Keep The Faith Issue 112

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Women in the Pulpit







£4.95 where sold

Black man over 45? You have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Early diagnosis can make a difference. Speak to your GP.

Men, we are with you. Photos: Š Dennis Morris assisted by Bolade Banjo 5872 Prostate Cancer UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1005541) and in Scotland (SC039332). Registered company 02653887.

Dear Readers Welcome to 2020! Let’s celebrate the new decade and our first magazine of the year. It is also a celebration of our 15th year of independently publishing Keep The Faith magazine! It’s a fabulous achievement for everyone involved in the magazine, which, over the years, has totalled hundreds of contributors - people from all walks of life - providing our audience with high quality editorial that reflects the positivity and achievements from within our community. Our readership is changing. We are receiving thousands of visitors weekly to our website, and our distribution channels are expanding and reaching new areas. It’s wonderful when we receive emails from people all over the country, advising us that they popped into their local supermarket and picked up a copy of Keep The Faith. Our editorial is encompassing real life day-to-day issues too. This edition is packed with articles about physical health, mental health, sex offending, setting standards, being optically challenged, music, business and even veganism! We live in troubled times, however, and need to share a little more love and appreciation. So, as this is our February/March issue, we are rethinking love in action, and we are celebrating our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and all spiritual mothers. Happy Mother’s Day, ladies! We are also celebrating International Women’s Month, so many of our contributors are women, and we have highlighted contributions of women in the pulpit. We appreciate you! If you would like to be part of the KTF family, get in touch at Thank you for the support you’ve given us over the past 15 years, and we look forward to the next 15!




10 Chevelle Franklyn talks music, family, faith and her upcoming album by Segodi Leshalabe and Milton B. Allen 14 Interview with Nims Obunge


FEATURE 16 Women in the Pulpit by Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo 20 Tightening the screws on sex offenders by Martins Agbonlahor 21 Learning to be a better steward by M. Jasmyn Allen


PS: Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mother, Maureen Chang ... Love you lots xxx


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



Shirley McGreal


05 In the news

06 Could you believe in pop gospel? by Juliet Fletcher 08 Music matters by Benjamin Harrell




22 Optically challenged by Gary Clayton 24 Hope is our anchor in troubled times by Rev Stephen Brooks 25 Setting our standards by Rev Canon J.John 26 Servant leadership by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 27 Valentine’s Day - Rethinking love in action by Dionne Gravesande 35 Christians and clothes by Rev Stephen Brooks


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

The Publisher would like to thank Rev Stephen Brooks, Rev Canon J John, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Pastor Yvonne Brooks, Juliet Fletcher, Benjamin Harrell, Milton B Allen, Marcia Dixon, Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo, Martins Agbonlahor, M Jasmyn Allen, Gary Clayton, Dionne Gravesande, Marnita Coleman, Esther Kuku, Keno Ogbo, Anthony Kelly, Susan Kirlew, Dr T Ayodele Ajayi MBchB MRCPsych, Diverse Media Group, our supporters and advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.

28 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon 30 Faith for the family by Marnita Coleman 31 What is self-care? by Esther Kuku 32 The menopausal rollercoaster by Pastor Yvonne Brooks 33 Optimal Mental Health: An intentional approach in the 21st century by Dr T Ayodele Ajayi 34 Essentials for entrepreneurs by Keno Ogbo 36 Why go vegan? by Kirly-Sue 38 Increasing diabetes awareness by Tony Kelly


Pentecostal Credit Union celebrates 40th Anniversary Young entrepreneur launches macro friendly meals in supermarkets When Segun Akinwoleola, 31, announced on social media last month that he had successfully launched a healthy meal prep brand - called The Gym Kitchen, comprising four meals - in 120 ASDA stores across the country, his social media went crazy. To date, he has received 3000 likes on Facebook, 9200 likes on Twitter, and over 1000 likes on Instagram, plus lots of messages. He said: “It’s been so crazy, I think people seeing a young Black man, who looks like them, launch a brand into a supermarket has resonated. I thought I was just launching healthy meals, but it turns out I was inspiring a nation of people.” He even received a standing ovation from fellow church members at The ARC in Forest Gate, east London, when he shared details of his journey to get his food brand to market. Segun, the eldest of three boys of Nigerian heritage, got the idea for The Gym Kitchen brand in 2017, and for the past 18 months he has been focused on developing the food range with a state-of-the-art manufacturer. His faith in God kept him going when things got difficult. He recalled: “There were times I had to question why I was still trying hard, working on this, but because it was ordained by Him, He opened the doors to get the biggest manufacturer on board, so I had to keep on going. The whole of last year I’ve been listening to Never Lost a Battle (Elevation Worship) before every meeting, and meditating on Ecclesiastes 3.” As far as Segun is concerned, this debut range is just the start. “I want to continue to build The Gym Kitchen into what I believe it can be. I aim to develop new and exciting brands that play on the new trends, such as vegan, and to help young people get into some of the big companies before going off to run their own.” Visit for more details.

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE FOR THE 16TH WISE WOMEN AWARDS The 16th Wise Women Awards are taking place on Saturday 21st March at the prestigious Leonardo Royal Hotel, Prescot Street, London E1. The Awards commence from 3pm with the red carpet and exhibitions. A sumptuous dinner is served at 7pm, followed by the awards ceremony, talks and after party. The Awards are the brainchild of Pastor Marjorie Esomowei, co-pastor of Triumphant Church International, and her husband of over thirty years, Rev Clem Esomowei. She is also founder of Wisdom for Women International, a ministry that hosts events and run a series of initiatives designed to empower women

and support the vulnerable. There are a total of thirteen categories in honour of Christian women, who have served the Church and community, including: Christian Woman in Politics; Business, Missions, Exceptional Young Woman, Woman in Music and Woman in Ministry, to name but a few. Winners are decided by a panel of esteemed judges. Previous winners of the Wise Women Awards includes Bishop Rose Hudson Wilkin, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Pastor Yvonne Brooks, Angie Le Mar, Lurine Cato and many more.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

A key organisation, founded by a member of the Windrush Generation to provide financial services to Britain’s Black community, is getting ready to celebrate its 40th Anniversary in 2020 with a series of major events. Shane Bowes, the PCU’s Chief Executive Officer, is spearheading the celebrations, which will include: • A reception at the House of Commons • A celebratory service at St Martin-in-the-Field • A banquet in London’s West End, hosted by the BBC’s Clive Myrie. Shane shared: “The PCU is proud of its many achievements during the past 40 years. We have come a long way since it was founded in 1980, when Rev Carmel Jones launched the PCU, opening the first account with just a pound.” He continued: “Since then, we have provided finance that has enabled congregations to buy churches, individuals to purchase property and set up businesses, and also offered personal loans and savings accounts. We are proud of that legacy, because we have seen how doing so has impacted both churches and the wider community.” Visit for more details.

40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PENTECOSTAL CREDIT UNION ‘’In 1955 a 17 year old boy arrived here from Jamaica. One Sunday he attended his local Anglican church service. At the end of the service the vicar thanked him for coming, but asked him not to return. 30 years later he was returning to Anglican churches - to buy their buildings’’. That boy was Carmel Jones and this is the story of the Pentecostal Credit Union, founded 40 years ago. Join us in TWO SPECIAL EVENTS

ANNIVERSARY THANKSGIVING SERVICE: St Martin in the Fields Trafalgar Square. Music by Chineke - Europe’s first BAME orchestra, The London Adventist Chorale and an address by the Bishop of Southwark. Date: Wed 13 May Time: 3.30pm – 4.30pm Venue: St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ



SPECTACULAR GALA BANQUET: Hosted by the BBC’s Clive Myrie, special guest Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin, with entertainment by Evans & Purist Ogboi, Andrew Bello, The London Community Gospel Choir and Queen of Lovers Rock - Carroll Thompson. Fine dining Caribbean themed menu created by James Cochran, winner of BBC’s Great British Menu competition 2018 Date: Sat 20th June Time: 6.00pm – 1.00am Venue: 8 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BY Tickets: £125.00



is a former BBC Producer and funding Executive of the GMIA










wanted to open my first article of 2020 with a new idea. Maybe it’s controversial, maybe not. However, I’m putting my idea out there to anyone who cares to listen and take it up. I’m up for something different in this new decade -something to make our music stand out just that little bit more in this branding era. A new strand of gospel called POP GOSPEL! POP means Popular. For ages I didn’t realise this is what pop music meant! Popular music is what a people are listening to the most. In this case there would be a definition of the most popular gospel hits of the moment. A way in which both the music industry and the public recognise we have pop hits within our genre. Can we have pop gospel? Is that something we can believe in to be beneficial to us? Am I prophesying here? It is a serious proposition. At least I hope it might be taken seriously. Well, it may be said that gospel music is already popular, but I’m speaking from a music industry system position. Is it worth seeing a strand of gospel within pop music that recognises its ‘pop value’? Could this turn out to be a potent currency for artists, producers and promoters Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

alike? A recognised pop gospel hit, something unique created within British Gospel that maybe even the Americans might want to import! INSPIRATIONAL OR CROSSOVER It’s not a virgin thought; it isn’t a new idea at all, really. It’s just replacing the terms ‘inspirational’ and ‘crossover’ with ‘pop gospel’. I remember in the late 1980s and well into the ‘90s gospel choirs, like The Inspirational Choir, LCGC; groups like Paradise, Nu Colours; soloists like Lavine Hudson, Paul Johnson, and music producers, like Marcus Johnson and Steve Campbell (Ethnic Boyz), Tony Bean… they all created and performed in gospel music what was definitely DESIGNED for the pop music scene. This all coincided with the likes of BeBe & CeCe Winans, the Clark Sisters and Terry Garmon (do you remember him with the big RnB hit, Anyway You Bless Me?). Hundreds if not thousands of new fans were attracted to gospel music, and only God knows how many may have literally found an authentic experience with the

Lord as a result. The musical terminology was ‘inspirational music’ or ‘crossover hit song’. Lavine Hudson’s Intervention, BeBe and Eternal’s I Wanna Be The Only One to Raymond & Co’s Playing Games, not to name countless dance and rave hits, with remixes like Candi Staton on You Got The Love for The Source (aka producers Anthony B Stephens, Arnecia Michelle Harris and John Bellamy). This latter end is questionable, but it’s super relevant to the exposure we can experience and to the testimonials that have surfaced over the years. A LONG TRACK RECORD American gospel acts have long ventured down this road of singing gospel songs or gospel integrated performances with rock ‘n’ roll, country music, jazz and blues artists. There is a great catalogue of recordings as well as filmed evidence of this. Recently, after viewing quite a few music documentaries, particularly those on BBC Four iPlayer, there is much to show the close relationship that many artists and music producers had with




individuals of gospel music from our churches. Ever since Elvis Presley in the 1950s and ‘60s, people - church people - have moaned about collaborations between ‘secular and divine’, yet still it has been those very public hits that have helped people to look towards the Church and maybe even find their way to faith in Christ JESUS. Of course, the greatest of these pop gospel hits, which began within my generation and whose legacy remains to this day, is - you guessed it - O Happy Day. I like the term ‘pop gospel’. It says what it is. It places it well. It’s definitive. It’s unambiguous. It’s a media friendly phrase on many levels. I don’t know if I’m convincing you, but I have certainly convinced myself! LOL! I’m gonna talk to people involved in UK Gospel for a view and, if you have a view ready for me, do write in to Keep The Faith, or find me somewhere in social media land reposting this article. I’m quite happy to respond. BENEFITS FOR OUR INDUSTRY NETWORKS In this millennial era of branding, identity is soooo important. I believe there would be loads of benefits from this strand if we took it fully on board within our industry – promoting, as a brand of our industry. Public Audiences: The public, in particularly young people, will be able to latch onto the specifics of what this brand means to them. An accessible phrase for all ages. Songs and Artists: Songs that are specially written to suit a pop gospel strand by current artists. Regardless of the artistic configuration (ie. choir, soloist or group), if the sound or format fitted, it would be included. So the Kingdom Choir work would fit in with a GuvnaB release, as much as a Che Sampson or CalledOut Music or Noel Robinson! Whoever the artist may be, they can release with the identity of pop gospel. Lyrically it releases very contemporary artists to write about life and everything in the way - as

many are already doing. However, this gives them a credible track and channel through which they can make and create, express and promote who they are, and what they are saying. Media & Music Organisation Sources: Radio and Press (the two foremost and significant outlets), Social Media, TV and Film - in addition to the artists - recognising and taking up the phrase legitimise its use. It enables a fresh news approach to the development of artist and music profiling. Possibly it could give radio programming in mainstream a dynamic that all too often has been lost by the nit-picking of their understanding of gospel music, and could help with the portrayal away from the Sunday-only slot or presumed sound.

hits in the music industry....Popular pop musicians are Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake... Pop music has produced the highest number of hits because it is upbeat and it focuses on common themes. The lyrics of most pop music songs are said to have had both positive and negative impacts on society. Changes and evolution in pop music have shaped popular culture and morals. Pop is not focused on any specific audience. It is meant to appeal to just about everyone that would listen, and is therefore very commercial.” (end quote). More was said in that write-up, and it makes interesting reading. I felt that what it said about pop related to much of what we desire for gospel. In this regard there is an amount of synergy, as much of the upbeat inspirational sounds and themes have had their roots within gospel music. Additionally, to my surprise, looking over the names, most of the artists the piece quoted as being the best in pop have their roots in Christian gospel music. I say we have some kinda rightful claim to take something back or - more pertinently - put something more powerful in. I believe we have the ability to do it!

