn about their God-given purpose

is an aspiring writer, writes short stories, has won writing awards and is working on a novel

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hen I was asked to come up with a few words on the issue of singleness, I tried to think of something fresh to bring to this subject and decided, after much deliberating, why not just share a bit about my journey as a single woman? I guess you will probably think, ‘Hey, I couldn’t bear to read another sob story about a single woman waiting for Mr Right to show up’ and you are right, so I won’t even go there. That’s not to say I don’t believe that it will happen. I just want to talk about other things. When I hit forty, it was a time of reflection. Years of dodging questions from relatives and well-meaning friends about my prolonged single status had equipped me with a tough skin. Mr Right hadn’t shown up; there had been a few disappointments in love - and some near misses and it was time to move on and learn from my mistakes. I stopped taking myself too seriously; learned to laugh at myself and the funny things in life, and appreciate a good book or play. I took holidays to savour the beauty of the English countryside, the sunny islands of Tuscany, and Table Mountain in Cape Town.

Tuscany Table

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I realised I had spent a lot of time trying to please people, by doing the things I had done for years that were now becoming routine, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I had spent decades nursing a lot of unfulfilled dreams, and I realised that a person who is out there, fulfilling their destiny, is more attractive to a person praying for a life partner than someone who sits at home, buried in selfpity. Surely, I needed to have a vision before I could see where I fitted into someone else's life and destiny? I should be pursuing my purpose and passion, and not waiting to be pursued. Knowing your purpose helps you realise that if you really want to fulfil God’s plan for your life, you can’t get hitched to just anyone.

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OLA NUBI

Make life happen for yourself and someone else

When an individual has spent years of being alone, watching friends get married and having families, it is very tempting to want to settle for ‘Mr Average’, ‘Mr Romeo’, or ‘Mr I-have-a-lot-ofserious-problems-but-love-conquers-all’, but you need to see how your destiny links up. You are carrying destiny, and need someone to make the baby leap inside of you, not terminate the promise. Let’s look at the facts. Our biological clocks are clanging; he looks good, talks good, spends good, and is the first person to ask you out in 10 years. Yes, it does happen. Neither of these reasons is good enough to make a permanent decision to link your destiny and life to another human being for 30, 40 years, or more if Jesus tarries. If your relationship isn't going to lead to a partnership that has purpose - what is the point? In pursuing my passion, I decided to take a creative writing class, where I was encouraged to take my writing more seriously and go back to University and study for a Masters. Initially, I was a bit worried about returning to University after years of being out of formal education for so long, but this had been my dream since I could string words into sentences and then into little stories.

I knew I had to go for it. Three years later, I have won two writing competitions; had a book accepted for publication, and am in the process of writing my second novel. I have found that being more fulfilled doesn’t always banish the longing for love - and maybe that’s a good thing, because one must always have hope. If I could talk to the 20-year-old Ola, I would tell her to learn a new hobby or language; write a book; travel, even if it’s to the next town; smile at someone on the train, and share Christ with her boss. To do something - anything - but sit around waiting for someone to show up. Nowadays with technology there is so much more that singles can do. Start a page of a social network, and gather people around who have the same interests. Join a meet-up group - there are lots of Christian and secular ones. Make life happen for yourself and someone else, and you will become a better friend, employee, church member and - who knows - maybe potential wife or husband some day, in the not-toodistant future.

Read more of Ola’s work at www.olaawonubi.com, http://easytowrite.wordpress.com and check out her blog, The Diary of a Reluctant Single on http://amberandgold.wordpress.com


FEATURE 25

The Commandment to love can be the hardest to follow Esther Williams examines the difficulty Christians experience in obeying God’s command to love everybody, and how drawing closer to God will help us fulfil this key mandate

ESTHER WILLIAMS is an international Development Journalist

You can follow Esther on Twitter @mew36

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ove is fascinating. It’s an amazing, tough, complex emotion. Yet God chose it to be the first and greatest commandment. This means that, if you’re a Christian, there are no loop holes, get out clauses or caveats, we’ve just got to figure out how to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). On top of that, we have to love everyone else: the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s easy to love the lovely, our friends and the people we do life with on a day-to-day basis. But what about those who, as hard as you may try, you can’t see how it could be God’s plan for you and them to be part of each other’s lives? Candidates for this category may be in your workplace; they could be in your church, or - harder still - this could be a family member. The rub is that it doesn’t matter which nook or cranny of your life they reside in, there is power available to you to be able to love them.

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I think loving God more is key to us being able to love others

On a very practical level, what works for me is thinking about my own humanity. I’m very keen to ensure I have lots of credit in my mercy account. I do this because it is very likely that when I wake up on Monday morning, with the praises of God on my lips, I will be at one with the angels - so extraordinarily holy. But, by the time I get to 3pm on Friday afternoon, it’s quite possible that God and I may have fallen out. The reason why? His sovereign right to place people in my world, whose sole purpose is to smooth off my rough edges, leaves me exhausted by the end of the week. Sometimes I pass the ‘be gracious’ test and sometimes I fail miserably. I’ve got to the stage in my life where I am not overly concerned about failing the test as long as it’s not the same test over and over. But I do want to ensure that I am always in God’s ‘inner circle’, and that I’m one of the ones He constantly wants to share His secrets with. I think we can all hold our hands up and say we have been guilty in the past of having a distant ‘crowd-type’ love relationship with God. During Jesus’ life and early ministry, there were crowds of people who would travel miles to hear Him speak. Mark 8:1 recalls that some didn’t even bother to eat, as they were captivated by His gift and applauded His miracles, but were nowhere to be found when Jesus asked them to take up their cross and follow Him; meaning, love as He loved, serve as He served, and lay down their life for the cause of Christ. None of this is easy or natural - it’s supernatural. But there were 12 who were part of the inner circle who experienced a close relationship with Jesus, and there were three who had a special relationship with Jesus: Peter, James and John. They

were privy to His secrets; were there at the transfiguration; were present when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. They saw things others didn’t see; shared moments with Jesus when He was at His most vulnerable, and experienced levels of His power that others did not, not because they were His favourites, but because of the love in their hearts towards Him. They loved Him more than the crowds, and more than the other disciples. Jesus was comfortable around them because they were like Him. I think loving God more is key to us being able to love others. We should focus less on the relational difficulties we face in life, and focus on taking up our cross and following Jesus and loving Him because He first loved us. The closer we get to His heart, the more we become like Him - making it difficult for us not to place value on people who are made in the image of Christ. Time spent building our relationship with God will lead us to finding ourselves moving from a place of doing what is natural and normal (being kind to our friends and the people we like), to doing what is supernatural and only possible through God’s power and grace (demonstrating love to those who have hurt or opposed us). This is a lifelong challenge, and we will not always get it right, but it is vital to remember that loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves are not nice ideas - they are biblical commandments. We will never be able to grow in this area if we try to love in our own strength. Mark 10:27 says, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” John 15:5 says, “...for without Me you can do nothing.” Remember, the people in our daily lives who don’t go to church expect Christians to be caring individuals; if we don’t demonstrate this, we lose our ability to minister to them. We have to be the change in our work environments, in our homes and in church, if we are going to be able to reach out to people and share the love of Christ with them. Ensuring we are part of God’s ‘inner circle’ will enable us to achieve this.

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26 FEATURE

• Set up a prayer support group with other Christians going through the divorce recovery process, too. As you focus on the needs of others, you will be amazed at how God will use the help and support your story, prayer and experience provide to heal fellow members.

