The Magazine of the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians
2013 – 2014 ISSUE 22
Tackling SICKLE CELL Issues Vinesong
Keys to a successful YOUTH MINISTRY
JUSTIN WELBY ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
LORD TAYLOR of Warwick GENESIS IMPACT
What Are You Wearing?
Chairman’s Welcome Address
12 WIRRAL CHRISTIAN CENTRE, Birkenhead 17 LOTWINA FARODOYE
Living Intentionally For Christ
10 Ready To Steer? 28 The Migrant
20 LORD JOHN TAYLOR OF WARWICK 24 VINESONG 34
JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop Of Canterbury
56 Introducing GENESIS IMPACT
40 Tackling Issues Of Human Sexuality
58 GENESIS IMPACT
46 Fit After Forty 48 One By One 50 The Church And Autism
64 SETH PINNOCK -Midnight Oil Summit OFNC YOUTH MAGAZINE 69 Youth Amplified
52 Count It All Joy?
70 Live Deeper - National Youth Conference
54 A Dispenser Of Grace
72 18 – 30s Residential Weekend
62 Those Who Smell The Rain
74 Keys To A Successful Youth Ministry
66 The Big Questions Of Life
82 Serving God With Musical Talents 84 Social Media, Job Hunting And 21st Century Youth: Are They Compatible?
30 The Pope And The Archbishop Of Canterbury
42 Sickle Cell Disease: Talking To The Experts
80 The Problem Of Radicalisation Young People In The Uk
77 The Topz Club 78 Radicalisation Of Nigerian Youth -Any Solutions?
87 Grammar Rap 88 Systems Architect 89 My Role As An OFNC Web Administrator 90 So Long, Farewell! A Note Of ‘Thanks’ To All OFNC WOMEN 93 Women’s Forum Report 2013 94 Women In Business And Leadership Conference 97 Women In Business & Leadership Conference Profiles 100 National Women’s Conference
EDITORIAL TEAM Chief Editor: MR PETER IKUOBASE Editors: AKA OKOYE, ODERA OKOYE, MRS NIKE DARAMOLA Design: XANDY DAEHNHARDT Print: FIRST CALL MEDIA DESIGN AND PUBLISHING LTD Photography: KEENEYE PHOTOGRAPHY SUE JORDAN, MARTIN OGUZIE, GOD’S BRIDE MINISTRIES Publisher: OVERSEAS FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA CHRISTIANS OFNC. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Email: email@example.com Website: www.ofnc.org.uk COPYRIGHT NOTICE Arise is published by the OFNC, a registered charity in the United Kingdom (Charity Registration No. 11267664). No part of this publication may be produced in any form without the written permission of the Chief Editor. DISCLAIMER Any material published in Arise reﬂects the personal view of the contributor and does not constitute an endorsement of such views by the OFNC. All comments, enquiries, praise or otherwise regarding each item should be directed to the contributor through the Chief Editor by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Name and Registered Head Oﬃce: Tabernacle of Praise (TOP) House, Shawheath Close, Manchester M15 4BQ.
Dressed for Service “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.” Luke 12:35, 36. he OFNC’s National Conference theme for 2013 ‘Dressed for Service’ is inspired by verse 35. At the conference, we will explore the implications of this text through sound biblical teaching and apply that teaching to our lives during the following twelve months.
Of course, we already understand that the Lord was not teaching the disciples about physical attire but about the attitude of humility and obedience that is the fount of all true Christian service. At the Last Supper, the Lord himself gave the most concrete example of the attitude necessary for service as he took a towel, girded himself and began to wash his disciples’ feet thus performing the humble task of a lowly servant. As we try to apply the Word to our own lives, we ought to seek ways to be more effective in our service. One way to apply the word is to reflect on the examples of other Christians who are serving and discover what those examples mean to us. This year, the Arise Editorial Team searched for outstanding examples of how Christians are following the Lord’s command to be dressed for service. They are all around us. From the Palace of Westminster to Hawksmoor School in Thamesmead, we found Christians transforming their spheres of influence by simply obeying the Lord’s command and doing what he has called them to do. All over the England, we met Christians who are touching lives with the fervent and sincere service in most exalted of places and in the humblest of places. In the North of England, we met Reverend Paul Epton and the leadership team of the Wirral Christian Centre and found out why their congregation is successfully making a difference of the lives of people they reach. In the South of England, our search led us to the House of Lords, where we met a politician and a priest. In the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, Lord John Taylor of Warwick
reflected on faith, revelation and spiritual conflict in Government. In Lambeth Palace, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury shared his vision for the Church with Arise. We went to East Grinstead in West Sussex to meet Vinesong, a unique team of missionaries who minister with music about the impact their God-given ministry are making around the world. In Heathrow, we talked to Lotwina Farodoye who shared her experience of turning a lemon into lemonade by holding forth a positive, overcoming attitude in the face of adversity. Seth Pinnock in Birmingham gave us insight into the purpose and vision of the Midnight Oil Summit. Mrs Foluke Akingbolagun explained why Genesis Impact is making a difference in the lives of parents and children in schools in South East London through their bible clubs and parenting programmes. Also in South London, Venessa Bobb from A2nd Voice sheds some more light on autism and the challenges of raising an autistic child in the context of her faith. There is so much more in this edition that will inform, enlighten and inspire you. In Arise 2013, you will find articles that will inform, delight and edify you. I encourage you to turn to the next page and get stuck in. My prayer is that as you read Issue 22 of Arise you will be inspired to serve the Lord more faithfully and draw closer to him as you obey his commands. I also pray that something in this edition resonates in your heart and inspires you to higher heights in the Lord Jesus. If you do not yet know the Lord Jesus, my prayer is that you will meet him through the writings, ideas and lives of his disciples who have contributed to this work. He is waiting for you! God bless you as you read. Peter Ikuobase Editor
his question generates a range of reactions and responses from people, depending on the mood and body language when asked. Generally, at an award ceremony or celebration, journalists may ask the guests ‘What are you wearing?’ and they go on to describe the outfit and talk about the designer. On the other hand, if you are dressed for a special occasion and you walk confidently into the room and your closest and dearest asks with a bemused look on their face ‘What are you wearing!?’ It may suggest you take another look in the mirror as you might not be appropriately dressed. In Zechariah 3:14, when Joshua the high priest was standing before an angel in the presence of the Lord, wearing ‘filthy garments’, you would notice that the angel of the Lord subsequently removed the filthy garments and replaced them with clean ones. God is concerned about the dressing of His priests. The way we dress has been a discussion of interest to people since earliest times in history and these days has become a lucrative industry that attracts millions of pounds. It is fascinating how numerous television shows are devoted to what you wear or what not to wear and how and what is supposed to be the ideal or most current trend. Even the church is not exempt from this trend – how should I dress? My question however is not directed at the physical clothes you wear but what are you wearing spiritually? Physical clothes are important as we have to dress to glorify God but what we wear spiritually is even more important and the bible has a lot to say about this. Colossians 3:12-14 states “Therefore, as
God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV). Christians are meant to wear these qualities every day; this is how we are to dress, this is our style, our trend and fashion statement.....the best designer label in the country and beyond. This would prove we are ready and dressed for service. People wear different types of clothes for a variety of reasons; when going for a jog or to the gym we wear appropriate sports attire and not a black tie and suit; likewise when you are attending a wedding you are unlikely to wear jogging trousers. Common etiquette teaches us how to dress for such occasions. Similarly in the spiritual, you dress fittingly for different situations too. For instance, “dressed for battle” (Ephesians 6:11-17),“dressed for victory” (Romans 13:14) and “dressed for service” (Luke 12:35) by manifesting the godly characteristics as stated in the scriptures above. What we wear has an impact on us and those around us, for example if someone wearing a nice perfume walks into a room or someone comes in with a plate of delicious smelling food, people inadvertently turn to see where the smell is coming from.The person does not need to speak or announce their arrival the aroma already does. Our compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiveness and love should be ‘an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God’ Philippians 4:18b. Therefore, the godly character (or ungodly as the case may be?!) and fruits we ‘wear’ already ‘smells’ and speaks on our behalf before we say a thing I heard the story of a man whose grandkids decided to play a prank on. When he fell asleep in a chair, they smeared mouldy cheese on his moustache.When he woke up, he kept wondering what smelt so badly, so he embarked on searching through the house trying to find where the bad odour was coming from. He turned the whole house upside down but found nothing and at the same time could not get rid of the smell. So he went outside and in frustration raised his hands and shouted “I give up, the whole world stinks!” You can imagine his amazement when he washed his face and the smell disappeared! Obviously, he was ‘wearing’ the bad odour around. I have often wondered why Priests and Bishops are called ‘Men of the cloth’ when many other professions equally have designated uniforms. I believe this is to encourage Christians to be ‘cut from a different cloth’’ than the rest of the people. We should be different and held to a higher standard of holiness, purity, love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We should bewearing God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14) Are we ready for service, are we appropriately dressed? Nike Daramola Liverpool branch.
FAMILY CONFERENCE Chairman’s Welcome Address Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel 23rd August 2013 – 26th August 2013
I welcome you to our annual Family Conference. nother year has indeed very quickly rolled by since the last annual event. He who “neither sleeps nor slumbers” so that we may, has once again made grace abound to us. The LORD was undeniably a shield and a buckler, making His light available to us as we strode through varied vexing experiences in the last year. We therefore must start the conference lifting our hearts and hands in gratitude to a faithful God in whom there is no variableness. True to His promise, we have not been consumed by the fiery furnace of fiscal upheaval neither have the deluges of politically correct diktats and moral re-engineering overwhelmed us. No doubt “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” because of His unmerited favour lavished on us.
DR ALBERT OKOYE
I am sure you will agree with me that more than ever before and certainly more so this year than the last, world events and societal pressures are increasingly challenging Christians to stand up and be counted for their faith. What with the recent clarion call by antagonists for the ancient boundary stones that propped up age-long valuable institutions like family, marriage, motherhood and fatherhood to be pulled out and cast-off. Never mind the lack of legislative parity on faith in the ‘market place’; turbans, skull caps and even total-body shrouds are feted but the most innocuous crucifix on a necklace is unacceptably ‘offensive’. Such is the venom against the message of the cross. Irrespective of ornamental crucifixes, our lives should continually proclaim the cross and Christ crucif ied. We should however anticipate wrath consequent on our
invariable infraction of the laws of men. These are ultimately hewn out of natural intellect and pride; the fundamental trappings of man in his fallen state. After all ‘the servant cannot be greater than his master’; if the master’s unalloyed life were found offensive how much more should ours in an increasingly ‘adulterous generation’. The cross is the symbol of Christianity and despite its unassuming simplicity it is the vestibule into the reservoir of the power of God. At its foot is true humility which does not come naturally to fallen man. “He must increase but we must decrease”; when we are ‘weak’ in ourselves, we are ‘strong’ in Him. It is not by our own power and might but by His Spirit that we are able to attain to great heights. These concepts are understandably ‘irritable and farcical’ to the ‘natural man’ in all his pomp, whose sole reliance is in his own transitory strength. According to Apostle Paul if we were “…no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended…” that remains true of the censors of the cross today. Likewise “…the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” The cross is ‘an intellectual offense’ so “when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God…” We are counseled to expect persecution particularly as we inch towards the second coming of Christ; a theme we hardly hear anyone speak on these days. Persecution and tribulations are as certain a promise as Christ’s assurance of salvation to the longing soul. There are benefits to tribulations and persecution much as we would gladly wish them away. The church truly bonds together in seasons of persecution; the unity of the body, progressing towards a single sheepfold desired by our Lord, is more readily attainable in tribulation. Our love for one another is also enhanced, which then proves to the world that we are His disciples. Only then could the church be attractive enough for the sheep outside the fold. The result is ‘Pentecost experiences’ during which the Lord adds to “the church daily such as should be saved”. Objective and unequivocal rather than ‘transfer’ growth of the church is then the final outcome. Redeemed by the cross of our Lord what therefore should be our attitude to the many more outside ‘the fold’ who must be brought in that “there will be one flock with one shepherd”? Our lives must preach the cross in and out of season, in persecution or in peace.
What then hinders us from setting our face on this much needful objective? What about spiraling decadence and indignities seemingly celebrated with impunity on the altar and pulpit? The church of Christ now appears comfortably empowered to rank as well as pick and choose sin. Homosexuality is ostensibly ranked more heinous than adultery such that we are comfortable bedfellows with the latter but firmly and forcibly shutting the doors of the church of Christ in the face of the former. Were we not cautioned not to deceive ourselves because “those who indulge in sexual sin...or commit adultery... or practice homosexuality or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God”?. There does not appear to be any ordering of sin in these scriptures. Some of us were of course once like that but were cleansed and made right with God through grace, by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. How well does the life of “the bride of Christ” proclaim the cross? What would the “friend of sinners” do were he to be amongst us today? Where would he be found? In the church or market place? With sinners or with those who feel that they have no need of a physician? Is the church now strictly for saints and not also for sinners? Have we become like the Pharisees our Lord chastised ever so sternly? Strapping loads on men which we are unable to carry? Tithing to the finest detail but forgetting the weightier matters of the law…judgment mercy and faith? What should be the attitude of the church towards the master’s lost sheep? Do we grieve as he does and would we be commended on His return or declared unfaithful stewards? I pray that our good Lord in His unsearchable wisdom will grant us the grace to apply our hearts to understanding how to engage with transgressors in the fleeting period we have this side of eternity. May He also afford us the great privilege of learning at the foot of the cross this weekend. God bless
Albert Okoye OFNC National Chairman
1.Know and experience God’s love for you personally. 2.Know and experience God’s purpose for you. 3.Intentionally and passionately act daily, on your purpose.
talents. You can also ask those around you to tell you what they believe your strengths are as your gifts may be more obvious to your loved ones than to you.
Know and experience God’s love for you. God loves you.That is a fact.The scripture testifies to God’s love for you. He sent His only son Jesus to die for us to redeem us from sin and death ( John 3:16). All you need to do to accept God’s love is acknowledge that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you and confess Him as your Lord and Saviour.
Do you love to sing? Are you great at encouraging others? Are you good with children? Are you good at writing? Are you creative? What comes natural to you?
It is one thing to know God loves you; it is another thing to actually experience His love. Some people believe God’s love is determined by our behavior or performance. God’s love does not work like that. He has loved us with an unconditional love and nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39). There is nothing more that you can do today that will make God love you more than he already does. All He wants is for us to experience his love daily in joy or in pain. You can experience God’s love daily by: • Spending time in prayer • Reading and meditating on his word. • Worshiping him to experience his presence. • Admiring and appreciating his beautiful creation
For CHRIST I once read somewhere that life is not a dress rehearsal. You only have one life to live on earth till you are either called home by God or Christ returns. Since this is the case, your goal must be to live life intentionally for Christ in preparation for heaven.
This world is just a journey and it is not our final destination. Heaven is! By living intentionally for Christ on earth we begin to experience God’s best for our lives.
To live above mediocrity, succeed on this earthly journey and also be prepared for Christ’s coming or life after death, I encourage you to imbibe these habits:
Sometimes the guilt of sin can stop you from experiencing and enjoying God’s presence. We are not perfect and God knows this. All he desires from us is a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17) so when you fall short, claim his forgiveness. His mercy is bigger than our sin.
Know and experience God’s purpose for you Jeremiah 1:5- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” You were not born by chance. Your parents may not have intended to have you but God had a solid plan in mind when you were conceived. You were placed on earth for a purpose. Do you know that purpose? If you are not sure, look deep into your life and prayerfully think about the gifts and talents God has given you. Those things that you find easy to do, come second nature to you. God has given every single person on earth one or more
Do not envy other people’s gifts.Why become an imitation of someone else when you can be an original of yourself. Don’t you know you are a Limited Edition? J Ask yourself, “how can I use my gifts and talents for God’s Kingdom?” Intentionally and passionately act daily, on your purpose Matthew 5:16- Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Your purpose is usually tied to your talents and should be used to bring glory to God and not for selfish gains. Once you know your purpose, find ways to work on them and strengthen them. Complacency can be the enemy to progress. Step out of your comfort zone in faith and begin to see how God will use you in ways you could never have imagined. Through you and your purpose, people will come to know God, His love and the saving power of His son Jesus Christ. Live your life like today is your last day on earth.When you live purposely on earth for His glory, God will reward you on earth but most importantly in heaven. Fear, anxiety, lack of motivation, stress of life may try to blindside you from living intentionally for Christ. If this is the case in your life, ask God today to give you the grace and strength to live for Him. Jesus is coming back; are you dressed for service, your light shining and ready for when He does? Aloted Omoba Aloted Omoba (pseudonym) lives in Essex with her husband and daughter. She is passionate about God and women. She is a freelance writer and is also the founder of Super Working Mum where she works with professional working mums to achieve a better managed and fulfilled life both at work and at home. For more info, please visit www.superworkingmum.com
During the journey I was reminded of our relationship with God. Like the RAC man, God is the one in the driving seat and He sees where we are going. The road ahead is visible to him, along with all the dangers. He knows the final destination and also the best way to get there. Even when we know the final destination as I did in this case, the RAC man knew the best route to take and as much as I’d like to plan every step of the journey, I could not see ahead and therefore for my own safety I had to follow His instructions Likewise God knows all things and He has given us his word (as Basic Instructions Before we Leave Earth BIBLE) to help lead and direct us to where we need to go. All we need to do is walk in obedience. Often in our lives we want to be in control. We want to know the end before the beginning and think we know best. We believe that God’s perfect timing is too slow and we try to overtake with disastrous results. Why do we do this?
if you think I am taking a wrong turning or going a different route 5. Follow me And so our journey began.
So I did what any car novice would do in this type of situation and called breakdown services. Within the hour the bright orange rescue van of the RAC was on our doorstep.
Now if you have never been towed before, it is quite an experience. Essentially your car is hooked up to the back of another vehicle, (using a metal bar in this case) and all you have to do is sit in the driver’s seat of your car and just steer. No brakes or acceleration needed, just control the steering. The car in front will lead you where you need to go. When it stops you will stop, when it accelerates you too will accelerate. The key thing to remember is to be alert and watchful so that you can be in position to follow appropriately.
After a brief look under the bonnet, the mechanic was able to quickly diagnose the problem and conveyed to us that our car would need to be towed to the nearest garage for repair. He asked me whether I had ever been towed before, I replied no, so he then proceeded to give me the rundown of the rules for when being towed. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Follow me Don’t overtake (people apparently do this, despite being connected to another car!) When you see me indicating, begin to turn the wheel as it will be stiff, don’t leave it too late As you cannot see what I see, just do what I do, even
As we drove through the streets, I couldn’t see where he was going, so I just had to follow him. As a seasoned driver this was so strange for me. I half expected to crash into his car in front, my legs felt redundant but I continued to put my trust in the car in front and just steer. After about 15 minutes of ‘blind’ driving we
1. 2. 3.
Fear Control Pride
If we really knew who God is and how much he loves and cares for us (Romans 8:38-39) we wouldn’t be afraid, in fact we would relax in the knowledge that our
God knows all things and He has given us his word (as Basic Instructions Before we Leave Earth - BIBLE) to help lead and direct us to where we need to go. All we need to do is walk in obedience.
ne morning a few weeks ago, I went to start the car, on my way out to work and it wouldn’t start. I took the keys out, tried again…Nothing.
Can we really live without God and his direction and leading? Not really, at least not successfully. In order to be able to make the right choices and to walk the right path, it starts with going back to Him, allowing Him to lead.
Ready to STEER?
reached our destination safe and sound.
Heavenly Father who knows ALL things ( Jeremiah 29:11) and works them together for our good, (Romans 8:28) is in control. I would much prefer this way of living than my own human knowledge and wisdom? “For my ways are not your ways says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and sound mind, so let us walk in this assurance. Can we really live without God and his direction and leading? Not really, at least not successfully. In order to be able to make the right choices and to walk the right path, it starts with going back to Him, allowing Him to lead. Practically, this means maintaining our personal relationship with God, spending time in prayer and allowing the Word to influence all aspects of our lives, so that when He says GO, we are ready to follow and ‘steer the wheel’.
Chichi Eruchalu is a freelance creative and the owner of Kanso Creative (www.kansocreative.com)– set up to support solo-entrepreneurs, SMEs, churches and charities in their design and business needs. In her spare time she likes to write and resides in Essex with her husband and daughter.