THE NEGATIVES OF POP MUSIC Some call it ‘throw away music’, and there are likely to be those who believe that gospel shouldn’t be in the same phrase as pop, because of the negative connotations and lifestyles that go with many artists within the pop industry. I think this gives more reason to our being a part of the pop genre. I liked what I found on the Official.FM website under the category PoP, and I’m quoting a chunk from it here: *” Modern Pop Music originated from the United States and the United Kingdom... Even though it is internationally recognised, most regions in the world have their own variation of pop music...Pop music has produced the most

FINAL WORDS I’ve just touched lightly on the numerous things that could be said in this piece. Creatively we now have more than seventy years of media, music, arts and culture contribution. It’s been amazing that we have a ongevity legacy in the US Hawkins’ arrangement of ‘O Happy Day’ that hit these shores in the pop charts of 1969 and has never left. The summary question is: Fifty years on since that pop hit, we now have our own musical legacies and heritage, and are swiftly moving towards our first one hundred years. So, who’s gonna be the first to produce the first global British pop gospel hit in this next fifty years? I believe you’re out there - somewhere! Source: *

Music Matters


Plan like an Indie artist


here is a thrill in watching your music come alive. There is an excitement with sharing a piece of your soul to the world. Your DNA is embedded into the tracks, which gives listeners an understanding of who you are. You are going to register your music in multiple places. Each place has a specific purpose, which allows your music to be heard. Copyrights protect your music; a number of codes track sales and spins, and distribution makes your music available to listeners. Before you release your music, ensure that you have all your registration in place. You can be the most talented singer in the world, but if no one gets a chance to hear you, who will know? There are platforms and tools that exist to help advertise your brand, and one of the most effective tools is your website. Think of your website as a one-stop shop for everything representing your brand - a centralised location containing all your music, appearance/tour schedules, merchandise and social media information. Your social media takes your brand and delivers it to followers on that specific platform. Be strategic when coming up with your social media handles, and ensure you are consistent. You want to make sure people can find you.

When you understand who you are as a brand, it helps you communicate it to those who follow you. That does not mean to advertise your music in every single post that you share with your community. You want to highlight the many aspects of your life with your followers. Build trust by being yourself. The infrastructure you put in place gives you multiple ways of saying the same thing in different ways: IGTV, posts, stories, events and live streaming are your tools. Just be sure you know how to use them. Music Matters is a column designed to give you the tools to help you execute your plan. Through interviews, research, data and input from USA industry pros, we will help you think like an indie artist to address the USA, Africa and other international territories.

Find out more on how to prepare yourself before you release your music, by visiting Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag


The man behind the music Lloyd Powell, better known by his stage name, Lytie, is an international reggae artist who hails from Birmingham, UK. Lytie’s musical inspiration came from the many hours of listening to Nat King Cole and Dennis Brown, and he would then mimic their voice until he was able to develop his own style of singing. Following his passion, Lytie’s ambition to perform materialised and he was soon touring Europe, sharing the stage with Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Sanchez, Frankie Paul, to name a few. Securing Number 1 hit in the reggae charts with single entitled ‘I Want You’ Lytie went on to gain two gold discs for ‘Best Male Reggae Singer’ and ‘Best-Selling Single’. Just when it seemed that life couldn’t get any better, things took an unexplainable turn and in desperation for answers, Lytie’s journey of self-discovery took him across to the United States. The three month trip was a life-changing experience which he will never forget. Returning to the UK, Lytie cemented his faith and lost relationship with Christ, sparking a new direction towards the gospel genre. With his roots firmly in the Caribbean, some of his biggest accolades include performing in Barbados, Tobago and the Bahamas. The ‘Smooth Man of Gospel’ has often time been compared with the late Dennis Brown. Lytie received this title from a radio DJ who admired his silky smooth voice and those high notes he reached with ease, slip-sliding over each note. Lytie is also a qualified plasterer - a line of work he enjoys. While working, melodious sounds can be heard bouncing of the walls with each stroke of his trowel. Lytie not only ministers the Word through music but he’s very active in the community. Each month he attends a day centre where he sings and spends time with the elderly residents. After much hard work and dedication, Lytie has enjoyed an accomplished career with the release of his new album ‘Light of the World’. This album is a must, and is already receiving overwhelming airplay on various radio stations. By the grace of God, his mission to share and produce good quality music will manifest once again. For more information and to buy the album, email Also available to download from iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Facebook lytiepowell YouTube lytiepowell Twitter @lytiepowell


Sunday 1 March 7pm, Barbican

André J Thomas, the London Adventist Chorale and community gospel choirs from across London come together to marry gospel music with the orchestral sound

LIFE-CHANGING ADVENTURE Rock UK is a Christian charity with nationwide outdoor activity centres. They run a free instructor training programme for young people to experience life-changing adventures. Margaret is a 19-yearold Nigerian, who has grown up in Birmingham, UK. She joined the two-year instructor training programme in September 2019. Hi Margaret, what attracted you to Rock UK? I was originally looking for a gap year, then I met Rich Sewell (Director of Frontier Centre) at Soul Survivor week, and he explained how amazing Rock UK is, and how you get closer with God in the outdoors and help to transform young lives. What has your first three months been like? The first months are challenging at first, as it involved me having to come out of my comfort zone and capsizing into a cold lake. Overall, the first three months are great, as you receive support from the very start, as everyone is understanding and gets along. What are the other trainees like? The other trainees are beyond amazing, and are always looking to support each other - whether that be emotionally or spiritually. They always help to build each other up in faith. How has this experience changed you? The experience of Rock UK has changed me massively; it has increased my confidence in speaking to a big group. It has also helped me to become courageous, as I have been doing activities such as climbing, which I never imagined myself doing. What are the challenges? I’d have to say that my main challenge was trying to overcome my fear of heights, especially when climbing crags. However, after all the encouragement and help I’ve been offered, I am slowly becoming more confident. What is your favourite outdoor activity? My favourite outdoor activity is, hands down, paddle sports, mainly because I am continuously becoming confident on the lake. How has the programme helped you in your faith? As we lack a youth leader in my church, I didn’t really have a spiritual mentor who could answer my biblical questions and guide me. However, since coming to Rock UK, I have received tremendous support from everyone, and it is lovely being in the same environment with other Christians trying to develop their faith in God.

To find out more about the programme, visit


Chevelle Franklyn Talks music, family, faith and her upcoming album BY SEGODI LESHALABE & MILTON B. ALLEN GLOBAL MUSIC LINK EDITORIAL TEAM


ith a music career that has spanned over three decades, having been on tour around the world, including South Africa, the UK, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Austria, Germany, Holland, the USA, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Zambia and Kenya, and having collaborated with renowned artists, like Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Israel Houghton, Micah Stampley and Lionel Petersen winning multiple awards in the process - Chevelle Franklyn has undoubtedly earned legendary status. She recently recorded her brand new album, South Wind, in South Africa, which is due for release later this year. Her new single, ‘Go In Your Strength’, is released in March, and is already making waves within music circles globally. On behalf of Keep The Faith magazine, Segodi Leshalabe took some time off to speak to Chevelle about her music career, family and the upcoming album. Segodi Leshalabe (SL): You are about to release your latest album, South Wind, recorded in South Africa. Congratulations on that. How did it come about? Chevelle Franklyn (CF): “Well, I went to South Africa a few years ago, where I happened to produce an album with various local artists. It wasn’t even my album; I was just blessed to be able to produce an album that included Ntokozo Mbambo, Judith Sephuma, Lionel Petersen, Mahalia Buchanan and a number of other South African artists.

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I was amazed by the level of talent there, the richness of the gifts, and I said to myself that any day I’m doing another project, a worship album, I’m coming right back to South Africa. So about seven months ago, I went to South Africa to record two to three songs, but it so happened that in the two weeks I was there, a whole album was produced. That’s how the album title ‘South Wind’ came about.” SL: What can people expect from this latest offering? CF: “The album is total worship. My other albums were about testimonies, but on this one the focus is more about worshipping God. It’s pointing just to Him. It’s not talking about what I have been through or how the Lord was good to me, no, this album is total worship, total exaltation, admiration to God, and celebrating who He is and what He can do for me. And I also sing in a little bit of Zulu (one of South Africa’s indigenous languages) in it.” SL: You worked with Nqubeko Mbatha, one of South Africa’s great talents. Having worked with many artists there, including the country’s leading ensemble, Joyous Celebration, what was your experience working with him and all the other artists you worked with?

CF: “I met Nqubeko the first time I came to South Africa many years back. At the time he was just one of the musicians, but I was blown away by his level of skill and his level of production. Over the years I kept in contact with him and other friends like Mojalefa Mjakes, who is also one of top producers there. Overall it was such an amazing experience being there. It was like everything was just right. It’s a rare occurrence to have a moment where you have all the right people in the room, and with this album, all the right persons were in the room. It was a dream for me when I was there to produce this album.”


SL: This is the second time you’ve released an album recorded in South Africa. Is it your love for the country? Their sound? Culture? People? What is it that attracted you to go back there? CF: “You know what? Everything about South Africa will actually attract anybody to go back, because the culture is rich, and even though the country is so far from the West, the culture, the music, the food, the fashion, the people, the heritage and all of that is just amazing. It’s one of those countries you go to, and you are just in awe of the goodness of God in that land. And not forgetting the level of musicianship that’s there. I also need to add this: when I was singing secular music, at a young age I was actually

doing background vocals for some of the songs that were about apartheid and the freedom of Mandela, and so when I got the chance to go back to see where I was singing about, just to be in that land is an amazing experience.” SL: You have been in the music space for over three decades now. What would you say is your secret to staying on course and relevant for so long? CF: “I think one of the key aspects of it is just being open to change. Not being hard and fastened on what you know. Just because it has been done like this for 15 years, does not mean it still should be done the same way. Just be open to change, and surround yourself with people who are creative and younger than you or even older. And one other thing is travelling. I travel a lot to places like Africa, America and Europe, and that enables me to keep seeing new things which I can implement into my music and thus keep evolving.” SL: You certainly would have come across various challenges in your music journey, so how did you overcome them? CF: “I have encountered a lot of them, but the key one for me would have been to not allow anyone to intimidate me. Some people tend to be territorial, and so sometimes when you enter into certain spaces, especially where there are cultural differences, there are a few people who may try to make you feel like you are not good enough, that you are not welcome or you don’t have what it takes. But the main thing is to not allow anyone to intimidate you. I had to come to a place very early in my career that I’m enough to do what I’m called to do. God didn’t give me half anything, what I have is enough to do what I’m called to do. And so, I will not allow anyone to intimidate me, nor allow them to make me feel less than who God says I am.” SL: What lessons or advice would you give to youngsters who are trying to carve out a career for themselves in the music space? CF: “My advice would be that they should


appoint themselves mentors, have someone who has already gone ahead of you, walked that walk and accomplished something, and who will then save you many years of setbacks, saving you from making the same mistakes they themselves made and learned from. Mentorship is one key ingredient in having longevity. Another important aspect is character development, because even though a gift will make room for you, it will take good character to keep you in the room. I have sung with many great artists who have been in the industry for long, and one of the key things they had in common was humility and having respect for those who have gone ahead of them and paved a way.” SL: Your career saw you move from singing secular music to singing gospel. Please share with us your music and what brought the transformation? CF: “The majority of Jamaican children grew up in church, and my journey was also similar. I started in church although I wasn’t very active, because I didn’t know I could sing at that very young age. So I wasn’t a big part of the music setup. Eventually I started with secular music and, in my mind, I was thinking that acquiring certain things would help me fill the void that was missing from my life. I’m from a very poor background, and so obviously money and fame were the key things. And it was not so much about helping me alone but also helping those who were connected to me, to try and change certain cycles in my family and in my community. But even when I was doing secular music, meeting all these big people, like your Mariah Careys, Janet Jackson, Boys II Men, Ricky Martins, Miriam Makeba and many others, and getting exposed to their world, I realised that wasn’t enough for what I thought it could fix. The void was still there. And one evening, as I was doing a secular concert, one of the biggest concerts in Jamaica, between the MC calling my name and me going on stage,

