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Simple and straightforward: THE EASTER STORY
Stand UP Black man!
BILLY GRAHAM: A tribute WAKANDA D E T I S I V E R
THE SYNERGY NETWORK
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Welcome to our Easter supplement! We are privileged to share with you a small taster of our much-loved magazine. Keep The Faith has been in print since 2005 and is an A4, high quality 64-page glossy magazine, packed with articles that promote and support our burgeoning community. In this issue, we pay tribute to Evangelist Billy Graham; we highlight a groundbreaking new project, the Synergy Network launched by the Ascension Trust, and would encourage you to become members! Did you know over 60% of women have experienced sexism in church? We revisit Wakanda; explain how simple and straightforward the Easter story is, and we look at the many challenges Black men have to fight and overcome. Last, but not least, we bring you the latest gospel news - keeping it ‘Juicy’ with VineJuice. If you would like to know more about Keep The Faith, please see page 11 of our supplement, or visit our website www.keepthefaith.co.uk.
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The Publisher would like to thank Rev David Shosanya, Pastor Peter Nembhard, Pastor Ricardo Christopher, Canon J John, Jenny Lee, Lavina Goddard, Jackie Raymond, Becky Wybrow and Dr Dan Tulloch, Diverse Media Group, our supporters and all our advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.
ast year, a groundbreaking initiative was launched by the Ascension Trust: the Synergy Network - A Collaborative Approach to Serious Youth Violence. The aims of the Network are to: share best practice among credible agencies involved in tackling serious youth violence. Rev Ricardo Christopher explains what is the Synergy Network: “The word ‘synergy’ literally means ‘working together’ and conjures up the idea of systems, mechanisms or agencies working in synchronisation with one another towards a desired objective. In the case of the Synergy Network, it represents a collaboration of agencies, charities, churches, academics and practitioners that are involved in tackling serious youth violence. While the idea of networking is not a new one, the Synergy Network has some important characteristics that set it apart in terms of addressing serious youth violence.” He continues: “There are many benefits of belonging to the Synergy Network. The Synergy Network arose out of the Synergy Partnership, a collaboration of four agencies that are addressing different societal problems and contributory factors to youth crime. Several important studies have identified the main factors of crime as: domestic and family dysfunction, peer-pressure and gangs, poor education, mental health, drugs and alcohol abuse. As a result of the Synergy Partnership, many organisations were asking how they could get involved. The network therefore carries forward the collaborative ethos in a much more powerful and effective expression. It is open to academics, professionals, practitioners, clergy, organisations and charities involved in the field of tackling serious youth violence’.
The Ascension Trust, as the governing body for 300 charities in the UK and overseas, is well-placed to help facilitate the network. It has an important facilitating rather than governing role. Advice about governance will be offered to members in annual governance training sessions. It will also host periodic networking meals where members can access leading practitioners in the field of combating violence, and have their good work promoted via our partners and extensive outlets. The network therefore allows for constructive relationships to be formed, best practice to be shared, and takes a strategic, collaborative approach to serious youth violence. The Network was launched in November 2017 at Southwark Cathedral and hosted by the Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun. At this event the issue of trauma was addressed in the keynote speech by Dr Delroy Hall. This subject of trauma aligns with much of the current research on the issue of serious violence. While the seed-bed for crime may be domestic violence and gangs, etc., historic injustice and institutional violence tend to fuel the current issues. Why do some people thrive against this backdrop while others fail? The answer seems to lie in another word: resilience. People who have instilled resilience, faith or character tend to be able to withstand and succeed in spite of injustice, displacement, violence and abuse. The Synergy Network aims to build resilience, character and faith in the community, and address the key issues that inflame serious youth violence. Why not join and let us take a stand together! For more information about the Ascension Trust Synergy Network, visit www.ascensiontrust.org.uk/synergy-network
Two thirds of women have experienced sexism in church
hurches are being urged to take steps to make their congregations safe spaces in which women can flourish, after new research released on International Women’s Day revealed that 62 per cent of women have experienced sexism in the UK Church. The Minding the Gap report, published by the Sophia Network, found that institutional sexism was also seen as the number one barrier for women in church leadership in the UK, identified as such by 53 per cent of respondents in the survey. The report also highlighted a number of other barriers facing women in leadership in the Church, including a lack of female mentoring and leaders (46%); and a lack of theological understanding of women and men working in partnership for the gospel (42%). The report surveyed more than 1,200 women about their experiences within church communities in order to paint a comprehensive picture of what it is like to be a woman in the Church in UK & Ireland. Following the survey findings, which was launched in parliament on 8 March, the Sophia
Network is now encouraging churches to sign up to its ‘Minding the Gap Manifesto’ – eight commitments to making their congregations places of gender equality. Dr Claire Rush, vice president of Girls’ Brigade International and vice-chair of the Sophia Network, said: “The #metoo campaign shows that gender equality has still not been achieved, and it’s heartbreaking to see that the Church, which should be a liberating and hope-filled community, remains a place in
which some women are experiencing sexism. “Our hope and prayer is that leaders will take up the challenge posed by our research to make their churches spaces in which women can flourish by being released into their God-given giftings, becoming all that they have been created to be.” The Sophia Network was started in 2007 and exists to empower and equip women in leadership, and to champion the full equality of women and men in the Church.