The WCC team is active both at home and abroad, having invested in missions in Nigeria since the 1980s and built up good relationships with the local communities there. They have planted churches in Bauchi, Kaduna, Gombe, Port Harcourt and Owerri; although Rev Epton says that they have a heart for the North of Nigeria. In addition to ministering the gospel to their local communities, church plants in Nigeria also provide practical services. For instance, the church plant in Bauchi started a school, which today provides facilities for 1400 children: 40% Muslim and 60% Christian. The church also supplies the local, predominantly Muslim, community with water from their borehole.
WIRRAL CHRISTIAN CENTRE, Birkenhead Wirral Christian Centre (WCC) in Birkenhead has over 400 members and is influencing thousands of children a month through its school programme. The Wirral Christian Centre Trust employs over 90 people, including church staff. It runs the Winston’s Place Day Care nursery, which provides services for 160 children; most of whom are from the neighbouring community, and Orton House Nursing Home, which caters for 37 elderly people. Peter Ikuobase spoke to the Rev Paul Epton, his wife Evelyn, son Greg and our own Dr Abel Adegoke; an elder in the church, about some of the underlying factors behind the success and longevity of the church, as well as their thoughts about the Church in general. 12
The WCC team did this work in Nigeria, without realising they were casting their bread on the water; an idea presented in Ecclesiastes 11:1, which states “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” WCC has indeed received a return on their investment as over the years a growing number of Nigerian families have joined the church. Prominent Nigerian members of the WCC congregation include the families of Dr Simeon Kehinde and Dr Abel Adegoke, who are both former Chairmen of the OFNC. Dr
ev Paul Epton started the church in 1973, using the Welsh Chapel in Birkenhead following an Elim evangelistic mission conducted by the late Rev Alex Tee. At the time there were 7 people in attendance at the daytime service and 14 people at the evening service. The congregation grew rapidly, and in 10 years had outgrown the building. They eventually acquired the building ‘the old Wirral Children’s Hospital‘ (built 1822); which today houses the nursery and nursing home. Since 1973 they have planted 21 churches across the United Kingdom: in Colwyn Bay, Preston, the Isle of Man, Wolverhampton, Merseyside and North Wales.
“I am insulted as a Christian when any man wants to bring position or power or self-gain or self-glory. That is anti-Christ not Christ and it is wrong.”
Kehinde was an elder until he stepped down recently and Dr Adegoke (his successor as OFNC Chairman) took over his role. Also their wives, Dr (Mrs) Bola Kehinde and Mrs Grace Adegoke are ladies who stand out for God, serving God in different capacities in the church. Reverend Epton states; “God has brought something back to us.” Rev Epton has made a major investment into Nigerian churches in the North of England. As he moves into retirement, he wants to do more work with a wider range of Nigerian Churches across the country. He hopes to counsel them, encourage them, help them understand English culture better and enable the Nigerian Church in Britain to have more impact. With 40 years of experience and a lifetime of ministry under his belt, Rev Epton is able to provide a different perspective. He believes that it is beneficial for Christians in different groupings to listen to people outside of their own closed communities, as well as receive revelation from God through Spirit-filled men and women. He said, “We need to get out of our little groups, unite together and recognise our enemy is not our Christian brother and sister but Satan.” He continued, quoting 1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” This will happen a lot more quickly if Christians hold hands in unity. Rev Epton outlines two sources of hindrances to unity, namely the fact that we presume that we cannot hold hands as a body, as well as the resistance of church leaders because they feel that unity will take away their powerbase. Reverend Epton said emphatically, “I am insulted as a Christian when any man wants to bring position or power or self-gain or self-glory. That is antiChrist not Christ and it is wrong.” He continued, “I have
size congregation in a Church of England, after which he made an appeal, to the utter shock of the resident clergy, for people to receive Christ and people came out in their droves. One man, a lawyer, with tears flowing down his face onto his expensive suit, approached him at the door after the service. He admitted that though he had attended that church for 30 years, no one had ever told him about the need for a personal relationship with Jesus. This man was absolutely transformed by his newfound faith. He had received the miracle of new life. Spirit-filled Christians can help create an atmosphere for miracles by, getting into positions of influence where they can influence who fills the pulpit as well as encourage spirit filed ministers to occupy the pulpits. Reverend Epton concluded, “You can change your local situation. Don’t be afraid of the local committees; join them. Don’t be indoctrinated to become who they are, but with humility and love, win them over to become who you are. Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your father that is in heaven. You can do this!” Rev Paul’s wife, Evelyn, is the General Manager of the Wirral Christian Centre Trust and oversees the operations of Orton House and Winston’s Place. Mrs seen it in Nigeria, all Africa, in Britain and see it a lot in London and it is wrong.“ He recalled his shock when, as a young man, he visited a well-known evangelist in Nigeria. Rev Epton was taken to the evangelist’s mansion in entourage of Mercedes cars, after which he proceeded to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the evangelist, eating from beautiful Wedgewood china plates and using stunning gold-plated cutlery. But the beggars sitting at the gate were a constant reminder of the story of Lazarus and the rich man. “Men should humble themselves. Humility is not a weakness – Jesus was humble.” Focusing on Jesus and following him is the key to unity. Rev Epton stressed, “Unity is a whole new mind set and heart in which you lay aside who you are and what you have and pick up Jesus and what Jesus has. For he taught us everything or he taught us nothing and we have to ask ourselves which it is.” The lack of unity is not the only stumbling block in the Church. Rev Epton believes that the church in England has lost its cutting edge and is not actively seeking the
Epton believes that the most important aspect of the power behind the ministry is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which she received at the age of 16. Their son, Greg Epton, who will be stepping into the role of Senior Pastor of the church via a two year transition process from his father, believes that his call to ministry is to remain in Birkenhead. Greg said, “Every Christian is a minister of the gospel and we wait too long for a particular calling or ministry. The Spirit will normally make it clear in black and white. We should do what we can today. Get stuck in and do it. Get on with it! God will guide you by his Spirit.” Also part of the leadership team is former Chairman of the OFNC, Dr Abel Adegoke, who has recently become an elder of the church. He believes that the leadership recognised the gift of God in his life and gave him the opportunity to serve. He has experienced spiritual growth because of the solid, challenging teaching and sermons; particularly in the area of evangelism he regularly receives from the church. He has gained confidence to evangelise and has achieved results for God in spite of the hostile climate in this nation.
salvation of souls. He attributes decline in part to the reaction of society to the loss of millions of lives during the two world wars, the church’s inability to effectively answer the question “How could God allow this to happen?”, and also in part to a succession of weak Church leaders who did not stand up and speak out for God when they should have. Today, many parts of the church have either lost their way or have failed to leverage their God-given gifts. For example, Pentecostal Christians have made much less of an impact than they should have because they failed to harness the anointing that God gave them. Churches that came from abroad have not connected powerfully enough because they have been insular. Still, in the midst of all of this, Rev Epton perceives that God is doing wonderful things through churches like Holy Trinity Brompton and other evangelical churches. There are signs of change and the opportunity for a new day. As Rev Epton said, “We as Christians must create opportunities in our environment and in our churches to bring in a new day, to bring in the energy and to recommend.” He illustrated this point with his experience of being invited to preach the gospel to a 400
“When life gives you LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE.” - Lotwina Farodoye
This was Lotwina Farodoye’s attitude when she turned a redundancy payment and interest in health food into a thriving new business. hen mother-of-two, Mrs Farodoye, was made redundant from her job in marketing in 2008, against the advice of her friends, she decided to invest all her redundancy money into a new business idea. ‘Be Fruity’ natural fruit bars was born. Her product achieved national distribution within the major supermarkets including Sainsbury‘s, Waitrose, and Holland and Barrett. Furthermore, it was distributed in thousands of independent shops across Britain as well a globally online; enabling her to sell her business after just three years.
Since then Lotwina has been continually asked to speak to a wide variety of audiences about how she was able to accomplish this feat in such a short period of time. This inspired her to write a book about her experience of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a successful business entitled: ‘Fruitful Business: How to Start a Business Now’, which is now available for purchase through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers priced £7.99. Leading one of the workshops at the Women in Business and
“I hope that the any of the women thinking of starting or that have just started their businesses would really be encouraged to go for it because the sky is the limit and God does open doors.”
for networking with like-minded people. She advised those who were unable to attend external events in person to take advantage of online learning opportunities such as webinars and online courses. She said, “With all these opportunities available, no one should be ignorant or behind the times.”
Mrs Farodoye exhorted the women to believe that no matter what the lemon is in their lives may be, if they trusted God, prayed, sustained an overcoming mentality and used the resources in their control, they would move forward in whatever situation they were facing. She illustrated the point with the narrative of Moses in Exodus 4. He did not appreciate the power of the staff that he had in his hand when God sent him to speak to Pharaoh until God asked him “What is that in your hand?” and went on to demonstrate the power invested in
the staff. Mrs Farodoye said, “Just like Moses, God has invested so much in every single one of us that there should be nothing stopping us from achieving our dreams.” Mrs Farodoye advised the workshop participants to get practical help from a number of sources, including business expos and industry trade fairs; which offer a plethora of seminars and opportunities for learning and
Leadership (WinBle) Conference in2012, Mrs Farodoye shared her experiences of dealing with the situation she found herself in and using the resources in her control to shape her destiny. She wanted to inspire and encourage the women at the workshop to trust in God, be positive and to think as overcomers. She said, “I hope that the any of the women thinking of starting or that have just started their businesses would really be encouraged to go for it because the sky is the limit and God does open doors.”
“With all these opportunities available, no one should be ignorant or behind the times.”
When starting her business, Mrs Farodoye had to learn a lot about all aspects of business, as throughout her career, she had worked in the specialist marketing functions of big businesses, that had their own Accounts department, Law depart and Technical Department. Because of this specialisation, she was never required to have detailed knowledge of the other functional areas in the business. However, when she started her own business, she had to become a jack of all trades and learn everything. To accelerate her learning, Mrs Farodoye attended seminars and courses on branding, property law and other topics pertinent to the running of a business. She explained how she tackled the challenge of learning new things and how she tapped into other people’s knowledge where she could. Learning new things was not a foreign concept to Mrs Farodoye; her parents had always stressed the importance of education and she was always an avid learner. She always engaged in continuous professional development, but the extent of her learning was constrained by work commitments, family and so on. When she became an entrepreneur she had control of her own time and she could really throw open the learning and develop at her own pace. Inasmuch as entrepreneurship gave Mrs Farodoye more control over her own time, she found that balancing the
demands of running a business with family commitments can be tricky. She had to be creative in her use of the resources around her. She has used the children’s afterschool clubs at the start and end of the day. She also has the support of her husband, who looks after the children when she has to make business trips. Even when she was doing her market research for the fruit bars, she roped in playground mums, people from church and neighbours. She put together all the research packs at home with the help of her children, getting them involved in the process. When ‘Be Fruity’ launched the children felt ownership of the brand having had a helping hand. Lotwina says of her children, and other young people: “They are the future, let us encourage them and help them to achieve their full potential” By Peter Ikuobase Photographs: Sue Jordan
Called to the bar in 1978, in 1986 he became the first black councillor in Solihull. After several years of distinguished service in various political positions, John Taylor was made a life peer as Baron Taylor of Warwick, thus becoming the first black Conservative peer. In 2011 Lord Taylor was caught up in what became known as the parliamentary expenses scandal for which he received a 12 months custodial sentence.
LORD JOHN TAYLOR of Warwick: 20
I know the Lord
Having paid his debt to society, Lord Taylor is making amends by continuing to play an active role in public life. He spoke to Peter Ikuobase about the role of faith and revelation in public life, the nature of spiritual conflict in the corridors of power and the role of the Black Church in shaping the future of the United Kingdom.
in many ways by changes to institutions taken over by secularism. This is leading to a breakdown in society because corruption sets in when God gets taken out of the equation.
Lord Taylor explained, “We are fighting against spirits, and principalities are influencing men to push laws that are ungodly. We cannot fight through clever arguments but through prayer and asking the Lord to bind the tongues of those that will push the bills through.”
Being imprisoned is just one of the tests that he has experienced in his Christian walk. He still experiences tests daily, some he has passed and others he has not yet passed. He feels that on many occasions he has let God down.
Lord Taylor is deeply dependent on God’s anointing to do his work. At times when he feels overawed by the brilliance and talent of some of his colleagues, he focuses on God’s love and calling. “God equips the anointed. My calling is about the availability rather than the ability.” Again he draws inspiration, instruction and encouragement from the bible, identifying with characters like Job who lost everything and David, a leader who made many dreadful mistakes but whose heart was for the Lord. Part of the equipping is revelation, which is particularly important for Lord Taylor in Parliament. He believes that in Parliament, there is an overload of information, some occasional inspiration but almost no revelation. Since revelation can only come through the Holy Spirit, Christians have an essential role in informing debates by what the Spirit has revealed to the Church, mainly through His Word.
However, Lord Taylor draws inspiration and strength from knowing that God used biblical characters like Daniel, Joseph, David, Peter and Paul in spite of their failures, problems, storms in their lives, and experienced turmoil. Daniel, Joseph and Paul were all in prison but God used them. He said, “Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion. If God can use a man like that, he can use me. It is not about us, it is about God.” He believes that it is not all about the skills and abilities, rather it is about the heart and the anointing. It is not about how brilliant we think we are - it is about being available to God. “The anointing comes first. God gives the skills to those that he has anointed.”
“In all things God works for good for those that love him and are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28.
Lord Taylor believes that historical politicians like William Wilberforce, Elizabeth Fry and Lord Shaftesbury had revelation because they were going against the culture of the times. For example, the volition to abolish slavery was counter-culture because the slave trade was a thriving economy at the time. It was revelation that this practice was wrong and outdated. In fact, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the decline of old plantations and the rise of factories, the economic viability of slave trade had a limited shelf-life. Lord Taylor said, “Wilberforce saw that. It was like bringing the future into the present. That is what the Holy Spirit can do. That is where prophesy comes in – you bring the future into the present.” The spiritual battles being fought in the corridors of power are many, as politicians strive to take God out of the centre of many policies. Society has been influenced
There is a reclaim being started by God, placing his people in places of influence in order to help change things. Lord Taylor believes that Christians will be better positioned to be of influence, if the Church is aware of how spiritual warfare is being waged – through policies and laws being passed in Parliament. If the Church is better informed about how they could influence government policy by lobbying their local MPs and peers, they will be better positioned to make a greater contribution. There is an opportunity for Black churches to get involved through local politics, school governorship and so on. By becoming local councillors and parent governors, members of Black Majority churches can help tackle relevant issues. For example, the issue with black youth crime is a looming one, with many youths in prison as opposed to college. Given the right direction and mentoring, many of those gang leaders could become leaders in a more positive sense. Lord Taylor has been involved in raising young leaders. Over the last 6 years, the Warwick Leadership Foundation has mentored about 50 young leaders from across the world. These leaders have gone into Christian ministry, business, politics and broadcasting. Lord Taylor recognises the value of being mentored and had so little himself both as a youth, as a politician and in his early days of a peer. This was particularly difficult in his early days as a peer, without the experience and the mentorship but subject to a lot of media attention. Nigerian Christians have a lot to offer in the area of leadership. Lord Taylor explained, “I am very excited about the potential because I feel that many of Britain’s leaders in the future will come from the Black Majority churches, particularly the Nigerian Church. I can see the younger generation becoming Councillors, School Governors and Members of Parliament. I can even see a black Prime Minister in the future; it could well be someone from the Black Majority church.”
“I am very excited about the potential because I feel that many of Britain’s leaders in the future will come from the Black Majority churches, particularly the Nigerian Church. I can see the younger generation becoming Councillors, School Governors and Members of Parliament. I can even see a black Prime Minister in the future; it could well be someone from the Black Majority church.”
aron John Taylor of Warwick knows very well that he has been called according to the Lord’s purpose. He said, “People say that I am a Lord but the most important thing is that I know the Lord.” Lord Taylor of Warwick has been a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian since his days in University. He attends the evangelical Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Brompton in London. He strives to know the Lord better day by day and to understand the reality of the sacrifice of Christ.
Moving forward into this future, it is important to pray, to listen to God and hear his voice. Organisation and structure are important – this can be well illustrated in a revelatory way by the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus asked the people to sit down on the ground in rows and columns so that there was organisation before he did the miracle. This helps us understand that the churches need to be organised to prepare the way for God’s work. Lord Taylor is writing a book on the Racial Diversity of Britain. He also runs a consultancy training business, Warwick Academy. Lord Taylor can be contacted his website (www.lordtaylor.org) Twitter (Twitter@lordjohntaylor) Linked In (Lord John Taylor of Warwick) and Facebook (LordJohnTaylor) Photographs: Sue Jordan
Pastor John Watson, Charlene Kok, Daniel Kok and Rachel Gray are missionaries dedicated to proclaiming the gospel and building the Church through sound biblical teaching. They comprise the team known as ‘Vinesong‘, a unique faith ministry well known for rich, melodious inspirational songs such as ‘Let your Living Water’ and ‘Peace like a River’. At ‘Vinesong,’ their emphasis is on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; exhorting the listener to discover God’s destiny in their life. 24
‘Vinesong‘ was the first Christian music ministry to minister at the United Nations in New York City, USA and have done so 8 times. Through these visits they have seen more than one hundred UN staff members as well as at least 16 ambassadors and diplomats that have given their lives to Jesus. Since 1992, Vinesong have helped lead worship every year at the National Day of Prayer at Capitol Hill in Washington DC in the USA.
inesong’s vision is to reach as many nations as possible; through worship and the Word (sound biblical teaching), to see unity within the Church worldwide and to see people saved. Established in South Africa in 1982, and moving to the UK in 1986, they travel eleven months of the year with their own equipment, paying their own expenses. They regularly lead complete worship services and programmes in 9 different languages in 34 countries around the world. In spite of their demanding schedule, ‘Vinesong‘ still find the time to produce albums on a regular basis. In fact, since 1982, ‘Vinesong‘ have produced 26 albums that have blessed people all over the world. They minister from prisons to palaces and are willing to minister in any situation where the Lord opens the door. This includes ministering in hospitals, schools and street outreaches.
“There is a lot of confusion currently in the church, where all sorts of ills, even divorce are rife in the church. Christians have an important part to play in bringing stability to a confused world. The fields are ripened for harvest. People are aware that something is wrong...”