God spoke. I felt the power of God on me while walking from backstage to the stage. And that was when everything turned for me. At that time, I was signed to a record label in America, recorded an album, photo shoot was done, everything was ready and I had the hit song of the year in the same year, and everyone was waiting for me to sing that song that night. But that didn’t happen. The presence of God took over and that was the turning point for my music career.” SL: Your music journey includes lots of collaborations. Are they something you firmly believe in? And how do you select who to collaborate with? CF: “I have been doing collaborations for a very long time. Even before I got saved, I worked with this guy called Shabba Ranks on a very big international song called ‘Mr Loverman’. And the last secular song I did was a collaboration with a DJ from Jamaica called Beenie Man, and the song was called ‘Dancehall Queen’. Those guys were very good friends of mine, and when I got saved, I still wanted to be in a position where I don’t just collaborate with people I don’t know, but with people I have a relationship with or their ministry has moved me. I believe in collaborations; I love them, and I believe it’s good for people to come together and share their talents.” SL: You have toured the world to many places. Which country or city would you say is your favourite and why? CF: (Starts by laughing) “You know what? I think you can guess which is my favourite. I mean we have been talking about it. South Africa will probably be number one and number two and number three. It has such a rich culture, the architecture blew my mind and the beautiful people, you know. I’m not talking as if South Africa is perfect, because they do have problems like everybody else, every other country, but there is

something that stands out about South Africa that a lot of other nations don’t have. And I really hope South Africans see the beauty in themselves, in their country and in their culture as the world sees them, because they have something very special.” SL: Any planned tours following the release of your upcoming album? CF: “Most definitely. We plan to tour to various regions including Africa, America, Canada, Asia and, of course, the Caribbean because this album is called South Wind and God is going to cause that wind to do some things, to purify some things, and is gonna blow into many different nations to bring change.” SL: You most definitely would have seen God at work in your life along your life journey. Which would you consider your greatest testimony in your walk with Him? CF: Just knowing that He will open certain doors for me that I didn’t even know existed. And His love for us, calling us worthy even when people might have written us off. SL: Lastly, what would you like to say to our readers and to your fans, who have been following you and your music over the past three decades? CF: “The first thing is that I love you guys, and I appreciate you. I’m grateful to God that you are appreciative of the gift God has given me to share with you. Please continue to support me in prayer, and most importantly I’d like to tell you to never forget that God is fighting for you, no matter what the situation looks like. It may look like you are losing but you will not lose. God is fighting for you and you are coming through. Anything you are going through, know that you are coming through as pure gold. I love you guys, and I’m so grateful that you are a part of my journey. Let’s keep sharpening each other. Thank you.”

‘Go In Your Strength’ is released worldwide in March Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag




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Interview with...

KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): S ​ o, who is Nims Obunge? Tell us a little bit about your childhood. NIMS OBUNGE (NO): I was born in Kensington, London at St Mary Abbott’s Hospital to the late Sir Ambassador D D Obunge and Lady Emma Obunge. My father was a Nigerian ambassador and a career diplomat. I schooled in many of the countries he was sent to as a diplomat, including the UK, Sweden, Ireland and Italy, to name a few. I studied Political Science, intending to follow in my father’s footsteps and become an Ambassador but, alas, I‘ve done everything but that - from working as a manager in Wimpy Restaurants; a licensed Mortgage Advisor; being a youth and senior Pastor; starting and leading The Peace Alliance - a crime reduction and community cohesion charity - and now running to be the Mayor of London.



Nims Obunge, former pastor and head of the anti-crime and anti-violence charity, The Peace Alliance, is standing as an independent candidate for the forthcoming elections for London Mayor. Keep The Faith magazine caught up with Pastor Nims to find out more about the man, and his vision for the future of London

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KTF: Why are you running for Mayor? NO: I have spent some time thinking about the answer to this question and making sure I am doing it for the right reasons. Over the last 20 or so years, I have buried many children whose lives were cut short by the sharp blade of a knife or the burning shot of a gun. Their families have been left traumatised, and politicians have failed time and time again to articulate - let alone implement - a lasting solution. The truth is, I believe that the future of London is too important to leave in the hands of the political parties and their internal policy fights. I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life to actively working on bringing peace to Londoners. It is a passion of mine. My work at The Peace Alliance was all about peace in our communities; forging cohesion within those communities and, above all, ensuring that the future of our youth is secure. Over the last few years, I have seen an increase in knifeand-gun crime; the breakdown in communication between young people, police and the government and, what’s more, the government has not demonstrated a sustainable logical or


strategic plan to resolve these issues. These are some of the reasons why I feel it is time for me to step up to be Mayor of this amazing city of ours. I don’t want to fail this generation. KTF: What makes you stand out? NO: ​I am a Londoner and I love this city. When I started The Peace Alliance 20 years ago in the borough of Haringey, I organised the Haringey Peace Awards, which eventually grew to become the London Leadership and Peace Awards. At this event, we celebrate many whose efforts help transform our city. I also initiated an annual London Week of Peace, which involved over 500 collaborative events across every borough in London, including Londoners of all ages and backgrounds. I planned and hosted the London Peace Concerts, with up to 10,000 people in attendance. I facilitated local and London-wide rallies against violence on our streets and in our communities. I chaired the London Criminal Justice Partnership Advisory Board and the Metropolitan Police Operation Blunt response to knife crime, whilst also being a member of the Police Independent Advisory Board to gun crime and the London Crimestoppers Board. I am also a member of the Violent Crime Prevention Board for London. All of these - and much more captures my passion for London’s safety. I believe my past experiences position me to respond to the challenges of poverty elevation, trafficking, knife crime, and educational and aspirational attainment. I also have a strong strategic team that I believe will steer us in the right direction of being a safe, affordable, electric and prosperous city. KTF: ​What do you have to offer Londoners? NO: ​I believe I offer London my many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and the passion to implement and achieve results. I run as an independent mayoral candidate, without the baggage of a political past. I believe Londoners are tired of being lied to and want something fresh, authentic and different. I have built significant relationships over the last 30 years, which we can leverage to make our city safe and prosperous. I offer Londoners something new, without discounting the strengths where necessary, for some of the old. I believe London needs to be run by

practitioners and professionals at a time when politicians may have failed. At present we are on a listening exercise across London, and at the end of this we will write [through our manifesto] to all Londoners, hopefully giving them an accurate picture of how we can work together to deliver the London of our dreams. Initial thoughts, however, include a massive recruitment drive for special constables from all our communities, who can support young people to think carefully about their future; a major campaign against exclusion, and robust support for vulnerable young people. We also need to make London safe again, by delivering youth clubs that double up as innovation and entrepreneurship hubs, raising aspirations and economic empowerment. We need to make London affordable, by creating innovative partnerships to fund a major drive for building homes for thousands of first-time buyers in London, and frontline key workers in the communities they serve at scale. We need to strengthen and reconnect communities through cultural hubs across London. We also need to make London electric, by championing for a new Green London and ensuring carbon neutrality by 2030. And finally, I offer a prosperous London, a London which drives entrepreneurship and opportunities for the most deprived, and actively promotes happiness and mental wellbeing. KTF: ​Over the years, you have received numerous awards and recognitions, including an MBE; being appointed Deputy Lieutenant to HM’s Lord Lieutenant for Greater London, and have been recognised as one of the Evening Standard’s ‘1000 most influential people’ in London. What do all these mean to you? NO: Whilst I am grateful to those who have felt the need to recognise our efforts, I am painfully aware of the trauma felt within many of our communities, and grateful to the many agencies and people who continue to work with us to make positive changes where we can. I believe we should use these moments of recognition as platforms to further positively influence and impact our society.

KTF:​We know you have been actively involved in addressing knife-and-gun crime over the years, what else are you about? NO:​Last year I was excited when we were able to set up a Community Food Hub with the support of The Felix Project, enabling us to provide groceries for between 50 to 100 individuals or families every week, with up to 600 names on our database. Over the years we have also provided employment for citizens imprisoned for violent and other criminal offences, and watched them make significant life changes. I continue to speak passionately in prisons, challenging inmates to adopt alternative lifestyle choices. This came about out of a desire to understand what goes on in the hearts and minds of prisoners, and to use this information to dissuade young people who are on the path to becoming criminals and to inform government policies. To date, I have been to prisons, such as Belmarsh, The Mount, Pentonville, Feltham Youth Offenders, Holloway, and a few others.

I believe Londoners are tired of being lied to and want something fresh, authentic and different. I have built significant relationships over the last 30 years, which we can leverage to make our city safe and prosperous. KTF: ​What is the one thing you want Londoners to come away with after reading this article? Why should they vote for you? NO: ​I would like Londoners to see me as the People’s Mayor, and believe that I genuinely have a desire to serve them whilst also knowing that only together can we create the London of our dreams. I am therefore asking all of us to step up for London and play our part. To those who have previously felt they can only vote the way their family vote, please consider lending me your vote, and giving London the chance of a lifetime. To those who don’t vote for whatever reason, please register before the 21st April deadline, step up on 7th May, and let’s make history together. For more information, visit

London Leadership & Peace Awards


Women in the Pulpit BY AKOSUA DWOMO-FOKUO


ne of the age-old debates in the Church is whether women should teach and/ or hold positions of authority. One Timothy 2:12 is often used to support the theological view of ‘complementarianism’. Churches that hold this position believe that the teaching authority in the local church should be a male. On the other side of the pendulum is ‘egalitarianism’ - the view that there is equality in authority and responsibilities between men and women. Irrespective of one’s position on these polarising views, it’s difficult to ignore the unique giftings God has deposited within some of His daughters. As March is ‘Women’s History Month’, what better time to shine the light on some of these women than now? Standing on the shoulders of the female preaching powerhouses - Pastor Yemisi Asimolowo, Rev Celia Appiagyei-Collins, Pastor Marjorie Esomowei, Pastor Penny Francis (to name a few) - are a brand new crop of female ministers: Mimi Ajala, Sola Irukwu, Juanita Francis, Ify Alexis-Lee, Kika Ashanike, Wonu Adefala, Nia-Cerise - all part of the new breed, determined to win the lost for Christ. Akosua Dwomo–Fokuo recently caught up with Mimi Ajala, Pastor Sola Irukwu and Elder Juanita Francis.

Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo (ADF): I know you are very busy planning your forthcoming IGOGW Conference, so I’m really grateful that you have taken time to chat with me. Mimi Ajala (MA): The pleasure and honour are all mine. ADF: You run one of the UK’s premier women’s conferences - ‘International Gathering of God’s Women’ (IGOGW) - annually drawing thousands of female attendees. You have hosted Tasha Cobbs, Juanita Bynum, Kierra Sheard and many others at IGOGW over the years. How was this vision birthed? MA: Many years ago we started our woman’s conference called ‘Loose Her’. The conference

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was about the shattered, broken and hurt woman. God then spoke to me and instructed me to progress from dealing with the hurts and brokenness of women, to raising women who are in His image and who reflect what He has designed them to be. So that’s how the International Gathering of God’s Women (IGOGW) was birthed. ADF: Many of our women’s gatherings do tend to focus on brokenness and emotional healing, so it’s refreshing to have a women’s ministry that takes things further - empowering women to walk in the fullness of what God has for them. You are a wife and mother, how do you balance family life with ministry? MA: Ministry is something I feel called to, therefore it has my complete attention. I recall that during the period of preparing for marriage, my attention was drawn to several women in ministry whose marriages had struggled due to the pressures of ministry. I purposed in my heart that my testimony would be different, so I started to read about godly marriages and seek knowledge from mentors. I reprogrammed my mind to understand that my home was my first ministry. My husband serves with me and supports me, and this enables me to go out and minister. He cooks, cleans and looks after the kids when I am away ministering but, once I get home, I make sure that my family have all of me; they have the best of me.

Even though I am a leader outside my home, once home I am a wife and mother, so I ensure I am submissive to my husband and follow the Bible’s instructions for wives. ADF: What can we expect from Mimi Ajala Ministries this year? MA: I am so overjoyed at all God has planned for Mimi Ajala Ministries this year. We have our annual conference, IGOGW, in February and this year’s theme is ‘I am His’. It’s going to be a great time of the Word and worship. We run many other seminars and events throughout the year to empower the body of Christ. I do believe that our assignment this year is to build the community of the body of Christ, so we will be launching some new initiatives. God wants to use the Church as a tool to influence this nation, so we hope to be a part of that.

