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BEYOND THE BLADE What is wrong with Prosperity Theology?
YOU WANT TO DO WHAT!?
Your vote counts I am... School of Excellence
Michelle John: The Voice
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Dear Readers Welcome to Issue 102 of Keep The Faith. As we will soon be celebrating Father’s Day, this issue focuses on men, and I would like to shout out to all the dads, step-dads, adopted dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers – and to any other great men out there, who do not slot into one of the titles listed – Happy Father’s Day. You do a great job! Sadly, some are not blessed with having their fathers around, and absent fathers are often blamed for the ills in society: youth violence, gangs and knife crime. But there is some great work being carried out to address these issues. Two recent projects launched are The Ascension Trust Synergy Programme, to encourage people to volunteer with organisations engaged in youth work, and Beyond the Blade, an initiative by The Guardian documenting and creating a comprehensive overview of youth fatalities by stabbings, with a view to looking for solutions. If you would like to get involved in either of these projects, details are on page four. Esther Kuku celebrates the value of men, Prince Laryea shares how he shocked his parents with his chosen career as a hip-hop artist, which evolved into him being a founding member of UK hip-hop crew, The 29th Chapter, and later becoming the Director of Mission at Youth For Christ. Triple O talks about mental health and depression - an issue very close to the heart, and Millicent Stephenson asks: “Where are all the female musicians?” We catch up with The Voice finalist, Michelle John, and Pastor Donnie McClurkin speaks of his relationship with the people of London. We have all our usual contributors, and no doubt you are noticing many new writers! We are truly grateful that, for over 10 years, we have been able to continue publishing inspirational, informative and aspirational articles, relying entirely on editorial contributions for the community that we serve. We are truly blessed with this continued support.
04 - 06 In the news
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28 Brotherly love by Gary Clayton 30 Celebrating the true value of men by Esther Kuku 32 Crying Sons by Bobby Martin
34 Passing the baton by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 35 What is wrong with Prosperity Theology? by Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts 36 Your vote counts! by Dionne Gravesande 37 Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon 38 Learning to be Christlike - even when it hurts by Grace Gladys Famoriyo
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08 Gospel music: Living with the tension between ministry and entertainment - Part 1 by Juliet Fletcher 12 “You want to do what!?” by Prince Laryea 14 Zero not Equal to One: Conversations with the mind by Triple O 16 Where are all the female musicians? by Millicent Stephenson 18 Music Explosion! Gospel Factor 2017 20 Pastor Donnie McClurkin: ‘Massive Expectation’ by Milton B Allen 22 Catching up with The Voice finalist, Michelle John by Joy Roxborough
24 Interview with Minister Marion Hall by Vanessa Grossett 26 James Fortune: ‘I forgive me’ by Milton B Allen
Shirley McGreal Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
CONTENTS ISSUE 102
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Shirley McGreal FCMI Sub-Editor: Jackie Raymond Design: Becky Wybrow Advertising: Anna Davis Josie McFarlane Admin & Accounts: Nicola Hammond All enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Publisher would like to thank Juliet Fletcher, Triple O, Millicent Stephenson, Joy Roxborough, Milton B Allen, Vanessa Grossett, Gary Clayton, Esther Kuku, Rev Stephen Brooks, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Dionne Gravesande, Marcia Dixon, Grace Gladys Famoriyo, Bobby Martin, Kreshany Manoharajah, Chris Day, Tim Waldron, Patrick Regan OBE, Andy Prescott, Julia Kibela, Nicola Burgher, Prince Laryea and our supporters and advertisers. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Publisher.
40 Black Hair and Beauty Innovation Awards 2017 by Joy Roxborough 41 “I am...” two of the most powerful words in the world 42 Are we honouring God with our eating habits? by Nicola Burgher 43 Chef shares the recipe that cured his type 2 diabetes in 105 days by Chris Day 44 My literary agent journey by Vanessa Grossett 45 The Shack by Damaris Media 46 Book reviews
GREATER COLLABORATION ENCOURAGED THROUGH LAUNCH OF SYNERGY PARTNERSHIP
undreds of concerned individuals, project leaders and organisations turned out for the launch of the Ascension Trust Synergy Partnership in May. The initiative is a church response to youth violence, gangs and youth crime, and was organised by the Ascension Trust and Marcia Dixon PR. Hosted by Marcia Dixon and Rev Ricardo Christopher, the event brought together individuals, charities and churches interested in working together to tackle youth violence in our communities. Speakers included: Andrew Hillas, Assistant Chief Officer of London Community Rehabilitation Company; Christopher Chessun, the Bishop of Southwark; Bishop Lenford Rowe, COGOP Regional Bishop for London South; Delphine Duff, Operations Manager for the Young Adults and Gangs Unit (CRC), and Professor Anthony Goodman from Middlesex University. The prominent speakers highlighted there were many great projects being carried out within the Church arena, but it was difficult for anything to survive in isolation, and so collaboration was emphasised as the key to success. A collective effort would bring diversity between organisations and provide the greatest range of skills, thus creating enormous potential and resources. The Synergy Partnership launch highlighted four collaborative projects: the Cassandra Learning Centre, a project raising awareness of domestic violence; Spark2Life, founded by Dez Brown, tackling gang and knife crime in London; Christian International Peace Service (CHIPS), with teams living in areas of conflict and building relationships with people on both sides, and New Choices for Youth, a project that works with young people involved in or at risk of being involved in the Criminal Justice System.
Canon Rev Les Isaac OBE (pictured above) called for the different groups to trust each other, and develop relationships to help each other’s projects, by volunteering with their local projects, to help build, learn and give support to pastors, churches and the police. The more people meet, eat together, trust each other and develop together, the greater and more effective will be the collaboration required to bring about change. If you would like to find out more about the Ascension Trust Synergy Partnership, visit www.ascensiontrust.org.uk/.
Free Keep The Faith Directory Keep The Faith have relaunched the original Black Christian Directory. The newly named Keep The Faith Directory is completely FREE, and a networking tool for Britain’s Black and minority-ethnic community! Go online and register your church, business, organisation, community group or project for free, and benefit from a whole page to highlight your goods, services and projects. List your social media, upload images, and write about what you do! Use the Directory to reach thousands of like-minded people and organisations. Are you looking for a local Black and minority-ethnic church, or for a local community project to volunteer with? Are you considering fostering and adoption? Maybe you want to join a prison ministry, or volunteer to work with our youth? Do you have an event to promote to the community? List it for free! Visit www.keepthefaithdirectory.com. Look forward to finding you there!
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New project launches ‘Beyond the Blade: The truth about knife crime in Britain’ “Teenage knife crime is a tabloid obsession, blamed on feral youth running riot in our cities. But the reality is much more complex – and we cannot save lives if we do not understand it.” - Gary Younge The Guardian newspaper has launched a new project documenting knife crime in the UK. The aim is to record the deaths of children and teenagers who have been stabbed, and build a national database that will effectively provide data and create a publicly available and comprehensive overview of these fatalities; exploring issues around their short lives, and ensuring effective reporting of the incidents. Led by Gary Younge - author of Another Day in the Death of America - and Guardian reporter, Damien Gayle, the series will run for a year. It is estimated that around 25 young people were killed by knives in 2016; however, publicly available national data doesn’t exist. According to Gary Younge, “The latest figures suggest that the scale and causes vary between London and the rest of the country. Understanding microclimates is crucial.” Through ‘Beyond the Blade’, The Guardian aims to approach the issue thoroughly and consistently, looking at what themes emerge from the deaths; speak to people who are looking for solutions; investigate the impact of knife crime upon Britain’s young people, and expose the myths that surround it. The Guardian is reaching out to people across the UK to learn about local groups or projects dealing with this issue, and will be engaging with professionals in a range of fields. Whether you’re affected as a young person, or a professional in education or youth work, your insights will help understand this issue. You can sign up for fortnightly updates about the project by visiting: www.theguardian.com/membership/2017/ apr/07/beyond-the-blade-your-responsesto-our-project-on-knife. If you would like to find out more about this project, there is a good deal of information here: www.theguardian.com/uk/knifecrime.
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‘Have You Heard?’ A new pilot stands up to modern slavery in the Nigerian community A new pilot campaign has been launched to help tackle modern slavery within the Nigerian community in the UK. It focuses on helping those trapped in domestic slavery, where victims are typically kept against their will, mistreated and forced to work long hours with no pay. Leading local charities, community and faith groups - including Celestial Church of Christ Manchester, Redeemed Christian Church of God - The Pathfinder, and Nigerian Community in Manchester - are working together to raise awareness and increase reporting within at-risk communities. The short film, developed in partnership with the Salvation Army and child protection charity AFRUCA, was launched to highlight how incidents of domestic slavery are happening under the radar in Nigerian communities across the UK, and to empower communities to report concerns confidentially and anonymously to the Modern Slavery Helpline. There are an estimated 10,000-13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK today. No community is immune; we have encountered modern-day slavery in nail bars, car washes, on fishing boats and farms and in people’s homes. Nigeria remains one of the UK’s major source countries for victims of Modern Slavery, including human trafficking. The ‘Have You Heard?’ film, produced by award-winning Nigerian film maker Ogo Okpue, demonstrates the devastating impact of being held as a domestic slave (also known as illegal house help), and underlines the potential consequences for perpetrators and the specialist support available to victims. Young Nigerian women are particularly at risk – one such victim is Glory*. Thirteen-yearold Glory was trafficked to the UK from Nigeria by a woman, who told her mother she could have
a better life in London. In reality, she was forced to work between 6am and 9pm, and often much later. Glory was shouted at and beaten for incidents as minor as not realising her Madame had finished her cup of tea, and the frequency of the beatings increased as time went on. Sometimes her Madame’s husband would visit Glory in the night and sexually assault her. Anne Read, Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery at The Salvation Army said: “Have You Heard? brings a very hidden crime to the surface, and drives the message home that it’s the responsibility of all of us to spot the signs that someone is being kept in unfair conditions and report it. It may be a crime that happens behind closed doors, but the signs are out there – we just need to look for them and do something about it. People should feel confident that anything suspicious they report will be acted on, and anyone rescued from this kind of exploitation will receive the specialist support they need from The Salvation Army and our partners.” To report concerns, seek advice or get help, call the confidential UK Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or visit the website at www.modernslaveryhelpline.org. The Have You Heard? film is available at http://bit.ly/2nhxL0i. (*Name changed to protect victim’s identity)
Fran Beckett appointed Chair of Trustees, Prison Fellowship England and Wales Prison Fellowship England and Wales (PF) is delighted to announce the appointment of Fran Beckett as Chair of Trustees with effect from 27 April 2017. Fran is an experienced board member and chair of various voluntary, housing and public sector Boards – including London Development Agency, Evangelical Alliance Council and Orbit Housing Group. She is also an accomplished voluntary sector CEO. Over recent years, Fran has served as chief executive of Shaftesbury Society (now Livability), before moving to a similar role in Church Urban Fund. She has also held a number of advisory group roles within government. More recently, Fran has provided consultancy services on leadership, governance, change management, and strategic planning and mentoring services to CEOs and Chairs of Boards. Fran’s appointment comes as part of a planned succession from her predecessor Howard Dodd, who has been Chair of Trustees since 2009. Tony Watson, trustee, who led the recruitment process said, “The board is very much looking forward to working with Fran. She brings a depth and breadth of experience from her work with Christian organisations, and has a genuine passion for helping disadvantaged people. We are extremely grateful for Howard’s leadership over the last eight years, and we are confident with Peter Holloway as CEO and Fran as Chair that PF will continue to build on the growth it has already achieved.” Fran said, “I am delighted to be joining such a vibrant organisation known for its outstanding volunteers supporting prisoners across England and Wales.” For more information on Prison Fellowship’s work, visit www.prisonfellowship.org.uk/ what-we-do/
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or over 10 years we have successfully published Keep The Faith - Britain’s leading Black and minority-ethnic communityfocused publication that promotes and supports unity, faith and family values. We are the ONLY publication of its kind in the UK, and continue to be independently published. Our high quality publication has been produced and distributed nationwide. It has been made available to MILLIONS of readers over the 10 years, in print and electronically. We have many new powerful features for 2017, and are working on connecting more with our young people. We are organising improvements with our online channels to create more engagement, which will enable us to communicate more effectively en masse. We will also be organising Keep The Faith network events and seminars. We have now launched Keep The Faith Directory www.keepthefaithdirectory.com - a completely FREE service where you can profile your church, organisation, business, community group… or even yourself. Use this to reach thousands of like-minded people to find your local church; network with other businesses, or even find a community project that you can volunteer with. It’s not about us… it’s about YOU! Keep The Faith magazine is trusted by its readers; they feel part of the magazine, as it represents them in a positive way. The editorial policy is informative, educational, aspirational and inspirational. Many of our editorial contributors are some of the most powerful and influential movers and shakers and successful entrepreneurs within the BME community.
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08 GOSPEL NEWS
Gospel music: Living between ministry and JULIET FLETCHER
is a former BBC Producer and funding Executive of the GMIA
want to create a clear distinction. This article is directed at those who identify themselves with the prefix ‘gospel’ when it comes to their genre artistry. I know there are those who have a strong gospel root, are clearly Christian, but artistically are listed outside of gospel. Such artists - like Michelle John and Jahméne Douglas, for example - must be supported and have access to good guidance, as they are part of God’s purpose and plan to be influencers in the world of media, music, arts and entertainment. But recognition under this term ‘gospel artist’ is critically important, as great opportunities continually open up to us in the heart of today’s challenging culture. For good reasons, therefore, I hope it becomes apparent as you read why I’m compelled to tackle this subject that’s bubbling under the surface of the lives of many in our scene: Why is there a tension between ministry and entertainment for gospel artists? I often hear people say on stage: “I’m not here to entertain you, but to minister.” Yet someone may ask, since I’ve paid for my ticket to your concert or show, aren’t you meant to entertain me - at least in part? Why can’t an artist both minister and entertain at the same time? It’s absolutely impossible to have someone stand in front of you to sing or play, and not consider the quality of what they are doing. The currency transaction is this: If you like them, you’ll either pay to see them again, or you’ll buy their music. That’s the ‘simple exchange’ in music industry terms. The ‘Divine Exchange’ is the add-on. As a gospel singer, I’m helping you to either become aware of God or encouraging you to express your emotion to God. I take you beyond the pleasure of artistic experience into the power of a spiritual experience with God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, the level of artistic excellence can be so high, it’s very close to a spiritual encounter - that is the power of artistry. However, the idea of engaging with the holy, sacred or divine through music and the arts, we believe, brings a higher purpose, greater demand and accountability. So what is this ‘tension’? A mental or Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
emotional strain that invariably has a negative impact. And how is it demonstrated? In the case of gospel artists or musicians, it is interpreted that the person’s motive is to either receive admiration or adulation from people, or only for monetary gain or fame and - at its worse - losing their faith and righteous standing with God. This tension seems to be an occupational hazard - regardless of the level of success. It can affect an individual or a whole group or choir at any one time, and change their output or outlook. LIVING WITH THE TENSION Earlier in April this year, we were all deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Lavine Hudson (6th April 2017) aged 55 years. She was our first British gospel star. Lavine was a singer, songwriter and (though most of us didn’t realise) also a musician. She holds the achievement of signing the biggest lucrative record deal with Virgin Music, and found international success that was only curtailed when a debilitating illness robbed her of a long-term active career.