‘Vinesong‘ is a ministry and not a music group, therefore musical performance has always been discouraged. Instead Vinesong seek to bring both challenge and change to people’s lives and as a result have witnessed many miracles – spiritual, emotional and physical. ‘Vinesong‘ have maintained their distinctive musical style over the years, as they believe that when worship music becomes trendy, as a result of man’s merchandising, it becomes difficult for the worship to heal and restore as God means it to. Pastor John Watson said, “Music has the power to sooth and open up peoples’ hearts for the Holy Spirit to minister. Just as Saul’s dark moods were lifted when David played the harp.” ‘Vinesong‘ regularly see signs and wonders during worship services as people open up to the Holy Spirit, but the ministry of ‘Vinesong‘ goes far beyond music. Pastor John has strong teaching
Nigeria is one of the countries that ‘Vinesong‘ visits regularly but some years also spends several weeks there visiting churches in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan and many other towns even as far as Maiduguri. Vinesong have a strong affiliation with the Nigerian Christian community worldwide. Pastor John composes the main theme song for the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s annual Holy Ghost Congress in Nigeria, which is attended by over 2 million congregants.
and pastoral ministry, with which he contributes immensely to church leadership in many countries across the world. He has a gift for encouraging leaders and is seen as a pastor amongst pastors. Away from the stage or the pulpit, he spends many hours listening to pastors, worship leaders, and their wives, as they look for counsel in their respective situations. Pastor John Watson explained, “If you change the shepherd, the sheep will follow. The sheep cannot follow when the shepherds do not know where they are going.” Pastor John also has a passion to see all people healed at a deeper level. He said, “There is a lot of confusion currently in the church, where all sorts of ills, even divorce is rife in the church. Christians have an important part to play in bringing stability to a confused world. The fields are ripened for harvest. People are aware that something is wrong. A genuine uncontaminated relationship with Jesus, without any gimmicks, can bring peace and fulfilment in their lives. Life is so important because you can lose it as quickly as you got it. It is such a tragedy for a person to make a brief entry into the world without ever making a difference.” Christians can make a difference by obeying Christ’s command to love one another and by being attentive to
the needs of others. To make a difference, the church must focus on these four things: worship, word, community and marketplace. Pastor John said “I believe that people should take away things that will affect their families, their marriages and their places of work. “ ‘Vinesong‘ practice what they preach when it comes to loving one another as they work and live together. They live and have their office in a house in East Grinstead in the South East of England. Between tours they return home to organise their next mission. They are committed to displaying the love and unity within their team as an example to the Church. Rachel explained, “Though we are not blood relations we have one Jesus
You would think that their busy schedule would drain them in many ways but you would be mistaken. So how does the team keep refreshed spiritually? Pastor John said “The Lord just refreshes us. We can be part of a conference and get more out of it than most people.” Rachel added, “The power of life and death is in the tongue. As we minister these songs, we minister to ourselves as well. As the words emerge from our mouths, we are also singing those words, declaring them and that also has an effect on our lives of our being refreshed.” Vinesong founder, songwriter and leader Pastor John is originally from Zimbabwe, where both his parents and both his paternal and maternal grandparents were missionaries. Before starting ‘Vinesong‘, Pastor John pioneered churches in England, Holland and America. It was during this period of his life that he gained an understanding of how worship and the Word could be used even more widely; in the context of ministry. Working with the Vineyard team in California and about start a new church plant in Norway, Pastor John took a holiday in South Africa. This holiday lasted longer than he expected as he found himself pastoring and leading worship in a church founded by his father; whose congregation was predominantly ex-Hindi sugarcane cutters. As he sought insight from God about the reason for that particular season in his life, he was inspired to write the song “Let Your Living Water”, which went on to become an international success. The ministry evolved between 1982 and 1986 when it moved to England. In the last 31 years, there have been four major team changes. Daniel Kok is the Road Manager for ‘Vinesong.‘ He joined the team in 2002, after meeting them when they
visited Cornerstone Church in Esher. He is married to Charlene, the lead soprano, who joined the ‘Vinesong‘ team in 2003. Charlene has a long-standing relationship with the ministry‘ as both her parents were part of the first ‘Vinesong‘ team when she was four years old. Together Daniel and Charlene have been blessed with a beautiful son Reuben Samuel. Rachel Gray is an electronic engineer with a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA). She joined the team in 2008 after meeting ‘Vinesong‘ when they ministered at her church in Coventry. She was initially a temporary team member for a tour of the US and later became a permanent member of the team. Peter Ikuobase Photographs: Sue Jordan
“The power of life and death is in the tongue. As we minister these songs, we minister to ourselves as well. As the words emerge from our mouths, we are also singing those words, declaring them and that also has an effect on our lives of our being refreshed.”
and this one vision that brings us together in whatever we are doing.”
and productivity performance. Therefore, whenever restrictions on immigration are contemplated, it is important to assess the potential economic consequences of such restrictions.
There is probably not a single week that passes by without migrants in the United Kingdom (UK) getting a lot of stick from a top government official or some segments of the media. I therefore feel no need to express regret for revisiting the question of immigration. In fact, it is because the government has succeeded in making it such a politically charged topic that we must return frequently to test proposed policies and evaluate the claims underlying such policy positions against evidence. ever at any time in Britain’s recent history has the gap between the rich and the poor widened as rapidly as it has in the last few years. The Occupy protests that took place in London demonstrated the strength of public outrage at the increasing wealth and power of the richest 1 per cent, compared with the dire straits in which the poorest 99 per cent find themselves following a crisis not of their making. Further economic damage resulting from the pace of change of related social and economic government policies cannot be over-emphasised. An ideologically inclined energy to reduce the national deficit “at all cost” has contributed directly and indirectly to the perpetuation of widening inequality within our local communities. One of the dire consequences of inequality is that groups of people suddenly begin to view themselves as radically different from each other; indeed, they begin to focus their energies on searching for differences between themselves and other people. Inequality breeds division and the tendency for some people to blame others for their predicament. This in part
explains the growing anti-immigrants sentiments within our communities today. In the last few years, I have noticed systematic shifts in the blame game for the current social and economic malaise. First it was all about the previous government; next it was because of the Euro zone crisis; and now the focus appears to have shifted towards migrants (loosely comprising people born outside the UK). It is laughable to fault migrants for the country’s economic difficulties and distort facts up to a point that it appears as though these human beings called migrants are not part of the “live wire” of the British economy. On balance, the evidence for the UK labour market suggests that fears about migrants have been exaggerated. It is hard to find evidence of much displacement of UKborn workers or lower wages. Immigrants, particularly those from outside the European economic Area (EEA) tend to better educated than their UK-born counterparts and are less likely to be a burden on the economy. Migrants often make positive contributions to innovation
It beggars belief that despite fresh evidence from multiple sources including the National Institute of Economic and Social Research of the significant contributions of migrants to economic sectors requiring strategically important skills, not much is said about it during debates about the impacts of migrants and their loved ones. Migrants contribute disproportionately to key economic objectives of the government such as productivity growth; high levels of innovation (for example in low-carbon energy technologies); the expansion of industries where the UK has a competitive (or comparative) advantage; the diffusion and effective utilisation of ‘enabling technologies’ such as information and communication technologies which are central to economic growth in a wide range of sectors; and increased numbers of rapidly-growing firms.
cabinet member uses discriminatory language to describe relatives of some members of Britain’s communities is somewhat frightening. To simply brand a group of people as “high risk” to Britain’s economy largely because of where they were born is prejudice. This dangerously developing fiasco prompted me to quickly explore data from Britain’s recent 2011 Census. I stratified the percentage shares of all economically active and economically inactive persons (aged 16 years and above) by the geographical region where they were born. What I discovered is summarised in the chart below. Economic Activity in Britain by Geographical Region of Birth
At a House of Commons launch on the 4th of March 2013, the University of Sheffield unveiled ground breaking research that shows international/migrant students in the city are responsible for pumping over £120 million into Sheffield’s economy over a single year. This was for Sheffield alone in one year! Study after study show that migrants are more likely to start new businesses and are substantially less likely than the native population to claim benefits. They tend to be young, healthy and come here – sometimes risking their lives – to increase their new nation’s prosperity. The Financial Times analysed 3.5 million children’s exam results for the six years to 2011 and discovered that performance in London’s schools has improved to a remarkable degree during recent waves of immigration. Despite a plethora of well documented evidence detailing encouraging social and economic contributions to Britain’s economy, migrants and their loved ones still do not get enough credit. Consider the Queen’s speech of early 2013. In a sense, it was ruined by anti-immigration measures and has been described in some quarters as a panicky response to the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). More recently, Mrs Theresa May, the current Home Secretary labelled the relatives and loved ones of some British Citizens and Residents as “high risk” persons to the British economy. In my opinion, a scenario where a
We must always disregard and discourage the pursuance of a “divide and rule agenda” – an agenda which all too often seeks to ensure that some people’s dreams come true at the expense of others. I strongly believe Britain will recover in full both economically and socially from the challenges of today. This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the genuine decency and generosity of all residents who truly love and care for this country. However, full economic recovery will only happen if the different communities that make up this great nation are allowed to rebuild the economy brick by brick in love and harmony with prayer and supplication to God. In conclusion, I strongly appeal to all Britons to disregard any attempt by some politicians to demonise or blame segments of the population for the current economic challenges the country is facing.
Dr Adegbola Ojo is a Bible believing Born-again Christian. He is a Quantitative Human Geographer educated in Nigeria and Great Britain. Adegbola is credited with pioneering developing world geodemographics and he comments regularly on local and global affairs particularly within the domains of inequalities and inequities. He is married to Funmilola and they are blessed with two children – Damilola and Dapo.
POPE ARCHBISHOP The
In 2013, two Christian ministers were propelled into influential positions of leadership despite not being the most favoured candidates for their positions. Pope Francis was inaugurated on 13th March 2013 barely a week before the Archbishop of Canterbury’s enthronement on 21st March 2013. Both men met in Rome for the first time in June 2013. That meeting was a major milestone in the history of the universal Church. Dr Albert Okoye reflects on the significance of this meeting.
ope Francis and Archbishop Welby’s meeting appears to show the synergy between the two men. Their background of similar individual profiles suggest that they represent change and the beginning of a new era for the church. Their journeys to the
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JUNE 14: Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at his private library on June 14, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Archbishop of Canterbury is in Rome for a meeting with Pope Francis, it is the first time the pair have met since they became leaders of their respective Churches in March. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) talks with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, prior to a private audience at the Vatican, on June 14, 2013. (Photo credit : ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/AFP/Getty Images)
helms of affairs were quite dramatic in that they were nominated from non-prominent albeit senior roles in their churches. Justin Welby is reputed to be very much at home with evangelism for which his home church, Holy Trinity Brompton is renowned. Pope Francis is likewise known to keep the company of evangelicals in Buenos Aires,
frequently attending cross denominational charismatic worship and prayer meetings with different protestant pastors. These two men appear to be passionate yet relaxed adherents as seen in their very informal life styles. This is not only a breath of fresh air but perhaps the main reason they were able to meet so soon after taking up office. There certainly appears to be a common desire to forge unity and reconnect the Church to the original Christian ideals.
nations. According to Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School, Pope Francis is equally focused on “energising Catholic leaders for the New Evangelisation – to study the scriptures, renew the disciplines of faith and boldly proclaim the love of Christ”. How uncannily similar! One can only imagine the potential impact this collaboration can have on bridging the gorge that has separated both denominations and consequently the wider church in so many centuries.
It is most probable that some devotees of both Christian denominations might consider this meeting ‘scandalous’ given the apparent historical rift between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. This move however gives credence to aspects of the Archbishop’s enunciated vision which is to pursue unity in the Body of Christ independent of denomination. He has also pointed out that he would like to see the church return to the scriptures and fervency in daily prayer. Justin Welby will also like the church to return to the days when Christians gathered in small groups at the start and end of their working day, soliciting God’s favour and interceding for the
It is certainly a new dawn when these two prominent Christian leaders are noted to be openly passionate about evangelism. What is faith without evangelism? How did our Lord describe it? The man that found treasure and sold all he had to possess it; the woman at the well that could not stop telling people about her new found faith. Where then has this concept of our Christian faith being such “a private affair” that we are almost ashamed to confess Christ in the market place. Where prominent leaders who are Christians only admit their faith after vacating their lush political or corporate offices. Did our Lord not anticipate this state of affair in the church when he cautioned “If anyone is ashamed
of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” One wonders whether the concept of “private affair” is confined to Christianity as that would most certainly be an inappropriate term to describe faithfuls of Islamism and Judaism. Apart from outward conspicuousness they are so passionately vocal that innumerable concessions are made for them in the workplace on account of their faith. What about ‘radical clerics’ and their open proselytization almost directly attributable to the spate of radicalisation of young men and women in recent times. The church most certainly needs to return to proselytizing and openly proclaim the cross of Christ. Our children are yearning for the return of fervour to the Christian faith as its absence makes other religions more attractive and virile. It will however need to come from the highest echelon hence my excitement at the acquaintance of these gentlemen with evangelism. For effective evangelism and impartation of the society and for the church to once again be the platform of reconciliation of our society as the Archbishop desires, church walls need to come down. Visible unity – as appears to be evolving between the two church leaders – is unattainable amidst high walls of division as currently obtains in the church universal. It is my hope that the outcome of their meeting will encourage a breakdown of the formalities between different Christian denominations at local level thereby enhancing greater unity. The result will be an attractive ‘bride’ sought after by the world which presently completely disdains her for her ineffectiveness and role confusion. Modesty and plainness appear to be in very short supply in the church today. Personalities, gifts and personal achievement are increasingly flaunted in the master’s vineyard at the expense of grace. Christian leaders now often exude such egotism that it is usually difficult to differentiate them from statesmen. Acquaintances of both the Pope and the Archbishop consistently describe them as unassuming and they certainly exude modesty. That certainly was my personal experience of the Archbishop of Canterbury in my brief meeting with him. It is therefore not surprising that they are able to drop all protocols and come together ostensibly for the greater good of the Body of Christ. My fervent desire is that their perceived meekness will flow down the ranks and change the current negative image of the church. The alliance between Catholics and evangelicals is said to be the most important and surprising development in global Christianity in decades. The Pope has in fact been
described as often giving the impression that he is describing evangelicals and Catholics. He reportedly told the crowd at the Pentecost Vigil Mass “All of you in the square shouted ‘Francis, Francis, Pope Francis’ but where was Jesus? I want to hear you shout ‘Jesus, Jesus is Lord and he is in our midst’. Talk about informality and being unapologetic of Christ or proselytization. I pray that they remain courageous and fan into flame these much coveted embers of change that are needed to usher in the long awaited renaissance of the Church. I see its foundations in joint working, joint events, joint conferences and major church events between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. This milestone event will also be an example for other denominations to follow when they see age-old barriers broken down. Both men have been called ‘practical theologians’ and pragmatism is certainly needed to revamp the prevailing asphyxiating culture in the church that she may regain credibility within the wider society. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s charismatic background, evangelistic bent and international experience sets him apart from many diehard Orthodox Anglicans who would only dialogue with others within the Anglican Communion. Pope Francis is also said to be well known for his practical solution to perennial problems in the church. As both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin share a common desire for economic and social justice, this move could see evangelistic fervour combined with the traditional approach of the Catholic Church to reach communities through social welfare. One hopes that the dialogue between these two Church leaders will be a catalyst for the much needed change in church dynamics in this generation. I really think it portends a new beginning for the Church that will lead to the walls of division being pulled down. Publicly visible division and infighting has contributed in no small measure to our society’s loss of interest in the Church. Any signs of unity will rekindle people’s interest in the Church. Our Lord: ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ ( John 13:35). It is exciting to think what the Lord could do through a united Church. I can envision an event like the Global Day of Prayer happening on a much grander scale if repeated on a platform of visible unity between the two denominations and consequently the church universal. The impact of such an event on the nation would be tremendous!
Dr Albert Okoye
First Among Equals:
JUSTIN WELBY Archbishop of Canterbury Challenging times The Archbishop of Canterbury is primus inter pares (first among equals) in his presidency over the worldwide Anglican Communion, an international association of churches consisting of the Church of England and regional Anglican churches in full communion with it. The Archbishop is the spiritual leader of a diverse, global body with an estimated worldwide membership of 80 million, encompassing a wide spectrum of belief and practice including evangelical, liberal and Catholic. Spiritual leadership of Anglicans comes with challenges that are not new today. The line of Archbishops of Canterbury goes back over 1400 years to St Augustine, who arrived in Kent in 597 AD, having been sent by Pope Gregory I on a mission to the English. The list of occupants of the Chair of St. Augustine includes St Thomas Becket, martyred in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170; Stephen Langton who is credited with dividing the bible into the standard arrangement of chapters used today and Thomas Cramer, a leader of the English Reformation who was burned at the stake in 1556 during the reign of Queen Mary. William Laud who was executed in office in 1645 in the midst of the English Civil War for his opposition to radical forms of Puritanism and his support for the Royal family.
Anglican world.’ Archbishop Okoh concluded that the resignation was not good news until the next leader ‘pulls back the Anglican Communion from the edge of total destruction.’ Is it hyperbole to say that the Communion is on the edge of total destruction? Controversy over positions on issues of human sexuality and the appointment of female clergy have widened the fissures in the church and led to splits within the communion, with Evangelical Anglicans in Nigeria and liberal Episcopalians in North America being on opposite poles. As the clefts have widened, provinces in the Global South have declared themselves to be impaired communion with their Western counterparts and different alternatives to the Communion (such as GAFCON) have been set up to include or exclude different groups across the world. Whether or not they consider the Communion to be on the edge of total destruction, many would agree that the current situation presents significant challenges for the incumbent Archbishop.
While there is little risk of martyrdom for a 21st century occupant of the chair of St Augustine, leading the Anglican Communion is no less demanding than it was 400 years ago. In fact, commenting on Rowan Williams’ resignation, the Archbishop of Nigeria, Right Reverend Nicholas Okoh wrote in the Anglican Ink on 18 March 2012 that Archbishop Williams was ‘leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the
reconciliation in society is understood in all the Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Christianity has the most central theology of reconciliation. The Archbishop stated that “In Christianity you could say that the gospel is reconciliation; it is reconciliation with God, reconciliation with others: ’the walls that separated you have been broken down and you have become one people; that is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor slave or free, nor male nor female.’” The church should be reconciled to God through Jesus and consequently overflowing with reconciliation to the world around. This overflow should have a pacifying impact in conflicts across the world whether it is a local community conflict in East London, or conflicts in other parts of the world such as Nigeria, South East Asia or in Latin America. Additionally, the idea of reconciliation encompasses reconciliation between man and the natural world in terms of our stewardship over its natural resources and the environment that we have damaged over the centuries. The third priority is evangelism and witness - telling people about Jesus Christ, witnessing to the love of God and seeking to make new disciples.
Tackling Divisions within the Church Vision for the Church In spite of these challenges, Archbishop Justin Welby’s vision of the Anglican Communion is not of one on the edge of total destruction but of a united body marching forward in the power of the gospel to fulfil its purposes as the bride of Christ. The Archbishop’s vision for the church comprises of three simple priorities: renewal, reconciliation, and evangelism and witness. The first priority is prayer and renewal of the religious life through religious communities. The Archbishop explained, “Since the foundation of the Western church in the fourth century, there is no record of significant renewal in the church without renewal of the religious life.” The religious life means groups of Christians living together or meeting together more than once a week in community as an expression of intimacy with Jesus Christ, their knowledge and love of Jesus and their knowledge of his love for them.
Examples of religious communities in church history are the monasteries in the Middle Ages and the Methodists in the 18th century. These communities had very clear rules as to how they lived together. The Archbishop observed that we are, “Today seeing a new upsurge of people, particularly under the influence of the Charismatic movement, beginning to meet to pray before they go to work or after they come back, perhaps over a meal.” The second priority is reconciliation within the church. That is reconciliation within the Church of England, within the Anglican Communion and within the wider church - the Roman Catholic, the Protestant churches, with the Black Majority churches, with Pentecostals, with Methodists and other groups within the Church. He noted that, “The priority is seeing how we can move towards the visible unity that Jesus prays for in John 17 particularly verses 20 – 26.” He further noted that another aspect of reconciliation is the role of the church as a reconciling agent in society itself. Although this role of
Pursuing the priorities of renewal, reconciliation, and evangelism is at the centre of Archbishop Justin Welby’s approach for tackling the issues that have polarized and factionalized the Anglican Communion. He recognises that there is a global cultural revolution and strives to be very sensitive to cultural differences. This means making a conscious effort to learn what things would be normal in one country but considered inappropriate or strange in other parts of the world. For example, polygamy is common in many parts of Africa and is an issue that the church in Africa is struggling with. While polygamy would not be completely out of order in the African Church, it would be totally inappropriate in Britain. Similarly, Britain is the midst of the enormous cultural revolution and there is the danger that this change could leave the church completely out of touch with the culture. To remain relevant, the Church has to engage society with the attitude that, in Jesus, God does not say “Get yourself right and then I will meet with you” he says, “I
am going to come and meet with you in order to get you right.” Therefore, the danger is that the Church stands there shouting across this great chasm, “You lot are all wrong. You have got to sort yourselves out!” It actually does not have impact on anyone in the midst of this emergent culture. In this emergent culture people respond differently to issues of gender and human sexuality. Things that were considered taboo in the past are now commonplace and accepted as normal. So it seems incomprehensible to many people that the Church should be debating about homosexuality and the appointment of female bishops. Yet these debates, which have been played out virulently in the media, in the public eye, have placed a tremendous strain on internal relationships with the Church and weakened the influence of the Church on those watching. Building Relationships In order to influence those watching, Christians must first of all be reconciled with themselves. Listening to each other is the first step in bringing about reconciliation. The Archbishop explained: “First of all, as at Synod, we are trying to get the discussion about it away from shouting abuse at each other into actually sitting and listening to each other and respecting the different sides as human beings even if they are people with whom we differ very strongly. That seems to be the pattern of the gospel.” This process of reconciliation has already started. At the General Synod (the governing body of the Church of England) rather than have a parliamentary style of set debate, a whole day of the four and a half days is set aside for smaller facilitated sessions of groups of 20 people. During these sessions the participants listen to each other not in order to convince each other but in order to build a relationship and create an atmosphere conducive for discussion. The Archbishop insisted that “We have got to set an example in the church of not abusing each other.” Understanding the Bible The second action is to understand how scripture should be read, understood and interpreted. This will address the debates arising from the revisionist interpretation of scripture. The Anglican Church has recently published a major report on a church-wide project called ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church.’ Among other things, the report recommends that scripture should be interpreted
“Thank God we have changed our attitude. But if we challenged that attitude three hundred years ago, the Archbishop would have said, “Excuse me! It is in the Bible!” So we need to recognise what it is to be holy and to be aware of changes culturally from time to time. For instance, William Wilberforce changed British ideas of what holiness is”.