Mimi Ajala

‘Even though I am

a leader outside my home, once home I am a wife and mother, so I ensure I am submissive to my husband and follow the Bible’s instructions for wives.’


Juanita Francis ‘Our generation is very much moved by what they see. If we display the power of God in our churches, we will draw them back.’

Many of us will remember the cute little 7-year-old girl, who joined Donnie McClurkin on stage two decades ago at his ‘Live in London’ recording. Well, two decades later, that little girl has grown up into a fierce Christian warrior. She is a psalmist, teacher and preacher, currently serving as an elder at Ruach City Church. Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo (ADF): Massive congrats on your new assignment, Elder Juanita. Elder Juanita Francis (EJF): Thank you so much. ADF: You started out as a dancer, when did you discover that you had the gift of preaching? EJF: I don’t know that I discovered it; it found me. I was 15 years and attended an annual dance conference hosted by the Chenaniah Dancers in Miami, USA. One night the girls (Chenaniah) and I were speaking about the Word of God.

They decided after hearing me expound the Word that they would have me speak. I was hesitant, but because they were family to me, I agreed on a 15-minute exaltation. By the time the date arrived, it had turned into 45 minutes. I was extremely nervous, but what made me commit to doing it again was the impact the Word had on people. That day, a lady had checked herself out of hospital with kidney failure and, on her return after the service, was healed immediately. It was experiences like that, that made me yield to the call. ADF: That’s an amazing testimony. You are still quite young, so what are some of the challenges you face as a young woman in ministry? I think I gave away your age earlier on... Oops. Thou shalt never give away a woman’s age! (Laughs) EJF: (Chuckles) I find people can be disrespectful, especially if they don’t believe in female preachers. Sometimes I get called names, and told I am going to hell. It’s quite sad but I’ve learnt that people often speak from a lack of understanding, so I do my best not to take it personally. ADF: That’s very sad indeed. I’m glad you haven’t given up on ministry. You pastor the youth at Ruach City Church. Statistics show there is an exodus of young people from the Church. What do you think the Church can do in order to win back your generation? EJF: I honestly believe that making church and the Word real would be a starting point. Our generation is very much moved by what they see. If we display the power of God in our churches, we will draw them back. Young people want to see the God they read about at work today. ADF: Very true, and not even just for young people but for those in the world too. The demonstration of the power of God, as in the book of Acts, would be a mighty tool for soul winning. Let’s move onto something more light-hearted, shall we? What are thee fun facts about you that would surprise us all? EJF: I don’t like vegetables - especially broccoli; I did Art GSCE and can draw; I have a purple violin, as I used to play and did grades, and played in an orchestra.


strength and peace that enable her to go through life’s challenges. She has gifts and talents that God gave her, that are unique to her, and are key to her achieving the special assignment and role that God would have her fulfil in her generation. Only she can fulfil that assignment given to her by God. The aim of the Uncommon Woman Conference is to stir up these gifts and talents I spoke about earlier, and to challenge us as women to create an environment where women can be honest and vulnerable, and one where godly, rich and fulfilling relationships can be built. Our aim is that the Uncommon Woman Conference will provide a space where women can be taught, and testimonies of lives changed shared that strengthen us. We hope to challenge ourselves to step out boldly, and to have the courage to go out and take territory for God in the various spheres of influence where God has placed us, hence this year’s March conference (26th-28th) theme: ‘Audacious! Living Fearless’.

Pastor Sola Irukwu Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo (ADF): You trained in dentistry and now serve in full-time ministry, overseeing a thriving women’s ministry amongst others. How difficult was it to let go of your career ambitions and enter ministry? Pastor Sola Irukwu (PSI): At the time it was quite difficult, as I had dreams of being a specialist in Oral Pathology and Forensic Dentistry, and someday working for the World Health Organisation (WHO). To give up all those dreams and work full-time in a church was really difficult for me. It was truly a leap of faith. At the time, in 1995, Jesus House was less than a year since its inception, and understandably was not in a financial position to pay me a regular income, which posed the question of how I was going to look after myself. Shortly before I started working at Jesus House, I had been offered a position to work as a Senior House Office at the Whittington Hospital in North London, which was really the start of the journey to achieve my dreams. My mother and family members did not understand at all what I was doing, and thought I had become a religious fanatic, and some family members felt I was irresponsible to leave a dental career and work in a church. I also had to fight the battle of the mind as to whether I had made the right decision, as I saw my colleagues and peers climbing the Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

medical and dental professional ladder and it would seem that I was not making any progress. What kept me going through that period - and many years later - is that I knew clearly that God had spoken and called me to work for Him at Jesus House, and that He would somehow work it out for my good. ADF: And He definitely did. God is using you mightily to transform lives for His glory. The ‘Uncommon Woman Conference’ is the flagship annual event organised by the Jesus House women’s ministry. What is your definition of an ‘Uncommon Woman’? What is your vision for this conference? PSI: An uncommon woman, in my definition, is a woman who lives in the knowledge of who she is in God. God did not create His daughters or any of His children to live a common life. He calls us unique, special and priceless. He calls us to live our lives with faith, passion, boldness and purpose, fulfilling the plans and purpose He has for our lives. He loves His daughters passionately, and wants us to live our lives in the knowledge that we are loved by Him. He wants us to know who we are in Christ and live our lives emboldened in that knowledge. An uncommon woman is an enigma. She is strong but meek; confident in who she is in God, but humble, and she has inner

ADF: I love the description of the Uncommon Woman. She is truly exceptional. Social justice is one of your deep passions. You climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the less privileged and ran the London Marathon. How important is it for the Church to get involved in issues of social justice, and how can we raise more awareness about this subject? PSI: I believe with every fibre of my being that we can change our world one life at a time. If we all positively impact the life of one person, who is marginalised, disadvantaged or impoverished, we can change our world. There are two assignments that we are mandated to fulfil by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: to preach the Gospel and to love our neighbour as ourselves. As is often said, our lives and good works are the first Bible some people will read. The Church has a responsibility to champion the cause of social justice and caring for the less privileged, disadvantaged and marginalised. A lot of these people, who are less privileged, disadvantaged and marginalised, do not have a ‘voice’ and we (the Church) must be their voice. I like to encourage people to never think they cannot make a difference. Everyone by some action of theirs - no matter how small - can make a difference. I love travelling and the outdoors, and have by God’s grace married these two passions and embarked on challenges to raise funds - through running the London Marathon, for a charity which my husband and I founded, which provides education for children in Africa who are unable to attend school due to a lack of funds. Climbing Kilimanjaro was arguably the most physically demanding thing I have done to date. However, I consider it worth it when I think of the amount of money raised to tackle maternal and infant mortality in developing countries. I hope some woman and child somewhere are alive because I joined with other like-minded people to climb the highest mountain in Africa.

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he recently launched National Sex Offenders Register in Nigeria is a welcome development, considering the fact that ‘one in four women is sexually abused in the country and, worse still, before they attain the age of 18,’ as extrapolated from a report by UNICEF. These statistics seem to be a mere tip of the iceberg, as we, as a people, have not been good at keeping accurate records of sex crimes and their heinous perpetrators, who should be named and shamed. In the United Kingdom, the Sex Offenders Register contains the details of anyone convicted, cautioned or released from prison for sexual offences. In 2018, about 60,000 sex offenders were registered. They are made to feel the full weight of the law, and are legally required to register with the police within three days of their conviction or release from prison. They must continue to do so, on an annual basis, and should they default or defect, they are sent to jail straight away. Of importance, too, is Sarah’s Law, named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was abducted and then murdered by sex offenders. This law allows UK parents to find out if a child sex offender is living in their area. More so, if someone on the Register wants to start a new relationship, there are certain conditions that must be met. These conditions become more stringent if any of the lovebirds are coming into the relationship with children. Now to my beloved country. This new measure is a positive step in the right direction. However, keeping an overstocked database of those convicted of sex crimes is one thing, and actually prosecuting these criminals, another. It has been established by the United Nations Children’s Agency, UNICEF, that the majority of cases involving sexual abuse in Nigeria are not prosecuted, thereby, giving the heartless perpetrators free rein to intensify their atrocious acts. Now is the time to put our money where our mouth is. We must ensure we keep a clean slate of the past, and steamroller our country’s ever-growing sex offenders anytime they go on the rampage, violating the rights of our young girls. In addition, where these criminals are to be sent to jail as a deterrent, that punishment should absolutely fit the crime. Their incarceration should not be cosy, comfortable or stressfree, merely because they are acquainted with the prosecuting judge, or because they are able to navigate around the lacunae that bedevils our criminal justice system. It is also high time we took sexual violence seriously, and rewrite or abrogate certain sections of our penal codes, which covertly encourage rape, spousal abuse and sexual violence. Take, for instance, Section 282(2) of our penal code, where it is spelt out inter alia, that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape if she has attained puberty. This provision is, to me, defective, and actually ostensibly allows for the defiling of teenage girls, as the honourable drafters of the Code simply ignore the age of puberty (usually 14), and, rather, concentrate on the all-encompassing banner of ‘wife’. Let’s also examine the poisonous fangs of the Northern Nigeria Penal Code, Section 55(1) (d), which provides that ‘nothing is an offence which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife…’ Here, the Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

drafters did not specify which ‘offence’ needs correction nor did they give an iota of consideration to what is ‘correction’ and in what manner or fashion it can be gauged. Our drafters made a serious error of judgement - and they know it. Even, the Vagrancy Law, which has for close to a decade ceased from being enforceable in Nigeria, is still being used by morally bankrupt and skirt-sniffing law enforcement officers to railroad innocent girls to jail for ‘wandering’, if they fail to ‘play ball’ or surrender their bodies for rape. The nitty-gritty here is that, while the newly launched Sex Offenders Register is a desideratum - albeit arriving belatedly, considering the excruciating pains our young girls have been subjected to over the years - there should be a rewording of these Codes which, in their harshness, could drive our numerous teenage girls and baby-wives onto the streets and into the trap nets of these evil, conscienceless sex offenders. And while this Register will contain the names of all those prosecuted for sexual violence since 2015, as already hinted, we should all support it wholeheartedly. It would be preposterous - and clearly beyond the realms of the ridiculous - for anyone to begin to argue about the concept of Retroactive Law; the Register had not been in operation in 2015, when these people committed the sexual offence. If we resort to this self-defeating argument, our efforts will then be tantamount to treating a terminal cancer with penicillin. Now is the time for Nigeria to dazzle and not fizzle out in the face of our sisters and daughters, who are being held by the jugular by unscrupulous sex offenders. Our lawmakers must ensure by deeds, that the issue of women’s rights is pursued with vigour. It must transcend from being a mere hoary chestnut, mouthed by insincere propagandists, into something positive that we can all be proud of. Finally, while I applaud the newly introduced Sex Offenders Register, methinks there should be no garland yet for Sadiya Farouq, Nigeria’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, as we have only just initiated our first step. Will this lofty idea succeed, or will it falter and eventually dwindle, like a pack of cards? We are watching. Martins Agbonlahor is a trained lawyer and author of Killing Them Softly: The Struggle for Women’s Rights in Nigeria. He lives in Manchester, United Kingdom.




There are four ‘currencies’ you must manage in life: Time, Intellect, Money and Emotion.


IME wasted can never be regained. As the clock ticks, the sun sets and the seasons change, indicating that the months are rolling by. James 4 teaches that tomorrow is not promised, and we are operating within a limited window of time. If time were like a silver coin and life were like a payphone, many of us would have been depositing our time coins only to watch the timer expire without sharing our salient points with the person on the receiving end. In a 24-hour day, most of our time is consumed by doing the less important things in life. We often defer pursuing our dreams or seizing the moment in the hope that a better opportunity will present itself in a future that is not promised. The late Dr Myles Monroe once said that the richest place on earth is the cemetery. It is the place where many who have run out of time departed with unfinished dreams never seeing the light of day. We must therefore learn to be better stewards, and spend our currency of time more wisely. Invest your time in areas that will bring you delight. Create a plan that outlines your goals and actions. Use a diary to track how you use your time, to ensure you are balancing all the important areas, like your faith, family, friends, health, work, rest, etc. INTELLECT takes years to achieve and should be rewarded. The fact that you are highly skilled did not occur overnight. Remember the many hours of learning, long nights studying, the exams taken, or the hours spent perfecting your craft? Remember the investments made to purchase the right tools for the job? This unique gift of knowledge you possess should be valued. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are a gift from God. Scriptural evidence can be found in Exodus 31, which states that God blessed Bezaleel (Bezalel) with every skill of workmanship, wisdom, knowledge and understanding for the

building of the tabernacle. Further evidence of this is also found in 1 Kings 3, which states that God blessed Solomon with wisdom when he was appointed king. As with these two examples, the purpose of the gift is to build God’s Kingdom, but also note that this gift is an asset that should be rightly used in transactions for day-to-day living. MONEY management is crucial. In a world that pushes consumerism, credit purchasing, and ‘get rich quick’ schemes, as children of God, we must be extremely cautious not to fall into the trap of overextending ourselves or becoming overloaded with goods that are more likely to decrease in value.