As I read interviews about Lavine’s life, I also recalled a particularly personal conversation with her during the time she was making her second album, ‘Between Two Worlds’. The album features songs written and co-written with superstar Phil Collins of the pop group Genesis. It is quite ironic that this extract from an interview, conducted in 1991 with James Atlee, a journalist from Cross Rhythms music magazine, still proves so relevant to this piece. The article is entitled ‘Lavine Hudson: A straight-ahead gospel singer trying to make sense of the pop/r’n’b world’ and it is prefaced with a timely introduction.
Britain’s most heavily promoted Black gospel singer, LAVINE HUDSON, talks to James Atlee about her humble beginnings, exciting present, and the tensions existing between rootsy church and glitzy showbiz… JAMES ATLEE: There’s a clue to the tensions that a performer from Lavine’s background experiences in the music business in the tide of the album. LAVINE HUDSON: It’s called ‘Between Two Worlds’ because, coming from a church background that is very strict, and still being a gospel artist, but reaching out to a non-gospel audience, it causes a pressure on me; I’m constantly walking a fine line. The worlds are far apart, the church world and what we call the secular world. I’m in the middle, almost like a mediator... rooted in the Church, but reaching out to people who are not in the Church. Different churches have reacted differently to what I’m trying to do: traditional Black churches are a bit tough on it; they don’t give me their full support. More contemporary churches, like Kensington Temple and Victory Church, are 100 percent behind it. I have to hold to what I believe in, and not be manipulated by tradition, because a lot of tradition doesn’t stem from the Bible; it’s a lot of man-made laws on top of that. “Some people from the gospel scene see me as ‘selling out’, because I find that, once you have exceeded their audience, they want to cling onto you; they want to hold you for themselves. If they can have you just singing to them in church, they’ll love you to death. Once they’re not controlling you, and you’re doing the same music, they’ll shy away from you. It’s tricky, but I’ve dealt with it.” JAMES ATLEE: So would she still sing on a bill with some of her gospel peers? LAVINE HUDSON: “Oh yeah, it depends on the concert… I still do a lot of church singing, Victory Church invited me to sing at their convention, and I went to sing... I don’t want to just be on a gospel bill, because it’s the same audience. I like to do gospel and reach a new audience, like when I supported Joe Cocker. I don’t see the point of always singing to the same gospel audience. A lot of them don’t understand that, but that’s the way I feel. My new album is still gospel, in that the root of what I’m trying to say is gospel, but it’s in a more contemporary form, so the people on the street can understand it.”
GOSPEL NEWS 09
with the tension d entertainment
It has been 18 years since Lavine did that interview, and its sad lessons still seem unlearnt. Then again, an understanding has to be repeated to each generation of artists, which is the aim of this article. Here are more quotes from artists today, who shared with me their experience of living with the tension between ministry and entertainment: LCGC are billed as Britain’s most celebrated gospel choir. Their principal Director and Founder is the charismatic Bazil Meade. Recognised in their own right, they have sung everywhere across the globe, and with probably every key celebrity entertainer you can name… BAZIL MEADE: “Early in LCGC’s journey, I accept I felt the pressure of the tension. It distracted and at times caused a dysfunction, because I was struggling with it all. Now I don’t care what people say. There is no tension in ME, as I’m firm in where I know my, and the Choir’s, calling rests. Being in the entertainment environment is NOT for those who are NOT called to be there. I’ve learnt there are at least two types of artists: those who are the ‘Keepers of the Lord’s house and serve in His temple’ and there are those, like the Apostle Paul, called to go out and be ‘all things to all men...that I might save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). I think the Keepers of the Lord’s house suffer more from the tension. You don’t change the message, but the method changes. Jesus told the disciples to fish outside of their traditional knowledge or comfort zone (Luke 5:4, John 21:6). We’ve seen the lives and the perspective of people’s minds changed through what we do. These seeds to sow is our work, but we cannot take any credit whatsoever for the fruit. That’s God’s work.”
Michael Brown with George Michael
World class, award-winning guitarist, Michael Brown, has been at the forefront of musicianship for more than two decades. He is renowned for his live and studio work, in and out of the gospel scene. He prefers to call himself a minstrel. Michael was hand-picked by master producer, Quincy Jones, to be in the band that played in his ONE NIGHT ONLY London performance in September 2014. MICHAEL BROWN: “My journey was very specifically led by the Lord. It’s only in your relationship with, and by listening to the Holy Spirit that you prove God’s calling. He told me He had a special task for me to do. I kept seeking His face, and every time He told me not to play somewhere, I obeyed. Then one day, through certain connections I did not manufacture, I became the guitarist for the pop star George Michael’s band. It was one of many doors open to me to be that minstrel, as well as professional person to mainstream acts. When I play in any environment, I am placing those notes and sounds at a sonic level in a spiritual context. I toured and worked for more than ten years with George, and from the very first tour he requested me to lead prayers with him and the band before every performance. The conversations we had were oftentimes deep. It is a privilege for me to serve in this context. I have seen people healed while I’m playing, or a prophetic word spoken that’s come to pass. It’s easy to perform and do guitar tricks, but it’s
much harder to obey and play where you know the Lord has governed what you do. The tension for me is between my obedience to God or following myself. Living the godly lifestyle in front of those you work with in the music industry settings demonstrates the rest.” Probably the most dynamic and vibrant contemporary gospel choir on the scene today, VOLNEY MORGAN & NEW YE have stamped their brand of British gospel full front and centre for the past five years. They performed as featured guests for BBC’s Gospel Proms last year, and more recently at the Premier Gospel Music Awards won Best Choir for the second year running.
10 GOSPEL NEWS
about the Lord, what He has done, and what He will do for anybody who trusts Him. And we are stating that as clearly and as specifically as we can in the style of our exuberance. It’s not a pressure for us now. People like Tye Tribbett and Kirk Franklin have helped make it ‘the norm’. A lot of people know who we are now, and understand what our ministry’s about. Those who want to merge ministry and entertainment, just stick at it and, if it’s really you, people will begin to love you for who you are. Our legacy is that we want people to be free to worship, free to dance, and free to have passion. The audiences we minister to, what they can’t understand spiritually they should be able to understand through the entertainment, because the Holy Spirit is empowering us.”
VOLNEY MORGAN: “We don’t set out to entertain. That’s what we naturally do! A lot of people see us and may take it as entertainment, but that’s only the packaging. In the beginning, a lot of people thought that we were jumping and getting excited in the flesh. It was hard being misunderstood. But we persevered. I mean, if someone gave you your dream house, would you just say ‘Oh yeah’ in a nonchalant way, without a smile? No! You’d be jumping up and down like crazy. We are truly and genuinely excited
A CALL THAT RELEASES THE TENSION I could have written twice the length of this article and still not end the expressions and experiences I garnered from talking to different people. Like thoughts from gospel singer, Dawn Thomas-Wallace, who emphasised to me the importance of having an authentic Holy Spirit-inspired performance that is backed by excellence - the entertainment value then takes care of itself; and journalistic commentator, Marcia Dixon, spoke of leaders who have genuine concerns about releasing talent from the Church into unsavoury environments. She feels there’s a real need to teach a theology that is practically
applicable for all types of artists. MY CONCLUSION Firstly, we need to be confident when we use the prefix ‘gospel’ (singer, choir, group, etc). It should immediately put us at ease that we have identified ourselves and are identifiable. Confirmed in this calling of the Lord should provide us release from the tension that seeks to paralyse us or distract our focus. Secondly, whether a traditional artist or contemporary, within our own selves we must be bold with the assurance of our purpose, and go forward into any arena. Thirdly, ‘entertainment’ is not a dirty word, and saying the word ‘ministry’ doesn’t make you good. It’s hard, consistent work, undergirded by the powerful working of God. To quote our Lord: “By their fruits you will know them.” Fourthly, we must be persuaded that our lyrical and musical message provides a key to our physical performance, and concludes with a Christian lifestyle off stage. Fifthly, good spiritual covering and support will always help keep us aligned to our calling. Remember, others have trodden this path before. Please feel free to make contact with me anytime. Watch out for Part 2 in the next issue.
Watch in real time what the difference illust your spirit, soul, and body in this you What exactly changed when ect again? You might see the same reﬂ t same, or even ﬁnd yourself yielding old temptations. Maybe you wonder really changed at all. The good news differen the you show This DVD will how and body and soul, your spirit, int relationship with God the way He teaching is foundational to everyt Christian life.
auth The ministry of Andrew Wommack, of p over four decades, reaches millions Gospel Truth radio and television broad Colo College located in Woodland Park,
ANDREW WOMMACK MINISTRIES
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There is a whole universe that man in all his wisdom is
ignorant of. That is the world of the spirit. And I’m not just talking about the spiritual realm outside of us but also the spiritual being inside of every person. We aren’t evolved animals; we were created in God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:26). We are spirit beings. The ultimate way to control bad behaviour isn’t by more laws, metal detectors, or social engineering; it’s changing the hearts of people, one at a time. Only Jesus can do that. Our sin nature is dead and gone, but it left behind a body. That body is the carnal mind. It will still function as programmed until we reprogram it. That’s what the Bible calls the renewing of the mind. Our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Therefore, victory in the Christian life is as simple as renewing our minds to who we are and what we have already received in Christ. It’s not the struggle of two natures inside of us; we are the way we think (Prov. 23:7). If we see ourselves as old sinners, saved by grace, then we will continue to struggle with sin. But when we see the total change that took place in our nature, we will manifest that change in our actions. When we see ourselves as being part devil, we act like it. But when we see who we are in Christ - i.e., in our born-again spirits - we become like Him (2 Cor. 3:18 and 1 John 3:2). The way we see ourselves becomes a selffulfilling prophecy. This is the dominant revelation the Lord has used to change my life. I had a life-altering encounter with the Lord on March 23, 1968. The Lord used that to get my attention
e is between trative DVD. were born tion, act the to the same r if you have is - you did! nce between w to have a tended. This thing in the
and show me there was so much more. But it’s the revelation I received from the Word on who I have become in my spirit that has made the biggest impression and lasting change in my life. It has totally changed my identity. I call this revelation Spirit, Soul & Body. That’s not a catchy phrase, but it’s descriptive of the way the Lord revealed these truths to me. I’ve come to know I’m a spirit being who has a soul and lives in a body. But the real me is my spiritual person. And it’s in the spirit that I’ve been totally changed and made just like Jesus. Since God is a Spirit and He deals with me on the basis of who I am in the spirit (John 4:24), this has changed everything. I now worship God based on who I am in the spirit and not on who I am in my flesh; i.e., how I act or feel. I now understand how our holy God can truly love me, because in my born-again spirit, I’m totally righteous and holy (Eph. 4:24). My spirit is His workmanship (Eph. 2:10). I’ve discovered that I’m redeemed from the Law because the Law wasn’t made for a righteous man (1 Tim. 1:9). The Law was given to show us our need for salvation, but it couldn’t save us (Rom. 3:19-21). But what the Law couldn’t do, Jesus did (Rom. 8:3-4), and I’m now the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). This entitles me to everything God is and has. I have His authority to use, and to the degree that I’ve done this, I’ve experienced miraculous results. I’m so excited about this that I’m trying to let the whole world know these truths.
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12 GOSPEL NEWS
“You want to do what!?” I
’m 25 years old, and standing on stage at a big evangelistic event in Birmingham. I’m part of a hip-hop band, and we’re the closing act. Following our performance, we present the Gospel and invite young people to respond. The Lord is clearly at work, as we watch the miracle of salvation unfold before our eyes; many hands are raised in response to the invitation to follow Jesus. I’m an evangelist who uses hip-hop as a tool to present the Gospel to young people. It’s not a side job or a hobby. This is me; it’s my full-time job. Rewind back 22 years, my parents have just arrived in the UK with a young family of three boys in tow. We’re asylum seekers, in search of refuge from the turmoil that ensued following a military coup in my native Ghana in 1981. My parents are first-generation migrants, arriving in a land they don’t know, with very few connections, no home, and no possessions other than the items in the suitcases they’re holding. With a family now expanded to five young boys to settle and provide for, the list of priorities is short and focused, and can be boiled down to one single objective: security. From the age of five, my parents began to make it abundantly clear to me that there were only four career paths that would be open to me for my future: doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer!