Minding the Gap: A snapshot 62% of women have experienced sexism in the Church 75% identified as egalitarians 85% were in leadership (paid and voluntary) in their church 46% are mentoring another woman in their church 86% feel like valued members of their church 42% said a lack of theological understanding of women and men working together for the Gospel was a barrier to women in leadership in the Church 75% feel they have a strong sense of what their God-given gifts are To download the Minding the Gap report, visit mindingthegapuk.com Follow the Sophia Network on Facebook or Twitter: @sophianetwork www.keepthefaith.co.uk
Keeping it J‘ uicy’ with
Snoop Dogg to perform gospel songs at Stellar Awards 2018
Vinejuice is a media company based in Manchester, the home of the JUICIEST Contemporary Urban Christian entertainment news, music, and events. Connect with Vinejuice at www.vinejuice.co.uk and Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @Vinejuice. Listen to Vinejuice Radio on Tunein, YouTube, and Spotify for the best Contemporary Urban Christian music online.
New Music: ‘Giver of Life’ – Empowered By One feat. Rachel Francis-Nweke In the run-up to Easter music ministry, Empowered By One, release track ‘Giver Of Life’; an intimate ode to Christ. Co-written by the man behind the EmpoweredBy ministry, Dr. Warren King, as well as lead vocalist, Rachel Francis-Nweke, pictured below, and award-winning producer, Goz-I-Am, ‘Giver of Life’, is a stripped back, emotionally charged, contemporary song about restoration and hope found in Christ. About the track Warren said, “‘Giver of Life’ starts off by calling His Name, Sovereign Redeemer. It’s about how He restores us, comforts us when we’re broken, and gives us everything we need to live free in Him.” ‘Giver of Life’ is the lead single off EmpoweredBy’s second EP, ‘Empowered By Easter’, which was released on March 2nd. Visit empoweredby01.wixsite.com for more info about the ministry and their ‘Empowered By Easter’ EP.
Gangsta rapper, Snoop Dogg, has been confirmed as one of the artists to perform at this year’s Stellar Awards in March on the same stage as gospel giants, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Tye Tribbett, and a reunited Mary Mary. Snoop first hinted at recording a gospel album last year. In a Beats 1 interview he said, “It’s always been on my heart. I just never got around to it because I always be doing ‘gangsta’ business or doing this or doing that. I just felt like it’s been on my heart too long. I need to do it now.” Now the rapper is set to release his inspirational album, ‘Bible of Love’, on March 16. It features appearances including Faith Evans, Tye Tribbett, Rance Allen and the Clark Sisters. The first single off the album, ‘Words Are Few’, features B Slade, formerly known as Tonéx. Having already dropped 5 of the album’s songs on BET’s Super Bowl Gospel Celebration in early February, where he performed with Evans and Tribbett, Snoop’s next gospel stop is to perform his ‘Bible of Love’ songs at the star-studded Stellar Awards. He’ll be in good company! Other performers on the night
Lurine Cato is vocal coach on ITV’s Good Morning Britain Sing It To Win It competition Award-winning gospel artist, Lurine Cato, reveals that she has been named the official vocal coach for ITV’s Good Morning Britain new singing competition, Sing It To Win It. The singing competition, which launched last week, is a partnership between former Girls Aloud member, Kimberley Walsh, and ITV’s Good Morning Britain. The winner will get to record a track at the famous Abbey Road Studios, to feature on the NOW That’s What I Call Music! 100 album, and £5000. In her role as vocal coach, Lurine will be teaching contestants on how to train their voice and preparing them to perform for competition judges Kimberley Walsh and X-Factor favourites, Reggie & Bollie. For more info about #SingItWinIt visit itv.com/ goodmorningbritain.