This year, pay closer attention to your financial management. Are you living to survive, or are you aiming to thrive? Is there an emotional imbalance in your relationship with money that is causing unnecessary spending? Enlist the support of a financial adviser, who can help you measure your income and expenditure, look at ways to introduce better saving or investment practices, and reduce splurging or credit purchases. A famous quote by James Frick states: “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money, and I will tell you what they are.” Remember to invest in yourself. Do not shy away from spending

money on seminars, books or classes where you can learn a new skill. EMOTION is the most valuable currency that you must learn to manage. The Bible teaches us to guard our hearts, because out of it flows the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Managing the transaction of what goes in, and how it is internalised then reciprocated in our words or deeds, is crucial to your success. This means you cannot afford to ‘loan your heart’ where you are not valued. A heart decision will cause you to go leaps and bounds more than a head decision. It is likely that you will spend more money, time and intellect where there is an emotional connection. Therefore, always ask if it is worth getting emotionally involved, because the consequences of poor investment take time to repair. To conclude, then, take a few minutes to identify the areas that might require immediate change: • Time: Are you spending enough time doing things that will help you achieve your goals? • Intellect: Do you utilise your skills for the building of God’s Kingdom? Are you being compensated appropriately for your skills within the workplace? • Money: Are you making wise financial investments? • Emotion: Are you spending most of your energy and resources in areas that are beneficial to your growth? M. JASMYN ALLEN Founder of SOIL: Step Out In Leadership Author of SOIL: Step Out in Leadership Vision Journal (ISBN: 9780368063404) Email:


Optically challenged “What fools these mortals be,” remarks Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gary Clayton, MAF Copywriter and Editor, wonders if that includes short-sighted Christians as well


is Copywriter and Editor at Mission Aviation Fellowship:


was sitting in a beautifully atmospheric Budapest restaurant, surrounded by golden fixtures and fittings, gilded mirrors, marble pillars and sparkling chandeliers. An enthusiastic Gypsy violinist played in the background. Although prices were much cheaper than in the UK, I only ordered an espresso. My friend, Ákos, had already eaten, so it hardly cost us anything. Eventually, I went to the toilet and, when I returned, the violinist had stopped playing and was presumably on his lunchbreak. Returning to my friend’s table, I told him how wonderful it all was. “Ah,” sighed my Hungarian friend. “It’s actually quite sad. While you were away, the manager told the violinist that, because so few people eat at the restaurant, they can no longer afford to pay him, and sent the poor man home.” How myopic, blind and foolish we can be! Although I saw all the glitter and the gold, I didn’t see how empty the restaurant was, or notice the anxious-looking manager. Sometimes we get things wrong because of our inability to see things clearly. Sometimes it’s the result of spiritual blindness (John 9:1-41), our sinfulness (‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ Jeremiah 17:9) or our folly (‘The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly,’ Proverbs 14:24). I remember a young believer explaining how his potential mother-in-law told him that, for the sake of honesty and accountability, she was struggling with her feelings towards him.

However laudable the lady’s intentions may have been, she ended up putting my friend and her daughter in an impossible position. If she’d only used her brain and considered the consequences, she might never have made her confession. No wonder Scripture tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Of course, there are times when we need to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), confront others about theirs (Matthew 18:15), or respond to the command of Matthew 5:23-24: ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.’ But we need to be careful as to how and why we do it – particularly if, instead of asking for forgiveness, we’ve decided to confront someone who has sinned against us. Sometimes it’s possibly more prudent to take our hurts and grievances to the Lord, rather than to the person who offended us – though there are occasions when it’s appropriate for us to confront the guilty party. Proverbs 18:19 points out: ‘A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.’ So, like David, the man after God’s own heart, we should seek God (1 Samuel 23:1-5, 9-14, 30:6-8) before rushing into battle like the charge of the Light Brigade or a bull in a china shop! But, if we can’t be sure the relationship will endure, we should possibly consider biting our tongue, swallowing our pride, and eating humble pie, rather than biting the bullet, sticking to our guns, crossing an emotional minefield and getting into a conflict neither side can win. There’s no point dashing into possible conflict with our eyes tightly shut.

The Bible, of course, provides numerous examples of what it is to lack sight - from the spiritually blind (‘Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send?’ Isaiah 42:19), to those whose eyes were opened by Jesus – physically and spiritually. When Jesus healed the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43, the man’s sight was restored instantly. Another healing, described in Mark 8:22-25, involved two attempts.

Sometimes we get things wrong because of our inability to see things clearly. John Newton, like the apostle Paul, was originally a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent man. But he too became a servant of God. The former slave trader turned abolitionist, who wrote the words, ‘I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see’, was himself almost blind by the time of his death. But there was nothing wrong with his spiritual sight. “My memory is nearly gone,” he said, “but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” The Saviour Newton spoke of is the One who gives sight to the unseeing and who helps the unsightly (Psalm 146:8). He’s the One who, in the words of Isaiah 42:7, opens eyes that are blind, frees captives from prison, and releases those sitting in darkness – whether languishing in jail or sitting in a glittering Budapest restaurant.

Gary Clayton is married to the lovely Julie, and father of Christopher (15) and Emma (12). He is Copywriter and Editor at Mission Aviation Fellowship. To learn how MAF aircraft transport medics, dentists and eye doctors to Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, visit Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

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n these difficult and uncertain times, it is a great opportunity to examine where your hope is anchored. Hope is an optimistic state of mind, based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. Whether you are trusting in a political party to make life better, or hoping that the stock market will meet your financial aspirations, it’s important that our hope is directed toward God, as only godly hope transforms our lives for eternity. The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” Jesus answered the question where to put our hope, whether on earth or heaven: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Being rich is not in itself sinful, but Scriptures recognise that with wealth comes the temptation to trust in financial resources rather than in God. The passage in 1 Timothy 6:18 concludes with the exhortation “to be rich in good deeds, generous, and willing to share”. When our hope is placed in God, we are able to focus on laying up eternal treasure. We use the word ‘hope’ on a regular basis, but unfortunately we are usually expressing the opposite of what it means biblically. We might say “I hope that my team wins today”, or perhaps “I hope the sermon is short today”, but inevitably there’s a good chance that our team will lose, and you know there is a better chance that ‘hell will freeze over’ than for the sermon to be short. We need to make sure we have a biblical viewpoint of hope. The word ‘hope’ means ‘to expect with confidence or joyful and confident expectation’. To many this sounds too good to be true. After having experienced life’s disappointments, they wonder “Is there any hope?” When a person has ‘hope’ it is seen by one’s actions. The person who hopes to recover from an illness acts by getting sleep, changing their diet,

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or planning for the future. The person who hopes their team will win the game tunes in to watch, they cheer and support them. Their hope leads them to action. Proverbs 11:7 says: ‘Hope placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.’ The ESV translates this verse: ‘When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.’ This translation is an important reminder that false hope ends at death. Hope, placed in powerful people or wealth or prestige, cannot survive, and it cannot save. When rumours of wars are raging, the environment is under threat and people are pursuing material relationships over human. It can be more than challenging to remember that Jesus is still the Hope of the nations.

To remain hopeful, we must: • Strengthen our spiritual growth by prayer, exercising our faith, and finding comfort by reading Scripture and listening to anointed speakers. • Look for the silver lining or positives from tough life experiences; this will offer a way to have closure and move forward in life. • Talk to someone with a testimony of a similar experience who has overcome - this is a powerful way to maintain hope. Just talking about a situation can offer a healing experience. A doctor once said: “Hope is the greatest medicine in the world. It can cure almost anything.” • Overcome your fear by researching the Scriptures on the situation you are facing; this is empowering and builds faith. • Remember God can change a hopeless situation into a hopeful one. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). Jesus is the key to hope. Those who don’t know Him personally as Lord and Saviour are without hope. Ephesians 2:12 says: “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” When someone does know Jesus, they experience amazing hope regardless of the circumstances and situations they face.


Setting our standards

‘In them we see God saying in effect that if we operate within these guidelines, we will flourish as we are meant to.’


is an international evangelist and author.


n the middle of the long reign of Queen Victoria, there was a British MP - a Christian - who was committed to defending those who were victims of society. He found himself grieved by the heavy loss of life amongst British merchant seamen – often a thousand deaths a year – largely caused by greedy owners overloading their vessels to the point where they easily sank. He knew of a simple invention that, if made compulsory, could prevent these ‘coffin ships’ from sailing and so, for ten long years, he battled in the Houses of Parliament for the law to be passed. He eventually won in 1876. His name was Samuel Plimsoll, and the invention couldn’t have been simpler: an official, very visible and permanent mark on the side of a ship to indicate the maximum load the ship could carry. If this mark – which soon became known as the ‘Plimsoll line’ – disappeared below the surface of the water, the ship was illegally loaded and must not sail. Because these were the days when ‘Britannia ruled the waves’, the Plimsoll line was used universally and, thanks to its existence, countless lives have been saved. The reason that Plimsoll came to mind is because I have just revised my book on the Ten Commandments, and I find in them a comparable standard for our lives. What Plimsoll sought to apply to ships was a clear, enduring, life-saving way of setting limits that, even under pressure, must not be broken. The Ten Commandments do the same: they are like the Plimsoll line for our existence. If we ignore them or let them sink below the waves of life, then it’s inevitable we will end up either drowned or shipwrecked in some way. The Ten Commandments – few in words, but infinitely wide in application – set out, in ten clear clauses, our Maker’s limits for the great areas of our life. In these rules we find guidance on how we relate to God; how we are to use our time, and how we relate to our families and to those we live amongst. Despite the fact they were given in a culture profoundly different to any we live in today, the Commandments cover every aspect of human life. At one level, the Ten Commandments are the simplest and clearest of guides; yet at the same time they have a limitless depth and breadth in what they cover. In fact, the Ten Commandments serve a double purpose. They serve as a judge, setting out the limits for how we should live and

inevitably, given the inclination of human beings to do wrong, they force those who consider them seriously to acknowledge their guilt. Morally, we are all well below the waterline, but there is a mercy in their exposure of our failure, because it should drive us to seek God’s forgiveness something found fully only in Christ. Yet if the Ten Commandments are a judge, they are also a guide. They lead us to the Cross, but they also lead beyond it, by showing those who have been forgiven in Christ how to live in order to honour Him. The Commandments are the standard we all need and, this side of eternity, we always will. If the standard of the Ten Commandments is vital, teaching about it has never been more urgently needed. I have been preaching on the Ten Commandments for over a quarter of a century, and I have observed clear changes in how they are viewed. Within living memory, they were honoured publicly as rules for life, and to break them publicly was something done with at least embarrassment and possibly also shame. Then, with time, they became downgraded to being merely ‘guidelines’ or ‘advice’ to be politely respected but then ignored. Now, if they are known at all, the Ten Commandments are openly treated with scorn or amusement. To take the plainest of the Commandments, we now find that such things as lying, adultery, hatred and greed are considered part of any normal human life. Despite their dismissal, the stark fact is that the Ten Commandments have not lost their relevance. Oh, things have changed. Theft may now be achieved through a computer keyboard rather than picking a pocket; ‘bearing false witness’ may now occur on the Internet rather than in local court, and ‘adultery’ may now be masked under many more sophisticated names. Yet the judgement the Commandments make on us still stands. It is not for nothing that the Ten Commandments were originally engraved in stone: they are a rock which resists change no matter how angry the waves of an ever-

changing culture break against them. In describing the Ten Commandments like this I am aware they could be seen simply as a burden. Yet what is fascinating and perturbing is the way that if, as society has done, the Commandments are rejected, the result is not a state of no morality but instead an alternative morality. We see this today: surveying our present world we find that we have a culture which is in fact all too ready to pass judgement, where today’s joke may be tomorrow’s taboo, and where a failure to signal your virtue is an admission of guilt. Our ‘liberal’ culture is, in reality, cruelly illiberal. Indeed, because morality is no longer anchored to anything except sentiment, who knows what new rules will emerge and how we will fare under them. Separated from a fixed standard, virtues can become vices at a moment’s notice. If we are not all guilty at the moment, be warned, we may soon be. So although the Ten Commandments are often dismissed as harsh rules that constrain who we are, the irony is that in fact they are liberating. In them we see God saying in effect that if we operate within these guidelines, we will flourish as we are meant to. So it’s time to return to the Ten Commandments, and I think about how they should work in our age. Samuel Plimsoll knew that without a permanent standard the pressures of life would result in ships sinking. He would doubtless, too, have agreed that without moral standards the same fate occurs to individuals. And, indeed, to nations. Can I encourage you to purchase a copy of my new revised book on the Ten Commandments, and renew and realign your thoughts, words and deeds? For more information visit J.John on Twitter: @Canonjjohn J.John on Instagram: @Canonjjohn J.John on Facebook: J.John