The Archbishop recognises the significance of Nigerian Christians and has strong ties with the Nigerian Christian community in the UK. He argues that the great potential in Nigeria is visible in the achievements of the Nigerian Diaspora. His occasional frustration with Nigeria is that its talent, which is no less there than it is here, is not better realised and harnessed. He commented, “Nigeria should be one of the richer countries in the world. And not only because of its natural resources but because of the extraordinary resource that it has in its people.”
A Global Movement
with an understanding of its cultural and historical context. The Archbishop used the text of Romans 12:3 to illustrate this point. In this text, Paul was exhorting his readers not to think more highly of themselves than they ought – in other words to be humble. There is a key point in the text that can be missed without understanding the cultural context. The Archbishop explained, “The culture in which Paul was writing was an honour culture – pride was a virtue and humility was a vice – it had been for hundreds of years. So what Paul was doing was being very radical.” Understanding the text in its cultural context and the context of the whole of Romans 12 brings the realisation that Paul was not just exhorting them to be nice to each other. He was saying “be completely different to the rest of society.” So how the bible is read is really important. Holiness The third thing is reflecting on issues of holiness: on being a holy people, on being separated from the culture, on what it means not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The Archbishop illustrated, “Three hundred years ago, it would have been inconceivable that you (two Black men) would have sat in a study with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Because the view of the Archbishop of Canterbury would have been that it was perfectly alright for a man of colour to be a slave. That is abhorrent today. It is foul. You look at it and you think “That is the most
The connection between new perspectives on holiness, the abolition of transatlantic slave trade and the growth of Christianity across the Atlantic from Europe cannot go unnoticed. It has been said that the centre of gravity of Christianity is moving to the so-called Global South. Since the 1900s, Christianity has grown more rapidly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. According to World Christian Database estimates the 10 million Christians in Africa in 1900 has grown to 493 million in 2010 compared to the growth of 381 million to 588 million Christians in the same period. The same source estimates that by 2050, nearly one-third of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be in Africa. It is in this context that the Archbishop expressed a keen sense that the Anglican Communion is a global movement. “It is not English with overseas links; it is actually principally sub-Saharan African. The average Anglican is an African woman in her mid-thirties!” The Most Revd Welby feels well-equipped to lead this global movement. His international work over the last three decades has given him a network of relationships which are a start to the work needed in the Anglican Communion today. Over the next 18 months, the Archbishop and his wife Caroline, plan to make private visits to every one of the 38 Anglican primates around the world. This is to consult with them and listen to them as to what their priorities are, to build a relationship that allows the Communion globally to go forward, still disagreeing but in love rather than disagreeing too openly. “So we have got to change the pattern of how the communion works so that we represent much more the majority of the Communion than we do at the moment. And Nigeria is really important for that because it is the biggest single Anglican Church (21 million members) – and it must take its place. That significance has to be recognised.”
The Archbishop encounters a great variety of Nigerian Diaspora across professions – bus drivers, medical doctors, major business people, teachers, professors, academics of all kinds and a phenomenal number of students. He asserted: “I look at that and I want the Diaspora to model what Nigeria can be and Nigeria to become what the Diaspora is. “ How can Nigerian Christians in Diaspora support the Archbishop both in his vision for the Church and his desire for Nigeria Diaspora? First pray. Given the Archbishop’s emphasis on the renewal of prayer and the religious life, he wants Nigerian Christians to set an example in prayer. Secondly communicate. Because of its profound links with Nigeria, the OFNC is well-positioned to explain to the Nigerian Church what is going on in Britain and help Nigerian Christians understand that the issues that they see the Church struggling with here are just as complex as the issues leading to on-going violence in Nigeria. Without understanding it is easy to simplify what is a really complicated situation. It would be easy for someone in Britain to say, “I don’t understand what is going on in Nigeria. Why don’t they just stop fighting?” And the informed response would be, “It is not as simple as that!”
terrible thing you did for hundreds of years.”
To remain relevant, the Church has to engage society with the attitude that, in Jesus, God does not say “Get yourself right and then I will meet with you”
the enthusiasm in his voice when he confided that since coming back, “We have just found this the most exciting city. I went for a run earlier this morning and I was praying as I ran, thanking God. I was just saying it is so amazing to live in this incredible city with this huge energy.” Archbishop Justin Welby’s final challenge to Nigerian Christians in London: “What are you doing to make sure that this city is what it should be? There are a lot of you. You have got the biggest churches in London – these are Nigerian-led. So change our society!” By Peter Ikuobase Photographs: Julian Calder & Sue Jordan
Thirdly the OFNC should keep in touch with the Archbishop, because he values the contact. He concluded, “I like to meet, to listen and talk – like today.” The Archbishop moved to the North of England from London in 1989 where he studied for his ordination and subsequently worked in churches all over England. On returning in February 2013, he was excited to find London a completely different city – “one with more different ethnic communities that anywhere else in the world, where the White British is now less than 50% of the population in the city.” One could not help but feel
one only has to read the rest of Leviticus 18 to see that there are prohibitions to be found against incest, bestiality and child sacrifice. Would anyone wish to argue that these verses no longer apply either? Why single out the verse about homosexuality and say that no longer applies but the rest of the chapter does? Yet even if one completely disregards all of the Old Testament, homosexuality isn’t talked about in much of a better light in the New Testament.
Tackling Issues of
here is an issue which many of us have to confront in the society we live in today and sadly so few Christians seem equipped to deal with. It’s a subject which is also quite personal for me and this is homosexuality. It is dividing the Church, dividing Christians and causing people to question the authority of the Bible and some even reinterpret the scriptures. Western society seems to fully embrace it as an acceptable, normal and moral lifestyle. This article will attempt to look at the matter in a loving and compassionate manner. So what does the Bible say? Can the scriptures surrounding this issue really be reinterpreted?
The Bible Firstly, before one looks at the scriptures which specifically mention homosexuality and talking about what God is against it is important to look at the scriptures to see what God is for. In the book of Genesis we read about God creating mankind. In Genesis 2 when God created Eve it says in verses 23-24: ‘The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Jesus also reiterated this in Matthew 19:4-6 when he said: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” From this it seems the Bible is clear that God’s intention for relationships is between male and female. God created men and women for each other. Old Testament Prohibitions Leviticus 18:22:Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 20:13: If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Pro-gay theologians would argue that the prohibitions against homosexuality in Leviticus no longer apply because we disregard many of the other old testament laws such as dietary laws amongst others. However, this argument fails to address the distinction between the moral and ceremonial law.The ten commandments are just as valid for us today as they were in old testament times for example. Beyond that,
New Testament Prohibitions Romans 1:24-27: Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. The passage in Romans is possibly the most upfront and blatant description of homosexuality found in the Bible. It is also the one passage that specifically mentions female homosexuality. It is also the passage that pro-gay theologians have attempted to pervert more than any other. The argument that they came up with is so asinine that anyone with any understanding of the Bible can see the error. Pro-gay theologians tend to focus on the terms ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’. The argument goes that this passage is condemning those who are ‘naturally heterosexual’ engaging in homosexual acts but not those who are ‘naturally homosexual’from engaging in them.This peculiar argument is then twisted to say that this passage of scripture also condemns those who are ‘naturally homosexual’ engaging in heterosexual sex. Looking at the wider picture of Romans chapter 1 really helps us to see the context of these verses. It seems to be from the perspective of God looking down on our broken, fallen world and seeing the sin that we are involved in because we have turned away from Him. In fact reading Romans 1 gives us a very accurate picture of us as a society that applies just as much today as it did 2,000 years ago. For this reason I believe that it is very clear this passage is condemning
homosexuality as a perversion of what God intended for us. In the passage in Corinthians, pro-gay theologians once again try to argue that it doesn’t mean what it says by attacking the translation from the original Greek words. Yet if one has already considered what the Bible has said about homosexuality up to this point then any argument against the meaning of the words becomes worthless. For in addition to any mention of homosexuality this passage clearly mentions the ‘sexually immoral’. Sexual morality is established throughout scripture as being between a man and a woman in the confines of marriage. On a more personal note what I love about the passage in Corinthians is that it concludes with ‘Such were some of you’.This clearly shows that people can and do change.This provides hope for the homosexual, but not just for them but for all sinners. As I can personally testify, God can save and change all of us My Story I grew up in a Christian home but at a young age I was abused by a close relative. I believe that this decided the path I would take over the next few years. During my childhood and teenage years I had many homosexual experiences with guys around my own age. I decided that I wanted nothing to do with God, the bible, Christians or anything spiritual. Yet even at this time I know that deep down I was seeking something. I wasn’t finding fulfilment in the homosexual encounters so I got involved with drugs and alcohol. This still didn’t fulfil me but it did help blank out the depression that I felt which was caused by my past. One day when I was 18, I was on the website theologyonline.com which is a Christian web forum for discussion about Christian or political issues. At the leading of the website’s owner, I decided to completely give my life over to the Lord. The battle since then hasn’t been easy and the road has been long but God has completely changed me from the inside out. He has taken away the desire to do that which I wanted to do before and given me a new desire – a desire to live in passionate pursuit of Him and His will for my life. Conclusion To read the Bible without adding our own ideas we can only come to the conclusion that homosexuality is a sin. Pro-gay theologians have to come up with arguments that add their own ideas to scripture. In closing I will leave you with this thought that my Dad taught me a while ago in regards to how we look at scripture: If the literal sense makes sense, Seek no further sense lest it result in nonsense. Peter Greensmith Email: email@example.com / Mobile: 07411179212
A mother who raised a child with Sickle Cell Disease gave Arise her story:
My name is Ogoma and I am a mother of f ive children; one boy and four girls, one of whom has Sickle Cell Disease.
Sickle Cell Disease:
Talking to the Experts
Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited disorder that causes chronic anaemia (a condition in which human blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells), periodic episodes of pain and other complications. The disease affects millions of people around the world and is common in people that originate from sub-Saharan Africa. 42
t is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the normal development of haemoglobin haemoglobin (an important protein found in red blood cells).. Red blood cells are normally round and flexible and transport oxygen to all parts of the body. In sickle cell disease sufferers the red cells become rigid and crescent shaped; often getting stuck in narrow blood vessels and blocking blood flow, which in turn leads to the damage of various organs in the body.
I got married several years ago in Nigeria. I moved to England after the wedding to join my husband who was already here. During my first pregnancy, I was told I had the Sickle Cell trait. My husband was also tested and he was the same. My GP then suggested I had an amniocentesis, to check if the baby had SCD, so that I could abort it if it did. I was shocked, as I had no prior knowledge of all this before marriage. However I was sure that the procedure was not God's will for me or my baby so I refused to do it. My son was born and turned out to be AS. When my second child, Similoluwa, was three months old she had an episode of vomiting and diarrhoea and was quite unwell. She was tested and found to have SCD. She was generally well throughout her childhood years and never had bone pain crisis, although she sometimes had abdominal pain for which no particular cause was found. In her teens, she often had joint and bone pains; particularly when stressed. As we had no knowledge of the disease before we got married, I kept counselling her to make sure she limits her choice of life partner to someone who is AA. She is now married and has a daughter. Two of my other children are AS and one is AA. My advice to young people now is to make things easier for themselves by knowing their genotype. I feel youth culture in England is quite different from where I grew up, as they are more open with each other. As such, it should be relatively easy when talking about themselves at the beginning of a relationship to mention their genotype and thereby avoid unnecessary heartache later on.
In the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians, we are privileged to count two experts in the area of Sickle
Cell as members: Dr Wale Atoyebi, who is a Consultant Haematologist at Oxford Radcliffe hospitals NHS Trust, and Dr Baba Inusa, the lead clinician for the Children’s Sickle Cell and Thalassemia centre at Guy’s and St Thomas in London. Looking from their unique position as experts, they recently provided answers to burning questions posed to them by Arise Magazine’s Toyin Baikie.
Arise: How common is Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) amongst ‘our’ people? Dr Baba Inusa: Every year, about 300,000 children are born worldwide with SCD. 150,000 of these are in Nigeria and 320 in the UK. There is a general lack of accurate data. Dr Wale Atoyebi: In fact, it is estimated that two out of every hundred children born in Nigeria have Sickle Cell Disease.50% of children with SCD in Nigeria are thought to die before the age of five.
Arise: Why is it mainly a ‘black’ people’s disease? Dr Wale Atoyebi: Actually, as well as sub-Saharan Africa, it is also found in parts of the Mediterranean, some countries in the Middle East like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as well as in Brazil and Southern Europe. Malaria is actually the biggest association. Wherever there is or has been malaria, there seems to be sickle cell disease. The S trait causes resistance to malaria so at some stage mutation must have occurred to protect against malaria.
Arise: What does standard care of ‘sicklers’ consist of? Dr Baba Inusa: In the UK, where diagnosis is made soon after birth, the child and it’s parents are seen by a healthcare worker within four weeks, so that they receive all the necessary information and support. They are then seen in a specialist centre within three months. Following this they are seen every three months. Dr Wale Atoyebi: Treatment is largely supportive. They need to keep warm and well hydrated and try and
A UNDP programme has established six centres where standard diagnosis available-:Keffi, Abakaliki, Yenagoa, Gombe, Birnin Kebbi and Ebute Meta. Training, prenatal and newborn diagnosis has been introduced. There is a counsellor training programme at the national sickle cell disease centre in Lagos. Some organisations including OFNC,MAMSA and the Nigerian Sickle Cell Foundation are working hard to improve care .
Arise: Have there been any recent advances in the management of Sickle Cell disease in recent years? Dr Wale Atoyebi: Yes, there has been a lot of improvement in the management of Sickle Cell Disease in recent years, which has in turn led to an increase in life expectancy. Every child born in the United Kingdom is now tested for the disease at one week of life. This means that they can be offered the right care very early on to prevent complications.
avoid extremes of stress. They ought to receive daily folic acid and Penicillin V tablets, as well as yearly Influenza vaccination and a Pneumococcal vaccination every five years. They should have regular ophthalmic review and they need to have an echocardiogram to check their heart every three years.
sufferers will have a regime of analgesia they are used to; which may consist of paracetamol, cocodamol and nonsteroidals like ibuprofen or naproxen. Oral morephine may be used in cases whee there is more severe pain. Acute chest crisis is the next most common reason for admission and has a severe risk of mortality if not properly managed.
In the last five years, transcranial dopplers have been introduced for children once a year, until they turn sixteen, in order to predict the risk of stroke and take preventive action.
In the event of recurrent crisis, there are a variety of things that can be done to reduce the frequency i.e. drug therapy-hydroxyurea and transfusion therapy.
Arise: What kind of care is available for the The most common reason for admission is pain. Minor management of Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria? crisis can be managed at home and most sickle cell
Dr Baba Inusa: Sickle Cell Services in Nigeria are quite
Furthermore, every pregnant woman in the UK is screened for the sickle cell trait, and if the test is positive, their partner is also screened. The introduction of Doppler monitoring for stroke prevention and regular echocardiograms are also fairly recent. Bone marrow transplantation, which is at present the only cure, is becoming more widely available especially in the USA and Brazil. It is however only offered in a few places in the UK. Arise: As a Christian and also an expert in the f ield, what is your opinion on whether two people with genotype AS/AS or even AS/SS should marry and also of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which some people now rely on via
patchy. The care each individual sufferer can access depends on their knowledge, education and what they can afford. Unfortunately there is no national plan for Sickle Cell Disease. Diagnosis is often made late and service delivery is not uniform all over the nation. Diagnosis is often made when children become unwell with jaundice and swelling of the hands. Large numbers die before diagnosis is made.
“...it is estimated that two out of every hundred children born in Nigeria have Sickle Cell Disease. 50% of children with SCD in Nigeria are thought to die before the age of five.”
the IVF route to avoid Sickle Cell Disease in their children. Dr Wale Atoyebi: In societies where there is a high prevalence of Sickle Cell Disease, such as in Nigeria, there is now a great awareness about sickle cell disease and the impact it has on a person’s life. Consequentially, many more people are getting tested and now know their genotype, so they are able to make an informed choice. Many more people are now avoiding the risk. There are ethical, moral and faith issues in PGD, as it involves a process of selection a foetus and discarding those not deemed to be healthy enough. I do not personally believe that these procedures are consistent with my faith as a Christian and it might be preferable for the situation to be avoided in the first place. Dr Baba Inusa: PGD takes you through a lot of hurdles and can be quite traumatic. It is expensive and there is no guarantee of a baby at the end of it. There is an increased risk of genetic abnormality. It would be good for every young person to know their genotype, so they can make an informed choice early in a relationship. In concluding this article, I would like to remember those who might be reading this who are living with Sickle Cell Disease. Whatever you might be going through, I just want you to know these two things: ‘The Lord will never leave you or forsake you’ and also: ‘Your light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ Dr Toyin Baikie, OFNC London Branch
On a personal note, I have found exercising regularly: •
Helps me sleep deep and uninterrupted. This is because by the time I go to bed, I am not only mentally exhausted but also physically tired, hence I sleep very deeply to recover and start afresh the next day.
Helps my digestion and metabolism. I am a calorie counter and I get that satisfaction knowing that each time I exercise I am burning hundreds of calories and specifically, last night’s dinner has been incinerated!
FIT After FORTY “Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?... You have been bought and paid for, so honour God with your body” . (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20) t is a privilege to share my health and fitness experience with you. I pray that you find the article helpful in a number of ways:
• For the brothers and sisters who are already exercising regularly, I hope that you find some of the principles and processes as validation of the good work that you are already doing. • For the beginners and others who are yet to start, I pray that you find this piece useful to complement or kick-start your health and fitness program. A few facts about myself: •
I am NOT a personal trainer and I do not work in the health and fitness industry.
I have been doing moderate-high intensity exercising and keeping fit for over 25 years. I completed the London Marathon 4 times, numerous half marathons, five to ten kilometres runs and the London to Brighton bike ride. I work out five times a week and play golf.
Benefits “He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend the bow of bronze” (Psalm 18:34) There are numerous benefits of engaging in regular moderate-intensity exercises. Some of the medically proven and well documented advantages include preventing or minimising the risk of contracting diseases and illnesses such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, depression and dementia. This is more so for those of us in the middle age group (40-60 years old).
A source of energy: I work out early in the morning and it really kicks off my day on a positive note. Apart from the very satisfying sense of achievement, it injects extra energy into me and gives me the buzz to face the day’s tasks efficiently.
Increases my nutritional awareness and facilitates my food discipline. 1 gram of food creates approximately 6 calories of energy. My body uses about 2700 calories per day, so I keep a tab on my calorie intake.
it down make significantly more progress than those who do not. •
Start slowly: Exercising is a journey of a life time. Don’t rush it. Start slowly and build it up. If you keep at it, the results will show. Moreover, you want to avoid injury. 3045 minutes a day, 3 days a week is a good place to start.
Keep it interesting with variety: I always do a different routine every day so that there something to look forward to the next day.
Reward yourself: Every once in a while, go for a massage or even get the full spa treatment. Your body will thank you and respond accordingly.