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That was it - the bar was set, and my future mapped. I’d like to think that every parent has great aspirations for their children, but I think in the case of migrant parents, this is somewhat amplified. It’s the continued pursuit of that same single objective; it’s the hope of a better standard of life, the hunt for security. The word of Jesus when He sent out His disciples, in Matthew 12, stands in stark contrast to this theme, security, as does His conversation with the Rich Young Ruler, near the end of Matthew 19. These were the Scriptures I’d been grappling with, when I approached my mum to explain my proposed career path. “You want to do what!?” I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went from there, but I do remember that I didn’t do much of the talking! Let’s face it - even the most open-minded, middle-class White parent would wince at the idea of their offspring pursuing a career in hip-hop. Following the footsteps of music icons, such as Jay-Z, Eminem and Snoop Dog was not on the shortlist - even if it was for the sake of the Gospel. The road between that moment and the event in Birmingham was not straightforward; it was filled with highs and lows, successes, disappointments and setbacks but, through it all, I was growing in my faith, the Lord was providing for my needs, and I was seeing young lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. Reflecting back, it would seem the Lord had different plans concerning my career and, as a result, it has been my privilege to play a small part in God’s big picture of mission, inviting others into relationship with Him through music. Today it’s a new chapter of the same story: looking for innovative ways to share faith with young people. I am now Director of Mission at Youth For Christ (YFC). It’s my privilege to be part of an organisation full of passion and committed to seeing thousands of young lives transformed through the Good News of Jesus, and taking their skills, gifts, talents and passions and chasing after Jesus’ Great Commission call with great abandon. At YFC, through touring bands, sports teams, prison ministry teams and over 70 local centres across the UK, we’re seeing the Gospel presented to thousands of young people in schools, youth clubs, churches, prisons and in the community each year. But the sad reality is we’re hardly scratching the surface. Jesus’ words to His disciples, in Matthew 9:27, ring as true today as when He first said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” At YFC, we’re constantly wrestling with the
GOSPEL NEWS 13 29th Chapter hanging with Tinie Tempah
questions: “How do we engage more young people in the Great Commission, equipping them to reach their peers with the Gospel?” “How do we work more closely with the local church and local youth workers to ignite a passion for mission in their young people?” “How do we support and encourage the Church in reaching out to young people in the local community, who might never step foot in church?” And so we develop resources, employ evangelists and speakers, undertake research on youth culture, run residential trips and training conferences… anything we can to better equip the Church and reach young people. For over 70 years, one of YFC’s most powerful and far-reaching innovations has been our gap-year programme. Hundreds of young adults have been through the programme and, as a result, many thousands have been reached and impacted across the UK. Our gap-year programme is called ‘YFC One’, and is a 10-month programme for young adults aged 17 to 25. It can be a year away, or a year staying at home and serving your local church. YFC One provides an intense incubation, designed to grow faith, nurture Christian character, and provide experience in Christian ministry and evangelism. At a time in their lives, when many young adults step away from their faith, YFC One aims to challenge the trend, helping young people deepen their foundations and cultivate their relationship with Jesus, setting them up for a lifetime of loving and serving Him. It’s an exciting prospect to consider what God can do through a life that is submitted to
Him. In spite of circumstance and background, God calls, shapes, transforms and directs a life in order to serve His Kingdom purpose, bringing others to faith and new life in Jesus. As a church leader or youth and young adults leader reading this article, we’ve no doubt that you feel the same. We’re excited about the prospect of working alongside you. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about YFC One, or if you’d like to speak further about how we can partner together in mission. Prince Laryea Director of Mission at YFC, and founding member of UK hip-hop crew, The 29th Chapter Web: www.yfc.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the writer
Former front man and manager of UK hip-hop pioneers, The 29th Chapter, Prince has a passion for speaking and inspiring a generation to chase after the things of God, taking the Good News of Jesus into the highways and byways of mainstream culture. Through sharing his own journey, Prince seeks to inspire more Christians to push into the mainstream arts, media and entertainment space. He and his wife Laura live in London; they have three children, aged nine, seven and three.
14 GOSPEL NEWS
FOLLOW TRIPLE ‘O’ ON TWITTER @TripleOmusic
Zero not Eq Conversations This coming summer 2017, MOBO Awardwinning artist, Triple O, is scheduled to release his sophomore album, ‘Zero Not Equal To One: Conversations with the Mind’. The album is a follow-up to his debut project, ‘Flatline’, which was released back in the summer of 2011. This new album is centred on mental health and depression, an issue very close to the heart of Triple O, as he uses this album to tell his story… Conceptually, ‘Zero Not Equal To One’ is a mathematical statement, which acknowledges the two sides of that particular equation as being an imbalanced equation in need of a solution. This idea is expanded within the overall premise of the album, which focuses on the struggle many have with depression/mental health. The album aims to take a practical look at a very personal problem, evaluating the process of moving from a place of feeling empty and having this big hole, to actually reaching wellness and being made whole. The album comes around full circle. Now I feel it is very important that, as Christians, we do not get scared when it comes to tackling hard issues. The God of grace we serve is the Author of all things, and is able to give us the wisdom and grace to address an issue, which should no longer be ignored. Considering all of this, one thing is very apparent: Mental Health is still a taboo topic of discussion amongst certain demographics; depression is an illness that still needs to be addressed appropriately within many communities. This issue has recently become a major talking point amongst the Black community, with the admission of high-profile stars, such as Kid-Cudi and, more recently, Kanye West. We are now seeing an increased number of vlogs, documentaries and written posts flying around on social media; people are now more than ready to have an open discussion about this topic. “While Black women are burdened with strength and silence, in order to shoulder the emotional needs of an entire community, men tend to inherit a sense of masculinity that teaches stoicism as a virtue. There are generations of Black boys and men walking around with turmoil swelling inside them, ready to explode at any minute.” – Mychal Denzel Smith Speaking from personal experience, and having struggled with this issue myself, I have struggled to speak up whenever I have felt overwhelmed, down and discouraged, even though I knew that keeping quiet was solving not a thing. But looking back, I knew why I did it: it was the fear of condemnation, the fear of being rejected, the fear of being ridiculed. I trained my mind to ignore the problem and pretend to everyone around me that I was OK. I forced myself to believe the very lie I’d created. So the turmoil I was living in compelled me to live in pain; there was a hole in my chest, and I found myself living in a dark room, screaming in silence.
Stigma of mental health in the Church ‘’…When faced with shame, stigma and possible rejection by their beloved church, African-American members, preachers and teachers become expert at using everything except the appropriate treatment to hide their depression. They continue preaching, teaching and serving, despite the Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
GOSPEL NEWS 15
qual to One: with the Mind
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Find out more at integrated-year.chi.ac.uk crushing weight of despair associated with untreated depression - all while silently praying for a fresh anointing. The African-American church must be that same hedge of protection around those living with depression and other mental illnesses. As an institution, the Church cannot effectively speak life, healing or peace to anyone, unless its preachers, teachers and members are mentally and spiritually healthy….’’ This is an excerpt taken from an open letter to the African-American church about mental illness, published by The Huffington Post. Now, as a born-again believer in Christ, I am very much aware of God’s saving grace and His ability to save, cover and keep His sheep. It is my belief in this fundamental truth that keeps me grounded and at peace, thus shaping my worldview. But, in saying that, having previously struggled with mental health issues in the past and seeing people around me suffer quite severely, it is no secret that this is an issue, which just isn’t dealt with properly in the Church. There is such a fine line that needs to be noted here: faith shouldn’t be disregarded in place of modern medicine but, at the same time, I do not feel Christians should be ignorant and dispute the benefits of seeking professional help. My main issue is that we don’t want to talk about what needs to be talked about. I’m learning (though I still have a long way to go) about the importance of communication; the Church needs to create a forum comfortable enough for its members to speak about an issue that holds just as much weight as a broken leg or a blood deficiency of some sort. If the Church is a place for the sick, then why should someone in that position feel bad for not being well? I don’t claim to have the answers on these issues; neither do I have a definitive conclusion to this piece. Instead, I put out this post simply to spark dialogue amongst the aforementioned communities and beyond my social circles. There are people suffering in silence, and this really should not be so. To both men and women reading this, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s an act of strength. And though it may not go away overnight, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And I aim to at least start the conversation with the album ‘Zero Not Equal To One’.
for education, research and community building
The Sixth Annual Sam Sharpe Lecture delivered by
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Saturday 7 October - 7-9 pm at: Perry Rise Baptist Church, Forest Hill, London SE23 2QL Refreshments will be available at the church
This lecture is free, however due to limited capacity, please reserve your seat in advance at
16 GOSPEL NEWS
BY MILLICENT ST EPHENSON
Where are all the female musicians? Music plays a strong role in church services, but why are there more men than women playing the instruments? This question arrested me in 2014. I’d been invited to perform at a Convention, and noticed there was a young lady playing the bass guitar in the church band. I am very used to being the only female musician on a bill; in fact, over the years, I’ve seen very few female musicians but, for some reason on this occasion, my attention was drawn. A voice (which I can only describe as God’s voice) said to me: “Look at the congregation,” and I noticed it was mainly female. I wondered why was it that church membership is majority female, but there are so few female musicians? This thought came with such a strong compulsion and stayed with me for a few days. I felt as though God was saying: “Do something.” That week I went through my phone book, and contacted nineteen female musicians I knew, from different denominations. I asked them about their experiences in music, and whether a gathering of female musicians to meet to pray and discuss issues would be a good thing. They felt it would. I also spoke to male musicians and key individuals in gospel music about their observations, and for any contact details of female musicians they knew. In my conversations I found that women are talented: some are getting on with their music; some, on the other hand, feel isolated, smothered, and under par in the presence of male counterparts. Some don’t feel motivated to play, due to critics, parenting, marriage, or lack of family support or church support. Some no longer play, due to a change in ministerial work. I could understand and relate to these situations. Based on what I found, I decided to throw caution - and my business training - out the window and to put on a networking event a couple of months later for female musicians. I advertised it on social media and waited to see who would come. Nine women showed up! Since then, we have been meeting twice a year, and more women are coming along. The event is called Cafemnee (pronounced Ka’fem’nee), and I still enquire about female musicians wherever I perform. Why women quit The drop-off starts in school. Girls as well as boys learn musical instruments. The lessons Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
are part of the school timetable, but clash with academic subjects, such as Maths, IT, Literacy, etc. Some parents and teachers are not keen for pupils to miss any part of their main studies (the old academic-being-more-important-thanthe-arts debate!) and so instrument lessons come to an end or are moved to after school. If parents are determined for their child(ren) to continue with music, then these lessons will continue but, if weather, finances or lack of practising (by their child) occur, then the lessons end. Some of the reasons cited by women as affecting their music include the following: • Focus on academic studies • Develop other ministries • Lack of support from church members (music or their instrument not considered as ‘something a woman should do’) • Marriage and starting a family • Only play when the men are absent • No role models • Negative comments from male musicians • Not knowing insider information • Lack of confidence to play publicly or to go solo • Full-time not being financially viable (see ‘The Working Musician’ report, Musicians’ Union, 2012)
Church and the Bible On a positive note, there are congregations with more than one female musician, but that is still quite rare. In my denomination, when a female band is required for a women’s event, we have to locate musicians from other churches and denominations, as there are no single all-female church bands available to book. There is no mention in the Bible that women shouldn’t play musical instruments. For example, Miriam and other women celebrated with timbrels in Exodus 15:20; the women who greeted David after he had slain Goliath sang and played instruments in 1 Samuel 18:6-7, and in 1 Chronicles 13:8 we read David and all of Israel sang and played instruments in celebration. What is Cafemnee? Cafemnee (Christian And Female Musicians’ Networking Event) is an organisation, which exists to empower female musicians - at different levels and genres of music - through workshops, masterclasses, jam sessions, prayer and networking. It is a place with no competition but an atmosphere of collegiality to share experiences and expertise. It is also a place where church and spiritual aspects of music can be discussed openly; this is not a comfortable topic in
GOSPEL NEWS 17
A W TOZER FAMOUSLY DESCRIBED WORSHIP AS ‘THE MISSING JEWEL OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH’. SINCE HE PENNED THOSE WORDS IN 1961, THERE HAS BEEN AN EXPLOSION OF MUSICAL AND LYRICAL CREATIVITY IN CHURCHES ACROSS THE UNITED KINGDOM.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Les Moir has played a significant role in the international contemporary worship music community. As a mentor, A&R manager, record producer and bass player, he has encouraged and coached many worship leaders, musicians and songwriters. Les is married to Judith and they are based in Eastbourne, East Sussex. They have a son and a daughter; James and Isabel.
ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK
RELIGION Christian Life Worship
MISSING JEWEL THE WORSHIP MOVEMENT T H AT I M PA C T E D T H E N AT I O N S
“Missing Jewel reminds us that God is always at work, behind the scenes, chiseling the facets of the jewel until it shines for all to marvel at the Glory of the Craftsman and His work.” Louie Giglio
“Every page tells a story of God’s faithfulness.” Matt Redman
From encountering God in house churches to declaring His praise in Stadiums, contemporary worship has transformed the British Church and spread across the world. Les Moir had a front row seat for much of this time. Recording, producing and playing on landmark albums as well as shaping significant songs from 3 generations of worship leaders, including: Matt Redman, Martin Smith, Tim Hughes and Graham Kendrick. In Missing Jewel he tells this story, using his own experiences and inspiring first-hand accounts of the many musicians, songwriters and Church leaders who found themselves part of a journey that continues to bless and exhilarate new generations of believers.
FOREWORD BY MARTIN SMITH
Printed in the United Kingdom
MissingJewel_Cover_V2.indd All Pages
mainstream music courses. There is a time of reflection and prayer. Although Cafemnee is a Christian-based organisation, non-Christians are welcomed and some do attend. In September 2016, Cafemnee was widened to include female vocalists, and they have enjoyed and applied the tips they’ve received. In fact, some have dusted off their own instruments after seeing and meeting female musicians. Testimonials • “Getting paid has always been a taboo. I’m glad for the information.” • “As a result of Cafemnee, I have gone on to take on solos.” • “After the last session, I structured my week to include practising.” • “We have gone on to set up a female jazz band.” • “…boosted my confidence, motivation and determination.” • “I was able to go for it the next day in my playing, because I saw how other women played with confidence and energy.” • “I did my grade 8 classical piano many years ago and I played in church, but I couldn’t understand the way the guys speak. I felt put down by their comments. I stopped playing. But when I went to Cafemnee’s ‘Play It Like A Man?’, I was so inspired by what I learnt that when I got home I removed all the junk off my piano and just played.”
Who am I? I am married and have two adult children. My husband is a minister and part of the pastoral team of the church we attend. I have been a Christian for 38 years, and participate in the life of my church by playing keyboards on a Sunday morning and teaching the ‘Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts’ class. I wasn’t always a full-time musician. Previously I was lecturing in IT and Teacher Training in colleges of Further Education, and had a training company with my husband which ended due to the recession. Although a hobby, I felt I should be playing my music outside of the four walls of the church. I’d struggled with this feeling since my mid 20s, but years later I plucked up courage and yielded. My music developed, and I moved it into a business three years ago when I became a full-time musician. I perform various genres of music - blues, soul, pop, reggae and jazz, as well as gospel numbers - in private, public, corporate, church and charity settings. I am a recording artist and songwriter. My annual show, ‘Not Just Jazz’, in the Main House of the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham sells out. I also teach piano and saxophone. I’m really pleased that BBC1 Songs of Praise featured Cafemnee in March 2017. We have a Facebook page - www.facebook.com/ cafemnee/ - and plans are under way for our own website. If you would like to find out more about award-winning saxophonist Millicent, visit www.millicentstephenson.com.
Further reading: www.prsformusicfoundation.com/funding/ women-make-music-2/background-to-womenmake-music/ www.womenpriests.org/traditio/singers.asp www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/ faith-in-women-the-changing-role-of-womenand-girls-in-the-church
18 GOSPEL NEWS
Music Explosion! Gospel Factor 2017
lessed 2 Bless, an award-winning Community Interest Company (CIC) that has been changing the lives of marginalised people across the Midlands since 2015, is gearing up to stage its inaugural Gospel Factor talent show on July 15. The event, which the organisers anticipate will be the first of a major annual staple on the UK’s gospel music calendar, will be happening at the Bethel Convention Centre, Kelvin Way in Birmingham, beginning at 3pm until 9:30pm. A panel of judges, selected from among the UK’s best Christian music talent, has been assigned to choose the winner, who will receive a cash prize on the night. Founder of Blessed 2 Bless, Lebert Dawkins, said: “So many times we expect and tell young people to do better, to stay out of trouble, and to drop certain habits, but often we don’t help them to replace those things with things that are better. The idea is to encourage them to showcase their talents, and we are putting on this event to recognise and celebrate their gifts.” Lebert’s wife, Janet Dawkins, who also co-founded Blessed 2 Bless, added: “We’ve seen in recent years how community youth clubs have closed down. Our youth have so much talent, yet sometimes may feel they have nothing to contribute to society. The talent show will give opportunities for individuals to be creative, gain confidence and be empowered to use their talent. The show is open to anyone in the community, aged 8 to 25 years.” Poets, choirs, dancers, musicians, soloists and singing groups are invited to enter and will need to submit a video audition. Full entry details are available on the company’s website: www.blessed2blesscommproject.com.