Servant leadership REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS

is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain


he killing of Qasem Soleimani by an American drone on January 3 has threatened to bring the United States and Iran closer to war. The last time war seemed imminent between these two power brokers was the 1979 hostage crisis. While relationships have been far from smooth since then, the assassination of one of Iran’s most senior leaders has flung it to a new low. Threats and counter threats, uttered by both sides, alongside large Iranian public ceremonies symbolising Iranian alliance - for once with their leaders - are clear signs of the perilous situation Donald Trump’s leadership approach has yet again catapulted the world into. Even his most ardent followers cannot deny that the US President is an autocratic leader. Their leadership style may get things done, often in their image, but the consequences can sometimes be alarming. Almost a century of leadership research tells us that autocratic leadership is an ineffective leadership style. Coercive leadership strategies fail, when used with people who have the capacity to resist. For example, Trump’s decision to shut down the US government, to force Congress to provide $5.6 billion for a border wall, failed because it was resisted by the Democrats who had the power to resist. Autocratic leadership decisions leave a lot of wreckage for people to pick up, often those impacted by the decisions. With the end

justifying the means, the leader may argue that the end can be so toxified, it renders the means unhelpful and obstructive. There are good and healthy reasons why Jesus modelled servant leadership. Servant leaders do what autocratic leaders are unable or unwilling to do: they listen. A Baptist minister friend, when called to serve his local church, agreed to a ‘listening period’ with its members. This makes biblical sense to me. For, even though we do not know exactly what Jesus did when, we know He would withdraw from the crowds. I suspect He took time out to listen to God, and possibly the community He was doing ministry in and the people He was ministering with and to. I can only assume that what He heard shaped and informed His responses and strategies as a servant leader.

‘Almost a century of leadership research tells us that autocratic leadership is an ineffective leadership style.’ Dr Paul Wong, who served as the Division Chair of Psychology and Business Administrator at Tyndale University College in Canada, says this about servant leadership: ‘Servant leadership is characterised by the desire to serve and empower a team, and enable the team to reach its fullest potential.’ This is so Christlike. For didn’t Jesus create an environment conducive for the disciples He was serving, to reach their full potential in Christ? A servant leader is focused on ensuring the growth and the wellbeing of the communities in which they belong. While traditional leadership, or Trump-like leadership, involves the accumulation of power(rapid or gradual) and the exercise of power by one at the top of the pyramid, servant leadership is very different. Servant leadership

is about the careful listening to people, putting the needs of others first, seeing the image of God in those you are serving, and working with the community, so that the image of God within them reaches their fullest potential. This Christlike process of dismantling ego and power, putting the needs of those who they are serving first so that they will one day outshine their leader, involves an inner maturity, security and confidence that few leaders (servant or traditional) possess. Sadly, the leadership of style of many of today’s ‘celebrity’ pastors seems consistent with the traditional, Trump-like approach to leadership. Every decision is made by the pastor, and even if it’s on behalf of the church, the church’s worshippers are not permitted to think, despite their ability to do so. Pastoral leadership is autonomous; decisions are made unilaterally, and the church is run like a business. I get it, at least in part. I can only imagine the many complex decisions that need to be made by the leadership when leading a very large and diverse church, where situations often demand immediate resolutions, and render a wider discussion sometimes nearly impossible. However, it seems that countless for-profit organisations are now seeing traditional autocratic and hierarchical modes of leadership yielding to a different way of working – one based on teamwork and community, seeking to fully involve others in processes, strategies and decisions, based on ethical, caring behavior, and committed to the personal growth of the team. Surely pastors of some of our big churches can model an approach consistent with the narrative they see, read and even preach about in the Scriptures, instead of imitating their American colleagues. Jesus’ attitude to servant leadership was in direct contrast to that of Trump, and even of His disciples, who argued among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. Since there was no servant to wash their feet after they had walked the filthy roads of Israel (and they were certainly not planning on washing their own feet), they were stunned into silence when the Lord Himself stooped to His lowly task. Not least because, in their world, slaves washed the feet of guests, marking it as an action reserved for the lowly class. Jesus’ act was countercultural, undermining traditional cultural values of His day. In this era of Donald Trump, it symbolises the continuing radical call for His followers: to live as servant leaders.


Valentine’s Day Rethinking love in action


Global Ecumenical Relations at Christian Aid


uring my times of reflections, I’ve been thankful for quiet voices of reason that remind me of the holiness of diversity and the call to love. “Love that suffers long and is kind” invites me to converse with real people, and to seek out opportunities within the body of Christ to remember that the love of Christ is real and comes with a cost. That love, spoken of in John 3:16, reached out to me over 30 years ago. Love wasn’t puffed up and proud; it got down low, and surrounded me with compassion and care. I suspect that is probably true of many women and men of faith. In my case the act of God’s love reconciled me, empowered and equipped me and today, I speak of God’s love in the Church, the workplace, and even in the public square. Don’t get it twisted, like many I have come a long way - and collectively we still have a distance to go - but the ministry of Jesus Christ was founded on love, and I am now motivated by the same love. For example, recently while in Birmingham, I spoke with a Christian leader who spoke of his love for his community - so much in fact that this has become his life’s work. He provides basic services for low-income people. He reminds me If you work with minority groups, you inevitably run into issues of injustice. This is no surprise

to me, since I work in an environment where I see the devastating effect of this, but for this leader, his love for his community is anchored and wrapped in his love for Christ. The love Christ advocates teaches us to stand up against unjust practices. In fact, Christ’s thinking and ideas on social living and society’s priorities challenged the very fabric and structure of Roman authority during His time. I would argue this is what the Bible teaches us: that Scripture reveals a God of justice, not merely a God of charity. Words such as oppression and justice fill the Bible. The most common objects of the prophets’ judgments are kings, rulers, judges, employers - the rich and the powerful in charge of the world’s governments, courts, economies, systems and structures. When those who are in charge mistreat the poor and vulnerable, say the Scriptures, it is not just unkind but also wrong and unjust, and it makes God angry.

The challenge is to love well, especially if disagreements make love an unlikely thing. Instead, it’s at this moment the radical love of God should be put on display. The subjects of the Scriptures’ concern are always the widow and the orphan, the poor and oppressed; the victims of courts or unscrupulous employers; debtors whose debts need to be forgiven; strangers in the land who need to be

welcomed. And the topics of the prophets’ messages to the powerful are things like land, labour, capital, judicial decisions, employer practices, and the decisions of the powerful – all the stuff of today’s politics. We have a duty to get involved in the world when such vulnerable groups are at risk. In fact, I would say our communities remain broken because we as Christians are not playing our full role in public life. Seeking love and unity goes beyond the warm fuzzy emotions of a Valentine’s Day; it’s also about welfare and responsibility. The challenge is to love well, especially if disagreements make love an unlikely thing. Instead, it’s at this moment the radical love of God should be put on display. As you approach Valentine’s Day, think about the following ‘Love’ principle, and consider how it underpins your life and manifests itself with all the people you know. So, for those of you have haven’t heard this, let me say it again: • • • •

Love shapes our Identity – it’s who we are and our integrity to our commitment Love shapes our Proximity - it’s our ability to get close, close to our partners, the issues and the people Love shapes our Imagination - to change the narrative, confront the wrongdoing, and work for the common good. Love shapes our Hope - imagine the alternative and work to make it happen right here, right now!









A leading PR specialist and journalist



One complaint made by many Christian women over the many years I’ve been in the church is how difficult it can be to find a partner. Many have seen their aspirations for marriage and a family become a distant memory for a wide range of reasons. However, one thing our faith inspires us to have is hope, so I took it upon myself to see what action women can take to make this particular dream a reality. I asked my Facebook family, comprised of men and women from across the globe, what tips they had to share with Christian women wanting to find a life partner in 2020. The post attracted over 300 comments, which included some useful advice that, if acted upon, could help women find the husband they are looking for. I have condensed those tips into a helpful list for those who are interested in finding that special someone – whether during February,

the month of love, or at any another time during the course of 2020. Some of the tips are the suggestions commonly dished out, like socialising more or to go travelling, but some are more personal, and encourage women to work on themselves, or get rid of the proverbial list they may have. All the ideas put forward are designed to help women find the love they desire, so read on, and hopefully following some of these tips will help you attain your goal – if that is your wish. • Go out more and socialise • Broaden your social circle • Travel • Learn to cook (!!!) • Invite people around for dinner • Use online dating sites • Be approachable • Let go and let God • Prepare yourself for marriage • Get emotional healing and have an adventure with yourself • Be receptive to potential suitors who may not enter your life via church • Be open to meeting your partner anywhere • Be open to men who might not regularly attend church • Get rid of the list • Learn and develop platonic friendships • Be active in your church ministries • Write a letter to someone you like • Use social media to meet potential mates • Be open to blind dates • Pray Visit if you want to read the comments and suggestions in full.


I recently attended the Headstart 2020 prayer service, where eminent Black theologian, Professor Robert Beckford, was the keynote speaker. He provided a different and much needed perspective on an issue talked about a lot in Pentecostal circles - prophecy - and threw in the issue of social justice for good measure. There seems to be an abundance of prophets in the modern Black Church, but their prophecies seem to have little in common with those of the biblical prophets. Many of their prophetic announcements in church seem to be little more than statements, telling believers the many blessings God has in store for them, or that they will stand before nations! Beckford’s talk reminded me and those of us who heard him that the utterances by Old Testament prophets were very much aligned with justice. Where are true prophets when you need them? We live in an age where injustice is rife, sinful behaviour is seen as normal, and what do our modern prophets have to say about that? Very little, it would seem. We serve a God who is just. He demands that people act with integrity; treat others fairly; are treated justly, and rage against injustice. Why don’t our prophets mention this fact in their declarations? Why don’t they talk about the racial, legal and economic injustice many people within the church - let alone across the world are experiencing? Prophets of God, we ask that you proclaim the full counsel of God during 2020. Talk about the blessings of God, but also share what He has to say about injustice, and the steps we can and must take to redress it.

SPAC NATION – WHEN CHURCH GOES WRONG During the past few months the Media has been filled with stories of a church called SPAC Nation. The church, which was once championed in the media for its success in transforming the lives of former gang members, is now being pillaried, as former members have accused it of safeguarding abuses, financial manipulation and more. It’s unfortunate that one feature of Black Church life here in the UK, is of churches springing up from nowhere, led by charismatic leaders

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who attract hundreds, only to be followed by stories of immorality, financial irregularity and manipulation, leading to the church either closing down or becoming a shadow of its former self, leaving numerous victims in its wake. It’s time for the Black Christian community to establish guidelines for individuals who desire to start a church, to stop this kind of thing happening. Too many people are left spiritually scarred when church goes wrong. We have the ability to stop this vicious cycle.

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

* This promotion is for Issue 113 of Keep The Faith ® magazine. This offer is limited to the first 1,000 orders. Strictly 1 copy per person. Limited to UK addresses only. Keep The Faith Limited reserves the right to end the promotion at any time and without limitation. Expected delivery date is April 2020. Postage and handling fee applies.


Faith for the family

Sarah Téibo and


by Marnita Coleman, Global Music Link Editorial Team

MARNITA COLEMAN is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show aired daily across the globe


n the beginning, when God made this world, He created mankind in His image and likeness, and wrapped him in bodily form. They were male and female, two entities, husband and wife, yet one; just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three personalities, yet one God, individuals but also a family. Then, He blessed them and said: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign….” (Genesis 1:26). Look at the power and authority God has given to us. He created strong, self-governed rulers and made them a family. I dropped this bit of history to remind you that the family - not the man-made governments of the world - was designed to be the dominant influence in the earth. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was terrified because I felt alone. I saw the pitfalls of raising a family in a chaotic world, and I didn’t have a support system to rely upon. My mum was deceased; my father was ashamed, because I was unmarried (he eventually overcame it); my grandparents lived five hours away, and I had no mentor. I didn’t have a lot of experience with children, and zero knowledge of how to care for a baby. So I read everything I could on parenthood, because I wanted my family to have a good life. If you don’t have a vision for your family, you may fall prey to the ways of the world, which is often an ‘anything goes’ mentality. There are videos, books, conferences, and so-called parenting gurus who will offer you their advice.