ZINA ARINZE is a Post-Divorce Reinvention Coach and founder of www.beliveandliveagain.com

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ith Christmas 2012 over, the New Year well and truly in progress, and the children back to school in earnest, I come back to my reality of single motherhood with a bang. “God hates divorce” filters through my mind and gnaws at my soul, as I go through the never-ending list of household bills, repairs and lost school uniforms, books and equipment that need replacing yet again. Christians the world over are familiar with Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate]” (Amplified). No one can argue with the infallible Word of God, but as we look around, we can see that Christians find themselves in situations contrary to God’s Word. Divorce is one of them. As a divorced born-again Christian, I understand first-hand the pain and sense of failure a divorced Christian can experience. There is the personal shame, the isolation, the confusion one may feel. Then, of course, there’s the condemnation you get from the Church, sometimes overtly but more often ever so subtly. If that is not enough, then there’s the church folk who, under the guise of providing you with uninvited counselling “after the fact”, spend time to imply that your marriage ended because you did not pray enough; were not submissive enough, and the 1001 other reasons they throw at you. My view is that most divorced Christians have enough going on spiritually and internally with their faith and sense of guilt - without this judgmental, unhelpful and supposed well-meaning ‘advice’. Divorce is the reality we find in our churches today. It’s on the increase in our churches, and this raises many questions, with the key ones being: (i) How can Christians deal with the aftermath of divorce? (ii) How can Christian divorcees heal themselves from the sense of brokenness and guilt that divorce brings, and become whole again? (iii) How can churches support divorced people in their midst, particularly those who have children?

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I believe most Christians agree that marriage is supposed to be forever. But when you find yourself separated, divorced or going through the process, how do you deal with the aftermath?

Musings of a divorced single mum Zina Arinze writes about the struggles faced by divorced Christians, and how the Church can support them and help them back on the road to wholeness I believe most Christians agree that marriage is supposed to be forever. But when you find yourself separated, divorced or going through the process, how do you deal with the aftermath? You may feel shame, bitterness, confusion, hurt, disillusionment, unforgiveness towards your ex-spouse, and even unforgiveness towards yourself. You may even feel overwhelmed and lonely; you may feel it best to isolate yourself and therefore not know where to find the support or shoulders to cry on when you are at your lowest ebb. How do you heal? Who helps you through this traumatic life experience? Here are four key ways, which will help you navigate through this spiritual and emotional upheaval. • Don’t isolate yourself - no matter how tempting it may be. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, who are strong and positive, never allowing you to drown in self-destructive pity. • Talk, talk, talk - Don’t lock yourself and your feelings away. Affirm yourself all through the day with positive affirmations based on the biblical promises of God. • Start journaling - your pain, your hopes, your fears and plans for the future. Pour out your emotions onto paper. This has been clinically proven to be extremely cathartic.

Wherever you may find yourself on this traumatic journey, try your hardest to guard your heart. Do not allow anyone - including yourself or even church folk to use your past to condemn, discourage and vilify you. Always remember who you are in Christ. What counts is that God has not condemned or discounted you. With regards to how the Church supports divorced people, unfortunately it can react quite negatively to the issue of divorce, and can sometimes be quite unsupportive under the guise that “God hates divorce”. Some denominations go by the strict letter of the law, while others operate using the spirit of the law and the message of grace. The question, however, remains: Who mops up the Christians who find themselves victims of divorce? Who provides them with support, encouragement and help? Who helps to rehabilitate them back into society? A very practical strategy the Church can implement would be to, perhaps, hold divorce rehabilitation forums, led by spiritually-mature Christians who have gone through the divorce recovery process themselves, alongside single parenting support, and financial recovery classes specifically designed for this rising demographic within the Church. Currently, this kind of much-needed support is not widespread within the Church. This could be because the Church is still unwilling or feels ill-equipped to provide this support, or that churches do not know where to start. That may be so, but I believe that we (as a body of believers) would go a long way just by reaching out a hand of love saying, “Look, I’m not judging you. We’re not judging you. We’re all sinners. Come back into the fold.” ........................................................ www.believeandliveagain.com helps divorced women to regain their confidence, self-esteem and start living again.


28 FEATURE

The day my life changed Keep The Faith talks to Philip Noel about how he has coped since his wife’s death last year, and how faith in God is restoring him and his family to emotional wholeness

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he 25th March 2012 started off as a normal day for church pastor, Philip Noel. Whilst working away from home, he called his wife Barbara at 10.30am to inform her that the next time he visited the hotel he was staying in, she’d be with him. Little did he realise that was the last conversation he would have with his wife. He recalled, “I got home at 2.30pm; looked in the front room; checked the oven and then the fridge - like men do. Barbara had bought all the delicacies that I liked. I then went upstairs to say a Hello… I walked into our bedroom to find her lying on the bed; eyes wide open; her mouth full of vomit; a trickle of blood at the side of her mouth, where she had bitten her tongue as her head had fallen back onto the bed, and her nose was full of mucus. Her right arm was outstretched still holding the cup that contained her last drink of coffee. I was subsequently told by the doctors that she had had a brain aneurysm, and had died instantly, feeling no pain.” Barbara’s totally unexpected death left Philip and his five children - Kiera 26, Samara 22, Chanel 22, Jordan 17 and Josiah 12 - in a state of grief. “My children wept until they had no strength to weep anymore. One daughter collapsed to the floor, unable to stand. I was being held onto by all of them at the same time. They were inconsolable. By then, other family members had arrived, but at the time, as the only parent left, only my shoulders would do. I had to be strong for them. As soon as we got home

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Philip and Barbara

from the hospital, I somehow held them all at the same time, gathered strength from Heaven then, while they were still bawling, crying screaming, I told them that we had to declare “Praise the Lord”. The Scripture kept ringing in my ears: When the spirit of heaviness comes, put on the garment of praise. They did not want to, so I told them that we had to strike back at the work of the adversary. My time to cry came later.” Philip and Barbara met when he worked as a taxi driver; she was a passenger. He asked her out, and the rest - as they say - is history. They were together 25 years and three months. Their marriage was a good one, and Philip says his wife was his number one supporter and great encourager to their children. She was also a very talented lady, who was an artist and actress, and who, during her career, worked as an Executive PA at the BBC and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. The days and months following his wife’s death were painful, but were made easier by the support the Noels received from extended family, friends, and the church where Philip serves on the pastoral team, Jesus House in Brent Cross, North London. He shared, “Busloads of people kept visiting our home, food was cooked and brought. I was surrounded by my ministers, who assisted me in every way - ably led by Pastor Agu

Irukwu. We were not alone. My brother James stalked me, in case I did something dangerous or suicidal. This would never be, as I am a believer of the teachings of Jesus Christ, even though I did not want to be on Earth anymore, going on at times felt inconceivable.” I asked Philip what he misses most about not having his wife around. He replied, “Empty bed; loss of direction; hunger for her cooking; missing her voice, and even her telling me off. Not being an able replacement for the children who needed their mother - not easy with four daughters and a young son.” In the early months following Barbara’s death, Philip made a number of changes. He moved house, and changed the schools of his two youngest children. He spent a lot of time in prayer and Bible study with his kids, to get them to understand the concept of Heaven, and the fact that they would meet their mother again. He also recorded a song, ‘Mighty God of Miracles’, in memory of his wife, and accepted every preaching engagement he received, in order to keep busy.

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God kept me standing; not that I was without mistakes and huge clangers, but my belief that God was sovereign never waned.

When asked what sustained him during those difficult times, Philip states it was his faith, and encountering people who had experienced bereavement. He was able to share words of comfort. He added, “God kept me standing; not that I was without mistakes and huge clangers, but my belief that God was sovereign never waned. And that Barbara’s death would not be in vain. God had to have a plan for our good.” Philip has been a widower for almost a year now and, although he still misses the wife he adored, he feels ready to embrace the future. “I have been restored by God; have found love, and no doubt through the faith we have already discussed hopefully that in 2013 I will be married again.”


GOSPEL NEWS 29

Britain’s first official Music Chart - are you ready for it ? Britain should have its first official gospel album chart in the Spring. Juliet Fletcher outlines what it could mean for UK Gospel, and shares how artists can get ready for it

He is featured in a current video with chart-topping compatriot, LeCrae, and advance plans are now in place for an album tour in April to reinforce the success of the singles and video release. I cannot overstate that PR and marketing are essential to attaining a chart presence. Whereas registering your products with the appropriate music agencies is a must, any apathy following registration - without an intense PR & marketing plan - is likely to make your efforts worthless.