Lebert and Janet Dawkins
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Special guest artists confirmed for the show include songwriters Shannon, Estella and Owen Uriah; reggae gospel artist, Chris Da Ambassada, and 2016 Voice contestant, Janine Dyer. The judges include: Jasmyn Allan (praise dancer); Jonathan Rodney (professional drummer); Trevor Minto (singer/songwriter); Jaki R. Thomas (published author) and Janine Dyer. Supporting partners for the event include: BN Ltd, The Chain Breaker, Soul Cure Radio, New Style Radio, Jam Radio, Perry Beeches Baptist Church, Vision 2 Reality, Community Shelter Project, Gospel Mix and Chaplin Tyres. The Dawkins started Blessed 2 Bless in 2008 in response to a vision that Lebert had received from God, where he saw himself back in his hometown in Jamaica preaching the Gospel, and many people were responding. He also saw himself distributing food and clothes to what appeared to be thousands of people. Following the vision, Lebert and Janet began making plans to fulfil the vision. As a result, and inspired by
Matthew 25:35-40 - which talks about feeding and clothing the poor - and their desire to be Christ’s hands extended, Blessed 2 Bless was born. Since then, the organisation has established several hubs across the West Midlands, from which it distributes clothes, quality used furniture, food parcels and prepared breakfasts and lunches. In 2009, Blessed 2 Bless organised the ‘Jesus For Jamaica Mission Trip’, which took 17 volunteers to work among the needy there. Many people received assistance and 113 people gave their lives to Jesus. Recently, Blessed 2 Bless has also started classes in basic maths at its Birmingham, Broad Street location. “Seeing the difference that we have been able to make through all of the initiatives is tremendously rewarding,” Janet said. “And, for the Gospel Factor talent show in July, we are looking forward to an amazing day. There are lots of exciting things planned: stalls, great ministering and appreciation!” Blessed 2 Bless was nominated and received an award in October 2016 for Community Project of the Year at the BEX Live Awards show. For more information, visit www. blessed2blesscommproject.com.
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astor Donnie McClurkin has had a long, storied love affair with London, going back to a brisk autumn evening at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. It was there, before an overflow crowd, that Donnie McClurkin made his landmark recording, ‘Donnie McClurkin - Live in London and More’. That recording spawned the surprise radio hit, ‘We Fall Down’. According to Roy Francis, the venerable gospel music industry veteran and technical director on the night: “The place was filled with ‘massive expectation’.” The resulting album, released in 2000 by Verity Records, ‘Live In London and More’ attained double-platinum status. ‘We Fall Down’ was a mainstay on Christian radio playlists around the world. Roy Francis recounts how Pastor McClurkin’s relationship with Bishop John Francis impacted that night. “We all knew that night ‘We Fall Down’ was an incredible, groundbreaking song. But it was the ‘Caribbean Medley’ that tore the roof off the place, with Donnie backed by the Ruach Ministries band and choir.”
Anthony Brown and Pastor McClurkin
‘Massive expectation’ is still very apparent in the spirit of Pastor Donnie, as he speaks of his relationship with the people of London. “We are all going through our series of domestic and international struggles in America and England. I can’t speak to Brexit, and I can’t speak to terrorism… The only example I can speak to is the need for prayer. If the Christian body in London and England will begin to pray, the same promise that God made to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14 will happen: ‘If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ But first and foremost the Christian body of England has got to rely on prayer and God in this hour.” Pastor Donnie McClurkin is the Senior Pastor of Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, Long Island, New York. Many were introduced to the Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
his music ministry. Pastor Marvin L Winans heavy anointing and calling on his life through immediately recognised this and took McClurkin under his wing. Pastor Donnie served as an assistant to Pastor Marvin L Winans at Perfecting Church, Detroit, Michigan for over a decade, before he was ordained and sent forth by Pastor Winans in 2001 to establish Perfecting Faith Church (PFC) in Freeport, New York. Starting out with approximately two hundred members, PFC has grown to over three thousand members. Pastor Donnie on how the church was built: “In 2001, it was the gospel singing aspect that initially brought people in, but when they saw that I was preaching and not singing, they came and left. That’s when we decided to start again and grow it from the grass roots. The initiatives we implemented was the key to bringing people in: the feeding, the clothing, the outdoor outreaches, going into the prisons, going into the hospitals, walking through the communities, knocking on doors… When we first started, our first service began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. So, at 1:45pm, we went out on the streets of Freeport, knocking on doors and asking people if they needed anything, if there is anything we could pray for, and telling them we’re the church down the street. That’s how we built the church.” Pastor Donnie took this same avenue of outreach in his mission work. “These were the same initiatives we instituted in Jamaica, West Indies. We went into Kingston, Riverton City, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Saint Mary’s, Spanish Town, Runaway Bay. We took that over there, and started doing what we’re supposed to do. Christianity is more than just going to church. If you’re not helping to change people, if you’re not really making a mark on people’s lives and coming off your high perch and getting down into the trenches, then what are you than just another religious organisation? We’ve got too many of those.” In his own words: “We have so many churches, but our communities are still
lacking. Our communities are still languishing because the bottom line is, we’re just doing this for our religious purposes and not for really helping and changing people’s lives. We have to get back to the true essence of what the Church is supposed to be.” Now in his seventeenth year of ministry, Pastor Donnie McClurkin is the Ecclesiastical Elder for the northeast region of the Perfecting Fellowship International. He is most comfortable behind the pulpit, preaching and teaching the Word of God. This gift brings him before the congregations of great men and organisations, such as: Bishop TD Jakes, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Bishop IV Hilliard, Bishop John Francis, Dr Creflo Dollar, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Television, and in pulpits across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Brazil, Caribbean Islands, Canada, Suriname, Ghana, Amsterdam and London. Pastor Donnie continues his international music outreach as well. He was recently the featured artist on Gospel Goes Classical South Africa, with Joe Mettle, Ntokozo Mbambo and Mahalia Buchanan, recorded in Johannesburg. The evening was conducted by Gospel Goes Classical Creative Director, Dr Glen Caldwell, and featured Johannesburg Music Initiative Symphony Orchestra and The Tshwane Gospel Choir. The Music Director was Nquebeko Mbatha. “I understand this is Men’s (Health) Month here in London,” says Pastor Donnie. “I would admonish the men of England, as I would admonish the men around the world, to be the covering for their families. I would admonish them to be priests of their homes; to be the security of their wife and children, and to be brothers to one to another. Men need men! Men need men as support, men need men in accountability, and men need men to help fulfill their God-given roles. How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in the massive expectation of unity.”
Pastor McClurkin at Gospel Goes Classical South Africa
L-R Pastor McClurki n, Kirk Franklin, Th e View host Sherri Shephe rd, Yolanda Adams
Pastor Donnie McClurkin ‘Massive Expectation’ BY MILTON B ALLEN, GLOBAL MUSIC LINK
My son, who is 18, thinks I am a champion. I am thrilled about that, because he is at that age where he is making important life decisions and, as parents, we have to give them good examples to encourage them.
Catching up with The Voice finalist
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There are perhaps scores of music talent hopefuls who dream of the day when they can just get their big break, and get the right person in the music industry to sit up and take notice of them. But that’s not how it was for 2017 The Voice finalist, Michelle John.
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It took 43-year-old Michelle three years to agree to The Voice’s repeated invitations to enter the TV talent competition. “I was singing at a venue about three years ago,” Michelle reports, “when a scout for The Voice approached me and offered the invitation. I declined because I really didn’t feel confident enough to put myself out there in that way. Besides, I was comfortable in my role as a backing singer, so appearing on The Voice was just not something that I wanted to do.” Hearing Michelle admit to lack of confidence may seem surprising, when one considers that she is an accomplished backing vocalist, having successfully done vocals for the likes of Eric Clapton, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Joss Stone, Carole King, Mary J Blige and Mariah Carey. “But, as a backing singer, the pressure of performance is not as much on you as it is on the main artist,” Michelle explained. “But I believe that my lack of confidence had roots in my childhood. I was a Mixed-race girl, from a single parent family, where my siblings were all Black. So I grew up in a family of beautiful dark-skinned people, and that always made me feel like the odd one out. I was also brought up in a Black church, where I was labelled as ‘the White girl who could sing’- that, again, highlighted my oddness. And something about living with those differences always made me feel fragile in adult life.” Despite that gnawing lack of confidence, Michelle’s career as a singer blossomed. She said she never planned any of it, but it all started when Songs of Praise came to her local church to do one of their recordings during a Sunday morning service. A music producer spotted Michelle when the programme was aired on BBC; he contacted the BBC, found Michelle, and the contact led to her doing a dance gospel house track. From there, many other doors began to open up for her. Michelle subsequently met Bazil Meade, who invited her to join the London Community Gospel Choir, of which she was a member for at least 11 years. Her journey took her to performances in many shows; had her working
with many artists, and being a part of many albums. It was during this time that she was asked to do backing singing, and the whole world of backing vocals - for which she is now primarily known - unveiled itself. In 2016, when The Voice approached her for the third time, Michelle finally accepted the invitation. “I was then working on my album,” Michelle said, “and I felt that it would be a good time to enter to get some exposure for my album, but also to make a statement of leading from the front in ONSD (Oh No She Didn’t) - a women’s group where we meet every other month, and where women are encouraged to showcase their gifts and talents. I established ONSD in 2015. It was birthed as a result of my experience in a domestically violent relationship and my resulting passion to empower women to step out and to make their mark, so that they can share their testimonies in order to help others to grow and to come through their struggles victoriously. So taking part in The Voice was a bold statement in that arena of stepping out and presenting what I had to offer. But it also meant coming out of my comfort zone, and transitioning from the role of backing singer to the role right at the front. “I still had a sense of lacking confidence. I would question whether what I did matched up to what others were doing; whether I was good enough to be there. Even though I’d accomplished many things musically - I even performed in Madison Square Garden - I was conscious that I didn’t have the formal training qualifications.
But the end result of getting to the finals in The Voice has given me the endorsements I needed to gain the confidence that I am good enough and that I can do this! “So many people - men and women - have sent me amazing messages about my bravery of going on the show, and how it has inspired them. My son, who is 18, thinks I am a champion. I am thrilled about that, because he is at that age where he is making important life decisions and, as parents, we have to give them good examples to encourage them. “I could not have done any of it without the backing of my family. They have supported me throughout the process, and especially in practical things like seeing to my son’s welfare. It’s almost like a reversal of roles: as the oldest, I used to look after my siblings, but now they are looking after me. They are like my managers and I am very blessed.” Following The Voice, the future looks even brighter for Michelle. “Several opportunities are in the process of opening up,” she said. “My album is completed, and I hope to release it later this year. It’s an inspirational album, and it tells the story of my journey as a single mum and the things I have overcome. I am also preparing to do a tour of live shows across the UK, details of which are on my website: www. michellejohn.co.uk.”
Michelle’s 2013 EP, ‘Little Me’ - an ode to herself as an eight-year-old girl, assuring her that she would be OK is available on iTunes.
Minister Marion Hall Marion Hall, formerly known by the stage name Lady Saw, is a Jamaican singer-songwriter whose career has spanned over two decades. Widely known as the Queen of Dancehall, she is the first female deejay to win a Grammy Award and to be certified as a triple-platinum artist. In 2015, Minister Marion Hall announced to the world that she is leaving the dancehall scene, and turning to Christ. She talks to Keep The Faith magazine about what her life is like now since she made this transformation.
emotionally, physically and mentally. Words cannot describe how I feel; I truly know what love is. I am different; I smile a lot more. Even when I go through disappointments, I still smile. I have a peace that no man can give, and that is the power of Christ in me. I am still growing and striving - going on from the milk to the hard food - but God has taken me to a deeper level in Him. A lot of people ask me to pray for them, and God has been using me greatly in that area of prayer. No words can describe the transformation I have had; it is spiritual, not natural at all. I wish I had been told about Christ sooner by other Christians. I would have come (to Him) sooner. KTF: Do you think fans are used to the transformation? How has the reaction been? MMH: The fans are amazing. The response I have had from them has been wonderful. They tell me that I am more adorable now, and that they love me even more. When they see me, they
sometimes forget to call me Marion Hall and call me Lady Saw instead, but I just smile and say I am Marion Hall. The reaction has been very good, really blessed. KTF: This moves me on nicely to my next question: Do you ever get discouraged still being associated with your dancehall past and Lady Saw? MMH: Not at all! When you’re going down your own route, and you’re not in Christ, you don’t know any better. But I want to forget about Lady Saw, and move onto Marion Hall, the person I truly am. I was never really that person, Lady Saw. I had to provide for my family, get them out of poverty, and that was the only way I knew how. Dancehall music is big in Jamaica, and when you make it, there is great financial security. Now I am happy to be part of God’s Kingdom and winning souls for Christ. I just want to now share Christ to the world, for them to try God, and experience the true happiness I have.
KTF: Tell us briefly: Who is Minister Marion Hall? Minister Marion Hall (MMH): Marion Hall is a powerful woman of God. I am a new creation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am finally now a servant of Christ, ministering to others. I am not who I used to be. I am refreshed, empowered, and full of the Lord.
KTF: What projects are you working on now? MMH: I am working on my new album, which I will call a masterpiece. The lyrics, the music are all inspired by God. My first album, ‘When God Speaks’, is doing so well, but this one is definitely Grammy material, I believe. Other than that, I just wait and see what the Lord has planned next for me. But one thing is for sure, my life has changed for the better, and I just keep moving forward in Christ.