However, to make the best choice, you must know where your family is headed. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18). I decided to raise my family in the Christian faith. I personally believed in God, but I was not living up to His standards. I was doing whatever I was grown enough to do, but I knew better was possible, so I prayed and asked God for help… and He answered me! (Sidebar: God delights in us and is a very present Help.) He gave me family eek and wisdom on how to raise children. He provided Tn for us when there was shortage. He directed the paths of my children in so many ways, from friends to schools, activities, and so on. As we look around today, we can see the desolation of the family. Many fathers are not in the home, mothers are overwhelmed, and children are seemingly out of control because of the lack of leadership and direction. If we refocus and allow God to lead us, He will do it! Psalm 127 speaks to us loud and clear. Like GPS, God desires to guide us to our destination. He’s shouting: “Make a U-turn!” God created our family and knows the path we should take. King Solomon said: “If God doesn’t build the house [or family], the builders only build shacks. If GOD doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves? Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift; the fruit of the womb His generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you, parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.” God is saying: “I’ve got you! Stop trying to Dave P and family raise your family all by yourself. I have plans for As a parent, don’t throw your hands in the air and you, plans that are good and not evil, to give give up. Put up your dukes, and fight the good you hope and a good future (Jeremiah 29:11). fight of faith for your family (1 Timothy 6:12). There may be some rough terrain ahead. Things Parenting is hard at times, but stay with God’s may be a little crazy right now. But don’t worry, plan, and He will keep you from failing. I know the way through all of it. Trust Me!” Here is a simple prayer to declare over your family: “Father, in Jesus’ Name, I ask You to build my house/family. Help me cooperate with Your plans. Not one word shall fail of all the promises You have for us. Make our lives beautiful and amazing beyond our dreams. I give You all the praise.” Now, give God thanks because nothing is too hard or impossible with Him. Be patient and confident of this: ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).

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What is self-care? ESTHER KUKU Journalist and Communications Professional. Love God, love life, love people Twitter: @mew36

‘Prayer changes us. The more time we spend with God, the more we are transformed into His likeness.’


hat is self-care? Quite simply put, it’s anything that works for you. It’s recognising that you matter, and that you can learn to say No and not feel guilty. It’s stopping to think and meditate on all the things about you that are fabulous. To acknowledge that you’re a great wife, mother, sister or friend; to celebrate your successes, and embrace your mistakes as stepping stones towards a better you. As women, we do so much for others and simply do not put ourselves first often enough. It’s time to prioritise your wellbeing. Self-care is more than a zeitgeist phrase; it’s a biblical principle. Matthew 22:39 says to ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ So, if you don’t love yourself, that verse of Scripture suddenly becomes a whole lot more complex than the simple verse many of us became familiar with at Sunday school. Essentially, if you don’t place value on yourself and invest in yourself, how do you do this for others? It’s time to prioritise YOU as a strategic move towards self-care, but also in being able to have a positive impact on others. So how do we do it? First of all, nothing derails a good day like a rough night’s sleep, so get to bed early. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function, and to maintain your physical health. Sleeping is as important as eating and exercise. Schedule time for yourself into your diary. Plan walks during your lunch hour, and don’t eat at your desk. Plan a night-in for just you; switch off the mobile phone; run a bath, and relax with your favourite book. If it’s actually scheduled in your diary, it’s more likely to happen.

Let go of negativity. We tend to attract more of what we have, so guess what? If you’re really negative, you’ll attract negativity. For example, I’m learning not to discuss disappointments with others. So something just didn’t work out, move on. Speak to a trustworthy confidant, pray about it, and then just let it go. Let’s protect our minds from going over stuff that’s unhelpful. Then we will automatically free up mental capacity to focus on our goals and aspirations. Pray daily. Early in the morning, while others are sleeping, tends to work best for me. That is… until my five year old decides she wants to join in! And, don’t beat yourself up, if you oversleep. Pray in the car, pray in the shower…. Just pray, and spend time in the Word daily! Prayer is communicating with God. It’s impossible to know someone if you don’t spend time with them. So to understand the heart of God you need to pray, and when we connect in this way regularly, you start to hear His heart for your life. Prayer changes us. The more time we spend with God, the more we are transformed into His likeness. Our habits and lifestyle change, and self-care is a godly habit we need. So, in your prayer time, ask God to help you commit to spending more time caring for YOU. Develop a lifestyle of self-care, because you are special and important and, sometimes, everything else and everyone else can wait.



Menopausal Rollercoaster PASTOR YVONNE BROOKS

serves in ministry alongside her husband Bishop Melvin Brooks


ver the last eleven years or so, my personal experience with menopause has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I had no idea what to expect, and couldn’t believe how out of control I felt. When I heard myself asking the question: “Is it hot in here, or is it me?”, only to be answered with a united chorus from everyone else in the house “It’s you”, I knew something was going on for sure. But what was it? I would be woken up unceremoniously during the night, because ‘someone’ had built a fire around my feet. It was amazing to me that the bedclothes were not on fire. I worked out that I needed to sleep with my feet stuck out from under the covers. Great solution. How wrong can you be? Because now, instead of just the feet being involved, I would be woken in the night with my entire body on fire as though I had been doused in oil and lit with a match. I would wake up in the mornings exhausted, as though I had been working in the mines all night with the seven dwarfs. This is not a life stage anyone had prepared me for. I hadn’t had the presence of mind to prepare myself, even though the warning signs had all been there. As a nurse I worked with older women and, after we had put the patients to bed, I used to find the women in strange positions in front of open windows, with their uniforms opened. I just assumed they were strange. Another sign was when my regular visits (every six weeks) to have my eyebrows threaded started to involve my chin. What started off as one hair on my chin had now proliferated to hairs across my chin and, dare I say it, onto my neck. Thus my regular visits increased to every two weeks, with most of the time now being spent on my chin area and upper lip. (I am refusing to call it moustache and beard.)

I have decided that when the pain becomes unbearable, I will join a circus as the resident bearded lady. At this stage, I paid my GP a visit to see what he could do to help me. He carried out a blood test and was able to tell me there were hormonal changes, and I was indeed peri-menopausal. Peri-menopause precedes the menopause ‘proper’, which occurs when you have had no monthly periods for at least twelve clear months. The subject would come up often, as everywhere I went my hot flushes came too, and I found myself having to take a fan with me everywhere, along with bottles of water, which I would sip on whenever the flush started. I noticed too that my memory started acting up. Now that may be fine… but not in the middle of a sentence, and certainly not when addressing people in public. I would be speaking, and suddenly I couldn’t remember what I had just said, or what I was about to say. I found what helped the most in those situations was to stay calm and breathe deeply. At home, I would dash for a pad and pen, only to forget what I wanted to note down. I had to make self-care a priority. I forced myself not to rush at the start of the day, and

would lay out my clothes the night before. I would shower, then sit for a few minutes to cool off and dry off. The alternative was trying to get dressed whilst dripping wet, as a shower would trigger a flush. I cut out unnecessary appointments and shopping trips. This meant of course that I had to plan better. I still use a paper diary, and check over my schedule the night before, and make sure I write everything down - including the time I need to leave the house by. I established a nighttime routine, which allowed me to wind down, potter around, relax and arrange myself for the next day. The main reason I wrote my book, Menopause: What Every Woman Needs to Know, was to share my ‘menopausal journey’ and the things I did to make life easier. As we go through this stage of our lives, everyone we are in relationship with will be affected in one way or another. If we are married, our husbands go on this roller-coaster ride with us - without a seatbelt. It leaves us - and them - confused and frustrated, in more ways than one. If you would like to learn more about my journey into menopause, what to expect, and how to deal with symptoms, visit to purchase. Pastor Yvonne Brooks serves in ministry alongside her husband, Bishop Melvin Brooks, at New Jerusalem Church in Birmingham. She also runs Esther’s Academy, a personal development programme, which helps women live purposeful lives. Visit for more information.


Optimal Mental Health

An Intentional Approach in the 21st Century DR T. AYODELE AJAYI is a Consultant Psychiatrist, a radio host, author and is on the pastoral team of his church


t’s no myth that 21st century life is taking its toll on mental health. Though the UK figures for prevalence of mental health problems remain relatively static, there has been a steady increase in those with severe forms of common mental health conditions since the 1990s (NHS Digital, Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2014). Increased awareness and willingness to admit and report does not fully account for this spike. The other suspected factors include economic uncertainties, social media and unmitigated stress from various sources, including those experienced by young people relating to career progression. Optimal mental health is no longer a given assumption. An intentional approach to maintaining mental wellbeing has become more relevant than ever.

What is Optimal Mental Health? The World Health Organisation (WHO) says ‘Mental health is a state of wellbeing, in which every individual realises his or her own potential; can cope with the normal stresses of life; can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ Another way to look at it is as a spectrum, a continuum that we all sit on. At one end is mental health, where we are thriving, fulfilled and at ease. In the middle reaches, people can be described as coping, surviving or struggling.

At the far end sits the range of mental illnesses. Most us move back and forth along this line our entire lives (The Guardian). Conversely, the American Psychiatric Association expresses mental illnesses as ‘health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour (or a combination of these). They are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.’ These conditions usually result as an outcome of a complex interaction of several vulnerabilities, which may be genetic (inherited), biological (relating to physical health conditions, infections, injuries or use of substances), or environmental (including unmitigated stress, social pressures, childhood adversity and trauma). A simple quick-win approach to optimal mental health is aiming to care for your body, and treasure your important relationships.

Body-Mind Relationship The enormous evidence that physical and mental wellbeing are very closely linked is convincing. Mental illnesses, particularly depression, occur more commonly in chronic physical health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. People with severe enduring mental illnesses also carry a higher risk of heart diseases and other chronic physical illnesses. Regular exercise has been proven to be of benefit to both the body and mind. People involved in regular physical activity are at up to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia. Exercise releases endorphins (‘happy chemicals’) in the brain regions relating to mood regulation. The recommendation supported by the NHS is that adults aim to be active every day, and to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity over a week in a variety of ways. The intensity of physical activity that confers health benefits is one described as moderate. This is one in which your heart and breath rates are increased, and you feel warmer. One should still be able to talk, but not be able to sing the words to a song. Excessive alcohol, and use of any illicit intoxicants, puts mental health at great risk. The weekly safe recommended alcohol intake is no more than 14 units. One can of 4-5% lager contains 1.5 units of alcohol. Some apparently harmless beverages, such as caffeinated drinks including tea, coffee, colas and energy boosters - are no less

harmful, when taken in excess. Excessive caffeine is associated with anxiety, depression and impaired concentration. No more than a daily intake of four cups of coffee for non-pregnant adults (three cups for pregnant women) is deemed safe.

Sleep is a Healer One of the myths of the 21st century is that you can improve productivity by cutting back on sleep time. The brain is restored and cleared of toxins during sleep. There is mounting evidence that chronic sleep deprivation is detriment to mental health. The question is ‘How much sleep is adequate?’ Most adults require an average eight hours at night to function optimally in the day. Clues that you are not getting enough include feelings of fatigue, undue daytime drowsiness, irritability and impaired concentration. Sleep deprivation is linked to mood disorders, anxiety, poor productivity and increased risk of accidents.

Treasure Relationships Forget the bank balance for a moment. A crucial treasure to manage for optimal mental health are your relationships. Research shows that those who invest regular, quality time in meaningful relationships with friends and family live longer, and are more likely to be mentally sound. Lack of confiding relationships is a risk factor for depression. If you are too busy to spend regular time in relaxation and leisure, your schedule certainly needs a review. Managing your thoughts is another important strategy to optimal mental health. This is however a theme worthy of a full article, so look out for the next article in this mental health series.




is a Digital Consultant, Writer and Entrepreneur


e all yearn for the elixir of business success, but it is found in these three words: “Delight your customers.” If you do, they will come back. This article looks at what it means to delight your customers; who is doing it well in the marketplace today, and how you can apply the same principles in your business. Delight - a sparkle word Delight is one of my ‘sparkle’ words. It brings a glimmer to the eyes, an upward tilt to the lips, and a raising of the eyebrows. It is one of those words that elicits emotions. So what does it mean? It simply means to bring ‘great pleasure’ to someone. Pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. Delighting your customers is providing a great experience that brings immense pleasure, that influences them to take an action. It is the product as well as the process and the aftermath. WHY do customers buy? Freud put forward his pleasure principle, in which he said humans instinctively seek pleasure and avoid pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. This simply means that your customers buy from you because your product saves them an aspect of pain or it increases their pleasure. Every service or product you provide must have a value proposition. What is the value of my service to the customer? Most entrepreneurs have a good understanding of the value of their product, but not a good enough understanding of its value to the customer. For example, a tutor, who offers Maths and English classes to a young boy, understands that his services will help the boy progress and learn. But another value he provides to an

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indirect customer is time for the mum to go shopping, and creates space for the boy to learn with likeminded children, perhaps make new friends. These are the benefits of the service, and understanding these benefits is the first step to delighting your customers. HOW do customers buy? Consider the purchase process. How do they find you: is it in-store or online? Where do you advertise, how do you advertise, what is your messaging? What about the actual purchase? Is it hassle-free, void of bureaucracy, without irrelevant steps? Map the entire process out, identify the value points, and make changes to delight customers. Caring for customers after the sales Many entrepreneurs ignore the most important part of the purchase process: what happens after the customer has completed the purchase. The value of most products or services is fully realised as the customer enjoys the benefits. The customer delights in the purchase of makeup or makeup artist services, when she is complimented on her looks. The benefits are not necessarily enjoyed in-store or online, but perhaps days or weeks later. This is when most delighted customers talk about the brand, tweet about it, or share a post about their pleasure - a fan of your product.