Find a reason to do it: Never fall into the trap of “I don’t have time”. Always say to yourself, the devil is a liar, I have time to look after the heavenly body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13)
“For while bodily training is of some value, Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8)
There are thousands of fitness programs and tools out there and quite frankly, they could be overwhelming. My experience is that some of the basic exercises are still the most effective, so long as they are applied consistently with method and discipline. Whilst I encourage using a gym (if accessible and affordable), you don’t need to be in a gym for good exercise. One of the benefits of exercising in the gym is that you will be in the company of like-minded people and the environment can be motivating. Furthermore, the gym offers a lot of variety (equipment and space) as well as access to personal trainers if needed. However, if the gym is not your thing, you can still undertake a wide variety of effective and efficient exercise routines. The following principles will facilitate effective exercise routines: •
Set Objectives: I assure you that setting short-term goals will help you tremendously. Objectives help me focus and assess progress. Write it down: Buy a log book and always write down your goals, your program and what you have done (i.e. your exercises). Science has proven that those who write
Health and fitness is more than what we do thirty to sixty minutes a day, three to four times a week, it is a lifestyle. Once I made the decision to improve my health and fitness many years ago, I knew I was on a journey for the rest of my life. One of my favourite stories is the staircase at Marble Arch station. It has 102 steps and for the five years that my office was located in the area, I never took the escalator. I always looked forward to climbing those steps daily and every time I completed the climb, I derived a great sense of satisfaction and achievement and the process helped me start my day in a very positive mindset. Every day, we have opportunities to walk down the road to buy toiletries rather than jump in the car for the short drive, climb the stairs in the office rather than take the lift, or take a Saturday afternoon walk with your spouse. To improve your health and fitness, I encourage you to seize as many of them as possible. After all, every twenty steps you walk equals 1 calorie burned.
Olumuyiwa Obilieye, OFNC North London Branch Please consult your doctor or a certified fitness professional before your start any exercise program.
baptising the children
front view of King's childrens home
all staff and kids with becky
One by One four-year-old Becky Murray would stare at the damaged teddy bear with the patched up eye and the missing arm, and beg her mum to let her buy it. At the time, it was sweet, cute and innocent, but little did Becky know that a passion was being birthed in her for the poor and broken. A few years on and, with ambitions of becoming a solicitor, Becky went on her first mission trip with a team from her church to Romania, and it was then she knew that she would one day run an
orphanage of her own. Now aged 31, the mother-ofone from South Yorkshire is living the dream. After abandoning her career plans, she trained as a nurse and now heads up ‘One By One‘, the humanitarian outreach charity that she formed in 2011. And despite being just two years old, the ministry is making a huge difference in the lives of some of the world’s poorest children. Becky raised a whopping £100,000 and built her first orphanage, King’s Children’s Home in Kenya, and is caring for more than 200 children, some of
whom suffer from HIV and have suffered horrific abuse. She has also opened a school and is planning further projects. She says, “The need is so great across the world today. If we don’t care for these children, who will? Many Christians want to go to church and have a good time, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but in this hour we need to get out of the four walls and make a difference.“ “The Bible says that God is love. The gospel to the starving man might be a bowl of rice, to the naked man it’s a new shirt, to the orphan it’s someone who they can call mum or dad, and to the broken it might just be a hug. One By One is all about stopping for one life. I’m under no illusions – I know that I’m not going to change the world all by myself, but I do believe I can change one person’s world. In the book of John we read how Jesus stopped for a woman at a well. He crossed cultural boundaries to even speak to this woman, yet her life was completely changed
and she went and told her entire village. That’s the hope of One By One, that through stopping for one life at a time we can see whole villages, towns, cities and even nations come to Christ and understand the love of God.” Becky has waited more than ten years to see her dream come to pass and her ministry has taken her to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and India; while she has also distributed hampers to poverty-stricken families in Britain at Christmas. “I didn’t know it at the time but even as a young girl God was preparing me for this,” she says. “I always cared for the poor and I always had a heart for people. It’s taken over ten years for this to happen which shows that when God promises us something we have to be patient. Some of the children we have helped in Africa come from the most tragic of backgrounds. I bought one young girl some clothes in Sierra Leone and she assumed I’d done so in return for sexual favours. It makes you wonder what she must have gone through before for her to think that. We’ve seen children come to us with HIV and others who have been abused by their family members. Their stories are horrendous, but we know that we can see them spiritually made whole as well as see their needs practically met.” Becky has started taking several mission teams out to assist her in the children’s home each year and is encouraged by the support she has received from Christians in Britain. “People can sponsor our children for just £18 per month and that contributes to their education, clothing, food, accommodation and it also sees them raised in a Christian environment. The Church has really got behind us and we are grateful. Some people might do a sponsored run to help us or they might want to come and spend a week at the orphanage and volunteer for us. It’s all a great blessing. We have plans to open up more homes across Africa and in other third world nations, and I’m excited to see what God is going to do. I’m just a young mum from Yorkshire who has no Bible degree or expert qualifications. If God can use me then he can use anyone.” By Matthew Murray
education in our school
This is my experience raising an autistic child. Other people may have different experiences, but we all have something in common; having to deal with a condition that society do not really understand. It forces you to change your preconceptions about your child’s future.
Raising a child with Autism Autism does not discriminate; it can affect anyone. As a Black mother I witness the different levels of prejudice after his diagnosis.
Venessa Bobb raising local awareness about autism at Tooting Library’s Community Day in July 2013
The CHURCH and here is no manual when it comes to raising a child, everyone has differing opinions. My son was diagnosed with Autistic and ADHD in April 2008. Throughout my pregnancy, my only worry was the lack of movement, however, I had an easy pregnancy.
When Nathaniel was born, he had a little bit of jaundice and stayed in hospital for several days. He was a quiet baby. Problems began when he started to walk, most of the time he had to be kept in his high-chair or strapped in his pushchair. Nathaniel became more difficult to manage as he got older. He lacked concentration and was easily distracted. He was the typical boisterous boy, climbing everywhere, but had no fear of danger. He would get hurt, but would repeat the action, oblivious to pain. He had an obsession with certain objects. He would bang his head in frustration, pull out his hair or bite himself. His self-harming was something that I hated, but I learnt that it was his way of dealing with sensory overload. Nathaniel sometimes makes strange noises from the back of his throat. He would cover his ears, if sounds were too loud. Meltdowns could be triggered. Occasionally, he would destroy things in frustration. He likes to wear particular clothing, so purchasing the same colour and design is a must if he is to wear the item. He complains about the clothing labels hurting him, which I cut out to stop any meltdown. When Nathaniel gets home he takes his clothes off and remains in his underpants.. He says he doesn’t care as it is his home and he likes it.
Venessa and Nathaniel
The only time that he seems content is when he is on his game consoles or on a laptop watching films. So, what is autism? The first question I would ask anyone, before suggesting that their child has Autism is, does your child struggle with communication, language and social interaction? If 1:4 boys are autistic, how many are receiving adequate and suitable support? The list below indicates some of the autistic traits. This is merely a guideline and is not meant for diagnosing Autism. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Resistance to direction Short attention span Causes injury to self (biting, banging head and scratching) motor skills are developmentally behind peers Difficulty waiting for their turn Difficulty understanding jokes or figures of speech Difficulty reading facial expressions/ body language Inappropriate challenging and/or sexualised behaviour Sensitivity or lack of sensitivity to sounds, textures , tastes, smells or light need to fix or arrange things No fear of danger May avoid eye contact May have speech delay or be non-verbal Sudden unexplained outbursts in behaviour Obsessions or stressed easily Seems to ignore their name
Fact: Autism is a hidden disability with behavioural and social implications. Black children on the autistic spectrum experience triple discrimination, with their behaviour not being immediately linked to Autism. The images portrayed in the media do not help. Many professionals and even the parents/carers are quick to point out that the child’s bad behaviour is due to poor parenting skills. Denial is dangerous, as it could do more damage to the child. Some families feel ashamed to say the child has an illness, but Autism is not contagious and is not a disease. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance in helping the individual. It gives the child a better start in life and lessens anxiety and confusion when amongst peers, friends and family. Bear in mind that there are many Autistic Adults and Autistic Parents who have received a late diagnosis, who require just as much support. Research has shown that, if the relevant support is withheld, it could lead to mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.
I believe all establishments need to invest in finding out what autism is, in the work place, public transport, banks and other public arenas There is a lack of understanding in the church. Many families feel they will not be welcomed. Where are the autistic children and adults? How would your church cater for their needs and would they be supported? It is essential that adapting for inclusion takes place. Living with my autistic son has changed my way of thinking. I am more tolerant when around difficult people and children. Throughout my storm, I knew that God was my source of strength. Nathaniel still finds it difficult being in church, but I have to give God thanks to Pastor Swaby and God is Gracious Family for keeping me in their prayers. I am victorious.
My journey is still difficult as people at times see my son as undisciplined because he is verbal and articulate. I do not use Autism as an excuse for my son’s behaviour and try to channel his energy elsewhere. People need to overlook and learn to understand the condition, because they do understand how you act towards them. Whether they are non-verbal,verbal, classic autistic or high functioning autistic. Don’t judge a book by its cover. On a good day people are are quick to point out “He is not autistic, because he is intelligent and looks normal”. Only those who have been on my journey can testify how much he has changed. God is good! The majority of the time, I felt isolated, I watched other people’s children being praised while I was getting blamed for not caring for my children properly. It was also difficult for his sisters now aged 12 and 7. He would be controlling on family days outs, resulting in us staying at home. Babysitting became harder as he got older. My daughters could not invite friends home, because Nathaniel would be overbearing.
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20 (KJV) By Venessa Bobb A2ndVoice are a non-for-profit voluntary organisation, which was formed on the 18th May 2012, the aim was to bridge the gap and meet the needs of individuals and families with children and adults on the Autistic Spectrum who were lacking support from mainstream. A2nd Voice can be contacted on: Mobile: +44 (0) 7964 173 958 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://a2ndvoice.com Facebook: A2ndVoice - Autism Support Group - Tooting Twitter: A2ndVoice Skype: a2ndvoice
question - What should our attitude be to persecution? At one level, the answer is simple. We should encourage the persecuted with the words of scripture. James writes (chapter 1 v2) that we should consider it pure joy when we suffer for Christ’s sake, and Peter tells us in his first epistle (chapter 4 v16) to praise God and not be ashamed when we are persecuted. Jesus said that if He was persecuted, why shouldn’t we expect similar treatment. After all, no servant is greater than his master (Matthew 10 v24). And in 1 Peter 2 v19-21, we get a clear explanation of why Christians are persecuted and how they should react.
Count it all JOY? “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3 12. few years ago, at the annual conference of the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians (OFNC), I sat in the front row of an auditorium, watching a harrowing video. I could hear screams that chilled my insides and commentaries that told of maimings, burnings, lootings and killings of Christians in Plateau State, Nigeria. Years before, a speaker had addressed the same conference and told of how his church was burned down in Kaduna. These were the pre-Boko Haram days, before the bombs and military style attacks, in the days of organised or disorganised mob action.
I particularly remembered the speaker because I had Christian friends who were worried for their families during the Kaduna massacres. As for Jos, I stayed there
for a year, beginning from October 1984. It was a beautiful city, the climate was more Mediterranean than Nigerian and it was a favourite of many foreigners. It had several missionary schools which offered excellent education before the age of expensive private schools. The city felt cosmopolitan; during my year there, I met Yoruba taxi drivers and Igbo traders. You heard all languages on the streets of Jos, and the university itself had lecturers and students from every state of Nigeria. Even the university in Lagos, (then the Nigerian capital) was not as diverse. Some people have greater or lesser links with Christians in Northern Nigeria. Apart from family members in Abuja, I had a niece who served in Jos, and I remember ringing her regularly, just to be sure she was safe. As a result of current developments, I’m plagued by the
But try telling that to someone who has just lost everything, including their family, and who perhaps narrowly escaped death and is nursing some serious injuries or disabilities. So, what should I do from the comfort of my home? I once heard that persecuted Chinese Christians pray for their ‘comfortable’ brothers and sisters in the UK, that they do not get so relaxed as to forget that Christ predicted persecution. In any case, is this home so comfortable? If I’m not a direct victim, am I really so distant from persecution? The answer, surprisingly, is no. I may not be in Jos, but to distance myself from persecution ignores a fundamental element of Christianity, which is that in major and minor ways Christians will face some persecution if their faith is to challenge their enemy. In the UK, we need only to ask the Christians who are prevented from wearing a cross to their workplace, or those who own a bed and breakfast but have to allow practicing homosexuals to board with them. Or ask the Christian Union (CU) members in several universities, denied funding by their student unions, for daring to state that officials of the CU have to believe in Jesus Christ. If you doubt that Christians face persecution in the UK, ask the churchgoers who have worshipped in some premises for several years, yet have recently been taken to court because the praise and worship “disturbs” their neighbours, some of whom have only recently moved in. Only last year, Arise Magazine published an article examining how Christian Medical Doctors may face situations in which they have to share their faith.
The uncomfortable truth is that things may get worse. We’re not yet dying for our faith, but we now have to defend it against those who believe that Christians are dogmatic. Interestingly, those who accuse Christians of intolerance have not shown much tolerance for Christianity. I find it difficult to understand why for example, the Christian Union in a university should be expected to have an atheist as an official, and I wonder whether the atheist society would welcome a Christian leading its activities. But will my rant make a difference? The Bible suggests several things I might consider. When Paul faced persecution, he asked that his readers pray for him, that he may be even bolder in declaring the gospel (Ephesians 6 19-20). In 2 Corinthians (chapter 8), he exhorts all to give to needy Christians. And in his decision to take his case to Rome, Paul made it clear that where possible we should not just stand by and watch persecution. In January 2012, the OFNC organised a vigil outside the Nigeria High Commission, to draw attention to our persecuted brothers in northern Nigeria. We should continue to work with like minded organisations to pray, to offer relief and to speak out. In doing so, we are saying to them, “we hear you, we feel your pain, and we’re with you”. We pray that others listen before it all gets out of control. Nigeria was known for many things, but only recently (with the attempt to blow up an aircraft in 2009 and the recent killing of a British soldier in Woolwich) have Nigerians become associated with international terrorism. Perhaps it’s time for Western states, in their own interest, to take the Nigerian situation more seriously, and for Christians to recognize that the gradual loss of fundamental freedoms may be the beginning of a dangerous shift from mild intolerance to open persecution. In the meantime, we should consider our persecuted brothers and sisters. It is true that we should expect persecution, but that does not mean we should sit and watch. Dr Ife Akintunde
F A Dispenser of
The “story of the widow” is the story of our collective humanity, and for some of us, it is a script that is rudely dropped into our lap. Life itself compels us to play the role. Today, and over the years I have witnessed the unfolding of my life as a widow, the narrative has become all too familiar: someone knows somebody who knows someone, who knows someone else who is a widow. 54
On a more personal note, I often remember the events of November 7th, 1996 and the ADC plane crash that killed my husband of 17 years. One year, as the anniversary of the tragic event approached, I phoned my childhood friend Kola Munis. He was in the middle of promoting a film called “Widow.” “Widow” tells the story of an Igbo widow, with a view to heighten and create awareness of the plight of, not just one widow, but the plight of our ‘widowed’ community, ‘widowed’ country and ‘widowed’ continent. Like Nnena, the protagonist in this drama, many Africans are forced to flee from the homeland as a result of death. Death of justice, death of economy, death of infrastructure, death of opportunity, death of status, death of family; the list goes on. I also fled. Not to a place, but to my Savior. He met me with grace, as well as the promise of grace, for the journey ahead. Paul reminds me in his writing to the Ephesians, that I am still God’s handiwork, graced and predestined to do good works, and that grace will accompany me to paths prepared ahead of time. Indeed, when my children rebelled, when money fell short, when redundancy came and when I refused to answer the call to ministry, an abundance of grace guided me. But great grace was also mine as my children completed their university education, married, and got their first jobs. Grace came when I yielded my will to His will, and the reward and sheer fulfillment of being centered in His will.
or me, widowhood has been a journey of grace. Grace is God’s gift to me. I have experienced the sufficiency of grace in the healing of my broken heart, grace as I was suddenly thrust into the role of a single parent. One of my favourite scriptures is Ephesians 3:2. Paul, the Apostle, is emphatic about the grace that is given to him to dispense to the Gentiles. Indeed grace is mine, dispensed by the Holy Spirit to live out my faith as a Christian woman.
“...Did the Lord select me for trouble when my husband’s aircraft crashed into the Ejirin marshland? No. He trusted me with trouble, and gave me a timeless promise; that grace will be sufficient...”
marshland? No. He trusted me with trouble, and gave me a timeless promise; that grace will be sufficient. I remember praying, ‘Lord may my pain not be wasted, but redeem my life, broken and fragmented as I am.’ So God took those fragments and made me whole, and sent me to broken and fragmented people and places, in order to dispense the same grace I have received. So one fine summer day, I found myself on the train to Sheffield, headed for an Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians event, to speak to widows and widowers. We talked, we prayed and we wept, but grace was dispensed once again; grace enough to go back out there and live the life and walk in the path predestined for us by an omniscient and benevolent Saviour. So the journey continues with shouts of grace and grace to it. Pastor Abby Olufeyimi Abby Olufeyimi is Parish Pastor of Builder’s House, (RCCG) Croydon. Abby cares about people, and is committed to adding something good to those she meets. Follow her on Twitter @abzthevicar as she follows @stompedout.
Did the Lord select me for trouble when my husband’s aircraft crashed into the Ejirin
Mrs Foluke Akingbolagun
Dr Emmanuel Baikie
Dr Emmanuel Baikie, Area Secretary of the OFNC London Branch, recently met with Mrs Foluke Akingbolagun of Genesis Impact to discuss plans for joint working between the two organisations. Dr Albert Okoye, the National Chairman of the OFNC, comments on this strategic partnership.
he connection with Genesis Impact was made through one of the Directors of Christian Concern, who knew that Mrs Akingbolagun was working with a lot of ethnic minorities within the inner city and felt the programme she was running would actually go a long way, if supported by the right ethnic minority group. Impressed with the level of resources in the OFNC and the synergy between the two organisations, he discussed it with me and we met with Genesis Impact.
It became immediately clear to me that what the organisation was doing was unprecedented, and that Mrs Akingbolagun was taking the gospel into areas that we had hitherto considered hostile to the word of God.
Further exploration actually explained that, contrary to what most of us think, the laws of the nation still insist that Christianity has to be taught in schools; irrespective of the type of school. So there is the opportunity, but lack of awareness on the part of church means that we have not really been engaging at that level. I then realised that there was an opportunity for the OFNC, given its grassroots following and wide range of professionals within the organisation, to engage with the wider youth in terms of reducing the propensity to get involved in extremist groups. While they are still young, it is important to connect with them and present the message of the bible to young people and their families; in a way that will clearly show that we have concern for both their physical and spiritual needs.â€?
Over and above the work that Genesis Impact does with assemblies, there is also a welfare department that means we can contribute to the lives of the pupils. One example is contributing to the school meals for children that need it. I believed that this was clearly in line with the vision of the OFNC about integrating, working and coming alongside with organisations that are making a difference in the marketplace. And making sure that we are able to connect with such organisations and use our resources to bolster their work. We discussed it and felt that we could start by supporting some of the staff members of Genesis Impact, starting with a trial run with some of the London branches. After this, we could roll it out across the branches, being able to replicate such a laudable initiative across the UK. We also felt that this would take us into secondary schools and colleges as well; being able to establish that with Genesis Impact and work with their model. My desire is to see this replicated across the whole country. And as observed recently, there is a significant number of ethnic minority children (not just blacks but Asians and other minority groups), who are finding it difficult to integrate into society and who could benefit from the help of people or groups, who are fully aware of what is
going on around the country. This could help them to reduce the anxieties that they may have when it comes to social engagement and confronting the system. So it is nice to think of the impact that the work of Genesis Impact is having, not just on the children, but on the parents as well; the very fact that one can provide parenting classes and focus groups , where you could have parents with similar difficulties coming together on that platform. I believe that this is the message of Christianity; it is about the strong bearing forth for the weak. It is about community, it is about relationship, it is about unity and collaboration. Christianity in action is actually the true message of Christianity. To us we see Genesis Impact representing the wider aspirations of the OFNC. As we see ourselves as Christians in the market place. It is about showcasing a Christian organisation that is making a difference in the market place, providing assistance not just to Christians but to everyone who needs it. So that was the reason why we felt it was an organisation that we should really come alongside, lifting up their elbows. By Dr Albert Okoye Photographs: Sue Jordan
Mrs Akingbolagun with Chi (L) and Abigail (R), parents from Hawksmoor School
Genesis Impact Genesis Impact in Action Genesis Impact is run by a dedicated team of Christian leaders and trustees. The organisation is changing lives and impacting communities through the work they do with school children and their parents in South London.