KTF: Tell us how your life has changed, since you came to Christ MMH: My life has changed for the better:
For more information about Minister Marion Hall, visit www.facebook.com/ MinisterMarionHall. Vanessa Grossett
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James Fortune ‘I Forgive Me’ BY MILTON B ALLEN, GLOBAL MUSIC LINK
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The story of James Fortune is one of redemption and faith, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of his journey is his ongoing courage and resolve to seek forgiveness for himself. Two Octobers ago, James Fortune was charged with physically assaulting his wife in their Texas home. This is how James recounted the incident to Essence Magazine: “As I’m sitting in the back of the cop car, I watch officers bring my children out of our home. My wife is at the hospital, where she reported my assault. We had just gotten back from a trip to South Africa. My wife and I had an argument, and I decided to physically remove her from our bedroom. In doing so, I assaulted her. I abused my wife physically. I pleaded guilty. There’s no excuse. Part of my probation was a group class with other men cited for domestic violence… That class changed my life.” The road to recovery for James Fortune has been long and arduous, but his healing is marked by the release of his remarkable single, ‘I Forgive Me’, from his forthcoming release, ‘Dear Future Me’ - a miraculous and endearing testimony of God’s healing power. Says Fortune: “We’ve talked a lot about the importance of forgiving others - and that is something that can’t be overstated - but what I feel has been understated is the power and freedom that comes from being able to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes… sometimes big ones. Holding on to past mistakes, regrets and failures only taints and tarnishes every new thing that God wants to do in your life. I want the people of London to know that, even if you’ve made a mistake, your life is not a mistake. There is a future even after a failure, when you accept the grace and forgiveness of God, and look in the mirror and forgive yourself.” James Fortune and FIYA (Free in Yahweh’s Abundance) have connected with fans, both in the USA and London, with chart-topping songs, ‘I Believe’ and ‘I Trust You’, both heartfelt testimonies to his unrelenting faith and willingness to follow God’s plan, despite his present circumstances. Now that determination is epitomised with the release of ‘I Forgive Me’. Plans are under way for James Fortune & FIYA’s return to London. He often speaks of his special relationship with Bishop John Francis, in which James made an indelible mark on the heart and spirit of the people of London.
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James recounts his relationship with Bishop Francis this way: “It has really helped expand my ministry to an international platform. Because of my visit there, I was able to personally connect with Bishop Francis, and he came to my live recording for the album, ‘Live Through It’ and gave a powerful and life-changing word at that recording that ended up being a part of the double-disc CD.”
It’s time for us to be the “example for the younger
generation on what real male leadership looks like. As men follow the heart of God, and passionately pursue His purpose, it will cause a revival to break out all over the world. Everyone else will follow the lead of God-fearing men of valour.
James Fortune characterises his relationship with the people of London as a viable and substantial part of his career: “It’s been a really great relationship. I really didn’t realise I had so many loyal followers and supporters in the UK, until I ministered there for the first time, and saw
how many people there knew a lot of my songs word for word. I’ve really been blessed to connect with them on social media, as well as with live performances and appearances.” The future looks bright for James Fortune & FIYA with the advent of his third release, ‘Dear Future Me’, through his label imprint, FIYA Music World, distributed worldwide through eOne Entertainment. Surely to be peppered with collaborations by top gospel guest artists, this project is destined to be his most impactful offering yet, perhaps with a special message to men. “God is calling for men to get on the front line and lead our families, churches and communities,” James replied, when asked how he would minister to the men of London, in terms of being vessels for God and the spiritual leaders of their families and communities. “It’s time for us to be the example for the younger generation on what real male leadership looks like. As men follow the heart of God, and passionately pursue His purpose, it will cause a revival to break out all over the world. Everyone else will follow the lead of God-fearing men of valour.” Perhaps this can all be summed up in James Fortune’s own words in a recent talk he gave to 200 young men incarcerated at Harris County Juvenile Detention Center in Houston, Texas, USA: “I had to forgive myself. When I forgave myself, it didn’t matter what people had to say. We don’t have to be bitter. We can be better… we can be blessed.” www.keepthefaith.co.uk
Brotherly love GARY CLAYTON
is Copywriter and Editor at MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) UK. Visit www.maf-uk.org.
A little while ago, our pastor was looking at 1 Thessalonians 5, which concludes with the exhortation: ‘Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss’ (verses 25-26, NIV). Being in a slightly whimsical frame of mind, I found myself wondering why this particular command appeared to be neglected by our little Baptist church. Actually, as someone who was once kissed by a large number of bearded Christians at the end of an exhausting Russian Orthodox Easter Vigil to which I’d been invited, I’ve a pretty good idea! And yet, as 2 Timothy 3:16 helpfully reminds us, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’ So where does this leave 1 Thessalonians 5:26 - ‘Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss’; Romans 16:16 - ‘Greet one another with a holy kiss’; 1 Corinthians 16:20 - ‘All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss’; 2 Corinthians 13:12 - ‘Greet one another with a holy kiss’, and 1 Peter 5:14 - ‘Greet one another with the kiss of love’? What – if anything – do we do about these five Scripture verses? Do they, if correctly applied, give some indication as to how we should relate to our Christian brothers and sisters? And do they have anything to say to Christian men about how to show ‘brotherly love’? (The ESV translates 1 Thessalonians 5:26 as ‘Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.’) Now, my wife is one of four siblings. And not all the brothers and sisters get on with all of their siblings all of the time. But there is love, warmth, affection and commitment. They’re the children of the same earthly father, so it’s natural there should be some resemblance, some closeness, some brotherly and sisterly feeling between them. Now I’m not necessarily suggesting we all go round hugging or kissing one another! Indeed, the first charismatic church I attended was particularly tactile and, at the beginning and end of each meeting, most people tended to hug one another affectionately. (Not being particularly tactile myself, I used to arrive late to avoid the ‘meet Find us on Twitter: @KeepTheFaithmag
and greet’, then rushed for the toilet as soon as the service ended, to avoid a concluding hug.) Yet, in Africa and Asia, you see Christian men or Christian women holding hands quite innocently as they walk and talk together. And, in Hungary, which I visited in the early 1990s, I saw men kiss one another on the cheek with a continental, old-world courtesy. So some of this, of course, comes down to culture. But what should brotherly love look like, bearing in mind that we worship and live in the cold-blooded UK? How should we – quite aside from church culture – relate as brothers and sisters in Christ? Ephesians 4:32 tells us to ‘Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.’ We’re to show ‘unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart’ (1 Peter 3:8), and to ‘Love one another earnestly from a pure heart’ (1 Peter 1:22). Like natural brothers and sisters, there can be a joyful, appreciative affection and a mutual enjoyment of one another’s company. As Christians, there should also be a sympathetic feeling for our fellow believers, along with the friendly companionship that comes from being fellow labourers in God’s vineyard. I find it interesting that, although Jesus’ words in John 14:15 (‘If you love Me, you will
But what should brotherly love look like, bearing in mind that we worship and live in the cold-blooded UK? keep My commandments’) indicate actions rather than feelings, the verses in Ephesians 4:32 and 1 Peter 1:22 and 3:8 have an affectionate and emotional resonance. This attitude – a little alien to some people’s experience in UK churches – can also be seen in the way God’s people refer to fellow believers in the Bible. Timothy, in 1 Corinthians 4:17, is referred to as ‘my beloved and faithful child in the Lord’.
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Tychicus, in Colossians 4:7, is described as ‘a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord’. Onesimus, in Colossians 4:9, is ‘our faithful and beloved brother’. Luke (Colossians 4:14) is called ‘the beloved physician’, and Titus (Titus 1:4) is named as ‘my true child in a common faith’. Referring to the Philippian believers, Paul describes them as ‘brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown… my beloved’ (Philippians 4:1) and, not to be left out, the Thessalonian believers are described by Paul as ‘our glory and joy’ (1 Thessalonians 2:20), people who ‘had become very dear to us’ (1 Thessalonians 2:8). God Himself said of Jesus: ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’, so it’s clearly in God’s nature to acknowledge and affirm. This, I believe, makes it extremely important that we also affirm others. So, if not a kiss, then a hug. If not a hug, then a firm handshake, a cheery smile, a warm welcome, a friendly greeting; a kind, appreciative, encouraging, loving, up-building or uplifting word. A good deed
done. Help, comfort or prayer offered. There may be some people we particularly warm to – people who have a similar outlook, sense of humour, job, spiritual approach, background or hobbies. (This, for me, also includes some good Christian friends who recently helped me redecorate my 12-year-old’s bedroom!) But there may be others we don’t get on with so easily – after all, not all brothers and sisters get on well – but we can still cherish, care for, look after, build up, encourage, think the best of, and seek to do good to these fellow Christians. Christians who, whether we like it or not, are also our brothers and sisters in the Lord. So I’m not suggesting the five Scriptures I referred to earlier mean we love-bomb one another with hugs or kisses (particularly if they’re directed at a first-time visitor!), but I think the principle of finding warm, affirming, encouraging ways to relate to one another is important in showing the kind of love Scripture asks of us. Why? Because it makes believers fruitful. 2 Peter 1:5-8 tells us: ‘For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness,
mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And because it’s a command. John 15:10: ‘If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.’ As 1 John 3:16 reminds us: ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’ Holy kisses are optional – except for those to whom we are married; loving words and expressions of Christ-inspired brotherly and sisterly love are not!
Gary Clayton is married to Julie, and father of Christopher (12) and Emma (9). He worships at Hayes Lane Baptist Church and served for 15 years as Managing Editor at the Hudson Taylor mission OMF. To learn more about how MAF aircraft help some of the world’s most remote and isolated people, visit www.maf-uk.org.
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CELEBRATING THE TRUE VALUE OF MEN ESTHER KUKU
is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist
choose to believe that there are lots of good men out there - the kind that still believe in romance; opening doors for women; waiting to seat their wives (or the woman they are with) at a restaurant before they sit down… I remain convinced there isn’t a deficit of good fathers, who lead their homes with grace rather than with a rod of iron. I know there are young men, who embody what it means to be positive and brilliant, men who want to make a difference in the world. These men defy the stereotypical image often portrayed of Black men in the Media. This Father’s Day, we choose to celebrate you all. Today, we remind you of Joshua 1:9 - “ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The perception of being a ‘man’ (as opposed to simply being ‘male’) brings its own challenges: having the sense that everything is on you; constantly being confronted with messages that would suggest you are less than you are. Black men, in particular, are often portrayed as absent fathers; unwilling to commit; loud, opinionated and emotionally charged; perpetually associated with intractable issues… especially when it comes to family life.
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I am surrounded by examples of good Black men. It’s sad that the Media still bombard us with negative stereotypes of them. I know many men who have fully embraced their roles as fathers and providers. They are committed to developing their relationships with their wives and children. They are quiet Kings. The mistake often made by many is to focus on the outward appearance of a man to determine who he is. However, only God’s standard should be used to discover a man’s true identity. We need to pray for our men and women to understand this. Why? Because focusing on the externals is the reason why some single women miss out on God’s best for their lives, and why some married women disrespect their husbands and are never satisfied. What should matter most is that he always aims to meet the expectation of his Creator, as outlined in God’s Word. He may not achieve this every day, but the daily pursuit of holiness is where his true value is found. In Scripture, a man’s value is not about material possessions, physical appearance or wealth. We have reduced the biblical role of a man as provider to exclusively relate to financial provision. I study the way my children look at their father; their deepest need isn’t money, it’s love, guidance and a role model of what it means to be a godly man. My children don’t just want their father to be physically present; they want and need him to be spiritually present, too. God’s Word speaks first and foremost about the importance of a man’s character and integrity before anything else. Wouldn’t it take so much
pressure off our men if we all just understood that their role as ‘provider’ goes much deeper than bringing home the bacon! Deuteronomy 6:7 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This defines true success as a father.
‘The mistake often made by many is to focus on the outward appearance of a man to determine who he is’ We salute the men who are priests of their homes, and the ones who are priests-in-the-making. Without the prayers of mighty men of valour, where would we be? Your prayers are the reality that, actually, everything is not on you - it’s on the Father of all fathers. So relax, you’re doing a great job and the buck doesn’t stop with you after all. This Father’s Day, let’s remember that God is looking at the condition of a man’s heart. He desires the heart of every male - from a teenager upwards - that follows after Him, and so should we. That is our template for achievement, nothing else. In remembering this, we will dispel damaging stereotypes and stir up confidence in our men that will enable them to reach their full potential.
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CRYING SONS Crying Sons is an organisation established to answer the cry of boys and men caught up in the vicious cycle of gangs and serious violence. It works with victims, perpetrators and practitioners seeking and practically working on solutions. Its two main directors, Gwenton Sloley and Bobby Martin, have both led chequered lives in the past - of which neither are proud - yet it is this life that has given validity and realness to all their encounters.
ecently, Crying Sons was commissioned by the Home Office’s EGVE (Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation) Unit to deliver gangs, serious youth violence and exploitation training to the BAME faith community in Haringey. This was the first time the UK Home Office had ever commissioned such training for the core group. The Home Office’s peer reviews (including Bobby Martin as an Independent Peer reviewer) highlighted issues prevalent around the UK, which led to Crying Sons being commissioned. Although faith played an active role in many of the lives of the young affected people, it was recognised that they (the Church and, to a lesser extent, the mosque) played a very limited role in addressing the issue and, as a group, they were found to be absent from the table in terms of influence. This was especially evident when looking at local authority structures. Bobby Martin, a born-again Christian, was the lead on this particular project, which was a seven-week training course. The course, however, included a variety of beliefs, such as SeventhDay Adventist, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational and Muslim. This was based on the fact that, when our young Black youths are being killed and incarcerated, death and imprisonment are not biased. It was also taken from the stance of the Civil Rights Movement, where you had Martin
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Luther King Jr and Malcolm X working together for a common goal/interest. The training looked at a variety of issues, including: ‘County Lines’, Child Sexual Exploitation, Substance Misuse, Prison Life, Girls and Gangs, Gang Awareness, and Effective Communication. The course concluded with a graduation ceremony at the end, attended by the local mayor, a senior council representative and the Borough Commander. A total of 20 individuals graduated, but the results of the training didn’t end there; the group has progressed to form its own community group to actively address the current issues of gangs and serious youth violence within Haringey. This group is coordinated by an Imam, a Pentecostal Pastor and a community social worker/practitioner. Crying Sons was adamant that this training would not be ‘training as usual’. The use of a pool of highly skilled practitioners and other partners were brought in to help facilitate. Bobby Martin, Director of Operations, said: “I want to be able to train individuals and groups to address the issues and not just talk about them. As a Christian, I believe that faith without works is dead. Therefore, to me, although prayer is good, there needs to be some practical input. The problem with this, though, can be many people have the zeal to change, but zeal without knowledge can be a very dangerous thing at
Bobby Martin with Haringey Borough Commander Helen Millichap
times. So, it’s important that the people of God are ‘capacity-built’ to address these issues.” He added: “Many young Black males have spoken of their disillusionment with the Church, they say it seems like we don’t care. Scripture talks about ‘Where our treasure is, there our heart is also.’ To me, this says I will invest in what I think is important. So I believe it’s my role to help people - and especially some of our leaders - to see the need and importance of this core group, and to help them reassess how important these young people are to them. In so doing, I believe that a shift both in mindset and resources will happen for the better of society. I do believe that all things are possible with God. I was once the chair of RESPECT, the BME prison staff support network. This meant I was responsible for addressing institutional racism in all the London prisons and, before that, all those in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex areas. I was the only non-prison service staff in the country to hold such a role and, even more so, the only ex-prisoner to ever hold such a position. All this from a guy who finished school at 15, having been expelled from all four of my schools (and the rest that goes with it). God is good!” For more information about Crying Sons, visit www.cryingsons.com.