Amazon - The go-to online shopping destination - A Case Study Amazon is one of the best loved brands, and here is how it delights its customers. With its wide range, Amazon not only stocks a wide range of products, but also a wide range of sellers. This enables customers (shoppers) to find a product within their budget, with local and fast shipping. Customers can narrow down their choices through the onsite reviews of the product, as well as reviews of the seller. Amazon offers low priced (sometimes free) shipping and, with a Prime membership, shoppers get even more. With Amazon, it was more than the product; they created a convenient and efficient shopping experience that goes beyond the shopping cart. Delight your customers It is safe to assume that your product or service already delights your customers to some degree. If not, you would not be in business. But there is always room to improve your customers’ experience. Embed into company culture During an online shopping process, I came across an unnecessary process which led to an error. I decided to contact the shop using the ‘chat’ button. The customer service representative helped to resolve my query. But when I gave feedback on the process and a suggestion on how to improve it, she drew a blank and became very defensive.


how to listen to customers - especially in terms of their experience with the brand. Take advantage of technology The technology to take your business processes to a higher level is already out there: from CRM (customer Reletionship Management) platforms, to online marketplaces, to payment platforms, project management platforms, invoicing systems, chatbots…

I tried to explain that it was not a complaint; it was feedback that she could report to her manager, who could then inform the relevant teams. But she felt it was a complaint and tried to explain and pacify me. I could tell she had no intention of feeding it back; she had been well trained in resolving complaints and making excuses, but not to take any feedback. I closed the chat box and downrated the chat and the company. Most businesses pidgeonhole staff into duties and responsibilities, not utilising their staff as points of contact to delight customers and identify opportunities to redefine the value proposition. Embed a ‘customer first’ culture at every level within the company, and train staff on

Technology enables you to: • respond to customers in a timely and helpful manner • ensure that your business can be assessed 24-7 (at the customers’ convenience) • listen to customers • care about what customers care about • preempt future needs and fulfil them • and much more Innovate, innovate, innovate Data is a key asset in your business. No one knows your client like you do, so make use of what you know about them, and use this strategically to innovate in your business. The type of data and how you use it is dependent on the business industry you’re in, but you need to find a way to understand and use data as an asset to your business.

Conclusion Regardless of the level at which your business operates, there is always scope for improvement. For growth, that improvement needs to be customer-centered, rather than business-centered. This is a mindset shift that could lead to significant returns for you.

Did you find this useful? Be part of a growing community of entrepreneurs by connecting with Keno: @spiralwebs @keno_ogbo

CENTRE FOR BLACK THEOLOGY Offering programmes in theological education for lay and ordained leaders of Black Majority Churches from across the UK

Would you like to be a part of progressive and rigorous learning of theology shaped by the liberative and contextual lens of Black Theology? There’s a new MA programme accessible through part-time studies. Programme designed for busy, thoughtful and committed church and community leaders, who are keen to confront historic and contemporary issues, aided by socially transforming knowledge gained through black theological imagination. Classes held on Saturdays only (10 Saturdays per academic year) with Professor Robert Beckford and other Tutors.

Ask about our UG Taster Course (starts May 2020) • Find more details here: • For an application form to study contact: • Telephone: 0121 454 1527

For more information about the centre and programmes, contact the Centre Director, Dr Dulcie Dixon McKenzie:


The Queen’s Foundation Birmingham for Ecumenical Theological Education


Sweet Potato Burgers >>>>>

MEDIUM Serves: 6-8 I love sweet potato, and I just created this recipe that makes it into a great burger. I also added a little Jamaican seasoning to put a little sunshine into the recipe. These can be served in a burger bun with fries. It can also be served with salad in a wrap or roti. Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25-30 minutes Total time: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS • 1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed (approx 1 cup) • 1 1/2 cups wheatgerm • 1 cup of quick oats (instant oats) • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs • 1-2 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (season all) • 1 clove garlic (minced) • 1 small onion, finely chopped • 1 cup almond milk • 2 tablespoons Bragg Aminos or soy sauce

method 1. Combine all ingredients together and mix well 2. Use two tablespoons of the mixture to form burgers (use a medium cookie cutter to help you) 3. Place burgers onto greased baking tray 4. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180c. 350f or gas mark 4 5. Turn burgers over half way through cooking time 6. Allow to cool and then serve

Why go vegan??


eganism is on the rise in the UK, and there has been an increasing need in recent years for information on how to become a vegan. One of the main questions has been around what vegans can eat, and the best way to make the transition from eating meat and fish to a plant-based diet. The stereotypical image of veganism in the recent past has conjured-up images of anaemic-looking, tofu and lentil-eating simple people, who love to wear Birkenstocks. But today, thanks to a significant number of celebrity vegans and vegan super-bloggers, veganism has suddenly become far more glamorous. This is not just a celebrity trend. The Vegan Society has reported that the number of vegans in the UK has doubled in the last nine years, from 150,000 to around 500,000. In addition, the market research company, Mintel, has reported that the non-dairy milk market dramatically increased from 36 million litres in 2011 to 92 million in 2013, making it worth over £150 million. There’s no doubt that a vegan diet can be Find us on Twitter and Facebook: @KeepTheFaithmag

great for your health. With the popularity of health food stores, and the fact that many people are looking to improve their health, this means it’s easier than ever to enjoy a satisfying vegan diet. So what are some of the benefits of a vegan diet? There are many nutritional benefits that come from a vegan diet full of foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and beans. This includes the following:

• Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health. • Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue. • Fibre. A diet high in fibre (as vegan-eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High-fibre diets help fight against colon cancer.

• Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in its importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium. • Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body, and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Vegan food is as tasty as you make it, so the same seasonings you would use for meat or fish, use the same for your vegan recipes. This will make your vegan dishes more enjoyable. There are good and bad cooks for all kinds of food, so if you have tried vegan food and not liked it... well… it could be the cook and not the actual food itself! Veganism is also a mindset, so why not make a decision to judge vegan food for yourself, by trying out some dishes you have cooked personally.


Kirly-Sue (aka Susanne Kirlew) is a vegan social media influencer, food writer, radio and TV presenter and published author. Kirly-Sue writes about vegan food and lifestyle, and was named as one of the Top 100 in the Lift Effects Star Awards. She is an Instagram and YouTube influencer, with a total of 35,000 followers across her social media. Kirly-Sue’s expertise has afforded her the opportunity to work with companies in the UK and the USA. This includes being an international keynote speaker in the USA, Singapore, Dubai, Norway, etc., and a TV presenter on a vegan cooking show in the USA for four seasons. For more information, visit:

easy vegan mac ‘n’ cheese EASY Serves: 4 A culinary revolution has been going on - the mac ‘n’ cheese revolution. Appearing on high-end restaurant menus, stuffed into burgers, teamed up with vegetables, jazzed up with vegan blue cheese and taking on a life of its own. From a popular, economical boxed kid’s lunch, this comfort food has morphed into a new designer cuisine.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 30 min

INGREDIENTS • 3 cups cooked wholewheat pasta (any small pasta shape will work) • 2 tablespoons vegan butter • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk • 1 small tomato, chopped (optional) • ½ cup cooked sweet potato (optional) • Salt and pepper, to taste


• Heat up the cooked pasta in a large saucepan • Add the vegan butter, nutritional yeast and almond milk • Stir until well combined • Add the tomato and stir (You can also use cooked sweet potato, or any other vegetable that you want) • Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!




ritish-born Tony Kelly grew up in Jamaica, and returned to Birmingham in 1979, where he has been living ever since. He was a high school teacher of English Language/Literature, after graduating from Mico Teachers College in Jamaica, and changed direction on his return to the UK, after being told he would have to retrain for four years to teach in British schools. He regarded that as an insult - and a subtle form of racism - as teachers from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia undertake 6-12 month refresher courses, and are then let loose on the nation’s children. Instead, he embarked on a career in social work and criminology, and was a middle manager responsible for training staff on equity, equality and diversity issues. He eventually took early retirement. Type 2 diabetes is hereditary, and runs in Tony’s family. He witnessed firsthand the suffering it caused family members in Jamaica, where it was always minimised or trivialised by being referred to as ‘a touch of sugar’. His wife noticed the four classic symptoms associated with diabetes – the 4 Ts: tired, toilet, thirsty and thinner. After the nagging from his wife (who agrees that was the case as something was wrong), Tony plucked up the courage to visit his GP, having prided himself on not having done so for nearly seven years. Just like the ostrich – the largest bird on the planet - it is typical of men to bury their heads in the sand at the first sign of danger, hoping that the problem will go away which, of course, never happens. Most men are constantly in denial and suffer in silence. Tony’s GP confirmed, after urine and blood tests, a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in December 2003. Instead of just accepting the diagnosis and carrying on regardless, however, Tony took positive steps, such as joining Diabetes UK with an annual subscription of the charity’s quarterly magazine Balance, packed with advice, tip and ideas. He also does zumba, Pilates, yoga, aquarobics and badminton weekly and, with his family, eats healthily. He had flashbacks of the relatives in Jamaica, who experienced heart attacks, strokes, lower limb amputations, blindness and kidney failure due to Type 2 diabetes. His self-discipline means he has never had to take medication for his Type 2 diabetes in 16 years. Some people choose not to attend the annual diabetes review with their GP, but Tony never misses any of these vital appointments, and has always received a clean bill of health. He also has free diabetic eye screening tests every year, by an optician on the National Health Service, as blurred vision, caused by a build-up of glucose (sugar) at the back of the eyes, can lead to loss of sight. Tony’s life was also changed drastically in the summer of 2012,

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when he was invited to speak at the book launch of Susan Haynes-Elcock’s (aka the Diabetic Diva) recipe book, Sugah Sugah. The Lord Mayor of Wolverhampton was also present. A patient perspective from a Black man about diabetes, focusing on control/management without any medication, was the brief, and Tony duly delivered at the event. Shaleen Sandhu, of Diabetes UK, approached Tony afterwards, asking him to consider becoming a Diabetes UK Community Champion volunteer. She was convinced he had the right attributes, personality and communication skills to engage with communities on this health and wellbeing agenda. The rest, they say, is history, since Tony now delivers on average over 140 diabetes awareness events across the West Midlands, further afield and also abroad. If gentle persuasion, reminders and the nudge-nudge approach do not have the desired effect, Tony increases pressure on leaders of organisations to take these free workshops on board for the benefit of all communities. Tony regularly wears his Diabetes UK fleece or T-shirt with pride. Both are effective ice-breakers and a good advert for engaging with strangers, which often leads to diabetes awareness bookings. He does not wait on Diabetes UK to send him requests for speaker engagements, but proactively targets community centres, religious places of worship, barber shops, hairdressers, people in supermarkets, residential care homes, tertiary institutions… He also searches the Internet for organisations, which he emails to make them aware of what is on offer as a Diabetes UK Community Champion volunteer. TV, radio, Internet and newspapers have featured articles about him - which he has initiated - and several camera crews have filmed his positive message. Tony has been a diabetes patient lead on NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group for over three years, after being invited to join that group by its

Medical Director, Dr Richard Mendelsohn, and also by Philomena Gales, Senior Integration Manager, Long-Term Conditions (Diabetes). Tony always emphasises a health disclaimer, informing audiences that he is neither medically qualified nor a healthcare professional, but that he does have a certain level of knowledge, along with his real-life experience that places him in a position to share about diabetes, aided by the training material and toolkit from Diabetes UK.

Multi award-winning Tony Kelly is a teacher, an equity, equality and diversity specialist for 30 years, and a Diabetes UK Community Champion volunteer. For more information, you can email him at West Midlands Regional Diabetes UK Office: Suite 2c, St David’s Court, Union Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 3JE T: 01902 916444 E:

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