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include Erica Campbell and Tina Campbell as the formidable Mary Mary, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Travis Greene, Tye Tribbett, Anthony Brown & group therAPy, Kierra Sheard, KeKe Wyatt, Jonathan McReynolds, Tasha Page-Lockhart, Todd Dulaney, Koryn Hawthorne and Ricky Dillard & New G, as well as others. This year’s host is gospel superstar, Kirk Franklin. Listen to ‘Bible of Love’ at vinejuice.co.uk/music.
Christian youth charity named best not-for-profit to work for in UK Manchester-based, The Message Trust, wins 1st place in The Sunday Times’ annual Best Companies survey – Not-For-Profits category. Presented at a gala dinner at Battersea Evolution in London, the award win is another climb up the rankings for the charity, which placed second in 2017 and eleventh in 2016. Message Trust CEO and founder, Andy Hawthorne, who collected the award along with his senior leadership team, said, “We were so honoured last year to come second and never would have dreamed of being able to top that. We really value all our staff and I’m delighted that this year they’ve helped us to place even higher this year.” For the second year running, Hawthorne
also collected a special award for Best Leader, having scored the top ranking for his inspirational leadership. The Message Trust has been demonstrating the Christian faith in schools, prisons and tough communities across the UK for more than 25 years. Having started in Manchester, it now operates from UK hub locations in Manchester, South Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and London, and internationally in South Africa, Canada and Germany. “It’s incredible to think that we’ve literally gone from working out of a spare bedroom to the global movement we are today, reaching hundreds of thousands of people a year,” comments Hawthorne.
Now in its 18th year the Bethel Convention Centre (BCC), located Now inBirmingham its 18th year the Bethel (BCC), outside central is Convention renowned Centre as being one located of the
just just outside Birmingham is renowned as being one of the emerging venues of its kindcentral in the region. emerging venues of its kind in the region. A venue with its own roots in the Windrush Generation and proud A venue with own rootsSydney in theAlexander WindrushDunn, Generation and proud brainchild of theitslate Bishop Bethel Convention brainchild of the late Bishop Sydney Alexandercommunities, Dunn, Bethel Convention Centre continues to serve churches, education Centre continues to serve churches, communities, education organisations and corporate sector in a beautiful environment for events. organisations and corporate sector in a beautiful environment for events. Bishop Dunn worked tirelessly all his life Bishop life for the Dunn Bethelworked Unitedtirelessly Church all of his Jesus for the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) UK faith. Bishop Dunn Christ (Apostolic) Dunn who passed awayUK lastfaith. July Bishop at the age of who passed July at age 95 leaves a away legacylast behind in the what is of a 95 leaves a legacy behind in what is a very well loved and well-kept venue. Fit very well loved and well-kept for many varying events and venue. holdingFit a for many varying events and holding a purpose built Auditorium, BCC has held purpose built Auditorium, BCC has held many prestigious Conventions, many prestigious Conferences and Concerts.Conventions, Conferences and Concerts. Arriving in the UK in 1955, with only £14, it is clear to see that Bishop Dunn, being part of the Windrush Generation, had purpose, Arriving in the UK in 1955, with only £14, Centre it is clear tothe seeBethel that Bishop Windrush Generation, had purpose, vision and dedication. Bethel Convention and ChurchDunn, familybeing invitepart you of to the continue to support the legacy of one of vision and dedication. Convention and the Bethel Church family invite youneeds. to continue to support the of one of 5566 the Caribbean’s fathersBethel of faith, by utilisingCentre the facility for your conference and meeting Contact the office onlegacy 0121 553 the Caribbean’s fathers of faith, by utilising the facility for your conference and meeting needs. Contact the office on 0121 553 5566 or email@example.com for a special 10% discount on room hire for your next event. (terms and conditions apply quote Windrush70/BCC2018KTF) or firstname.lastname@example.org for a special 10% discount on room hire for your next event. (terms and conditions apply quote Windrush70/BCC2018KTF)
REV CANON J. JOHN
is Director of the Philo Trust www.canonjjohn.com
GRAHAM: A TRIBUTE
Billy Graham stands with Queen Elizabeth II in 1989. The Queen invited Graham to preach to the royal family at Windsor and Sandringham on multiple occasions.