L-R two graduates, Gwenton Sloley and Pastor Geoffrey Folkes (COGIC Tottenham)
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Passing the Baton REV STEPHEN BROOKS New Jerusalem Church, Birmingham
ur God-given passion is given to us to change something that needs improving, repairing or replacing. My passion is to help the Church be a healthy place for the next generation to not only survive but thrive. We should aim to be in a church better and healthier than it was a decade or more ago. If we are not able to pass the baton of a better church to the next generation, we have sadly failed them. This is not easy, as many congregations will testify; it involves sacrifice, humility; it involves not only an understanding of the here and now but a future-focus. Young people in many of our churches are not only facing hostility from an increasingly secular society, but also from the Church – yes, the Church. It is a biblical principle in both the Old and New Testaments that every generation has a sacred responsibility to train and teach the next generation. But exactly what are we required to pass on to those who are coming after us? Titus 2:1-8 gives us a clear answer to the question. There are three categories in this passage: doctrine, character and behaviour. We are to pass on to the next generation what to think, what to be, and how to act. We can learn a lot about reaching the next generation from Jesus. Jesus used His power to serve others, and His knowledge to reach those who were helpless. For us to have power and knowledge and not to use them to help and encourage those without is simply ungodly. When the Church asks the young people to give up all their desires and ways to connect with God, we are been unrealistic and aren’t modelling the ways of Jesus. You cannot expect those less mature, less strong, and less knowledgeable to reach up. We need to engage the next generation on their level through love. Maybe young people, our next generation, are leaving the Church because they are exhausted from reaching up and conforming to our self–centred way of doing things. Today, if you aren’t using social media and a smartphone, you are behind the times and lose any ‘street cred’ with young people. Whilst on earth people marvelled at the greatness of Jesus’ communication, one thing He did was to speak in parables - short stories with heavenly meanings. He didn’t use large ‘churchy’, academic words when speaking to crowds. He could have, but He chose not to. Why? He wanted
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to effectively communicate. Like Jesus, the Church should want to effectively communicate. Young people don’t call someone, instead they will text or use social media because they are the most effective forms of communication today. We have a choice: we can disconnect by using snail mail and dial-up telephones, or we can embrace a new, more effective form of communication. We know young people will struggle and fail; after all, we all have at times in our life. We need to encourage them and let them know we love them and are here for them. When they are affirmed and loved, they will run to the Cross and not away from it. Jesus not only came down to those with less power, He invested in them. Jesus knew His time on earth was short, and His vision was larger than His time on earth. Jesus came to prepare people for after His departure. The problem with many churches is they aren’t preparing the next generation. They aren’t concerned with the Church after their departure. The apostle Paul may have underestimated the impact that a young John Mark would have on the Kingdom. John Mark was present when Peter was miraculously released from prison through the prayers of the believers (Acts 12:12–17). When John Mark left Paul and Barnabas, Paul underestimated
John Mark’s future ministry (Acts 13:13). When Paul and Barnabas had the falling out over John Mark, Paul underestimated the human capital that John Mark brought to the table (Acts 15:36–41). Mark’s Gospel, however, reveals a far different John Mark. Mark’s authorship is placed sometime in the middle 50s to middle 60s. Mark’s Gospel shows a more mature leader. Paul would have never believed that this young man’s writings would be so valued by the Church or that they would become part of the canon of the Bible.
‘Young people don’t call someone, instead they will text or use social media because they are the most effective forms of communication today.’ Christian leaders are given the responsibility to not only lead well, but to invest in the next generation, so that they can carry on the Gospel task. John Maxwell sums it up well: “The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind, by making sure they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward.” As Christians, we must intentionally invest in young people, affirm their faith, acknowledge their gifting, speak the truth in love, and be a living example.
What is wrong with Prosperity Theology? REV WALE HUDSON-ROBERTS
is the Racial Justice Co-ordinator for the Baptist Union of Great Britain
verything. One of the reasons why prosperity theology is a distortion of the Scriptures is because it makes God look like a benevolent and flash Father, who lavishes on His children when His children say the right thing, do the right thing at the right time. This means the generosity of God according to those who propel this theology is primarily determined by the worshipper’s ability to give. The greater the financial gift, the greater the blessing. But where does this leave those who don’t have the required resources to give to God? The answer is pretty clear: their financial blessings can be curtailed. Such an outcome not only portrays God as formulaic and discriminatory, but also controlled and manipulated by the prayers and bank balances of His children. Even though I find this theology distasteful, appreciating some of the reasons why millions and millions of people have brought into it, finding it compelling and empowering, is important. I am not one who believes that all African and Caribbean dysfunctionality should be attributed to our enslavement, though recently I have been reflecting on the possible correlation between the two as factors, alongside others, that might have contributed to the rise of prosperity theology. Allow me to explain. Just when Black people thought enslavement was coming to an end, it was replaced by apprenticeship. Just when Black people thought apprenticeship was drawing to an end and Black humanity on the cusp of being endowed with a semblance of dignity, apprenticeship was replaced with lynching – legalised by the Jim Crow laws, while running in parallel with the absence of Black voting rights in parts of America. With the movement of time, these violent systems of control have been diluted by other systems and processes and, though biased towards particular types of people, they express their discriminatory practices with much more sophistication and subtlety. The term used to define this less explicit and less ubiquitous expression of systematic and structural violence is Neo-colonialism – the practice of using capitalism, globalisation and cultural imperialism to influence in lieu of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony). Among the many things that these
systems do is to create cultures of dependency. And so when a preacher declares: “This is your moment. To receive a blessing from God, all you need to do is to give a couple of hundred pounds now and God, who loves a generous giver, will not only give you back your money but He will add to it two, three or even fourfold”, it is not surprising that the giver, controlled by both macro (like those mentioned already) and micro forces, feels that independence, autonomy, alongside the ability to control one’s own destiny - instead of having it controlled by global and more local forces - is strongly compelled to give substantive amounts of their earnings in exchange for choice. I am sure the absence of choice forces many to give disproportionately, in the vain hope that their God will see fit to give them access to choice, which could so easily be followed by leverage and privilege - the opposite of their lived experience. Despite my concerns about prosperity theology, I do get why it has a following. OK, not all those who buy into this dogma are poor. But the disproportionate numbers of struggling people looking for a hand-up - and hoping that their God will hear their concerns and lift them from their bondage - is worrying. Here is the irony. I have come across too many Christians who are worse off because of their commitment to this theology. In the hope that they will one day win the jackpot, they pile much of their earnings into the offering, in the vain hope that they will be financially honoured by God. This is what you call misplaced hope.
‘Despite my concerns about prosperity theology, I do get why it has a following’ During a recent discussion about prosperity theology, I came home feeling dissatisfied, concerned the criticism of the theology was not equal to its analysis which, in my opinion, was lacking. To bemoan the theology is understandable, but should be done through the prism of context - a social, economic and political one. As I said to those who I was discussing this with, if I were living in a different country where the only choice I had was to sleep and rise from my slumber, with no choices in between, and a preacher offered greater choices and options for an increase in my weekly offerings, I am sure I would do anything to provide my family with the power of choice. Christians should cease from the blame game and work assiduously to address the global and local push-and-pull factors that make this theology so attractive, so compelling, that seduction becomes an inevitability for many. Only then will we see the diminishing of this idea and praxis.
YOUR VOTE COUNTS! DIONNE GRAVESANDE
is Head of Church Advocacy at Christian Aid
ypically, when people think of ‘religion and politics’, they think of social issues such as abortion, contraceptives and gay marriage. While that’s not a bad place to start, it does in fact start at the communal level rather than focusing on individuals and, as much as secular governments strive for a clean break between religion and politics, many (like me) argue that the two do actually mix, and they mix in complex ways. On the political end, religion can strongly influence which party a person votes and campaigns for and, on the religious end, political views can play a major role in religious conversion. In other words, people change religions or denominations in order to find a fit for their political beliefs. Since mid-April, we have been in national election mode, and so proper time and reflection should be given to how best to engage with the various party manifestos. I have long advocated a belief in the thinking that the national budget is a moral document, because the figures will prioritise where your money is spent and who will (or won’t) be protected by the services you invest in. By that reckoning, I suggest you look at political manifestos with a similar lens. Make no mistake, the manifesto choices made are also moral choices, and voting on them is a matter of moral priorities. Whether that refers to the immigration and refugee row; protecting the ‘Just About Managing’ group (aka the JAMS), or the BREXIT pathway… all of
this issues deserve proper Christian debate. We only tend to hear things we want, and therefore champion whoever and whatever promotes our advantage point. In this sense, we are not always open to other points of view - particularly if claiming a one-truth approach. But if we want to, like Jesus, promote public debate that is truly dialogical, we all have to give up something in order to gain more. Only last week I reflected on these words by Rev Dr Rowan Williams: “Britain’s political and social landscape is in flux, and we face great choices about the soul and future of our nation. We can choose to turn inwards and struggle more and more urgently to protect ourselves; or we can look outwards, recognising that our good is bound up with that of others.” I understand the apathy of Christians, whose advice is to stay out of politics, because in their view nothing really changes. But my response is non-involvement should not be an option on the table for Christians, because our beliefs shape our worldview and how we think we should live in community together. The history of the relationship between Church and politics tells us that there have been many attempts to reconcile faith into public policy, and I agree we might not yet have achieved the best model but the two need to relate in some way. If Christians have a strong doctrine of creation that tells us God is interested in the whole economy of life - not just the Church - then individual Christians have a calling in some sense to interact with those who have the responsibility for shaping the life we live together as God’s image-bearers within God’s world. Jesus said: “I was hungry and you gave me food.” Cutting support for social care to pay for more tanks is a moral choice. Cutting essential humanitarian foreign aid to a famine and war-torn world to build more weapons is also a moral choice. We need strong political leadership to make the right choices to enable all citizens to flourish! Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me.” Demonising our immigrants and refugees and using them as political footballs is a moral choice. We need to tell political leaders to change the narrative! Jesus said, “I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink.” Cutting environmental protections, which leads to massive flood and droughts here and all over the world, is a moral choice. Not only do we need to examine our lifestyle choices, but we also need the government to keep its commitment to develop clean renewable energy!
Jesus said, “I was in prison, and you visited Me.” Mass incarceration, based on race that disenfranchises men and women of colour, is a moral choice. “Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for Black life. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits” (Dr Martin Luther King Jr). We need government to dismantle racist policies and structures! And Jesus said, “I was naked, and you clothed Me.” Cutting services for the vulnerable, while making tax cuts for the rich, literally strips the most vulnerable of what little they have and is fundamentally a moral choice. We need a fair tax system! Clearly the Bible has a lot to say about politics and government. It shows that not only is it legitimate and biblical for Christians to get involved, but also that there is a cost associated with not doing so. As I said before, opting out is simply not an option! I support the argument to see political involvement as a mission field and, in doing so, it should sit alongside preaching the Gospel, serving our communities, and helping the poor and needy. According to Christians in Politics, when this aspect of mission is taken seriously, Christians respond by: • developing and teaching sound, biblical theology for political involvement • identifying and pursuing work in this sphere as a genuine calling and ministry • releasing resources like time, money and people • encouraging and equipping individuals and groups to get involved, and supporting them do so • praying regularly for politics and government
? ? QUESTION:
Does your church have any of the above in place? As Christians, we do not live in a bubble; Church and society are intertwined, and you are the salt and light in your community. With the General Election just around the corner – make sure you vote, and make your Christian voice count!
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EARLY CHURCH LESSONS FOR 21ST CENTURY CHRISTIANS I’m currently reading the Book of Acts, which provides great insight into the birth and early development of the Church. Since its miraculous beginnings on the day of Pentecost, in the holy city of Jerusalem, the Church has grown into a worldwide organisation that transforms lives, impacts culture, and provides support to society’s vulnerable, needy and disadvantaged. The message shared by the Church is a simple one: Jesus died for the sins of humankind, and people need to repent, be baptised and become disciples. If you get a chance to read through Acts, it will become apparent that the members of the early Church believed unswervingly in the message they preached, lived it wholeheartedly, and were prepared to die for their faith. There are pockets of the 21st century Church that look like the church depicted in Acts, but if we are honest, living in a capitalist, materialistic, media-driven society can obscure the beauty and authenticity of the Gospel – as does the individualism that pervades much of the western world, and which has caused many Christians to think about the Church in terms of ‘I’ as opposed to ‘we’. Whilst we can’t go back in time to the birth of the early Church, there is much that the 21st century Church can learn from it.
We live in an age of atheism, scepticism, cynicism and agnosticism yet, as believers, it’s important that we fight our way through the philosophical fog that exists, and clear it, so that we are able to convey the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel message. If we want to see more people become Christians, we have to be people of faith who pray and believe our prayers will be answered - just like the early Church, who believed in the power of prayer. They also demonstrated love practically, by sharing their possessions, opening their homes, and eating meals together. We must attempt to do the same. If we want our churches to be the dynamic catalysts for transformation and renewal that God wants them to be, then let’s follow the template laid down by the first generation of believers, taking special note of the words the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - comes not from the Father but from the world.” Love for the world means enmity against God; it is the enemy of spreading the Gospel. The reasons the early Church was so successful is because the believers eschewed the world to embrace the Kingdom of God. 21st century Christians must do likewise if we want to see the re-enactment of the book of Acts.
Confound the critics and pursue your calling During the course of my Christian journey, I have encountered too many people who have allowed critics to stop them from fulfilling their God-given purpose. Criticism isn’t pleasant and, even if true and constructive, it is more often negative and prompted by the devil. No one should allow criticism to cause them to stop pursuing their goals, particularly any God-given goals.
There are huge swathes of people living in regret because they gave up a pastorate, or stepped down from leading a ministry, or stopped playing a prominent role in the church due to negative criticism. have come to their senses and They realised they should have continued in their calling – despite the critics. So, if you are facing criticism, never quit. Don’t allow the critics to succeed If you are a leader, or have any level of influence within your church, I would implore in derailing you. If you are walking in your you to organise youth activities that not only spiritually empower our youth, but also purpose, stay at your post until God tells help them deal with the challenges of being Black and young in British society. you it’s time to go. Don’t allow yourself At the time of writing, over 10 people - the majority to become distracted or diverted. teenagers - have been stabbed to death in London. This If criticism is discouraging you, there spate of killings serves as a reminder of the challenges our are steps you can take to overcome it. young people face. Pray to God for strength. Encourage your It’s important we do all we can to make our communities spirit through reading His Word. Get some safe for our young people – whatever is necessary. cheerleaders on your side, and keep on It could include running a youth club; organising life skills keeping on. classes; hosting a youth outreach; providing mediation God wants you to fulfil your between warring gangs, or counselling for troubled youth. assignment, so when you feel like There’s so much we can do for our young people to giving up and giving in to your critics, make a positive impact in their lives and to make their world remember the Author and Finisher of safer, but in order to do so, we must be intentional about it. your faith, who wants you to complete your task, and to finish strong.