Hawksmoor School Ofsted Report 2012 as an “excellent leader.” When she started as Head Teacher ten years ago, the school was experiencing significant difficulties. These were resolved within 5 years, bringing the school to a level where it does an amazing job with its diverse population.
Hawksmoor is a mixed school with a diverse population of over 600 pupils; 85% of whom are from minority ethnic backgrounds. About 40 – 50% of the school’s population are Yoruba-speaking Nigerians. It is considered by Ofsted to be an outstanding school in all areas.
When Mrs Brammer became Head Teacher at Hawksmoor, she was surprised to find that, in spite of the large multicultural population, there were virtually no Black teachers. This was a striking contrast to her previous employment in Southwark where 40% of the teachers were Black. Mrs Brammer said, “I would go to the teacher’s centre and the Black people were behind the catering counters. There appeared to be no recognition of multiculturalism, no multicultural displays, no celebration of other languages – I felt it was colour-blind.”
Hawksmoor’s Head Teacher, Mrs Briony Brammer, is a National Leader of Education. She is described in the
Using Equal Opportunities recruitment practices and working with experts in cultural social integration, Mrs
I realized the impact of this work when I visited Mrs Foluke Akingbolagun, founder of Genesis Impact, at Hawksmoor School in the centre of Thamesmead.
Brammer facilitated a change in attitudes and practices. Now there are several Black teachers, including the Yoruba-speaking Deputy Head Teacher Mrs Bode Ladele. The school celebrates diversity and has a strong multicultural ethos. This recognition of diversity makes the school feel less intimidating to parents from ethnic backgrounds in the community. Stronger relationships between the school and these parents encourage wider participation and have a positive effect on the performance and wellbeing of their children. Mrs Brammer sees the cultural diversity in the school as a great opportunity, “It is very healthy to have many different languages spoken in the school. There are over 38 languages spoken in Hawksmoor. We have all the main world religions in this school, and we really celebrate diversity.” The work of Genesis Impact has been a very important part of the change at Hawksmoor. It focuses on facilitating positive relationships between the school and the parents, resulting in a closer partnership between the two groups. Mrs Brammer said, “All the research says that if parents support their children they will do so much better. But it means actively supporting them.”
Genesis Impact works with the children and their parents. Mrs Akingbolagun runs parenting workshops that offer parents guidance on how they can support their child’s learning and general wellbeing. The changes are visible, as parents grow in their self-esteem and their relationships with their children. As a result, changes have been seen within the school itself. Mrs Brammer said, “Mrs Akingbolagun runs a one-to-one Triple P, which is an amazing programme working with our most troubled parents from any ethnic group. The programme helps to equip parents with the skills they need and offers advice on how they can solve more difficult issues in the family.“ Mrs Akingbolagun has also successfully tackled specialised projects for the school; the most recent example was her piloting of the “Circle of Parents ”, which is a forum aimed at drawing in parents who were disengaged with the school.
Beginnings Long before it started to work in schools, Genesis Impact grew out of Mrs Akingbolagun’s community work in the early 1990s. After starting out in Children’s
Mrs Briony Brammer with Mrs Akingbolagun
and Youth work in the East Plumstead Baptist Church, Mrs Akingbolagun perceived the need to provide more of community-based service. To meet this need, Genesis Impact started in 1996 and was launched officially in May 1997, operating from community centres and in collaboration with local churches. The team taught the young people scripture, encouraged them to use their gifts and talents, and channelled them in serving both their local churches and the community at large. The youth also got involved in community festivals. Genesis Impact started a variety of groups including a creative arts ministry, a community choir, a puppet ministry, a computing café staffed by a qualified teacher and a Bible school with lectures from experienced ministers. Mrs Akingbolagun said, “We took care of the total child their spiritual, educational, moral and recreational needs and aspirations were important to us.” The youth were involved in national and local competitions and this helped boost their self-esteem. Many of the schemes were nationally accredited, allowing the youth to demonstrate that they had been volunteering in a variety of ways and for a significant period of time - some worked between 200-400 hours. In the midst of all this activity, Mrs Akingbolagun sensed the need to do more. She explained, “The Lord was saying to me that, in order to have a greater impact on the children, we needed to cater for the parents along with the children.’ She continued, “We started a
monthly parenting forum that was very successful. It enabled parents to understand their kids better. For example, we encouraged them to present devotions in a creative way that their children could relate to.” This work continued for about 11 years until, for a variety of reasons, Mrs Akingbolagun took a brief hiatus. During this time she prayed earnestly about the direction that the Lord wanted Genesis Impact to take. She had a keen sense that her ministry was not only to children of predominantly Black extraction but to the nations. She said, “At this time, I was experiencing a stirring to go into schools because there I could reach out to every nation.” During this hiatus, Reverend Victor Lambert of the Emmanuel Baptist Church introduced Mrs Akingbolagun to Gordon Raggett, Director of CRIBS, a Christian organisation working with children in Bexley. Gordon Raggett mentored her and introduced her to schools work and she was placed in a school in Bexleyheath. Genesis Impact’s first Bible Club was launched at St Augustine’s School Belvedere, Kent in 2007.
Genesis Impact today Genesis Impact currently runs a Bible Club in St Augustine’s School and Hawksmoor School. It focuses on teaching the basis of faith in a creative way – using
games, object lessons and other aids. The studies are designed to be relevant and engaging, with a focus on practical application. The benefits are not limited to participants in the Bible Club alone. Mrs Akingbolagun said, “Once a term, we feed back the lessons to the whole school in an assembly in the form of drama or some other presentation. At Christmas, we tend to have a presentation from the Genesis Impact puppet ministry.”
About Mrs Foluke Akingbolagun
In addition to the Bible Club, Genesis Impact runs a Youth Leadership Scheme for sixth formers in these schools. After a workshop run by Mrs Akingbolagun, the youth are enlisted to help with the running of the Bible Club, where they assist with all the practical aspects of the sessions apart from the Bible teaching.
She is married to Abimbola Akingbolagun and they have four sons aged 26, 25, 22 and 18.
Mrs Akingbolagun has a BA Hons in Language Arts and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Education. She is accredited by Triple P, and a licensed facilitator for Care for the Family. She is a governor at Hawksmoor School Thamesmead and Morden Mount in Greenwich. She is also a trustee of Reachin Higher, a youth charity based in Croydon.
Mrs Akingbolagun says that the support of her church has always been important to her. The Akingbolaguns
Genesis Impact also runs Parenting Classes in six schools. Mrs Akingbolagun strongly believes that engaging parents buttresses the work done with the children. She talks with the parents, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, about behavioural strategies for managing children. The work with parents includes advice on Positive Parenting, safeguarding awareness, anger management courses, crafts work and engaging parents who have skills to teach other parents their skills. From September 2012 to July 2013, Genesis Impact has run six courses attended by a total of 66 parents at Hawksmoor. Overall approximately 300 parents have attended the parenting programme within the schools. The Positive Parenting programme has shown to have many benefits for the parents who attend. One parent, Chi, said that attending the classes gave her the opportunity to find adult companionship, learn new skills and helped boost her self-esteem. Another parent, Abigail, said that the classes helped develop her parenting skills, gave her the opportunity to learn some crafts and gave her the self-confidence to speak in a group. One facet of the work in Hawksmoor School already mentioned is the “Circle of Parents”; a partnership between Genesis Impact and Hawksmoor School. This is geared to become a business enterprise that will provide micro-employment in the local community. Eventually, some of the funds from the enterprise will be assigned to the Welfare Fund.
have attended Rhema Church in Croydon for 14 years. She said of her Pastor, Rev Martin Phelps, “My pastor has been very instrumental in developing my husband and myself as Christian leaders. He has been a solid role model, practising what he preaches, a mentor, a teacher and an example. The spiritual back-up of our church has enabled my husband and me to do what we do.” Mrs Akingbolagun serves actively in Rhema Church, where she and her husband lead the church’s Prayer Ministry. She believes that prayer also plays an important part in the work of Genesis Impact. She said, “I would not be here and could not do what I do without prayer, the Word of God and the support of my family. My deep relationship with God, the love from my family and support of a dedicated team really keep me going.”
safe in the knowledge that I, smeller of rain, was right and they were wrong.
y mother has frequently said that my natural name should be Abejide. This is because, it is family legend (although I cannot remember this), that on the night I was born, there was a rainstorm of immense proportions. Abejide means, ‘one who come with the rainstorms.’ This family legend accompanies another myth, that I can smell rain long before it comes, and when planning any activity, which the rain may disrupt, my mother would ask me if it would rain. If we were out and it started raining, apparently the first raindrop always fell on me, well before the rain is actually ready to start, giving us time to run for cover.
This is a family legend and may just be a series of coincidences and imaginative extrapolation. But what does this have to do with a Christian magazine? Recently, I remembered 1 Chronicles 12:31 which talks about the men of ‘Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.’ This got me thinking about the purpose of the church in our world today. Jesus said that we as Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Could it be that we hold the answer to the world’s problems because we hold Christ in our hearts? I have always felt that like Christ the purpose of the Church on earth is not to condemn the earth, but to bring to fruition God’s mission – salvation. So, like the men of Issachar, we should understand the times and
know what should be done, enabled by the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit. Let us then draw some pictures based on the familial belief that I can smell the rain. Imagine I go out for a picnic with all my work-mates. There are all sorts of people there, friends and acquaintances, superiors and subordinates and in the words of Cameron and Osborne, we are all in this together. Though I am able smell the rain I am distracted by the fact Sandra from accounts wants to serve red wine with fish-fingers, and Nigel from personnel has brought napkins from office supplies rather than buying from Tesco’s with the money which has been collected for the picnic. While these are valid points to be made, the Bible does say there is a time for everything. So instead of using my rain-sense to smell the coming of the rain I nag Sandra and Nigel for their incompetence and impropriety until the rain comes and we are all caught in the deluge. Or maybe I keep my rain-sense on alert, but I know that my workmates do not believe I have this ‘gift.’ Therefore, I make some guarded remarks about the likelihood of rain, they look at me with mirth, shake their heads and talk among themselves about ‘those who smell the rain’ and get on with enjoying the picnic. I ensure that my trusty umbrella is at the ready and unpack my summer rain-hood. My colleagues are ignoring me at this point. Then the rain comes and I rest under my umbrella looking smugly down my nose at the drenched tableau,
Of course the ideal situation would be this; when I hear that an outdoor picnic has been planned, I ask my rainantennae if rain is imminent. Even with a vague answer I suggest to my colleagues the use of a tent as a back-up. I continue to push this suggestion subtly, till it is approved of, or I make some arrangements myself. At the picnic, I mingle with the picnic-makers, keeping my antennae finely tuned to the smell of the rain, making sure that the refuge is ready and that we are ready to go into it. At the first whiff of rain, I suggest that we adjourn to our refuge, charmed by my amiability; some of them follow me, some stay in the sunshine. I lead the willing to shelter and keep an eye on the sun-tanners. When the rain comes, I rush out with my umbrellas, and bring the stragglers to safety. As the picnic progresses, some ask me how they too can become one of those that smell the rain. Conclusively, we should be like the men of Issachar and know what to do in the times presented us. We should also know how to communicate what to do. Joseph did not just translate the dream, but had credible suggestions on how to avoid the effects of the famine. As Christians we are to fulfil God’s vision for the earth; so we should be continually filled with the Spirit, so that we become progressively, the salt and light of the world, understanding the times and what should be done – we become those who smell the rain of the Spirit and surrender our lives to Him to do with us what He wills.
As Christians we are to fulfil God’s vision for the earth; so we should be continually filled with the Spirit, so that we become progressively, the salt and light of the world, understanding the times and what should be done
Those who smell the
Then again I may be so consumed by the smell of the rains, that immediately we arrive at the picnic ground, I stand under a well-positioned marquee, because the minute I stepped out in the open a stray raindrop as small as a hundredth of a mustard seed, splashed on my arm. From my safety point, I plead with my colleagues to come in and shelter from the rain. They laugh at me and some surreptitiously tap the side of their heads to indicate their belief in the frailty of my ‘abilities’ and its foundations in what they perceive to be an unsound mind. I continue to yell at them to take refuge but eventually they tune out my cries and get on with enjoying their picnic. When, inevitably the rain comes, I weep at the destruction of food, the drenching of people and the ruination of garments subjected to the ruthlessness of fickle rain.
Foluke I Ipinyomi, OFNC Lancaster Branch
SETH PINNOCK – Midnight Oil Summit hroughout scripture, the importance of gathering is oft highlighted. The Midnight Oil Summit is a gathering of people from all different walks of life, all different tones of Christianity and they come together to get direction for the future, hear from different people and experience a sense of family and community. It stands on three pillars: Unity, Worship and Empowerment.
Unity – Seth states: “We celebrate the fact that we are intentional about not only the ministers invited but also about the diversity of teams invited over that weekend. We do that based on the scripture that says that it is within the bonds of unity that the Lord commands his blessing”.
Empowerment – equipping young people with tools to live their best life. Over the past 6 years, Midnight Oil has had everything from workshops for single parents and seminars for young leaders, to tutorials from the job centre on how to write CVs and bible colleges offering placements and mission trips to different countries. Worship – the name Midnight Oil comes from the scripture about Paul and Silas who worshipped God in their midnight hour but were thrown into prison because of the great work they were doing in the city, performing miracles and healings, and being what Christ had called them to be. The scripture goes on to say that they decided to pray and worship. Seth believes that worship is a vehicle for freedom: “it allows people that were once bound to be free”. “Midnight Oil came from a broken place”, Seth confirms. Stemming from a background of insecurity, timidity, and questioned identity, Seth was one day stirred by a moving encounter with the Holy Spirit. “It was a life changing experience for me because I was taken up into a vision where I saw a lot of the things that we are doing now at Midnight Oil. As soon as I woke up the next morning, my perceptions of what I was changed, even though my circumstances had not. I knew that I had worth and I knew that was something that a lot of young people are still battling with.” Seth now feels led to ensure that the youth of today feel God’s eternal love and compassion in much the same way. Seth wrote down what he had seen in the vision and began to talk to every pastor and every youth leader in his city, writing to organisations like the Evangelical Alliance and Churches Together. Things quickly started to roll, with their first conference at the Bethel Convention Centre in Birmingham in July 2007, boasting an attendance of 500. Midnight Oil was not birthed without its own challenges, however. Seth revealed the impact of financial difficulties they faced early on, admitting to times where he had to use his own student loans to pay the bills, but a more obvious test was Seth’s young age. However, Seth encourages our young people to remain steadfast in their endeavours: “You have to deal with
rejection, rumours, gossip, sniggers but as long as you hold fast to what you are doing and know the root from which it came, having your anchor in that is what keeps you going... It was by perception, by looking at the panoramic view, by seeing myself in the future.” This year’s event marked the 7th summit hosted by Midnight Oil, which was all the more powerful for its prophetic nature: “We started on the seventh day of the seventh month in 2007”, Seth explains. “I used to walk past the Symphony Hall in Birmingham (one of the UK’s top concert venues) on my way back from college and I used to say ‘One day I am going to do something here, Lord.’” A contract was signed last year, marking Seth as the youngest man to have ever rented the building. “Songs that I used to write as a teenager going through those traumatic experiences, we are going to be performing at our first live album recording at the Symphony Hall.” Seth is very much aware of the trials and tribulations that he has faced and will continue to face in fulfilling his purpose, as this year’s event was disrupted by English Defence League protests in Birmingham. Coach loads of attendees from as far out as London were turned away due to problems of safety, whilst patrons queuing to enter were chased away by EDL members and those who were already in the Symphony Hall were locked in until far past the event’s scheduled end time. Despite all this, Seth remains trustful of the Lord’s grace and is unperturbed in his fight to “inspire, motivate and empower” the youth of Britain. Seth has never forgotten God’s grace and the support of friends and family that has enabled him to succeed thus far. “I could not have done it without the support of the local church. A lot of churches, a lot of organisations like the OFNC, have really undergirded me, have allowed me to go into their congregations to speak about the vision, have allowed their young people to be on our dance team, choir and orchestra. Just to be part of something big that is reflective of the kingdom”. Odera Okoye, OFNC North London Branch Photographs: God's Bride Ministries
The BIG Questions of Life
The evidence that everything that God made at the beginning was good is found in Genesis 1:10; 12; 18; 21 & 25. Repeatedly, in each of these verses it is stated “And God saw that it was good At the end of creation of a dwelling place needed for human beings, God’s assessment of His handiwork was that everything He made was good. Thereafter, God made man in His own image. The first people, Adam and Eve, were given freewill to make choices. They were given boundaries and the responsibility to manage the earth. Genesis 3 provides the account of the fall of man and the consequences of the infamous choice to disobey God. So, evil and suffering began with the fall of man. Sin entered the world and so was death but thank God for Jesus Christ because in Romans 5:18, the Bible provides that, though judgment and condemnation came as a consequence of Adam’s sin, human race was given a free gift of justification because of the obedience of Jesus Christ.
The pain that people pass through today makes it difficult for many to accept the explanation of a future hope. Many people if not all would want pain and suffering to be done away with immediately.
If God is good, why is there evil and suffering in the world? What is the evidence for God’s existence? he struggle in the pulpit and at home to effectively provide rational explanations to young people regarding faith concepts and how they are of practical benefits in the day to day Christian living is now a matter of grave concern. The need to provide convincing argument to enquirers on faith issues has become even more important in the face of continual assaults on the already shaky faith of most people who are pressured to accept that natural sciences have provided answers to life’s puzzles and thereby made faith redundant. While those who are no longer sure of their faith are slipping away through the exit door, the Church is hardly doing enough to engage young people outside of the Church in meaningful conversation on faith issues. It is now mostly agreed that the cliché “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that is it!” is no longer a tenable argument to convince or make Church goers strong on their feet sufficiently to withstand the onslaught of sensual pleasure and unlimited freedom that the enemy promises those who will agree to his suggestion that faith is only a cock and bull story made up in the past for idle and gullible people. These days, more than ever, we are faced with the challenge to provide rational arguments in support of what we believe and why we believe what we believe. Broadly, I intend to refer to the answers already provided in the Bible to the not – so - new questions set out above.
Foremost, let me start by stating that indeed, God is good. Psalm 25:8 declares that, good and upright is God; Psalm 33:5, “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord”; Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good”; Nahum 1:7, “the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble”. Seeing it from the scriptures that God is good is one thing, the ability of individual’s to draw from the river of God’s goodness is a different matter. The starting point is to have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ; to make effort to grow in the knowledge of God and to walk in obedience to God’s Word. Certainly, God rewards obedience and faithfulness but the real basis of accessing the goodness of God is through grace and mercy of God. Are believers who are able to meet certain requirements excluded from hardships and disappointments? Not exactly! And, although no one wakes up in the morning to pray for bad things to happen to him, when trouble arises, the assurance believers have is that, usually, the Lord turns around adversities so that in the end, He makes such adversities to work together for the believers’ greater good (Romans 8:28). This is not always easy to explain to a person going through a difficult time. The faithfulness and goodness of God are matters that we learn over time inside of troubling situations.