t is not easy to come to terms with the death of Billy Graham. It was not that his death was unexpected, far from it; Billy, aged ninety-nine, had suffered several ailments for many years. Indeed, in his last book, Nearing Home, he talked confidently and movingly about his impending death. Yet he had been such a major part of the Christian world for so long – I wasn’t even born when he held the first London ‘Crusade’ in 1954 – that it is hard to imagine him not being around. It is as if, visiting some familiar landscape, you find that the great tree that has always dominated it has been toppled. You can read the details of Billy Graham’s life in the many obituaries and biographies but I would like to offer a few personal words of tribute here. As a young twenty-five-yearold evangelist I had the privilege of being invited to join him on one of his crusades – WOW! Was I blown away! And a few years ago I was privileged to have a meal with him. Despite my excitement at being in the presence of the great evangelist, I found him to be humble, attentive, warm and encouraging. Yet directly and indirectly he has influenced all that I am and do. Let me suggest that there were three features to his life and ministry that are worth considering and celebrating. First, Billy Graham had a faith-filled life. The unshakeable foundation of all that Billy said and did was the God of the Bible. With Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag
that trust in God came the certainty that the Bible is God’s true word to humanity, and only in Jesus Christ can we be made right with God. For Billy, faith was not simply a matter of believing truth; it was expressing that truth in life. He was – to use that now all-too-rare adjective – a godly man. He loved God and he relied on Him in all he did. That reliance on God as someone who could be trusted encouraged him to take risks. In today’s terms, it may not seem as if Billy Graham was a risk taker, but he was. He brought the evangelistic rally into the modern technological age; he went to Russia and China in the darkest days of communism; he counselled morally compromised politicians and he even appeared on comedy programmes. In all this he put God at the centre and found, as others have, that when you do that, everything else falls into place. The secret to Billy Graham’s ministry did not lie in his many natural gifts – his height, looks, powerful voice and sharp mind – it was the way that he saw everything as revolving around God. This protected him from the danger of pride. There are many other perils of being a ‘professional Christian’, whether you are a global evangelist or the minister of a local church, but one of the most subtle is to let ‘the organisation’ take centre stage. Once that tail starts wagging the dog, decline
or disaster will not be far away. Billy recognised that temptation, and made sure that however many ventures he was involved in, God always took pre-eminence. His was a faith-filled life. Second, Billy Graham had a faithful life. He not only believed in a God who could be relied on but he followed Him without hesitation. From the age of 30 he knew that he was called to be a preacher of the Gospel and for the rest of his long life he never turned aside from that call. That achievement is particularly remarkable because he faced trials and temptations that few of us can imagine. His success made him the focus of enormous attention. Theologically, there were those who attacked him for being a fundamentalist, and those who attacked him for betraying the fundamentals of the faith. Politically, the uncomfortably intimate linkage between Christianity and politics in the United States meant that for years there were enormous pressures for him to get involved and to speak out for either the Left or the Right. As he became ‘America’s Pastor’, dazzling opportunities came his way. He was offered massive financial rewards for political endorsements and became the confidante and counsellor of many presidents.
President Obama visits with Billy Graham and his son Franklin at Billy’s home in North Carolina on April 25, 2010.
“Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend, Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been,” said Martin Luther King Jr. (photo: Chicago, 1952)
Billy Graham speaks with Pope John Paul II in 1993. After their first meeting in 1981, Graham had said ‘after only a few minutes, I felt as if we had known each other for many years.’