Let’s do something!
LEARNING TO BE CHRISTLIKE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS GRACE GLADYS FAMORIYO www.gladysf.com
s Christians, slogans such as ‘What would Jesus do?’ encourage us to be Christlike. I don’t know about you, but I have moments I wish I could press the pause button and candidly ‘deal with’ (putting it politely) the person who is taking liberties or, as we used to say in school, “taking the berties”. Grappling With Life’s Moments I am all for extending grace and compassion to others; we’re all human and will rub each other up the wrong way. I know I need the same love, grace and compassion doled out to me too, because I am still a work in progress. In my journey, I have come across folk who just seem hellbent on testing our limits, time after time. A married friend of mine told me how they were sick and tired of always being the one to extend the olive branch after a marital row. I know of an exasperated mother living in fear of the constant violence, bullying and threats of her teenage son towards her and the rest of the family. I recall the countless times I have experienced the inconsiderate and hurtful actions of others. Honestly, in the heat of the moment, considering what Jesus would do is far from my mind. Yet, in spite of how others may make us feel, we are compelled to be like Christ. No excuses! Becoming Christlike So, what is an ‘I’m-trying-to-be-Christlike’ Christian supposed to do? Now, just before you dole out 101 Scriptures to me, I don’t believe our issues arise for lack Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
of knowing the Word (albeit the case for some). Our issue, this side of eternity, is practising the teachings of Christ, for example by laying aside our grievances, sense of injustice and feelings, whilst daily taking up our cross even when faced with constant, unrepentant folk. This, dear Reader, is where our challenge lies. Whilst it may feel difficult to press on, it is possible, as I outline in my book, Quit Hiding, Start Living! (Ask me why I wrote the book!) Whilst ‘Just bind the devil’ may be a good starting point, we still have a few more steps to take. What does God say? Matthew 18:15-35 has a shedload of wisdom on dealing with relationships. The bottom line is we must learn to forgive others, but this doesn’t mean that turning the other cheek is allowing others to abuse us. In fact, I encourage people to deal with their heart matters AND put boundaries in place. Alongside this, wear your whole armour daily (trust me, you WILL need it) and ask the Holy Spirit to give you specific guidance on the specific situation you are facing. (PS: He does speak to us!) This is how we become more Christlike – it’s a process.
person hurt me. Opening up and sharing with Father works a treat. It really is good to talk. 3. I ask for forgiveness, by repenting of my role in the situation, consciously or not. Also, I repent for my sinful response to the person’s actions towards me. (I might have judged them or secretly hoped they face God’s wrath and got taught a lesson.) 4. I ask for grace. I ask for a dollop of what Jesus had when, despite being on the Cross to save humanity, onlookers were still ‘taking the berties’ by taunting Him. Here, we see Jesus Christ turn the other cheek and even ask God to forgive them. Now that’s where we need to be. 5. I ask for guidance on how to handle the situation and move on. Father always knows the best solution, so I do a ‘Proverbs 3:5-6’ and wait for direction. Once I get it, I obey - regardless of how hard it may be.
Handling ‘Liberty Takers’ We don’t have ‘forgiveness’ buttons, chips to install or apps to download into our brains, so we have to open up our hearts and allow Father access. For some, this can be the hardest part, but here are some practical steps I have learnt along the way that have helped me a great deal:
In closing My intention hasn’t been to minimise the real hurt people struggle with daily, but the bottom line is we have to forgive others and guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). We can’t afford to let someone trip us up, get entangled with offense and miss Heaven (2 Corinthinas 9:26-27). No one is worth that! So I’m protecting my heart and I suggest you do the same. For now, I have a situation to face, and I will be implementing the above five steps, knowing full well that I can do all things and that the Holy Spirit will help me turn my cheek, forgive others and release them from my heart.
1. I bring my hurt, pain, unforgiveness, etc to God. I do NOT hide anything. I let Father know how the situation is affecting me. 2. I state my case, by telling God how the
Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo, author of: Quit Hiding, Start Living!; Overcoming Emotional Baggage; Healing A Discouraged Heart, and Bounce Back! For more info, visit www.gladysf.com.
Who do you turn to if you need to talk? Who do you ask if you need help? For children at Outlook the answer is simple
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BLACK HAIR AND BEAUTY INNOVATION AWARDS 2017
ominations are now open for the 2017 Bexceptional Hair and Beauty Innovation Awards Gala, scheduled to take Wolverhampton by storm on Saturday 22nd July, from 7pm to 2am at the Holiday Inn, Wolverhampton Race Course, Dunstall Park. Organised by Bex Live Events, the Awards Gala will celebrate people of colour who are making exceptional contributions within the Black hair and beauty industry. Individuals are being invited to nominate their favourite hairdressing and beauty salons and studios for a chance for them to win a range of prestigious awards. Founder of Bex Live Events, Bill Brown, said: “This is our third year of running this event and, based on previous years’ feedback, we knew it was crucial to stage this level of recognition again.” Bex Live associate, Jacqueline Carby, added: “Black hair and beauty is a 60-billion-pound industry in the UK, and we felt that it deserves its own platform to recognise Black entrepreneurs who are making their mark within it. That is why we have separated it from our general Enterprise and Community Awards event that is taking place in September. “If this Awards Gala can help to strengthen those Black-owned hair and beauty businesses out there, then it would have been well worth our efforts, because too often we see other nationalities scooping up huge profits from an industry which we should have taken ownership of.” Nominations for awards can be submitted by visiting www.bexlive.co.uk. Categories include: Beauty Salon of Colour, Hair Salon of Colour, Barber of Colour, Junior Stylist of Colour, Natural Hair Stylist of Colour, and many more.
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“I believe that, at the heart of it however, there is a need to restore community spirit and cohesiveness. My parents, and those of their generation, understood this when they arrived in numbers in Britain in the 50s and 60s. In some ways, it is something that we have lost today. “My father started Mount Shiloh Church in Wolverhampton in 1950 out of the need to establish a much-needed sense of community in an unfamiliar land. There has been somewhat of a decline since his death last July, but we recently opened the Front Room Café on the premises, as a way of coaxing community participation and interaction with the space.
Founder of Bex Live Events, Bill Brown Jacqueline Hattrell, owner of Klassic Koncept - the winner of last year’s Best Salon Award said: “Winning the award has increased our profile and made people more aware of us. It has made me more aware of the importance of maintaining a high standard in the salon to ensure that clients are comfortable when they come to us. It’s all about customer care. One thing I emphasise to my staff is that they should always treat people the way they would want to be treated if it were them sitting in the chair.” Bill said: “I started Bex Live in 2012, because I saw the need to become one of the vehicles in the UK to contribute to redressing economic inequalities, where people of colour are concerned. It is well documented that we are overrepresented at the bottom of the economic pile.
The café replicates the spirit of the West Indian front room, which was a fixture in most immigrants’ homes in the early years. We hope that Caribbean people, especially the young ones, will reconnect with what that represents, and that non-Caribbean visitors will experience something of its vibrancy. Bex Live is now also being operated from there, as a way of recognising people of colour within that community. And it is anticipated that these initiatives will also go some way to rejuvenating Mount Shiloh itself. “In past years, some of the proceeds from our events have been donated to various charities, including Water Aid and OSCAR (Organisation for Sickle Cell Anaemia Research). This year, we have decided to support Mount Shiloh as the designated recipient charity. “I would like to thank the entire Bex Live team of associates for all their support over the years, as I could not have achieved any of our milestones on my own. And I look forward to seeing our community flourish as we plan for the rest of this year’s events - the main two of which are our Enterprise and Community Awards on 30th September and our Enterprise and Lifestyle Family Expo on 10th December.” Call the Bex Live team on 07906 994 192 for further information on all events, and for ticket information for the Bexceptional Hair and Beauty Innovation Awards Gala. Joy Roxborough
“I am... ” Two of the most powerful words in the world L
ocated in Stratford, east London, the I Am School of Excellence is an extracurricular fortnightly Saturday school delivering Black History classes, African and Caribbean-inspired dance and food lessons, and African Caribbean culture and traditions. The school caters for all children aged between 7 and 12 years. The CEO/Manager, Julia Kibela, founded the school because the unnecessary and negative learned beliefs regarding African and Caribbean culture and traditions were all too prevalent within the Black communities. Julia became very aware, through hearing conversations and receiving complaints from fellow parents, that there was a distinct lack of seeing Black culture and traditions being taught in a more uplifting way. Although many dedicated parents were providing this information to their children in the home, Julia felt that perhaps some working parents weren’t able to share this information as regularly or as systematically as they’d prefer, hence the reason why the I AM SCHOOL OF
yesterday. He is feeling very empowered by the I AM statement, and was singing in the shower last night saying ‘I am amazing!’ He has also given me the recipe to make the patties. We will try and make them today. Thanks again!” Due to the positive response from parents, Julia plans to continue the workshops fortnightly on Saturdays from 10am til 2pm, and hopes to expand on the curriculum the school offers. For more information or to offer support to the I AM SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE, visit www.iamschoolofexcellence.com, or you can contact Julia Kibela at email@example.com.
EXCELLENCE™ was born. The main objective of the school is to renew the mindset children have about themselves and their community. Are they dictated by the opinions others have of them? Have they recognised their innate power to be whatever they choose? Julia has been running workshops since January 2017, and so far it has been a HUGE success. They have already reached full capacity, and the school waiting lists for forthcoming terms continue to grow. One delighted parent said: “Thank you! My son thoroughly enjoyed his first session
Instagram: @iamschoolofexcellence Facebook: www.facebook.com/ iamschoolofexcellence/ YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/ UCoYaUM3NLxMubljsS6oBH6A (Subscribe!) Twitter: @iamschoolofexc1 Snapchat: iamschoolofexcl
Are we honouring God with our eating habits?
BSc (Hons) MSc RNutr is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist
y mobile phone has been playing up for months now, so I decided I would contact my network provider to complain. After being transferred to numerous departments, I was eventually informed that the solution was clearly outlined in my phone manual! Needless to say, I was embarrassed - especially after finding out I had missed out on many free benefits, too. I learnt a very real lesson that day: ignorance is not bliss! In fact, the Bible regards ignorance as destructive(1), admonishing us to acquire knowledge(2), understanding and wisdom(3). One area of ignorance I’ve observed within the Ekklesia is that of healthy eating. Regrettably, so many of us remain ignorant of Bible-based dietary principles and, consequently, many reap a harvest of being overweight, obesity, poor health and worse, without fully appreciating why or more importantly how to remedy it. Although familiar with Bible verses confirming God as Healer(4), and the use of ‘naming and claiming’ healing Scriptures, for some that’s as far as it goes. God is indeed a healer and is powerful to heal, but that should not in any way justify or remove our responsibility to maintain our physical health through the provision of diet and lifestyle. One of the ways God has made provision for our physical health is through food, drink and basic dietary principles throughout the Bible. He is without a doubt interested in our health(5), however a responsibility exists to gain and apply knowledge in order for us to benefit physically(6). What we eat impacts us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually thus affecting our ability to function. It is therefore a vital part of our Christian walk. Our bodies are temples of God, and we are instructed to glorify Him in our bodies(7) and present our bodies as a living sacrifice(8). God created us with a requirement for a constant supply of energy (calories) in order to function well, and made provision for this through the supply of food. In addition, the food provides essential nutrients and components for our daily health and protection. Moreover, God in His love gives clear guidance on what constitutes food and a healthy diet and so, rather than the highly-processed options now readily available and accessible, He freely prescribed a diet
consisting of minimally processed foods, primarily from the plant kingdom(9,10). He also freely provided meats and fish as suitable dietary choices(11), and later distinguishes those fit for consumption(12,13). He gives us milk, cheese, yogurt and butter(14,15), and cautions us concerning the consumption of animal fat, blood(16, 17) and alcohol abuse(18). Contrary to popular belief, these principles are not redundant. In fact, health professionals publicly advocate, for the most part, a diet and lifestyle similar to the principles outlined in the Bible: a minimally processed diet, based on the foods from the plant kingdom – fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, starchy carbohydrates; with small amounts of lean meat, poultry and fish, and dairy that is low in fat, sugars and salt – not dissimilar to the way Jesus Himself would have eaten. Diet and health are a global priority, which in my opinion the Ekklesia should be spearheading, particularly as the mandate was set out by God so many years ago, and actively adopted by Jesus and His disciples.
The Bible should be our atlas for life. As well as so many other things, contained within its pages are principles and guidance pertaining to a healthy lifestyle. As I continue to witness the levels of poor health within the Ekklesia, I am certain God is calling us all to a higher level of dietary and lifestyle practice. He is indeed the God that heals through various means, however it is much more than simply blessing what we eat and quoting Scriptures. As His beloved children, we have a responsibility to grow in divine knowledge, understanding and fresh revelation, which in due course will lead us into true wisdom and manifestation of His will fulfilled in us on earth, so that He ultimately gets the glory - and the area of diet and lifestyle is no exception. Nicola Burgher is an experienced public health nutritionist, speaker and author of The Creator’s Diet series. She is also nutrition spokesperson for Premier Christian Radio. To find out more about The Creator’s Diet or to order a copy online, log on now at www.nicolaburgher.com.
References: (1) Hosea 4:6 (2) 2 Timothy 2:15 (3) Proverbs 4:5,7 (4) Exodus 15:26 (5) 3 John 2 (6) Daniel 1:5 (7) 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (8) Romans 12:1 (9) Genesis 1:29 (10) Genesis 3:18 (11) Genesis 9:1-4 (12) Leviticus 11 (13) Deuteronomy (14) Deuteronomy 32:14 (15) Isaiah 7:21-22 (16) Leviticus 3:17 (17) Leviticus 7:23-24 (18) Ephesians 5:18 Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
Chef shares the recipe that cured his type 2 diabetes in 105 days
hen Professional Chef Lyndon Wissart was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he was determined that this would not be a life sentence. The thought of spending the rest of his life on medication, with a long list of foods he couldn’t eat, made him think that there must be an alternative. If it was food that caused the problem in the first place, then surely changing his diet could undo the damage. With his 30 years’ professional knowledge of food, he set about researching what could make a difference. By putting into practice what he learnt, he successfully managed to completely cure himself in just 105 days. In his new book, ‘The Inspired Diabetic’, published by Filament Publishing, he shares his journey and shows how anyone can do the same – if they have the knowledge and determination. “Working in kitchens all day,” says Lyndon, “I was surrounded with all sorts of tempting foods. My weakness was desserts and, of course, I had to try them to make sure they were alright! When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, my blood glucose reading was nearly off the scale at 15.9, and I was experiencing all sorts of unpleasant complications. I didn’t want this to turn into a life sentence, and I certainly didn’t want to spend my life on medication, so I put to use all the knowledge I have gained about food to see what I could do to make a difference. What I achieved amazed me – and my dietitian!”