JULIET FLETCHER runs Greentree, a gospel music development company

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here was a lot of excitement on the gospel scene at the end of last year, when the GMIA (Gospel Music Industry Alliance) announced that the UK music industry will see the launch of the first Official Christian and Gospel Album Chart expected in the Spring of 2013. Views may vary on what a chart may (or indeed may not) bring to UK Gospel. Ken Burton, Director of the London Adventist Chorale, believes that it can encourage healthy competition, and therefore help raise everyone to new artistic standards. That perspective has a certain validity to me. Sometimes creativity works well when people either face a personal challenge, or are inspired to create great works similar to another artist.

CHART BENEFITS Certainly, over time, charts have proven to be drivers (or cogs) that help the engines of the music industry and the genres they represent to run: music buyers are assisted in knowing what might be the ‘best buy’ among thousands of choices; artists have empirical proof or measurement of the popularity of their work, while music business managers and investors can justify their current and future strategies and plans. Charts help to push new artists with new sounds and styles to the fore. Music and video charts are increasing in every region of the world primarily by virtual means. According to published reports toward the end of last year, technology company Apple added a further 56 countries to its online iTunes Stores. This brings iTunes Stores to a total of 119 countries, and means that as iTunes identifies genre-specific charts, including that for Christian & Gospel Music, the possibility that a UK Gospel artist could achieve sales success in various countries around the world, and become a national chart hit in one or more regions, is a credible dream.

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LeCrae

Chart success aids every aspect of an artist’s existence: profile, quick recognition, airplay, audience reach, product sales, getting bookings (at home and abroad) and, of course, increased royalty income. However, the stark reality is that, even as I write, most UK Gospel artists, who are preparing brilliant sounding material for their next album release, are failing - and are destined to fail because they are not rights ready, business ready or chart ready.

WARNINGS & ADVICE I’d be neglecting my responsibility as an industry leader if I didn’t warn and advise all those planning an album release in 2013. There will be no point UK artists complaining when they see US artists regularly appearing in the UK Chart, if they do not take the relevant steps to get their music into the charts. The GMIA is running a series of workshops/webinars, and offering resource kits to gospel artists and record labels. These will be perpetually available online. Also, from February, GMIA will be operating a monthly ‘LIVE Surgery’ session for anyone to call in with questions and answers on any subject.

Chart success aids every aspect of an artist’s existence: profile, quick recognition, airplay, audience reach, product sales, getting bookings (at home and abroad) and, of course, increased royalty income.

There is a saying, “Work smarter not harder”, but this hides the truth that an initial period of hard work has to be done: the hard work of setting up processes and systems that actually make achieving goals and measurements of success a lot easier. Once you have focused on being rights ready (registered your music properly), chart ready (logged into the various chart systems) and business ready (completed your record label setup and PR & marketing tools and strategy), then you can navigate your way to the success you deserve. S.O.

SUCCESS IS HARD WORK IS REWARDING There is nothing like a great example to highlight how getting into the charts can positively impact an artist’s career. December 2012 ended on a genuine high note for hip hop/rapper, S.O., managed by Charisse Beaumont of Preacher Boy Music. Within a month of his album release, So It Continues reached #1 Amazon CCM Charts; #1 Amazon Praise & Worship; #3 Amazon Rap/Hip Hop Charts and, on iTunes charts, S.O. reached #5 in Canada and the US, and #9 in the UK. S.O.’s climb up these charts brought him enough attention to be featured on the homepage of iTunes (US) - an exposure to millions of iTunes users. S.O.’s chart success was not an accident. It took planning, attention to detail and patience, and included timely PR & marketing.

........................................................ For more information call Juliet on 07535 964442 or email greentree@googlemail.com www.keepthefaith.co.uk


30 GOSPEL NEWS

GOSPEL NEWS Jake Isaac to break chains at live album recording

MEET THE ARTIST WriteWay Music is a collective of four Christian artists - Tunde “Tunday” Balogun, Robert “Presha J” Awuku, Leké Akinyemi and Dwayne “Rhema” Edwards - who’ve just released their second music project, One Way Vol 2. They spoke to Keep The Faith about their music, their projects and the future. Keep The Faith (KTF): How did you feel about your album entering the iTunes hip-hop charts? TUNDAY: I was overwhelmed, and humbled to find out how fast it was climbing up higher than secular industry artists! The lads and myself are very grateful for the people buying the album! We are so moved by their support! KTF: What are the key themes on the album, and which tracks are people really loving? DWAYNE: The main theme of the album is the fact that this world has many routes that lead to destruction, but only one to eternity - to God/Jesus. There are also other themes, such as purity and holiness. From what I’ve seen, the tracks people are loving most at the moment are Follow, Light Of The World and New Song.

A packed house turned out for the wellreceived debut live recording by worship leader, Jake Isaac and his collective, I=change in 2010. He’s expecting the same response for the recording of his second live album project, ‘Break These Chains’, which is scheduled to take place on 23 February at St Mark’s, 337 Kennington Park Road, Kennington, London SE11 4PW. Special guests on this occasion will be Muyiwa, Andrea Louise and Martin Smith, former member of Delirious. He’s also expecting a large delegation from Scandinavia, who will be part of the audience. It’s Jake’s hope that the recording and the album, when it’s released, will re-inspire and re-energise believers to play their role in the great commission to spread the Gospel throughout the world, and help to break the personal chains preventing them from doing so. He said, “God doesn’t want perfect people, rather He wants willing people… Come join us as we honour and worship Jesus together as a massive family of Christ, and as we worship we’ll see the chains in our lives broken! That’s what Jesus wants for us.” Tickets are £15. For full details visit www.iequalschange.com.

@keepthefaithmag

KTF: WriteWay is a collective of four artists. What caused you to join forces and work together? DWAYNE: I personally feel that it is simply an ordering of steps. If you hear the long version of just how we all met, I really feel it’s evident God brought us all together, LOL. These guys are the brothers I never had! It started off with Tunday, and then all the pieces just started to come together, and we are what you see now. KTF: What do you enjoy most about working together? LEKE: I enjoy the live performances and

tours the most. Time together for longer periods allows us to know and understand each other better. We've had some very memorable moments on the road together. Additionally, performing the tracks we've worked so hard on - to create and perfect is so gratifying. KTF: Your recent Fatherhood documentary, where you talk openly and honestly about your experiences, caused a bit of a stir. Why do you think that was? LEKE: The Fatherhood documentary could have possibly caused a stir as it’s quite a neglected topic in the Media. Media doesn’t admit that fatherlessness is the root of many societal and domestic issues today, so transparency into our personal father-son relationships was enough to raise an eyebrow. KTF: What should we expect from WriteWay in 2013? More music? More films? ROBERT: There are actually a lot of things in store for 2013. You have Tunday’s, Leké’s, Dwayne’s & my personal projects coming, which include singles and videos. I really can’t wait for people to hear these projects. KTF: Describe WriteWay in five words. ROBERT: Exciting, Creative, Stands out, Serious & Passionate For more details visit www.writeway-music.com


GOSPEL NEWS 31

ARTIST WATCH

Missionary releases uplifting worship track Ruth Dickson regularly travels to Africa - usually Rwanda and Uganda - to do missions work with young children. She also records worship music, usually of the more reflective kind, to inspire believers as well as to raise money for her missions work. However, new things are going down with Ruth in 2013, after teaming up with producer and DJ, Ibe Otah (who has worked with UK artists Guvna B, Gifted and Ni-Cola, to name a few). He’s added a new upbeat touch to her music. This is highlighted with her new single, ‘My Jesus, You Reign’, which Ibe has produced. His production touch will get people dancing in the aisles and, more importantly, worshipping Jesus. Ruth admits this new release is a departure from her usual sound. “When I first heard the remix, I laughed out loud because it was so different from what I was used to.” However, the great thing about ‘My Jesus, You Reign’ is that it’s introducing her music to a whole new audience, which can’t be a bad thing. Email ruthie.dickson@googlemail.com for information on how to get your copy.