Richard Nixon even offered him the post of US Ambassador to Israel; Billy turned it down. Yet he stayed faithful to the One who had called him to be a preacher of the Gospel. That single-minded dedication protected him; the abundant mud slung at him never stuck and while he was occasionally singed by controversy, he was never burnt by it. Finally, Billy Graham had a fruitful life. In terms of evangelism the figures are remarkable: a lifetime audience – including radio and television broadcasts – of over two billion, and more than three million responses to his Gospel invitations. Yet his influence extended beyond his meetings. Billy started Christianity Today in 1956, was influential in supporting Christian music, authored a number of books and, perhaps most significantly, trained other evangelists. God blessed his faithful servant. I likened Billy earlier to a great tree dominating a landscape. Our sadness at his passing is tempered by the fact that this tree gave rise to a multitude of saplings that now grow over the entire world. He sowed good seed and it is bearing good fruit. In the book of Acts the apostle Paul is quoted as saying that King David ‘served God’s purpose in his own generation’ (Acts 13:36 NIV). The same can indeed be said of Billy Graham. We should not seek to imitate him (the world has changed beyond recognition since he began his ministry) but we should be inspired by him. This side of Christ’s return the Church will always need leaders and evangelists like Billy Graham.
The Easter story is simple and straightforward REV DAVID SHOSANYA
is a Regional Minister & Director with the London Baptist Association
he Easter story is simple and straightforward: God in Christ became a human being and died for our sins. However, it does not stop there. The story goes on to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and finally His return to Heaven. Easter, in one sense, is the other side or other end of the Christmas story. Christmas reminds us that God became a Man; the apostle John communicates that truth by asserting that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us’. But is that all there is to the story? What about all that happened in between? What about homelessness? Do Christmas and, particularly at this time of year, Easter have anything to say to us about homelessness? I think they do. I once had lunch with Mark Brennan from Housing Justice. It is a small organisation with very few staff that is seeking to be both a prophetic voice and cutting edge practitioners on the matter of housing and homelessness in London and beyond. It is surprising what they continue to achieve on a small budget, possessing sheer determination to be the difference. It was while speaking with the Housing Justice team in their offices in London Bridge that I began to join the dots and intentionally connect the theme of homelessness to so many stories in the Bible and, ultimately, to Christ Himself, who was homeless multiple times over. My mind was drawn to the many homeless, marginalised and dislocated
individuals that Christ encountered in His earthly ministry – a ministry that ultimately led to His death. I have never asked any questions - or even made the observation - that the gentleman in John chapter five, who gathered with ‘a great number of disabled people (the blind, lame and the paralysed) may have been so ‘invisible’ that he was considered either unfit or unable to inhabit a physical dwelling. I began to wonder that perhaps this was in fact his home, where he lived! Perhaps he was actually homeless, and had forged out an existence and located himself – or, rather, society had passively located him - within a community of the gathered homeless ‘other’. A similar question could be asked of the gentleman, who received his healing from Peter and John at the temple gate called Beautiful in Acts 3, or of the demon-possessed man, of whom Dr Luke skilfully offers a penetrating snapshot into his present state. It is easy to only focus on the fact that he was demon-possessed, and celebrate Christ’s power to deliver. Hallelujah! But hold on, where was he now going to live? Luke tells us that ‘for some time he had not lived in a house, but had lived in tombs’ (Luke 8:25b). He was homeless and it had deeply affected, even altered, his perception of himself, of others and them of him! Does this sound familiar and reminiscent of what we see on the streets of our civilised society? Perhaps these examples are not enough to sufficiently move us through what David Mann highlights as the three stages he observed in individuals seeking to come to terms with the global AIDS epidemic: denial, minimisation and engagement. I can understand that. However, what about this:
me simply reminding you that Jesus Christ Himself was homeless. I guess that now it matters! If Jesus was homeless, then perhaps we ought to pay some attention to the level of homelessness in our world. Earlier, I referred to the fact that Jesus was homeless multiple times over: relational homelessness (‘separated’ from His Father), spatial homelessness (‘dislocated’ from Heaven) and physical homelessness (‘without a place to live’ and call ‘His own’). As my conversation continued with the Housing Justice team, I was struck by the fact that God organised time and space in such a way that homelessness would be a feature and characteristic of the life of Christ from the outset. He would be born in a manger, and would have no place to lay His head (being dependent on others for accommodation and shelter, Luke 9:58). I have never once asked myself where Jesus lived, whether He ‘owned’ a property or had tenancy of one - even in the loosest sense. Such has been the focus of my reading of Scripture that my preoccupation has unhelpfully and disproportionately been focused on His earthly ministry, but not on His earthly needs! It’s easily done. So how does all this fit together with Easter? Well, if Christmas is the time of year that we show kindness to others, because
of the gift of God to humanity in Christ, then Easter is the time we crucify and die to our preoccupation with our own needs; recognise the needs of others, and give ourselves in service to them as a sacrificial act. It means dying to our own interests, needs, wants and desires, and assessing how our actions impact other people around us. It is a hard call and an arduous task. We need God’s grace for it, but then that is what Easter is all about: God’s grace to us. Have a Happy Easter and God bless.