As a result of Jesus’ coming to bring light into the world, the heavy judgment passed on human race in Eden has substantially been reduced though not taken away altogether. Mankind has moved forward from the horror of darkness that humanity lived with for several millenniums. In mercy, God reduced man’s lifespan from over 900 years to about a hundred years as it is currently (Genesis 5:25; Psalm 90:10). The hope of believers is that one day there will be a complete deliverance from all forms of suffering. This is stated in Revelation 21:34 in which God promised to live with believers and remove pain, suffering and death forever. Philosophers, both secular and Christians across ages laboured to unravel the answer to why God has allowed evil to continue on earth for so long. Believers suffer as much as other people if not more. Whatever answers the wise people came up with, either acceptable or not, what is sure is that some of the best that the world ever knew were thrown into the pit but they came out of it. They were forced into roaring sea, the sea vomited them. They were thrown into fiery furnace. The scorch of fire had no power over them. Many were imprisoned yet they remained unbroken. Many were killed yet in death they are still speaking. There are people that struggle with the question about the existence of God mainly because of the claims by some scientists that the earth was formed over several billion years through evolution and without the intervention of an outside agent. In support of the argument that God exists, Roman 2:15 suggests that God revealed Himself to mankind through
our conscience. Roman 2:15, “They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, so their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right”. Secondly, God revealed Himself through nature (Romans 1:19-20). This scripture asserts that no one has any excuse whatsoever for not knowing God because the power of God is revealed to all mankind through the visible things that God made. Psalm 19:1-3 similarly tells us about the sky which displays for all to see the marvellous skills of God shown in creation. Nature serves as evidence of the power of God. Thirdly, Jesus saves, heals and still transforms people’s lives today as ever. Hebrews 13:8, says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. Those who were healed and saved from the brink of death and others that had their life changed radically as a consequence of coming to know the saviour can testify that the power of God is real. The evidence from statements made by Darwin one of the foremost evolution theorist casts doubt on the reasonableness of the denial of the existence of God on the basis of evolution theory. In his autobiography ‘Life and Letters’, Darwin wrote, “Often a cold shudder has run through me and I have asked myself whether I may have devoted myself to a fantasy.” In his celebrated classic work the ‘Origin of Species’, again Darwin openly admits to the following: “Long before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered. In the same work, Darwin also admitted the difficulties with his theory of evolution in the following statement: “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.” In his book ‘Let there be Light’, Sir Fred Hoyle, a committed agnostic, was stunned by the evidence for a Creator, remarking that: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The evidence to believe that God exists is just so conspicuous for those with open minds and hearts. Rev John Abolarin, Liverpool Branch
H T U O Y C
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Youth Amplified ollowing the success of our 2012 Youth conference, the national youth team was faced with the prospect of making, what was already a great conference, even more inspiring and spiritually uplifting for young people. In April 2013, we held the OFNC Amplified Youth conference, as it is now known, with a return to the wonderful surroundings of the Devere Venue at Wokfield Park in Reading. Wokefield Park is a fantastic upmarket corporate venue and country club. OFNC as an organisation really believes in making the youth conference experience an affordable and high quality one in an exciting and aspirational setting. The hope is that young people, many of whom have never spent any extended time away from home, will have a fresh opportunity to experience God in an environment that makes them feel valued.
The Theme of the conference was “Live Deeper”; based on the verse of scripture in Deuteronomy 4:29: “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Central to the weekend is the word of God; which was delivered by our guest speaker James Aladiran. James leads Prayer Storm; a Christian youth organisation that’s all about summoning the youth of the nation to a lifestyle of prayer and intercession. It was exciting that James, although still a young man, is so passionate about inspiring a generation of young people into a deeper relationship with God through deeper prayer and understanding of the word. Over the course of the weekend, I believe that God really used James to hit home the theme. The conference of course had many moments of fun, recreation and opportunities for relationship building. Some firsts for this year include the big screen movie showing that we offered in the auditorium this time; for those less interested in the sport orientated recreational activities. It may make a return next year (with popcorn!) due to popular demand. Another huge new first this time was the introduction of the Temi Abimbola Award for “Outstanding Attitude”. This First award was won by Ibukun Ayanlere, from Manchester, who will have her name engraved on the shield that is to be presented every year at the Amplified Youth Conference. A final first, and
significant one, is the use of our new name and branding of ‘Amplified Youth’. The name came about following a competition we ran on Facebook won by Uchechi Eseonu. The name also came with the strap-line of “louder, stronger, deeper”, which we felt expressed the kind of faith that the organisation was building in young people. We have been, and are still in the process of, building a strong Facebook and online community of youth. After all, we know that that’s were many of them hang out now. Check out our Facebook page by typing in “ofncyouth” into the Facebook search bar, and don’t forget to click ‘Like’ on our page to get updates of what we’re doing. As we look forward to the 2013 August conference, themed “Dressed for service” and based on Luke 12:35, the whole question of being ‘ready’ is so relevant for young people. As much as the question is about how well we are prepared for the coming of Christ, I believe that it is equally a question of how prepared we are for Christian service in any situation. Young people are going through a transition from youth to adulthood, and so often a sense of needing to be ready for anything other than the next exam or the next life drama is non-existent. Being ‘dressed for service’ is very much about self-examination and making personal changes to be ready through His grace. For young people, who are now living increasingly very social lives, who you have in your core social circles may be a significant factor in how ‘ready’ you want to be and indeed what you choose to be ‘dressed’ in. Going forward, Amplified Youth plans to step up the efforts to build a sense of community amongst our young people using the internet to remove the distance barriers between cities. We want to connect our young people from every branch and city, allowing the conversations and friendships to continue beyond conferences with the purpose of young people challenging each other to ‘live’ and ‘dress’ for service. I believe the impact of our conferences to be far reaching into the lives of our youth and we continue to seek your prayerful support as the national youth team serves in this privileged capacity. Martin Oguzie, OFNC National Youth Coordinator
LIVE DEEPER - National Youth Conference, 29th March 2013 to 1st April 2013
Wokefield Park, Reading
18 â€“ 30s Residential Weekend 16 to 18th November 2012. Theme: Connect 2012
Amit Dattani, one of the three youth leaders at HICC says it takes a lot of sacrifice, “You have to be willing to give up your own time and pleasures for the young people you serve.” At HICC, those who are responsible for the young people are encouraged to lead side by side rather than from the pulpit which makes a big difference when trying to engage with them individually.” Kate Kimona, another leader says, “We see ourselves as friends rather than authoritative figures. For us, we’ve seen that help our group to open up and share their burdens.” “They need friendship,” Amit says, “not elders telling them what to do. They get that at home.”
Keys to a Successful
Youth Ministry Despite leaving my own teenage years a mere decade ago, it is rare that I have any kind of affinity with society’s ‘problem children’ as typified by our hard hitting media and so it was with much trepidation that I recently responded to a call to speak to the youth in my own church about my life experiences. 74
With economic pressures hitting us all at the moment it is hard to see much comparison with the so-called burdens of tax and responsibility-free teenagers but Amit, who is in his early 30s, has this to say on the subject, “I think we have to remember that they are rarely understood. We all believe that we have been there and done that but every generation faces their own challenges and the problems they face now are different to those faced by even my generation. Today’s youth are different and their needs will reflect that. The digital age makes this even more poignant.”
ow, if you attend this particular church on a Sunday morning you may be taken aback by the sight of almost a third of the congregation rising and exiting the Sanctuary just as the speaker takes his place on stage. How rude, you might inwardly exclaim, give the man a chance to speak! And your feelings would be valid, except this is not a group of dissatisfied pew fillers. In fact, the sea of people who make a timely exit week in, week out, are the thriving youth group of Harrow International Christian Centre (HICC) going to meet the three youth leaders who are dedicated to changing lives for the better.
When it comes to the digital age, there are some clear-cut differences faced by our young people today and two significant ones are “sexting” and “cyber bullying”*. These two pressures claim many a teenager drawn in by their peers, insecurity or simply curiosity and it is in demonstrating understanding of burdens like these that we can attract young people to the family that is the Church. “For a church of tomorrow to exist, an investment today should be present, “ Kate says, “Young people won’t suddenly just turn up in church. At their age they are looking out for what’s in it for them. As leaders hoping to invest in the kingdom of God, a skill for nurturing is essential. Churches should work hard to promote their youth groups as they will never know what young people will come in and impact the kingdom of God.”
A multicultural church with over 40 different nations, Harrow International Christian Centre has one of the fastest growing youth groups in London, and, with
And in terms of skills, the title youth leader seems to come with a job description of many hats! “I am a teacher, pastor, listener, friend, organiser, oh and cleaner too!” says
traditional church figures declining, one might well ask how this church and its modern-day contemporaries, do it.
“We see ourselves as friends rather than authoritative figures. For us, we’ve seen that help our group to open up and share their burdens.”
Kate who, at 23, is the youngest of the youth leaders at HICC. She adds, “But that’s how I am viewed by the youth. I see myself as a facilitator for young people to know the importance of a relationship with God, fellowship with each other, learn worshipping as a lifestyle and help them lay the foundation as leaders in their own lives. In terms of how we are presented to the wider church, many people have an idea of how youth work should be done and what the young people should be doing. You have to develop a thick skin and confidence in God to cope with outside criticisms especially when you seek to respect your elders but ultimately, if it is Godled, you have to be obedient to what you feel God is telling you to do. ” Amit agrees although working as a youth leader was not initially in his plans. “I was working in other areas of ministry and it just wasn’t on my radar. The role was suggested to me by my pastor but it was a while before I prayed about it and personally heard God reveal my purpose which is to build up genuine men of God to be like the biblical Daniels and Josephs. It may sound clichéd but I needed to pass on my own experience and lifestyle to the younger generation.” And personal experience seems to be the key here, with the old adage, ‘Do as I say not as I do’, rearing its head here. “Obviously we all have life experience,” says Kate, “but it’s what we do with it that makes a difference. That’s why in HICC we have invited specific people to talk with the youth about their own experience at particular points in their lives. We also had a careers day not too long ago which meant the youth had the opportunity to speak with those working in their preferred industries.”
Amit adds, “Young people deserve our respect and our honesty just as much as anyone else so you have to be prepared to be open and occasionally air your ‘dirty laundry’ with them and your co-workers. It is also important for youth leaders to ‘walk the talk’. Young people need leaders they can look up to, people who are being living examples in society in general not just in church and church community. That will command respect. ” It’s a long time since I’ve been in youth group but it does all sound rather serious. There must be some fun aspects, surely? “Of course!” Amit is quick to dispel any notions to the contrary but does reassert the focus: “Our primary focus is to make Jesus more attractive than the world. We can’t dress Jesus up but we have to represent Him wholly, so through grace, love, mercy and relationship we can counteract what the world has to offer. It’s the typical World v. God scenario and one not restricted to youth ministry.” So what kinds of activities make Church attractive to young people these days? “This may sound trivial but we’ve really woken up to the importance of food! Teenagers generally love food so we organise social activities around food to get them to interact. This gets their attention and then basically any other creative game or activity will be successful. In HICC we get our young people serving as ushers, serving tea and coffee, handing out communion, we lead worship once a month and we meet on Fridays and Sundays every week for food, fellowship, teaching and prayer. Outside church we organise showcase events where they can share their musical, literary talent, we go paintballing, host movie nights and quizzes, play sports, and enjoy celebratory dinners. Last summer we took them to youth festival Soul Survivor and this year we’re taking them to an activity centre in Wales.” Kate adds, “Based on my experience, being rooted in a church helps you stay grounded so we work hard on planning activities for the youth so that we can keep them in church!” With so much emphasis put on catering to the young people I wondered whether it is in fact possible for a young person to receive enough spiritual food from youth ministry that they do not miss out on actual Church? “Youth ministry should be church full stop!” says Amit. “I know there are some people who will go to youth outings
and not necessarily go to church but staying out of church removes corporate worship (which commands blessings) and also the strengthening of faith through friendships. As an example, university can be one of the most difficult environments in which to stay ‘holy’ and you will need all the support you can get! Church should always be a place of refuge and we support our young people as family.” So the numbers are increasing and the teaching is sound, but what exactly is, a successful youth ministry? Kate concludes, “A successful youth ministry is one where young people are unashamed of Christ and look to impart their joy on others. Young people need support and understanding and once they have that, their potential is limitless.” Amit Dattani, Kate Kimona and Hannah Jarrett lead the Youth ministry at Harrow International Christian Centre. Amit is also a global investor and motivational speaker. You can visit Amit’s website at www.ambassadordattani.org. Kate is a Clinical Psychologist Assistant Practitioner and Hannah works as a Educational Psychology Assistant. Tola Fisher
Tola Fisher is a freelance journalist and editor of faith and family title Families First magazine. www.familiesfirstmagazine.com. You can find her blogging at www.christcouture.co.uk and tweeting @christcouture
Glossary * Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. *Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. Resources for more help or support on youth ministry Youth work from scratch – How to launch or revitalize a church youth ministry by Martin Saunders Youthwork magazine for Christian youth leaders www.youthwork.co.uk National Christian charity Youth for Christ www.yfc.co.uk For teens, by teens www.forchristianteens.com
The TOPZ club ne day I decided to bring my TOPZ into school to see if anyone would recognise it. TOPZ is a children’s Christian devotional which has a bible passage for each day and an activity to do. When I got to school two boys recognised it. Their names were Edward and Toby. We had a little chat about it and I asked them if they wanted to start a TOPZ club. Toby liked the idea but Edward said he didn’t want to and walked off. The next day, Toby brought his TOPZ in and we told the class about our idea. Everyone liked it. On our first day my teacher asked me how many people were coming and I told him seven. He said it was too much, so I had to choose two. They were Terry and Leo. From that day on, Toby and I have been doing TOPZ club on Wednesdays and Fridays and we have a raffle to choose two classmates to come each time. Well, I have to say, TOPZ club has succeeded. Praise God!!! Christopher Popoola, 8 years old, St Andrews COE Primary School, Bebington
MUM’S PERSPECTIVE It was like a joke that morning when Christopher asked me if he was allowed to take the TOPZ devotional to school. My first response was “No, because your teacher has said you shouldn’t bring things to school”. He then said he wouldn’t bring it out in class, but use it with his friends at play time. I said it was okay for him to take it. Little did I realise that my decision was going to birth something great. TOPZ club started and there were 12 regular attendees of the club, at lunch break on Wednesdays and Fridays. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, God has ordained strength. ‘Teach your child the way of the Lord and when they grow old, they will not depart from it.’ The bible says ‘we and the children that the Lord has given us are for signs and wonders’. Our children are not being left out, they are also getting dressed for service, ready to contribute their little quota by bringing their friends in school to the knowledge of Christ. We as parents should encourage them to do this. They come home and bring forth different ideas about telling their friends about Jesus and we should
encourage them, not discourage them. If they have close friends in school, we should encourage them to tell them about Christ and invite them to children’s programs in our churches. They can also invite their friends to lunch or tea at our homes and then the opportunity might arise to tell them about Jesus. It could be whilst they are praying over their food that the invited guest wonders what that was all about. For those of our children that go for sleep-overs or their friends come to our homes for sleep-overs, that’s another incredible opportunity for our children to witness Christ to them. On those days, they should not decide to skip their bible reading, devotion or prayer time because of their visitor. It will be a great opportunity for both of them to read the bible together, pray together and share with their friend. We should encourage our children that they are not too small to be a witness for Christ. Our children are very innovative and so can devise various ways to witness more than we can. I remember Chris and his friend wanted to publicise their club, so as to encourage more children to attend . They thought of an idea - a colouring competition – and a reward was promised to the winners. His friend is good at drawing; he drew the pictures and I photocopied 30 copies for them, for their classmates. Two winners were chosen and Chris’ pastor donated 2 Christian books for the winners. The whole class participated in the colouring competition and some more children got interested in attending the club. As we attend this year’s conference and we learn about getting dressed for service, I want us to remember that we are not getting dressed for service alone, we are dressing our children up for service as well. They are never too small to start with us, teaching them to say Amen or Hallelujah even when they are just starting to talk is part of it. It is amazing how quickly our children learn! God bless you. Mrs Adebola Popoola OFNC Liverpool Branch
The topical issue of “youth radicalisation” has gone ‘viral’ ever since the duo of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (both with Nigerian connection), publicly butchered the hapless off-duty soldier, Lee Rigby, in the streets of Woolwich UK. efore then, on Christmas day 2009, another youth with Nigerian connection, Umar Abdulmutailab (the underwear bomber) attempted to blow up NA Flight 253 in mid-air with 289 people on board.
With that and many similar scenarios worldwide, many people are trying to figure out what had transformed or ‘radicalised’ these people from humble, affluent, or even Christian backgrounds into ruthless Islamic coldblooded murderers. FOUNDATIONS OF MURDEROUS RADICALISATION The basic canvas upon which the strokes of murderous radicalisations are etched is a Christ-less life. “For unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain” (Ps 127:1). Are these people radicals or just rascals? I personally admire radicals; after all, every true believer has been called into a radical way of selfless life. Rascals, on the other hand, are self-centred, undisciplined rogues who prowl about with evil intent. When the transforming power of Christ’s love is absent, youths run wild with half-baked ideologies. But rascalism or radicalism is not unique to the present day youth; it has always been part of the youth mentality of every generation since the dawn of human history. The difference today is that it has gone outside the scale of accepted youth madness.
With the Establishment or the West so powerful, and the youth generally marginalized (except during election campaign), the only way to fight back is to strike at the Achilles heal of the bully Establishment, which is often the innocent population. IT EMPOWERMENT The Information Technology Revolution has been a tremendous empowering tool for good and for evil! People with evil intent can quickly have virtual meetings to share vital information or organise themselves into ‘sleeper cells’ or lone rangers, to avoid detection. The internet is also a library of information on anything and everything – from good value education to extreme terrorist education on mass killing of a stratospheric scale. This IT tool has greatly facilitated the recruitment, indoctrination, training and directing of these radicalised youth to their targets. NEWSWORTHY VIOLENCE Presently there are over 40 conflicts and skirmishes in the world today (see Wikipedia), each clamouring for headline news. Since the world has become desensitised to ‘normal’ violence, the radicalised youth have thus gone for extreme violence in order to attract any attention or headline. For the particular case of Nigeria, the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force and the Boko Haram have popularised extreme violence and kidnappings on a national scale.
YOUTH IDEALISM & FRUSTRATION With the void of Christ-less life, the youth with relatively high-energy power (with unmatched brain and emotional quotient) get easily frustrated. Before confronting the harsh economic and political realities of life, the youth often have an ideal world view of full (and enjoyable) employment, perfect justice and, maybe, carefree all-night parties! When neither of these is achievable, especially in the
AL-QAEDA FACTOR The organisation, funding, indoctrination (including religious/jihadist justification for violence) and training offered by Al-Qaeda and her associates have greatly attracted the frustrated youth – in search of adventure and revenge – to make the West atone for her role in the economic and political suffocation of the rest of the world. Not only will the West be destroyed, but they will be replaced by a new Islamic order to the world bodypolitic.
RADICALISATION of Nigerian Youth -Any Solutions?
current economic climate, frustration with the ‘Establishment’ sets in. That initial frustration is the seedbed in which seeds of conspiracy, as well as hatred of the perpetrators of that injustice (often the ‘West’), is sown and watered with some indisputable facts (generally amplified to suit).
I believe that any solution to the youth radicalisation problem must involve the youth themselves, otherwise they will naturally rebel against any top-down nanny solution.
ANY SOLUTIONS? I believe that any solution to the youth radicalisation problem must involve the youth themselves, otherwise they will naturally rebel against any top-down nanny solution. In involving and engaging them in think-tanks and – to some extent – in policy implementation, they will come to appreciate the difficulties of balancing the conflicting demands of a political entity. Besides engaging the youth as part of the solution, greater efforts must be made to confront and punish blatant abuse of economic or political power. The recent incidents of banking CEOs bleeding the world dry by hedge-funding and unjustified bonuses, or political leaders pursuing party agendas to the detriment of the majority, are cases in point. These, and other cases of unjustified interventions in regional conflicts instead of consensual solutions, must be curtailed so that the youth can see and learn the art of conflict resolution. For a more permanent solution, we need to go back to the beginning – the transforming power of God’s love. Any solution that is not of God is at best temporary, at worst, of the devil ( Jam 3:15). “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” ( Jam 3:17-18). As we genuinely start to make in-roads into the mind of the youth and the marginalized, with fairness and humility in governance, the latent youthful energy and creativity will be diverted from extreme violence and instead harnessed for the radical and positive transformation of the human society for the good of all. Dr Victor K. Nwegbu, OFNC Manchester Branch
But how exactly is it that such aggressive indoctrination can occur under the nose of the British government? The answer is largely due to recent advancements in technology. Online extremist forums, where like-minded radical Muslims can consult online are no further than a few mouse clicks and a couple of keyboard taps away, making the radicalisation of young people easier than ever. Evidently, young men are incredibly impressionable, easy to psychologically manipulate, and susceptible to individuals willing to accept them (particularly if they are deprived of acceptance elsewhere). Examples of this can be seen in the gang culture amongst young men in some areas of London, where young men are willing to steal, assault and drug deal in order to be accepted by a group of individuals. Given that, 33.8% of Muslims in the UK are under the age of 16 (according to a figure published by the Office of National Statistics in 2003) and that the average age of a British Muslim is 28 (a whole 13 years below the national average) it is no surprise that we are seeing a surge in the Islamic radicalisation of young people within the UK.