God is raising up a generation of young Christian artists, filled with spiritual passion to touch the world with the Gospel. 16-year-old singer, rapper, songwriter and producer, J Vessel, is one of them. And he’s particularly keen to reach young people with the transforming power of Jesus. In 2012, he released his debut single ‘I’m A Vessel’, which proclaimed his desire to be a soldier in God’s army. His second single, ‘More of You’, featuring MOBO-nominated artist, Jake Isaac, was released in January, and speaks of J Vessel's aim to draw closer to God in 2013 and to know Him more. It should be no surprise that J Vessel wants to touch lives. His father is the popular gospel DJ, Kelechi, and he’s worked with artists like Guvna B, Victizzle and Ekklesia. Some have even dubbed him ‘the future of gospel music’. Whatever title he is given, J Vessel is part of the future. Visit www.jvessel.com for more details; connect with him at www.facebook.com/realjvessel, or follow him on Twitter @realjvessel.

GOSPEL NEWS BITES Make sure you check out ‘Rejoice’, the new EP from Alison Mark, who serves as a worship leader at Ruach Ministries. The talented singer held the EP launch at the Half Moon in Putney. IsaiahRaymond Dyer was a special guest, and Alison’s sister, r’n’b star Mica Paris, was the host. The EP serves as a follow-up to Alison’s single, ‘Help Comes’, which was released last year and produced by Noel Robinson.

Guvna B fans will be pleased to hear that ‘Sending One Up’, his follow-up single to his 2012 smash ‘Free’, will be available for download on February 10. Sending One Up is a conscious and thought-provoking anthem, which is the second single from his sophomore album, Odd One Out, which is due out in May. The song features backing vocals from Vicky Akintola, and is set to appeal to gospel fans of all ages. Visit www.guvnab.com for more details.

If you love gospel r’n’b/soul, then you need to get down to In the Ballroom at The Bedford, Balham, London SW12 9HD on February 1, to see MOBO nominees V9 Collective in action. They will be performing songs from their forthcoming album, and raising money for a good cause. Some of the proceeds from V9 Collective’s live performance will be donated to www.missionsdirect.org.uk to finance the rebuilding of a children’s home in Curitiba, one of the slum areas of Brazil. To book your ticket, visit www.v9collectivelive.eventbrite.com/.

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


32 INSPIRATION

GLADYS FAMORIYO is a speaker and author of ‘Quit Hiding, Start Living!’, ‘Healing A Discouraged Heart’ and ‘Overcoming Emotional Baggage’.

Want to maximise your life? Take a half-time break No matter what age you are, Gladys Famoriyo writes it’s good to take time out from life, to regroup and strategise to implement and live out God’s plan for your life

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ecently, I have been pondering on the concept of half time in sporting events, where the players have the opportunity to rest and recover from the previous half of the game. From what I have seen, it also gives the team the opportunity to regroup and strategise, so as to make effective use of the other half of the game - with the view of winning. This got me thinking: If this is done in sports, could we perhaps adopt such notions for our lives? Many of us find ourselves caught on the treadmills of life, running at colossal speeds. Oftentimes, life just seems to be about being constantly ‘on the go’ and getting endless tasks/ goals done. But how often do we take time out to consider what we are actually doing; why we do it; how we go about doing it, and the results we achieve? Do we often stop to consider if what we are doing fits in with God’s plan for our lives? More importantly, are we effectively using the most valuable resource we have been blessed with, ie. time? Many (if not all) of us fall into that trap of thinking we have all the time in the world, but that is not so. Without sounding morbid, the fact remains that the clock is ticking away. That’s how God instituted things, and so we are encouraged to “realise the brevity of life” (Psalm 90:12).

Learning To Number Your Days Therefore, now is the time to consider maximising the time you have left. To do this, I would like you to ponder on this: Assuming where you are today is the halfway point of your life, how will you use the remaining half? By the way, I’m not talking about creating a ‘bucket list’ of all the exciting things you would like to do. Whilst there is nothing wrong with such, consider things from a Kingdom and eternity perspective. If, like Esther, @keepthefaithmag

Moses, David, Paul and our Lord Jesus Christ, you were sent to Earth for such a time as this, how are you faring with your God-given assignment(s)? This requires getting out of an “I’m working to live” mode into an “I’m living to serve” mode. I believe this was the mindset adopted by many of the saints who went ahead of us. It was all about the assignment.

What’s That In Your Hands? So, over to you. What has your life been about so far? Have you been engrossed in me, myself, and I? Has it solely been about making a ‘buck’ (though I appreciate we all have to make a living)? Has Heaven got any records of you cracking on with your earthly assignment? By the way, this can be in various forms, and does not necessarily mean a ‘pulpit’ ministry. He may need you to affect your family, work/business, community, nation or beyond. If you have lost sight of this, answer the question Father asked Moses in Exodus 4:2, “What's that in your hands?” Believe me when I say we have all been given a measure of something, such as a gift, talent or skill to benefit ourselves and others. Yet, we lose sight of this for one reason or another. As I often say, when we choose to sit on what we have been dished out, someone somewhere fails to experience that which God has deposited within us. In short, they are deprived from experiencing the God in us.

The Three ‘Rs’ So, are you due a half-time life plan? If so, start off by adopting what I am referring to as the three ‘Rs’, namely Rest, Reflect, Re-Strategise. I believe that for us to live an effective, purposeful and fulfilling life requires all three. Adopt one over the other and you may short-change yourself.

Rest: When your mind is at rest, you are able to see clearer. Trying to plan your life whilst juggling several balls or on the brink of burnout will do you no good. In such a state, the chances are you will be in survival mode. However, if you can take some time to not only rest but be at rest within, you will find you are easily able to reconnect with what your spirit may have been trying to tell you all along. It’s amazing the things we miss, despite the many alarms bells ringing in our hearts. Better still, engage the Holy Spirit and ask Him to reveal the heart of Father. After all, He is the Spirit of Truth. Reflect: Many saints did this, such as Moses, David, Solomon and Paul. In Philippians 3:1-11, Apostle Paul reflects on his journey thus far, and was able to come to some conclusions and embark on new strategies (verses 12-14). Without adopting such, we stand a chance of losing sight of the good, the bad and the ugly. And when that happens, just how can we make progress? Re-Strategise: Continuing with Apostle Paul’s example, in Philippians 3:12-14, he sets out his plan: to become focused and to pursue his God-given mandate. Whilst we would all agree that Paul had achieved a great deal at that point of his life, he recognised that there was more for him to do. He also realised that he did not have much time left. We, too, would do well to ‘tune in’ to God’s plan, so that we can “reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.”

............................................................. For details of her ministry, visit www.gladysf.com or call 0870 750 1969.


www.keepthefaith.co.uk


34 LIFESTYLE

BEFORE

AUDREY HOWELL AFTER

Rosemary Conley - Slimmer of the year in Bristol

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ver the past 22 months, Audrey Howell has been on the most amazing journey, and lost eight stone after making the decision to become fit, healthy and slimmer. Audrey, who works as an IT Desktop Engineer and grew up in the Wesleyan Holiness Church in her hometown of Bristol, had been overweight for most of her life. Her decision to lose weight has been one of her best ever, and has opened new doors for her. Such is the impact of her weight loss that, at the end of 2012 Audrey, 45, was awarded the title of the Rosemary Conley Slimmer of the Year in Bristol. Audrey shared her story with Keep The Faith, and shared details about her weight loss journey; how faith in God helped her achieve her goal, and her plans for 2013.