WAKANDA REVISITED JENNY LEE
Founder & Director at I Will Tell International Film Festival www.iwilltell.com
his has only ever happened to me twice. The first time was many years ago at the theatre. I sat, innocently enjoying my birthday gift when, suddenly, the main character’s epiphany of her mother’s blood running through her veins became a strong, personal revelation. That fierce, independent, entrepreneurial spirit, hard-working temperament and amazing stubbornness (although, in myself, I called it ‘persistence’) had manifested itself very differently in the two generations. I didn’t see it until it exploded in my face on stage. The second time was quite recently, at the screening of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. This time it was the journey of Michael B Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, that held me in my seat long after the credits had rolled. Erik is of dual heritage - American and Wakandan - the product of a people who had been enslaved, and one who had not been. He is angry, because he was rejected and abandoned in a place where Black bodies are ravaged mercilessly, while the
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Wakandans, who could change the world - his world - do nothing. This amazing hidden and under-used ability for empowerment and transformation reminded me so much of the Church. While I do not wish to draw links between Wakandan and Christian spirituality, there are perhaps some lessons from Black Panther that could help us in the Church become more of the heroes we were created to be. One of the most celebrated facts about Black Panther is that it is the first mainstream film led by a Black director, with a nearly all-Black cast and some very powerful women. Its overwhelming success shows how hungry the world has been for fairer representation in the entertainment industry. Like most of the rest of the world, our churches have imbalanced racial leadership structures. The term ‘Black-led Church’ was initially coined by White pastors to differentiate them from mainstream churches. And the phrase remains globally as an anomaly that speaks powerfully to the existence of deep wounds that have not yet healed. Even when Black people persevered at White-led churches that did not welcome them, most of the White people left, leaving a Black church with a White pastor, who did not always fully empathise with the needs of his congregation.
Better representation in the leadership structure of churches does not mean that churches should pander to political correctness over divine appointment, but it does mean creating a structure where everyone can truly get a seat at the table. A lack of good representation leaves scope for misrepresentation and desensitisation to the humanity of ‘the Other’. I was surprised at a review by a Guardian journalist who, referring to Michael B Jordan’s character, wrote: “And this is a weak point: Erik’s backstory doesn’t seem to fully explain the frothing hate machine he becomes.” How did she miss it? The modern-day desensitisation to the plight of the Black community and misrepresentation of the Black character are the result of a careful strategy of cognitive dissonance in favour of the ruling majority. Entire masses of people accept or actively perpetuate for others the very thing they would oppose for themselves. Sadly, our churches are not exempt from this. The proverbial saying: The upholder is worse than the thief is perhaps why Erik was so angry against
Wakanda in particular, and why so many are still angry at the Church. The greatest injustices are often not the ones perpetrated by those who are evil, but by those who purport to be on the side of good and are silent. Black Panther redresses the balance by depicting the beauty, power and wisdom of African people. One cannot help but wonder what some of these nations would have become, had they managed to stay hidden from the coloniser and not experience the pillage of their land, their heritage and their people in the name of God.
Open your heart for a life changing experience in fostering ago, was that there were issues I had categorised as my mother’s problem that were actually some of her greatest virtues - and mine. My renewed vision of who she is, and what we both carry, changed our relationship forever. I wonder what changes these lessons from Black Panther would bring.