‘I am sure that, by reading what happened to me, you will have more than sufficient motivation to make the simple changes you need to make in your life, to avoid going through the same.’ Lyndon has shared his journey from diagnosis to cured in 105 days in his new book. “I know how devastating a diagnosis can be, but if you think of it as an opportunity, then you are in the right mindset to do something about it. I have proved that with a sensible fitness regime and an intelligent diet based on good information, you too can achieve what I have done.” Lyndon is now on a mission to share what he has learned and give hope to people who
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES? The common symptoms of diabetes • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night • Being really thirsty • Feeling more tired than usual • Losing weight without trying to • Genital itching or thrush • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal • Blurred vision
What is type 2 diabetes? Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulinproducing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Who typically gets type 2 diabetes?
believe they have few choices. He founded Lynspiration as a self-help group to share information and encouragement, and has also embarked on a programme of public speaking and events to share his philosophies and knowledge. “My story does not have a sugar coating; it goes into all the details of the procedures and tests I had to undergo, and shares what I learned from all the many caring professionals that helped me through them. I am sure that, by reading what happened to me, you will have more than sufficient motivation to make the simple changes you need to make in your life, to avoid going through the same.” Lyndon Wissart’s book, ‘The Inspired Diabetic’, is available from all good bookshops. For more information, visit www.lyndonwissart.com. Chris Day
Type 2 diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian people, who are at greater risk, it often appears from the age of 25. It is also increasingly becoming more common in children, adolescents and young people of all ethnicities. Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes, and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition to this, medication and/or insulin are often required. In type 2 diabetes there is not enough insulin (or the insulin isn’t working properly), so the cells are only partially unlocked and glucose builds up in the blood.
What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone. It works as a chemical messenger that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy. You can think of it as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells. Once the door is unlocked, glucose can enter the cells where it is used as fuel.
I have some diabetes symptoms. What now? If you have any of symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth checking – early diagnosis, treatment and good control are vital for good health, and reduce the chances of developing serious complications.
For more information about diabetes visit www.diabetes.org.uk. www.keepthefaith.co.uk
My Literary Agent Journey VANESSA GROSSETT
he Authors Care Services Ltd was founded in 2013, based on biblical principles. As a Christian, it is important that I keep God at the centre of any business venture I am pursuing. My clients include: Rita King Washington, daughter of blues legend BB King; bestselling author and founder of PJC Media Network, Parker J Cole; radio presenter Deborah Lassiter; public speaker and teacher, Anna M Aquino; fantasy writer Lynnette Roman, and the famous London 5 Studios. These clients were definitely divine connections, and I love working with them. This journey of being a literary agent hasn’t been an easy one. Here, in the UK, there aren’t many agents of colour, and Christian-based - not that I want to cause division with this article, but it is the truth. I had to really push and promote just to be taken seriously. Today, I still get asked what my job role is, and have comments like: “I’ve never met anyone like you before.”. It doesn’t offend me at all; in fact, I like to educate people - and the publishing industry. In case you’re wondering what a literary agent does, I like to call this role ‘the author’s silent business partner’. We are the gateway between the author and the publisher. We sell and review their manuscripts, and help build their career. Just like actors have agents, authors have agents, too. Having this career wasn’t always my first choice; I wanted to become a journalist. I
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graduated with a degree in journalism but, after my degree, I went down the route of public relations. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I believe this was all training for my God-given destiny. I still had a love for writing; English was one of my favourite subjects at school. I used to be what they called a ‘teacher’s pet’ at the time. When we were told to write stories, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I would be the one to get the gold stars, so my love for writing was always there. In 2009, I wrote my first book called Don’t Look Back – The Harmful Consequences of Backsliding. This was a very interesting experience for me, as it was during this time I learnt about the whole publishing industry: what it was like to be an author; what publishers are looking for, and how to write a book proposal. I learnt the whole craft of the industry, and boy, does it require a lot of patience, as I got rejected on numerous occasions. The book was published in 2010, and it was during this year a friend wanted to get her book published. She asked me to help her find a publisher; review her manuscript, and help with the marketing. I really, really enjoyed doing this; I loved it more than being an author myself. I always knew what a literary agent was, and I am the type of person who likes to work behind the scenes, and build others up. In my heart I knew this was my Godgiven destiny. I eventually did some work experience as an assistant to a professional, well-known agent, learning more of the ropes, and then I ventured out on my own. Whatever you do in life, challenges will come. I have faced many challenges and
obstacles, such as publishers not taking my clients or me seriously. When you first start out in business, just getting your first client can be difficult, but don’t give up. There is more to you than just waking up and paying bills; you have a God-given destiny to pursue. The gift you are given could be a blessing to many; it would be a shame not to pursue it because of obstacles. Don’t be one of those people who make excuses why this or that can’t be achieved. Be the person who will find the solution to the problem, and get it done. Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t be afraid of the learning process. In business, every day is a learning process, and I am still learning. Learning just takes you on to the next level. Learning is good. Keep pushing, keep pursuing. God guided me every step of the way, and He will guide you as well. Be patient, persistent; keep in mind why you do what you do. Be passionate about what you are doing, and don’t focus on the money. You need to love what you do, because true business is not a get-rich-quick scheme. There are many sacrifices, putting in a lot of hours for little return. Eventually you will see the rewards, but it won’t happen straightaway and that is the reality. That is why you need to love what you do. Keep your goals clear in your mind, and don’t be afraid to say No to activities you believe will be a hindrance to you. You can do this! You can win. With love Vanessa.
n 2007, a book called The Shack became an unexpected sensation. Created and self-published by Canadian author William Paul Young, who just wanted to write a story for his children, the novel ended up becoming a New York Times bestseller. To date, The Shack has sold more than 22 million copies, and been translated into forty languages. This year, the story is set to become an even bigger phenomenon as it arrives on the big screen. The film adaptation (which comes to UK cinemas on 9th June) boasts a stellar cast, including Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington, and is sure to provoke many conversations in the church and beyond. Family tragedy Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) seems to have a pretty great life. He’s married to Nan (Radha Mitchell), and they have three wonderful children. But somewhere deep inside, something isn’t quite right. Mack grew up being terrorised by an abusive, alcoholic father, and the memories still haunt him. While Nan’s faith in God is vibrant and intimate, Mack’s is much more distant. It’s hard for him to believe in a loving heavenly Father when his own father never expressed much love. Then, during an idyllic holiday at the end of the summer, tragedy strikes his family. Mack is plunged into a deep grief from which there seems to be no way out. When a letter arrives in the mailbox claiming to be from God, inviting him to spend the weekend at a remote shack in the mountains, he’s sceptical to say the least, but he’s desperate enough to go and investigate. What he finds there will change his life forever. Unconditional love The Shack aims to shake up its audience’s ideas about who God is. Whatever perspective we’re
coming from, our picture of God will inevitably be shaped by our history and our personal biases, just like Mack’s. “I grew up with a very dysfunctional view of God,” says author William Paul Young, “distant, White, grandfatherly, disappointed, watching from the infinite distance. I like to say, ‘Gandalf with a bad attitude’. I don’t think that version of God exists.” The playful, approachable, down-to-earth version of God portrayed in the film may surprise both believers and non-believers. The Shack is focused on communicating God’s deeply personal love for each of us - and His willingness to reach out to us in a way we’ll understand. For Mack, this means appearing in the form of a woman (Octavia Spencer), who at once showed him unconditional kindness. This brings down Mack’s defences and allows him to enter into an honest conversation with God for the first time. Unique journey Because of his past, and because of the recent loss he’s suffered, Mack carries a deep anger against God. His time in the shack gives him a chance to express this, and to ask the question that haunts all of us in one way or another: How can an all-loving and all-powerful God allow bad things to happen in the world? The answer Mack receives isn’t a logical argument, but a relationship. The Shack reminds us that we worship a God who isn’t distant from our pain, but who chose to suffer for and with us in the Person of Jesus. Mack’s healing begins when he learns to trust that God is good, and able to bring something beautiful even out of tragedy. This film promises to take people of all beliefs on a unique journey, presenting Christian faith in a powerful and refreshing way. For believers, it’s a reminder that God doesn’t want us to carry our heavy burdens of unresolved
pain and unforgiveness through life. If we’ll accept the invitation, God offers to meet with us wherever we’re at, and to make us whole. The Shack is released in UK cinemas on 9th June. Damaris Media is guiding the conversation with free church booklets, available at www.TheShackMovieUK.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request packs of printed copies for your community, as well as film posters and tent cards to display. This article comes from Damaris Media, who create free film resources for community groups. Read more at damarismedia.com and keep up to date on their latest resources by subscribing to their e-newsletter at damarismedia.com/signup. www.keepthefaith.co.uk
BOOK GOD’S HAND REVIEWS IN BREXIT
BY Y.O. CEDAR
New book aims to unify the United Kingdom after Brexit with ‘spiritual truths’ GOD’S
The adventures and treasure
says. “Due to the huge moral decay in society, many people have become slaves to sin and wickedness, and people have been robbed of their true identities as children of God, therefore living unfulfilled lives. This book is for those who are sick of the norm.” About the author: Y. O. Cedar is a mother of two children. She encountered Christ Jesus on January 1, 2000 after a life of promiscuity. She is an ordained licensed minister at Christians International Europe Apostolic Network (CIEurope). She is the founding director of Britain’s Prayer Court.
Y. O. CEDAR
GOD’S HAND IN
BRE XIT A PRAYER HAND BOOK
Y. O. CEDAR
She is a prophetic intercessor, watchm an, and ordaine d International Europe licensed minister Apostolic Network at Christians (CIEurope). She is Prayer Court that was the founding director recently birthed due of Britain’s to an awakening followin Baal Temple Arch g the erection of a at Trafalgar Square replica in April 2016. Pastor Prayer Foundation Rod and Julie Anders and Dr. Sharon Stone on of The of CIEurope serve as Terms of Referen ce. Y. O. Cedar and Britain Prayer Court Interces sors have awaken to its true a burden to see the identity and calling body of Christ in reflecting the glory revival and social reforma of Father God bringin tion into every sphere g about of society in Great that holds people captive. Britain, dispelling darkness
Y. O. Cedar is a mother of two amazing children . Coming from a broken mother at the age of home and losing her 18 left a big hole in her life, so in her pursuit she became trapped of acceptance and in a life of promisc belonging, uity that led to self-hat until she encountered e and a deep lack of Christ Jesus on January purpose, 1, 2000.
ollowing Brexit, Y. O. Cedar felt that God had called her to write to align the United Kingdom “to its God-given identity and purpose.” Her new book, ‘God’s Hand in Brexit: A Prayer Handbook’ (published by AuthorHouse UK), is a response to that calling, and was written to motivate people to pray. Cedar writes that God has a plan for the United Kingdom through prayer. She argues that He wants people to live more wholesome lives, and prayer is the key to achieving that social reformation. Rather than focusing on the details of leaving the European Union, the book gives readers “spiritual truths” to encourage readers to pray for the nation to be united and come back to God. “It’s time for the Church to awaken from passivity and demonstrate the power of God’s love, power and truth in society, displacing darkness, wickedness and depravity,” Cedar
s written in God’s Hand In Brexit: A Prayer Inspire and transfor Handbook will helpm your prayer life Stir up a hunger for a deeper intimate relation ship with Father God • You to rise up to true your identity and destiny calling • Mobilise your as God’s Ambassador own prayer group • Give greater underst anding of the authorit y that you have as a believer Are you frustrated with the social injustic e in the education System (NHS)? Do system, or the Nationa you want to see wholene l Health ss restored to broken their true identifies, families, children and fulfilling their realising potentials, or are you media dictating to fed up with the status society how to live quo of and the social depriva then this book is for tion that is on the you. increase? If so, •
Following Great Britain’s vote to Brexit, the Lord led me to mobilis Parliament Square e forty days of prayer to reinforce our victory at of coming out of the told me to write this EU. One morning, book about our prayer the Lord meetings, as He was awaken people to the going to use it as a call to pray for our catalyst to nation.
‘God’s Hand in Brexit’ By Y. O. Cedar Softcover | 8.25 x 11 in | 106 pages ISBN 9781524664114 E-Book | 106 pages | ISBN 9781524664121 Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at www.godshandinbrexit.com
LET’S TALK ABOUT BY NICOLE THE CHURCH! ROBINSON
When will somebody tell the truth about what really goes on at church? “This is what the prophet used to do: if you were going on holiday, you had to sow a seed; if you were getting married, you had to sow a seed; if you were due to give birth, you had to sow a seed; if it was your birthday, you had to sow a seed; christening a baby, you had to sow a seed. If it was Christmas, his birthday, Father’s Day, you had to give him an envelope with money for himself.” Find us on Facebook: KEEP THE FAITH Magazine
The harsh reality is that if you stick around long enough, you will understand why it is said that the ‘judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). Let’s talk about the Church! takes you on an unforgettable journey into Nicole’s childhood in Jamaica; how she came to England; her struggles with growing up as a young girl; finding Christ and living for Christ. Let’s talk about the Church! also explores the realities of the Church and Nicole’s personal encounters with manipulation, betrayal, hypocrisy, jealousy, deception and being thrown out of church. This book provides the truth about the issues in the church and how they impacted on her Christian walk, because she did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It explores how many pastors misrepresent God and use His Name to manipulate and to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of those who come to church in search of a breakthrough in their lives. Nicole’s journey has not been easy, but God’s mighty hand is evident upon her life, every step of the way.
About the Author Nicole Robinson is a twenty-three-year-old aspiring entrepreneur who has a Bachelor’s
degree in Drama and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Playwriting. She is an author, actress, director, playwright, praise dancer, drama teacher, the proud owner of The Nicole Robinson Theatre Company, and businesswoman. She is not only a daughter but a sister and a wife, who enjoys travelling, spending time with her family and loves fashion. Email: email@example.com Follow Nicole on Twitter: @Nicolerobinso5 Facebook: Nicole Robinson Instagram: Nicole.L.Robinson Let’s talk about the Church! is published by New Generation Publishing, RRP £8.99. ISBN 9781-7871-9346-8. Currently available on Amazon, online and at all good bookshops.
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