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LIFESTYLE 35 Keep The Faith (KTF): Congratulations on your amazing weight loss. What inspired you to embark on your weight loss journey? AUDREY HOWELL (AH): I had been big for most of my life, and approximately 13 years ago I lost over six stone through the diet club, Slimming World, as I tried to break the cycle of gaining weight each year. After reaching my goal, and through sheer ignorance, I reverted and ate what I did prior to dieting, and the weight piled back on again with a vengeance. I ended up gaining an extra two stone. One day, I just decided enough was enough. I wanted to make a lifetime change. With tears in my eyes, I asked God to help me because I knew it would not be easy this time around. Both of my parents have now gone home to glory, but both suffered from type 2 diabetes. The thought of getting diabetes really scared me into taking action. KTF: When did you start on your journey; what was your starting weight, and what is your current weight? AH: My weight loss journey began on March 21st 2011. My starting weight was 20st 7lbs; my current weight is 12st 10lbs. I had set a goal of 7 stone 7lbs, which I reached on 3rd September 2012. KTF: You were crowned Rosemary Conley Slimmer of the Year in Bristol in December. How did you feel about getting that Award? AH: I’m overjoyed, and feel proud that I can let others see that big things can be achieved when you are willing to work hard for it. It really felt like it was a big award ceremony, as everyone was cheering and taking lots of pictures. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad people are being inspired into trying to lose weight themselves, as this is what I believe God would have me do, and that is to share my story with others. I have now turned my Facebook page into a weight loss blog, and try to encourage people. It’s working, as many have written to me from the UK and abroad, sharing their weight struggles, and have told me how much my blog has helped them. Some have started diets, joined gyms, and have just opted for a new healthy lifestyle. I pray God will continue to use me to INSPIRE. KTF: What kind of fitness routine did you incorporate into your life in order to help you on your journey? AH: My big brother Howard and I decided to get fit, and I thought, as I was losing a large amount of weight, I would embark on an exercise regime to limit being left with a lot of loose skin. We first started by visiting the gym a couple of times a week. Then we signed up to one month at an outdoor boot camp… it was gruelling. I also attend a weekly Zumba class and, since July 2012, I started to attend Kickboxing for fitness. I still have a long way to go, but I am determined to keep this regime going. KTF: How easy/difficult was it to lose that weight? AH: I recall feeling a little distressed when I first joined Rosemary Conley Slimming Club, as for

the first two weeks of this diet you’re limited to consuming 1200 calories each day. For someone who had eaten what they pleased for many years, this was a complete shock to my system. It was a good thing I lived on my own, as I also had mood swings due to feeling deprived of sugary things. The calories were increased as I progressed through the diet. I craved fatty things like snacks, cakes, chocolate and crisps, which were (and still are) my favourite things, but now I tend to select things that are much lower in calorie and fat, etc. I set up a free account with My Fitness Pal (which is an online diet club); this I have used to track my weight loss, calories and diet and also exercise on a daily basis. I have built up a network of friends through this site, who live in different countries around the world. As the weight started to fall off, my willpower increased greatly and, when sitting with my colleagues who many times were eating junk, I was able to say No to it. I also devised a little reward system that, if I lost weight at my slimming club on a Monday evening after weigh-in, I would purchase one single cake or a small chocolate bar as a treat.

Audrey and Gemma Lock, Rosemary Conley Instructor

KTF: How did your faith help you in your weight loss journey? AH: My faith as played a big part and, each time I lost a pound, I would go into my car on the drive home and give God thanks, because I know it was Him who was driving me to succeed. Faith without works is dead. I owe this success to God. In the times when I felt low and started to doubt if I could achieve this, He pushed me up to the next level. Even when I thought I was not ready to climb, He showed me that He would be with me every step of the way. My only wish was that my mum was alive to see me now, as this was one of her wishes for me as she was concerned about my weight and my health. KTF: What role does faith play in your life? AH: My faith is a big part of my life. I walk by faith, and believe God is carrying me through this life, and know His angels encamp around me. It gives me great joy when people say I remind

‘My faith is a big part of my life. I walk by faith, and believe God is carrying me through this life, and know His angels encamp around me.’

them of my mother. If I can be half the woman she was then I will be happy. I want to continue to encourage those who do not know God to TRY CHRIST, as there is no other way to have eternal life. KTF: There are many people in the Black community who are grossly overweight. What advice would you give to people who want to lose weight, but don’t know how? AH: • Find healthy alternatives to the fried foods • Cut down on salt and sugar, etc • Portion control (invest in smaller plates) • Exercise regularly • Find someone to be accountable to (a diet buddy), so that they can help if you struggle making healthy food choices • Keep track as you lose weight; when no help is at hand, you need to be able to encourage yourself, too • Do what works for you; remember, it is YOUR RACE - this is not a competition with anyone else but yourself • Find a support mechanism, be it your family, friends, GP, Slimming Club • Ask God to help you KTF: Now that you’ve lost all that weight, how are you keeping it off? AH: I continue with my exercise regime of Kickboxing, I’ve recently started Core Training, and I am also attending regular Zumba classes. I no longer attend Rosemary Conley on a weekly basis, but attend once a month to keep a check on my weight. I still input all my food intake and exercise into My Fitness Pal on a daily basis. This is working for me right now. KTF: And what new goal(s) have you set for yourself in 2013? AH: I want to maintain my weight loss, and up my fitness to the next level by training hard. I want to set up some sort of official weight loss blog, as many have encouraged me to do something, and some have suggested me setting up a slimming club business, but we shall see where the Lord leads on this, as I know He is the one who can open doors if He sees fit to do so. He holds my future is His hands.

You can connect with Audrey Howell at www.facebook.com/audrey.howell.50

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


36 LIFESTYLE

THE A-Z GUIDE TO LANDING YOUR DREAM JOB IN 2013 Every New Year is symbolic of a new beginning, a chance to re-focus or start all over again. If you haven’t already mapped out your career path for 2013, now’s a great time to do so, and to help, here’s my A-Z guide to landing your dream job this year - only read on if you're ready for serious change!

MILDRED TALABI is a speaker, careers expert and author of 7 Keys to a Winning CV: How to create a CV that gets results

A - TAKE ACTION - Don’t just dream of landing your dream job; take action towards it and do it now. Remember, faith without works is dead! (James 2:26) B - BE SOCIAL - By this I mean social media; yes, you might be sick of hearing how LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the rest will fully run the world some day and, as much as I’d like to tell you something different, the truth is social media’s not going away anytime soon, so you might as well embrace it. For 2013, set yourself a target to become a regular user of LinkedIn and Twitter at the very least, and get a blog going, too; it will help improve your job prospects in the long run. C - UPDATE YOUR CV REGULARLY and, while you’re at it, make sure any cover letters you send out are intact, too. With an average of 73 applicants going for every job advertised, you can't afford to neglect this vital process in landing your dream job.

D - DRESS FOR SUCCESS - A bit of a cliché, I know, but first impressions really do count, so make sure you’re presentable wherever you go; you never know where or when you’ll meet someone who could hold the key to your next career move. E - EDUCATE YOURSELF - Expanding your knowledge base is another way to stand out in the job market, so do a University or Master’s degree if you need to, or enrol on a short, parttime or even long-distance course in a field related to your industry of choice. God Himself encourages us to get educated, so “get wisdom; and in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). F - STAY FOCUSED on your mission, and don’t allow distractions to take you off path if you’re serious about 2013 being your year to land your dream job. G - If you haven’t SET GOALS before, now’s the time to start. Don't just think about what you want, write your vision down and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2); put it somewhere where you can see it every day, and read it out loud to remind you of where you're going and the actions you need to take to get there. H - Don’t be afraid to ASK FOR HELP if you need it. This could be as simple as sharing your goals with friends and family, and making yourself accountable to them, or it could be seeking professional help in the form of a careers advisor, careers coach or a CV expert - “Ask, and you shall be given...”(Matthew 7:7). I - DEVELOP YOUR INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES - Not only is this a great way to widen your network, it also gives you exciting stuff to talk about on your CV and at the interview, which may help you clinch the job. J - JOIN RELEVANT GROUPS - on- and offline - relating to your industry of choice so you can keep up-to-date with developments