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So what could the Church do? When we do wrong we are called, not just to apologise, but also to rectify the wrong. In fact, one verse says that if a thief is caught, he should restore seven times what he stole. What would happen if we were to put that principle into force, to make compensation for the men and women stolen from Africa? Why are there not more Christian leaders supporting the need for restitution at any level? A great Christian teacher once said: “Faith is spelt R-I-S-K. Far too many of us profess faith, but are unwilling to risk stepping out to make the change we say we believe in.” The I Will Tell International Film Festival, which I run, focuses on amplifying the voices of the unheard from countries around the world. I remember once receiving an objection to a screening that raised the issue of racism, on the basis that it would be divisive. The objector was Black. This fear of confrontation is as much a plague of the Black community as it is the White community. But no great change can ever take place unless someone is willing to take a risk. My epiphany at the theatre, so many years
Jenny Lee is the Founder and Director of the I Will Tell International Film Festival, which takes place in London, UK, and Florida, USA, with the aim of amplifying the voices of the unheard through high quality films from around the world, followed by inspirational post-screening discussions with filmmakers and global community leaders. www.iwilltell.com
STAND UP, BLACK MAN! BY PA S T O R P E T E R N E M B H A R D
o one can deny there are many challenges and conflicts that Black men living in the 21st Century have to fight and overcome - not only to survive, but also to thrive. These challenges come from a number of sources. For instance, when it comes to health matters, Black men are more susceptible to diseases like prostate cancer. Where family relationships are concerned, many have experienced fatherlessness; many Black men have never had a relationship with their father or been fathered. Then there’s the fight against violence: too many lives - and very young ones at that - are ending before their time, due to guns, gangs and knife crime. And then there’s the fight against injustice. Black men are more likely to be imprisoned than any other race in this country… I could go on and on. I know for a fact, that if the Black man is going to survive and thrive in British society, he has a mighty fight on his hands, and it’s a fight that isn’t helped by the negative stereotypes perpetuated in the Media, or the fact that many
sisters, for various reasons, don’t seem to believe in or support their men. When the many challenges Black men have to face are taken into account, the question must be asked: Why has the Black man been so severely targeted and challenged? Because he is strong! I sincerely believe that there is a conspiracy to erase the Black man from society. In her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander argues that, by targeting Black men through the war on drugs and decimating communities of colour, the US criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control - relegating millions to a permanent second-class status. However, despite everything they have gone through, it is my belief that the Black man is a strong man - only the Black man could survive 400 years of slavery and still continue to exist in a world that is set up to make him fail. I have a message for men of colour: You are strong and if we, as men, unite to face
the challenges we experience together, not only can we survive, but we can also advance and follow in the footsteps of men like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, whose lives clearly demonstrate there are no limits to how high we can rise if we believe in ourselves and have faith.
Black man, I encourage you to be the best father you can be, and to be INTENTIONALLY proactive in fathering your children. We need Black men to stand up and take their place as head of their homes, and we need our sisters, who have carried so many responsibilities on their own over the years, to relax, chill and let men lead, and not be afraid to accept help when it is offered. Just recently, I offered to help a Black woman carry her shopping trolley up the stairs and she refused. I was surprised, and told her it’s time for the Black women to allow Black men to demonstrate chivalry. I know we have dropped the ball on so many occasions, but please help us arise. She was speechless. Black man, I encourage you to be the best father you can be, and to be INTENTIONALLY proactive in fathering your children. And, if you haven’t always been there for your children, be strong enough to apologise, and tell them that you have let them down. Pastor Peter Nembhard is Senior Pastor at ARC – A Radical Church in Forest Gate, east London. You can hear him on UGN every Sunday at 10am, and follow him on Facebook.
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With Father’s Day approaching, why not write a letter to your children and explain your struggles with them and ask for forgiveness? Black man, I need you to stand up for your community; our young boys are killing each other and dying in the streets. They need us to be the mentors and role models they are crying out for. I want you to take a stand against fatherlessness and, if you’re a Christian, be concerned that there is a lack of men in our churches. Let’s build strong men’s ministries in our congregations, and pray for and evangelise men into the Kingdom. I am totally committed to helping support, strengthen and unite the men in the community and, I strongly believe that, despite the challenges Black men face, we are strong enough to overcome them and fulfil our God-given purpose and potential. And, with faith in our Creator, we will win the fight.
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ÂŠ Dennis Morris assisted by Bolade Banjo
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As black men we face a higher risk of prostate cancer. Know the facts. strongerknowingmore.org
Welcome to our Easter supplement! We are privileged to share with you a small taster of our much-loved magazine. Keep The Faith has been in...
Published on Mar 26, 2018
Welcome to our Easter supplement! We are privileged to share with you a small taster of our much-loved magazine. Keep The Faith has been in...