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and key contacts. LinkedIn is especially good for this purpose. K - KEEP ON GOING, even when it gets tough and you’re feeling discouraged from getting more rejection letters than you are job interviews. If you remain persistent and committed, things will eventually turn around for you. Remember, God works all things out for our good (Romans 8:28), so keep on trusting and believing. L - DON’T STOP LEARNING - Make 2013 your year of learning, and commit to being a lifelong learner. This doesn’t have to be formal education as before, but rather personal development, through reading books, attending seminars, etc. Few things yield a bigger return in investment than taking the time to continually develop yourself as you go along in life. M - MANAGE YOUR CAREER - Nobody owes you anything in life, so accept full and personal responsibility for creating the type of work life you want, and get going to make it happen. God can only give you the “desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) if you have desires there in the first place! N - UTILISE THE POWER OF NETWORKING Who you know really does count, so make 2013


LIFESTYLE 37

You can also use public forums like Quora or LinkedIn Answers to ask questions; it’s a good way to open up your visibility to a larger audience.. R - BUILD MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPSDon’t just network for the sake of filling up your address book, or for what you’ll get out of it; aim to build quality and meaningful relationships with people where there is mutual benefit. These kinds of relationships are a lot more fulfilling and rewarding when it comes to advancing your career and landing that dream job. S - DEVELOP YOUR PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS - This is probably one of the most important things you can do for your career and for a better quality of life in general, and it applies even if (or perhaps especially if) you consider yourself an introvert. Join an organisation like Toastmasters for a safe place to develop and practise these skills. T - THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - Find ways to do things differently (like sending hand-written cover letters in the post, rather than typing and emailing it like everyone else); explore unconventional career options that still utilise your skills and engages your interests and passions; look for jobs in the “hidden market”, away from the crowds, etc. Make 2013 the year you unleash your creativity!

the year of getting to know people in and out of your industry; start building connections now, and it will pay off later on in life. You can even network with people in your church (just make sure you wait until service finishes first)! O - Learn to RECOGNISE AND EMBRACE OPPORTUNITIES that come your way. Sometimes the only way to know how good a swimmer you are is to go ahead and dive right into the pool (*Disclaimer: Don’t take this literally; if you can’t swim, get out of that water!) P - MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE at all times. The Bible encourages us to give thanks to God in all things (Ephesians 5:20), so be grateful for the things you already have and for the opportunities that come your way. Gratitude is a great way to keep your positivity tank topped up, because no matter how bad it is, it really could have been a lot worse. Q - ASK QUESTIONS of people you admire, or of people working in the organisations you want to enter. Most people like being asked for advice (it gives us a chance to show off how much we know), so go ahead and ask questions; you will broaden your industry knowledge along the way and, in the long run, your contact base.

U - UPSKILL YOURSELF REGULARLY Keep on developing your existing skills and look for ways to add new skills to your repertoire; the more skilled you are, the more attractive you become to a potential employer and, therefore, the more likely you are to get hired. Aim to be someone who adds value wherever you go.

V - VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME as a way to keep busy, build your skills and to do good - all at the same time. It’s also gives you a good reason to get out of the house from time to time to escape the repetitiveness of constant job hunting. W - GET SOME WORK EXPERIENCE under your belt - Any experience (preferably within your industry) is better than no experience at all, so don't be overly fussy. X - LOSE THE EXCUSES - Overlooking the cheat with the letter x, excuses can be a barrier to your job-seeking success in 2013 unless you determine to put a stop to them once and for all. Don’t make excuses for why you’re not where you want to be; instead, invest that energy into finding out how you can get to your destination, and then take the necessary steps to achieve it. Y - YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, so make sure the career you design for yourself is really what you want to be doing with your life. Better still, strive to line it up with the gifts and passions God has deposited inside of you, because those are clues to your greater calling and purpose in life. Remember, it’s only ever too late to start again when you’re dead! Z - Be willing to STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE from time to time, to experience new things and get new results. This is probably the fastest way to enormous personal growth and awakening gifts and talents you didn’t even know you had! So there you have it, the A-Z guide to changing your career in 2013. I pray for God’s blessings to guide you as you pursue this course. If you would like help or advice with any aspect of your job-hunting, email me at info@mildredtalabi.com

Mildred is the founder of CVMakeoverExpert.com Subscribe to her blog at www.mildredtalabi.com, and get a free 45-minute audio download on CV writing techniques.

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


38 LIFESTYLE

Did you really write that?! Amie Buhari is disturbed by the trend amongst young Christians to promote negativity on social media, and calls on mature believers to teach the youth how to be Christlike in their public communications ....................................................

AMIE BUHARI is a youth leader and actress

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ost of us are on some sort of social network site. You know the ones - Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. Even my 12-yearold nephew opened a Facebook account. We shut him down before he could add even two friends, let alone the average 250 that most people have. My concern with all this socialising on the Internet is that I’m seeing an increasing number of Christian youths being unwise with the information they reveal on their page and status updates. As much as I like the freedom of speech and conversation with the world that these sites give, everyone seems to have adopted an attitude of transparency and openness with their thoughts on many matters. This is something I have always called for, but I’m increasingly realising that I don’t like a lot of the comments some of our Christian youth are making. Maybe I’m just getting old, and believe that old but very true saying, ‘Don’t wash your dirty linen in public’. As Christians, we are constantly being scrutinised by non-believers on what we say and do. If we are not living up to the words that we claim to follow, we will be seen as hypocrites. Hypocrites don’t bring people to God; they push them away! So, every time I log onto Facebook, I see young people I know who confess to being Christians, chatting all sorts of nonsense to the whole world - if it’s listening. Christian youths are swearing and using other offensive language. They are gossiping and offering up negative comments on all manner of subjects. They eagerly reveal ungodly actions they have engaged in. They willingly voice their emotions and retaliation on situations they have been in or heard about. All the while posting “I

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love Jesus”, “Christian for life” and “God is so good”. All of this isn’t new, but the problem is that it’s done all over the Internet for all to see, and the impact of that is much, much greater. The juxtaposition of such conflicting messages from our youth causes me great concern. As Christians, we have to be careful of what we say and do. We are supposed to be the light in the darkness, but if we are constantly letting our light be consumed by the darkness of the world, who will listen to our message of God’s love for them? What’s particularly concerning is that our youths don’t seem to have a problem with this public double life they are leading. They are very happy to do as the world does, and expose their double-mindedness to the world. Are we not teaching our young people godly wisdom? Do they not understand that they “…are the salt of the earth? But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:12-14). Have they fallen into the lure of the world that encourages selfexpression at any cost? Or is this just the way of the world now? Instead of our young people sitting in self-angst in their bedrooms, working out who they are on their own, they are now doing it openly, with the opinions and views of thousands at the click of the return button. The Christian youth message via social media can potentially be very powerful. They have the ability to reach out to so many other young people who need to know Christ. They can connect with other young people, and bring them to Jesus on a level that adults can’t. Christian youth are an essential tool to the Kingdom, but this is in danger if they continue to send conflicting messages out to the world. If we are not teaching our young people to

use every opportunity to spread the word (or Word), then they are not fulfilling the plan God has for them. Now, young people are not the only ones guilty of this. Maybe they have learnt this horrible habit from us. If that’s the case, we need to act now to minimise the impact of the unruly tongue. This means we need to teach our young people about the impact (positive and negative) of the tongue. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

,,

My concern with all this socialising on the internet is that I’m seeing an increasing number of Christian youths being unwise with the information they reveal on their page and status updates.

We need to explain to them that they are role models to the world. We need them to understand that they need to take their thoughts and emotions to the Lord first, before they share it with the world. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). They need to know that this is not a form of curtailment or suppression, but actually liberation from the world’s view of how to conduct oneself in public, which leads to confusion. In a world of unregulated free speech, let’s remind our kids that true freedom comes in Christ.


40 LIFESTYLE

Cyber Corner

KENO OGBO

is a writer and web desginer

Three ways to increase your social media reach

T

he first month of 2013 is already over, but it is still very early days for the year. So, reflecting on my top successes in 2012, I realised that Social Media propelled me a long way in establishing new business contacts, building relationships and sharing information. Some successes I had with Social Media are: Building a new fitness business After discovering Zumba in 2011, I decided to become an instructor, and qualified in March 2012. I immediately created a group on Facebook, and invited all my friends who I felt fitted into my target clients. I also used Facebook statuses to announce my events, and joined various Enfieldbased groups. I also created a fitness blog. In less than three months, I had a healthy interactive group on Facebook that now discusses issues around health and fitness. Visits to my Zumba website are increasing, and my ranking on Google for relevant keywords is high.

used elsewhere. Rather than fight against this, embrace it, and use the space wisely. Extend your reach by having subscribers, increasing friends/ followers, creating public statuses. Only post what you want the world to read.

Be Consistent Reading posts and tweets but never retweeting or commenting or posting statuses is a sure way Establishing myself as a writer to dry up your Social Media activity. Be consistent I have been a closet writer for years, and decided with your activity. One person I will never delete to start publishing articles early in 2012 on my from my Facebook friends is Marcia Dixon, as blog www.iamkeno.co.uk. Using Facebook she provides me with relevant, sometimes and Twitter, my articles are read by an increasing controversial, but insightful news on what is number of people. Another definite Social happening in the Christian space. I now Media success. consider her an influential source of information due to her constant updates. For me, it’s a no-brainer: Social Social Media What about you? What is your Media will definitely play a reputation online? major role in 2013, and these will definitely are the three things I advise play a major Make Conversation anyone considering using Social role in 2013 It is not enough to post updates and Media throughout the year: tweets and pictures. Make conversation with selected people. Being open allows you Be Open to have contact with people who may be The Social Media space is a public space, and relevant to your work, and whom you would should never be considered as a private space. Most Social Media websites are free to use, and never otherwise meet. Reply to tweets of an industry expert you want to connect with. He or have a right to update their terms and conditions she will eventually notice your retweets and including privacy terms. In addition, any replies. Send private messages to introduce information posted can be shared by any of yourself. Join LinkedIn groups and join the your friends to their friends, or in a more public conversation. web space. Your photos can be downloaded and

Tweet of the month

My must-have gadget for 2013 Having never been a bona fide ‘gadget person’, my must-have gadget has to be something I need, that adds value to my life by helping me be more effective and efficient. For 2013, this has to be a new smartphone. Smartphones, in my opinion, are one of the best and worst of gadgets to own. If care is not taken, they can control your life, as you can access information 24/7 via your smartphone. From email messages to text messages, Instant Messaging, Facebook notifications and Twitter updates, a blinking red light tempts you to check out what new message you have received. But, used properly, you can stay in touch with friends you care about, and conduct business in a smart and efficient way. Most of us now have a smartphone, and I strongly recommend it. The leading smartphones are the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy and the BlackBerry (even though the latter has bad reviews on its software and usability).

My Choice App

Fighter Verses £1.99 | IOS, Android The Bible exhorts us to hide the Word in our hearts. So, if memorising verses is a struggle for you, this app can help. It helps individuals or groups to memorise verses, and includes quizzes to help you understand the verses; songs to help you learn the verse through music; a review function; seven Bible translations and more. There is also a foundation verse collection aimed at children.

Keno Ogbo co-edited ‘The Black Church in the 21st Century’ and is the Director of Spiral Web Solutions.

@keepthefaithmag


LIFESTYLE 41

BUSINESSMATTERS

DENISE ROBERTS is founder of Christian Women in Business UK and Loud Voice Communications

Neomi is stocking up success Neomi Bennett was a student nurse at Kingston University when she came up with the idea for Neo-Slip. A little over a year later, and it’s already won several awards. Neo-Slip was an instant hit with both nurses and patients, because it makes the notoriously difficult-to-fit surgical stockings, a common preventive measure for the potentially fatal deep vein thrombosis (DVT), easier to put on. Neomi came up with the idea as part of her dissertation paper on hospital risks. After experimenting with different materials, she entered her prototype for its first award - and won. Nine awards later, the newly qualified nurse is trying to keep up with whirlwind success. “It was quite a surprise,” said the 40-year-old mother of three, and Wise Woman Award nominee from South West London. “My plan was to become a sister or matron on a ward, then people bought it and called me an entrepreneur, so I started to see myself that way.” There was a real need in the market for a product like Neo-Slip. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Guidance, a massive 25,000 people in the UK die as a result of DVT, which causes blood clots in the legs that can travel to the lungs. It most often occurs following periods of prolonged inactivity. Those most at risk include the bedbound, and those on long distance travel. Compression stockings, used to help stimulate the circulation of blood in the legs, are a common measure, but they are so difficult to put on that many patients don’t bother. Neo-Slip solves this problem and works, says Neomi, because “it’s been made by a nurse, and out of my own experience. As an auxiliary nurse, I was putting on up to 30 stockings on patients a day.” It is now sold in pharmacists and used in hospitals across the UK, and Neomi, who has a second product in the pipeline, has been invited to tender as an official supplier to the NHS. Nevertheless, the last year has been a bit of a steep learning curve for the newly qualified nurse. “There have been lots of challenges - self motivation, dealing with distributors, knockbacks, financial - going on to the next round, and especially having to make sales and work out projections and forecasts. It was through

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ONLINE STRATEGY

faith and praying about it - and through relationship with God - that I got through. “When God has a plan, He sends signposts, and it’s almost like being guided. He has been there through the whole process.” Her advice to other Christians in business is to “persevere and keep having faith; use the resources available to you; go to seminars, events and exhibitions in your field, and do not to look too far ahead. If I had thought, ‘Well, I haven’t got any money’ or looked at the challenges before I faced them, I would never have gone to the next stage of business.” Despite Neo Slip, Neomi still works occasionally as a nurse. “I put so much effort into studying for it, it would be so terrible not to be nurse.” For more details, visit www.neo-slip.co.uk

How do you ensure your clients and customers can easily find what they need from you? How do you make sure that your marketing message is consistent across web, mobile and print media? With a content strategy. A fairly new term that has grown in importance with the rise of technology, it helps ensure that you meet your business goals in the era of multiple media presence. Here are a few ways to use it to your advantage: • Whenever you write content or information, ask, “What’s this for? What do I want it to do?” Be clear on the reasons why you write it. • Whether this is to provide correct information; reassure customers; answer frequently asked questions, or explain what will happen after a purchase, make sure it does it. • If you require a response from readers, tell them so clearly. Be consistent across your website, social media and printed information. Make sure it is easy to see. Be clear on what you want to get from different social media. This will help you to decide what information works best where.

Making disciples at work Are you a Christian working or running a business in the area of government, education, health, science, social care or media? If so, you are invited along to a series of discussion events exploring your role, and how God is using you to bring His Kingdom principles to your sphere of influence. Hosted by Christian Women in Business UK (CWIBUK), the events are open to all, and aim to share stories and encourage Christians to look at the work of the Holy Spirit in working through ordinary people to fulfil the mandate to disciple all nations. CWIBUK is a not-for-profit organisation for women in the ministry of business. It explores the outworking of biblical principles across all business activities, and the closure of the divide between what is often seen as the spiritual and the secular. Talks take place in London. Please check the website at www.cwibuk.org.uk for dates, venues and costs.

www.keepthefaith.co.uk


42 LIFESTYLE

LARA RUFUS BA, MSc is Managing Director

CHARITYAFFAIRS

of Crowne Consultancy.

PLANNING YOUR FUNDRAISING

I

have come across many people in my time, with great dreams and visions but with no idea how to action them. Like any business, the first thing in one’s quest to fulfil a vision is to have a plan. We all know the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Don’t be afraid to brainstorm - write all your ideas on a flipchart/paper and keep it visible. After all, the Scriptures tell us to “Write the vision and make it plain” (Habakkuk 2:2). As in the commercial world you have a business plan, well it’s also true in the fundraising world. Your business plan equivalent would be your fundraising strategy. Your fundraising strategy is akin to a fundraising satnav, outlining the actions, timescales and resources needed to enable you to realise your funding needs, and prevent precious time from being wasted. Funding is imperative to fulfilling your vision; it often takes money to design, develop and implement a project from conception to implementation. Project management is equally as important; without a project, there is no need to fundraise! Characteristics of a good project: There are several things to consider when project building. Successful projects will be: • on time • on budget • functional and viable • have a sponsor/funder • have a good team • and be outcome-/impact-orientated

FOR 2013

CASE STUDY: STAND IN THE GAP

Stand In The Gap is a supplementary school with a Christian ethos, which was set up by Minister Christabel Hamed from the Global School of Ministry in 2005. Christabel had an overwhelming desire to support the dissaffected youth in her local borough. Having written the vision and carried out thorough research on the need in the area, Christabel prayfully sought to put a management committee together, and proceeded in registering the organisation as a charity. Today, SITG provides a vast range of activities for 11- to 26-year-olds in the area of Enfield, London, as well as crèche facilities for those with children who wish to engage in their workshops. Fundraising had been an issue in the past, however Christabel attended the Black Fundraisers’ Network’s Certificate in Fundraising training, which armed her with the necessary skills for her to start her fundraising quest. Having completed the training, Christabel feels a lot more confident now, and is ready to put her skills into action. See www.standinthegap -dafc.org for more information on SITG. We all know “Faith without works is dead.” This year, begin to work out your vision by taking action!

Dates for your diaries Event: “The 5 things every small charity needs to know about raising funds from the local community and events” Date: Tuesday 19th February 2013 Time: 9:30am - 4:30pm Where: London Cost: £20 Who should attend this session? Fundraisers from small charities, who are looking to access and secure funding from their local community, using a variety of approaches. What will be covered? • Getting started: The law, best practice and ‘the rules’

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• Finding and researching potential sources of income locally • Developing and identifying projects for support • Event planning and management • Following up and strengthening relationships Further details and contact information Email: smallcharitiestraining@institute-offundraising.org.uk Telephone: 020 7840 1020 Website: http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org. uk/events-and-training/events/communities-andevents-small-charities-course/

FUNDING FOCUS FOR YOUR MINISTRY JERUSALEM TRUST The Jerusalem Trust is one the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Funding is available to support evangelism and mission work (UK), Christian education, Christian evangelism and relief work overseas, Christian media and Christian art. Trustees are particularly interested in Christian projects that develop new ways of working with children and young people, particularly those who have little or no contact with the church. Support is also given to evangelistic projects, especially new and emerging evangelists, and those that undertake Christian work with prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. Funding is given for the development of Christian curriculum resource materials for schools in RE. Trustees are also interested in projects which support Christian teachers in leadership in schools. For further information, see http://www.sfct.org.uk or contact Alan Bookbinder on 020 7410 0330 or email jerusalemtrust@sfct.org.uk

Lara Rufus BA, MSc is Managing Director of Crowne Consultancy, former Chair of the Black Fundraisers’ Network; email her at info@crowneconsultancy.co.uk or visit www.crowneconsultancy.co.uk for help with fundraising and project building.


LIFESTYLE 43

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44 LIFESTYLE

HEART TOHEART

ESTHER FENTY is a qualified psychologist and pastor’s wife

My wife’s unsupportive and I’m falling for minister on my leadership team

I

’ve got a major problem that I’m too embarrassed about to share with my leadership team or mentor. I pastor a church. I love what I do, but my wife has never been particularly supportive of my ministry, as it was something she got thrust into, as we became Christians after our marriage. It would help me greatly if she supported me, but seeing as she doesn’t, I’ve just got on with what God has called me to do. Recently, however, a dynamic minister has joined the leadership team. The more I see her and hear her minister, the more I feel attracted towards her. We speak quite a lot, and she’s very encouraging of my pastorate - everything my wife is not. I know it isn’t right to be developing these kinds of feelings for a woman who is not my wife, and I don’t want to act on them, although I’m sure this woman has no idea of how I feel. I’d really welcome any advice you can give in helping me deal with this situation. I don’t want to fall into temptation and bring shame on my God or bring myself into disrepute. Name withheld

Why are people in church so mean? I’m 24, and became a Christian after living a very chaotic and promiscuous lifestyle. If it were not for the support I received from the pastor and his wife, I would have left. Whilst the guys are quite friendly, the women have behaved awfully towards me; have been very unfriendly, and have said very horrible bitchy things about me pertaining to my past. I thought when an individual became a Christian all things were passed away; all things became new. I’m not sure what I should do or can do to change this situation. Fiona, Bristol

Esther Fenty replies

Esther Fenty replies I have shared with my friends in ministry that I ask a particular question every time I attend an ordination service or appointment of a leader, where the wife is encouraged to support her husband in the ministry: Who supports the wife? Furthermore, it appears that there is little preparation for the wives in taking up their new roles, where there is no written manual, but everyone has an opinion and different expectations. Yet, more often than not, the ministers have theological training/preparation classes according to denominational requirements. Many ministers’ wives are just left to ‘get on with it’, and are criticised for merely existing. If he does well, he’s a fine man, but if he does wrong, ‘It’s her fault’. If the church is supportive, she fares better, but she needs to know that she can find solace in the arms of her man when she is accused, convicted and condemned. It is possible that she is struggling with the role of the minister’s wife. It is sometimes difficult for a woman to cope with this role after marrying a quiet, unassuming Christian man, who is then unexpectedly propelled into a position of leadership. How much more difficult is it for those who become Christians after marriage, and find themselves in this position! On the one hand, your wife may not want to stand in God’s way, as she recognises that God has called her husband into ministry. At the same time, the demands of the ministry can lead to stress. Discuss with your wife how you can support each other. Perhaps she feels that she is being supportive by creating a home environment, where you, as a minister, can feel comfortable and relaxed. Maybe she is unaware that you are looking for support in different ways. You won’t know how she is feeling until you open the channels of communication. @keepthefaithmag

Mean church girls are making life difficult for me

Focus on deepening your relationship with your wife, rather than fostering one with the dynamic minister. Consider everything that she is, rather than what she is not. Love and cherish her in the way that Christ loves the Church, and you will reap dividends in love and support. Plan special times where you can be together; surprise her with treats; rekindle the flame, and you will find less time to think about the dynamic preacher. Remember that ministering to your wife is just as important as your other ministries. Be that special leader who takes his wife along with him on his spiritual journey.

Esther Fenty provides godly and practical advice on a wide range of issues. To contact Esther email editorial@keepthefaith.co.uk

Yes, everything changed when you became a Christian. The Bible is explicit in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is more important that you believe and affirm this for yourself, than to wait for others to do so. You may not be able to change their attitude, but you can change yours; both to yourself and to them. It is a pity that Christian women, who have been part of the church longer than you, choose to behave in this way. However, you do not have to act like them. It is likely that there is a great ministry waiting to be birthed in you, and the enemy is using these women to try to destroy it - and you. If you do not react to their behaviour, you will grow in Christ and see your ministry blossom. May I suggest that every time you hear something negative, you will need to remind yourself that you are forgiven, and that the Creator of the universe knows you by name; loves you, and that there is no greater love than His. Then pray for these women as Jesus did: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’


WISDOM FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL AND KEEP THE FAITH MAGAZINE JOINTLY PRESENT...

THE 9TH ANNUAL WISE WOMEN AWARDS Be inspired as we celebrate the achievements of ordinary Christian women who are making a great contribution in church and society DATE Saturday March 9, 2013. Doors open at 6.30pm

VENUE London Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel, 5 More Place Tooley Street, London SE1 2BY

H OST Angie Le Mar - Leading comedienne and presenter of Ladies Talk on Vox Africa Dayo Bello

Clif and Marie

ENTERTAINMENT Clif & Marie - Dynamic gospel duo Dayo Bello - Africa praise artist Enjoy a delicious three course buffet Great entertainment An inspirational talk An inspiring awards ceremony DJs playing the latest gospel sounds Pastor Marjorie Esomowei Awards Founder

Tickets are £65 in advance, £80 at the door £60 for group bookings of 5 people or more. Call 020 8802 6000, email admin@wisewomanawards.org or visit www.wisewomanawards.org

Angie Le Mar Awards Host


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Keep The Faith magazine Issue 78