The problem of Radicalisation young people in the UK or almost 10 years now (since the 7/7 bombings), news of violent and catastrophic Islamic manifestations have become a regularity. Onwards from this occurrence (in which 52 died and 770 were injured) it became quickly apparent that, facing the UK, home-grown terrorism posed a significant threat to our livelihood. Only recently, as I was shopping in the retail store ‘Urban Outfitters’, I foolishly left my bag underneath a clothing stand as I went into the changing rooms to try on some clothing. After having realised the error in my ways, I frantically ran out of the changing room (half dressed) to retrieve my bag, only to find the entirety of the store’s staff surrounding it, speaking frantically into walkie-talkies, only minutes way from evacuating the entire building (you can imagine
their sighs of relief as I grabbed my bag and mustered a sheepish apology). This rather embarrassing instance is representative of the shift that has occurred in our day to day livelihood as Britons, as a result of home-grown terrorism. Now, no longer can a bag innocently be left on a bus (or under a clothing rack in urban outfitters!) without bystanders breaking out in cold sweat. So, why is it the case that innocent British nationals are now forced to live in fear of an imminent terrorist attack? Or furthermore, that these same British nationals. (Born and raised in a society that shuns malicious and irrational behaviour) could themselves, ever be capable of causing them? (namely decapitating an innocent man in broad daylight) The answer of course, is through violent radicalization.
As Christians, we can’t deny the fact that society is becoming increasingly secularized, and that it distances itself more and more each day from the solid Christian foundation upon which it was originally based. Only a quick glance on Facebook (where girls as young as 14 deem it appropriate to post provocative images of themselves) or a sharp visit to a typical alcohol-fuelled teen party is enough to substantiate such claims. Now, Radicalisation can be defined (according to the UK Home office) as ‘the process by which people come to support terrorism and violent extremism and, in some cases, then join terrorist groups’ whilst terrorism itself occurs largely due to the aversion Muslim fundamentalists have towards this secularization. As lives are ‘sacrificed’, in the minds of Islamist fundamentalists, a God-ordained obligation is being fulfilled, to right the wrongs of Western civilisation. In other words, each of these events occurred, due to the actions of individuals who believed they were justified in what they were doing, who would have performed the same action again in a heartbeat, who were radicalized by the same individuals who, today, are still radicalizing Britons under the surface of our orderly British society.
right, Islamophobic societies such as the EDL (led by the incredibly zealous Tommy Robinson) burn every building even moderately associated with Islam to the ground (often spray-painting ‘EDL’ amongst the burning debris just for that added bit of ‘style’) some might say their actions are entirely justified, right? Wrong. What we must remember is that, oddly enough, the actions of these radical Muslims aren’t representative of the entirety of Islam, even if they pay tribute to Allah and draw upon the Koran. Think of it this way, the Ku Klux Klan (a far right society, infamous for its merciless persecution of African Americans and Jews) proudly proclaimed that the Holy bible was their number one source of knowledge. Are we to say that Christianity can be blamed for the wrongdoings this society (which had a peak membership of 3-6 million individuals in 1920) purely because their actions are based on an interpretation of Christian scripture? Or if we take a look at the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas as a more modern example, whose members seem to believe that ‘God hates fags’ and thank him from 9/11. Are we to say that because these individuals strictly follow biblical scripture that they represent Christianity, and that any attack against any building affiliated with Christianity (for example your very own church) serves as a justified retaliation against their crimes? Of course not! In this same way, whilst radical Muslims are a dangerous threat towards our livelihood, they represent a minority of the entire Muslim community, thus attacks against mosques and Islamic cultural centres are unjust and ineffective (especially given that radicalisation is an underground movement that rarely occurs in either of these locations). So what actually can we, as Britons, members of the Christian community and more importantly as young people do to combat this injustice. Well, from a practical perspective, the best option is to maintain unity within the British community, to support and be aware of the strategies currently being implemented by our government to combat Islamic radicalism and more importantly to be steadfast in our love of British culture and in our faith, in order to ensure that goal of fundamental Islamists (to achieve a global jihad, and strict interpretation of Sharia law) is never achieved. Ebe Bamgboye
Vengefulness and anger is the typical humanly response to instances of such severe wrongdoing. Thus, as far
was first introduced in 5500 BBC by Neolithic cultures located in China and played an integral military role during the American Civil War of 1861. Undoubtedly, music serves an integral purpose in all facets of life, and all sectors of society. The impact of music has also been felt in the Church. Having played in my Church band for a number of years now, I have experienced the benefits of serving God with musical gifting and talents.
with musical talents I believe it was Plato who said “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Music is a form of expression and communication that transcends cultural and language barriers; it speaks to people in a way that is totally unique yet accessible.
aving played the drum kit for seven years, from grade 1 all the way to grade 8, I am fully aware of the galvanizing quality of music. It’s strange to think that now, in 2013, I play a musical instrument that
“music is the mediator between the spiritual and physical life.”
Needless to say, the opportunity to showcase your talent week in, week out for the glory of God, does a tremendous amount to increase one’s skills and capabilities as a musician. The old adage “practice makes perfect” pays testament to the growth you can enjoy as a musician from the consistent opportunity to play and hone your skills. I personally can testify to the increased confidence I have obtained as a musician, just by playing in Church on a weekly basis. What I found to be the beauty of playing in Church, is the fact that you are not delivering a performance, the glory and accolades are not for you, but for God. This setting fosters an atmosphere in which you are free to develop and grow as a musician, independent of the pressures commonly associated with live performances. Having the forum to hone your skills alongside like-minded individuals, in a setting that fosters encouragement, is a tremendous way to build confidence as a musician. Alongside a development in skill, there is a spiritual growth that develops in tandem. Beethoven provided a concise look at this when he stated that “music is the
Playing as part of my Church band, alongside my formal music lessons, has instilled me with a tremendous amount of confidence, not only musically, but in all facets of life. The discipline fostered my consistent and repetitive practice has translated into other aspects of life, and I feel that I am now a better person. There is no doubt that the opportunity to play in Church, has served to heighten my musical interest. There is something about actually implementing your skills that acts as a great stimulus to continue to practice and grow. As I move forward from now, I will continue to avail myself of every opportunity to grow my musical gifting. I feel it most appropriate to close the way I opened, with a quote. As Martin Luther remarked: “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” Neglecting to serve God with this ‘present’ would be a gross oversight Aka Okoye, OFNC North London Branch
By playing music for the glory of God, we are in communion with him; music is at its essence, the sound of the spirit.
mediator between the spiritual and physical life.” That is to say, there is an innate connection between the physical act of playing music, and the spiritual expression of that act. As such playing music unto God in the Church, serves as a source of spiritual expression and communion. Music provides as efficient a source of communication with God as prayer. By playing music for the glory of God, we are in communion with him; music is at its essence, the sound of the spirit.
“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”
media; social media can be compatible with work! Technology is evolving faster than ever before, and such sites as Twitter and Facebook encourage a digital competence that not only teaches us to adapt to new and current technology (or new applications of existing technologies), but also sets us up to be better equipped to adapt to future technology. On top of this, one also has to accept that the world of work is a much more digitalised one, in this day and age. Not only do almost all global major firms and corporations have social media handles on said sites, there is also now a tendency to advertise job opportunities more quickly and easily through tweets and posts. Not to mention an increasing occupational demand for young students with a strong grasp of social networking skills and digital communication capacities. Such job sites as Reed, Indeed and The Guardian are dedicated to helping both school leavers and graduates find industry-specific job opportunities. Their primary and most consistently updated forum for such vacancies? Social media stalwarts, Twitter and Facebook.
Social media, job hunting and 21st century youth: are they compatible?
Social media sites can be worthy and beneficial tools for reasons other than their marketing utility. Not only providing a fast and up-to-date stream for the world’s current affairs as they occur, Twitter also connects individuals to groups of like-minded individuals, with the Christian population also being very prevalent on Twitter; speakers such as Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Bishop T.D. Jakes and even Pope Francis each boast followings of over a million. Social media can be an uplifting tool for inspiration and growth, not simply a haven of cyber bullying and “keyboard warriors”.
Twitter’s highly-developed integration system connects users to many other websites, such as open source blogging tool, Wordpress. Over the past 10 years, WordPress has become not only the most popular blogging system in use on the Web, but also the most oft used website designer, powering over 60 million websites worldwide2. In 2003, WordPress hit the online scene as a blog-posting platform primarily utilised by individual aspiring bloggers. However, since then, forward-thinking marketers and business owners have discovered it as a tool for building a costeffective, highly professional website. Today, some of the most dynamic and engaging websites (including those for big brands such as CNN, ESPN and MSNBC) are built using WordPress. For an upcoming blogger, writer, or designer of any kind, a WordPress blog – complemented by a strong social media presence on Twitter – can open up a vast array of opportunities for a young adult; you make the website, Twitter and Facebook help get it out there. Indeed, for any writing, editing or publishing centred profession, employers will be looking for a high grasp of social media use, as well as examples of written ability (a casual blog, for example). Hopefully this has all but begun to scratch the surface of the novelty of one of the 21st century’s most popular assets. It is important to note that, whilst we pray for the safety of today’s youth concerning the somewhat risky territory of online activity, there rests a relatively unexplored offshoot to the entire social media system; we really just have to look in the right places! Odera Okoye, 18 years old, OFNC North London Branch 1
ne of the few undeniable happenings of the 21st century is the modernisation of the world; the world we live in has become a much more digitalised one. It can be argued that, in the wrong hands, such modernity is a powerful tool misused for one-upmanship and dominance of particularly well developed countries over their lesser developed counterparts, or even more internally, by ordinary civilians as a means of organising and assembling marches against what they feel has been an unjust election (one only has to look as far as Egypt or Iran and the Arab Spring for proof of such). However, it would be a safe bet to assume that the majority of teens and young adults currently utilising social networking sites do not do so in order to gain political power of North African and/or Middle Eastern countries. We can come to understand the power of social media in today’s society by other means.
Today’s youth have never known a world without the Internet. Fact. Yet this does not undervalue the principals instilled by the more traditional (e.g. day trips to the local library for a spot of research). According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 70% of teens and young adults (aged 12-29) use social networking sites1. Among these, 62% use the Internet to get news about current affairs and politics, 48% use it to make purchases (books, clothing, music) and 31% use it to get health, dieting, or physical fitness information.
Although we must acknowledge the immediate and pressing concerns of online safety and privacy, we must nonetheless be aware of the fact that social media is not merely a procrastination tool for the stressed teen or an avenue of virtual escapism for the overworked young adult. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that some do, not all youth of today’s society defer work-related issues in favour of social
y name is Lil Sporho. My mother described me as jealous and I was proud of it. Nowadays, I’m not angry or fierce anymore. I’m friendly, and this is what happened.
One day, as I was walking back from the village school in Ela’ii, in Cittagazze, I found out my snooty best friend, Laira Irvyza, was hiding something from me. I couldn’t stop myself from bursting out to her, “Laira? Ain’t there something that you hiding from me?” She replied, “Yep. But I’m only gonna tell Gabrie. It’ll make you jealous.” I backed against the wall of my villa. Young children had sticks but the older ones had spears.
Gabrie Dylans was the most horrible girl in our class. She went round sharing secrets with everyone but not me. She said, “You’ll just turn red if you learn them secrets.” One strange night, my Mam said as she hung up the phone, “Me and Da are going to Sant’Elia with your sisters. I phoned Mrs Irvyza and she said she’ll ‘ave you over.”
I gurgled with delight. Now I could find out Laira’s secret. After a few quick minutes, supper was over. Another few strange hours and we climbed into bed.
Laira came, darting in and out with a... I scanned. A whip?! She flogged me not once, not twice, but ten times. I was sore all over by the time the whip cracked the tenth time. Laira threatened that she’d come up with a serious punishment.
So I gave up my ways of being jealous, threw them in the bin, became friendly. But there was still a bit in my heart that would remain stubborn forever. I still had the ornaments in my knapsack. Unwilling to give them back, I said fiercely, “I give them back and you give me your most precious things.”
Laira always kept her secret diary on the left side table. When Laira had fallen deeply asleep, I made a lurch for the diary.
She replied, eyes half-closed as always, “I thought you wasn’t fierce anymore.”
Inside, it said: “To-morrow gonna see the Queen. Gonna take some carat gold with me.”
For the first time, her eyes opened and a dazzling bright blindness came over the rest of the children. They stumbled away, petrified.
At last, I could withstand it no longer. The fumes came out of me. I was JEALOUS. I carefully removed the gold ornaments from the table and placed them in the knapsack I had brought along. Unfortunately for me, Hailee, the cat, heard and hissed. That started a riot in the house. The four sisters woke and heard. I ran for my life. By the next afternoon, everyone in our village had heard I’d stolen Laira’s ornaments and called me “Sporho the Stealer”.
I was also scared. Blue lasers came out of her eyes. She checked me. ‘ID: Lil Sporho-Jemlc.’ ‘Personality: Friendly, but a grub of jealousy.’ She looked stunned for a nanosecond. “I dunno what happened to you,” she said plainly. I realised that only some jealousy had gone away, but that grub in my heart would remain forever. That is my story.
Grammar’s fun, grammar’s cool If you listen to this rap you’ll know the rules. Grammar has so many rules If you know them all you’ll be real cool. Grammar has lots you need to know If you want to know them, let’s go! A proper noun is used to name a place, day of the week or a person - like Grace. A common noun is a naming thing Like city, town, grass or string. An abstract noun can’t be touched Like anger, freedom, calm or trust. An adjective describes a noun Like rusty tractor or dirty town. A verb is doing something Like jump, spring, bump and cling. An adverb adds to a verb about place, manner or cause Like quickly runs and loudly roars.
Sentences and phrases are joined by conjunctions Like tape and glue, it performs a function. Preposition describe relation Like peace and calm between two nations. Interjections convey strong emotion Like crying “Oops! I’ve dropped the lotion.” If you’re good with punctuation You can express yourself in every situation. A comma says there is a pause, It’s a little space between clause and clause. A sentence can be broken by a semi-colon; Still allowing it to roll on. A colon introduces a list: one, two, three, four. By now you get my gist. A full stop brings the sentence to an end And now the rap is done, my friend. Jan-Chidi Ikuobase, 9 years old, OFNC North London Branch
My role as an OFNC
y name is Ifiok Jr. and over the past few months I’ve been working with the OFNC to improve the IT systems.
The role has involved securing the website against common threats, keeping all data safe and setting up communication systems, both internally and externally. Our goal is to create an online presence that visitors will highly value and so far we have implemented the following: Emailing systems which have seen our subscribership and reach increase by 500%. A more robust infrastructure. A mobile-friendly site. High quality images used for events on the website with an increase in aesthetic appeal 99%+ uptime for the website This is just the beginning and our focus is on building systems that mirror the huge potential contained within the OFNC. Furthermore, we intend to optimise the
he position of an OFNC Website Administrator is an extremely rewarding one. It provides a position that is integral to the smooth, efficient running of the site, as well as the seamless relationship between the website and its many frequenters. As a young person living in the 21st century, I would maintain that I have always been technology savvy and capable; however, even I had little belief that I possessed the strength of knowledge required to maintain a fully functional website. This, however, was to be proved false. A few weeks of reading (mostly programming and coding language) prior to starting the position, and a constant willingness to learn proved to be more than enough for a steady progression. There are a large number of tasks that are charged to me as the website administrator; however I will try to present you with three of the distinct areas of work that are individual to the position of a web administrator, namely: Maintenance of the website‘s aesthetic, internal circulation of information and correspondence with visitors to the website. I will examine these tasks in turn, in order to provide a brief understanding of what they entail. One of the key tasks assigned to the web administrator is that of maintaining the aesthetic and the content of the site. The OFNC website serves as the principal source of information for OFNC members, as such, it is important to keep the site up to date with accurate information about upcoming events and notable dates in the OFNC calendar. As well as making sure the website is informative, as and administrator, it is also important to ensure that the site is vibrant and interesting. In order to achieve this part of my job entails uploading vibrant images and cool blogs to keep users interested. As well as being a hub of information for external visitors, the website is also integral for providing information
Systems Architect design for tablets and mobile devices and future-proof it for devices like Google Glass. The event registration system will be completely revamped specifically for OFNC registrations. Christian News from around the world and especially Nigeria will be made accessible from the site. There will be a question and answer section for general discussion about faith and other topics and currently manual tasks will be fully automated. If you feel you are someone who can help make all this happen - I’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com with online examples of some of the work you’ve done. Ifiok Otung Jnr, OFNC North London Branch
Web Administrator that aids those who work on behalf of the OFNC. Registration for all national OFNC events is conducted online, as such all the information obtained from registrants and potential delegates is stored on our online database. This information is integral for the planning of all events, as it provides the event planning teams with information on numbers, ages and any specific delegate requirements. As such, a large part of my job entails extracting this information and presenting it to the planning committee so they have the information necessary to carry out their jobs. The final, and perhaps most important, task assigned to the web administrator, is that of correspondence with website users. The website administrator needs to be able to address any queries posed by visitors to the website, and provide them with an adequate and proper resolution. If I am unable to solve the problem on my own, It’s important that I forward the issue to a higher ranking member, who is more adequately positioned to deal with the issue. This part of the job increases in importance during conference registration periods. The high number of visitors to the website during this time, means that I am extremely likely to receive a number of calls and e-mails requesting assistance in some way. There is no doubt that administrating website requires a real investment of time and efforts, however I would be amiss if I failed to mention the real rewards obtained from such work. Most evident is the fact that you obtain new and invaluable skills in computer management and technology; skills which are invaluable in today’s technology hungry employment market. Furthermore, there is a real enjoyment I have received from working in a position in which all the fruits of your labour can be seen immediately. All the work you pour into the website yields immediate reparation as you see the site grow, improve and progress before your very eyes. Aka Okoye, 19 years old, North London Branch
So long, Farewell! A note of ‘Thanks’ to all here is nothing more beautiful in the world than a man who places his heart in the hand of the Lord. I wondered what Dr Adegoke saw in me when he asked me to lead the children’s ministry. But now I feel so honoured and grateful because OFNC gave me and my wonderful family the opportunity to serve in the children’s ministry for the past 5 years. “Thank you” seems so little to say when you have blessed our lives in such a nice way. It wasn’t an easy journey but it was worth it. And as for God, His way is perfect!
I couldn’t have served effectively without the full support of my family. My husband is priceless! Dayo (aka: Papa D) has been there with me every step of the way. He assists with the teaching, singing, dancing and mentoring of the children especially the boys. A male figure makes all the difference in the classroom sometimes. For the past five years, I honestly don’t know how he prints and binds the workbooks for 100 children annually. I just send him the write up electronically and the workbooks appear. Thank you so much for being there for me. Oyedayo and Dotun (aka: ‘Enjoy’) do a lot of the thinking and the dreaming. They imagine and give me ideas and tips that work with today’s children. They are the “amulu dun” of the family. Doyin catches the dream and hits the ground running with it. A fantastic implementer! She delivers the sessions so well with the
kind of English accent the children understand. Dolapo ensures that all is well with you as a person by making sure all environmental and physical issues are in place. He will remember all the adaptors and the blue tac and ensure I have eaten. Such a caring lad! They all help with transporting stuff from garage to car and from car to hotel rooms. We all set up rooms and equipment and pack down at the end of the conference. We get to conference early and leave there just before Manchester branch. I thank God for all your support. Thank you and I love you all. My special thanks also goes to the pillars that kept my arms up: Mrs Grace Adegoke (Liverpool), Mrs Bisi Bamgbade (Lancaster), Mrs Marcie Jephthah (Leeds) and Mrs Liz Ikuobase (London). I sure appreciate all your gifting and talents so be blessed. Thank you for all your support in various ways. May the Lord take us all further into His presence to reveal much more of Himself to us that can be expressed through serving Him. I appreciate you all. As I complete this journey with OFNC, I do not intend to hang my boots. I will work closely with my successor and support them through their journey.
2010 – Cadburys’ world 2011 – Gulliver’s Land 2012 – Zoo trip 2013 – Children’s’ entertainment centre Our annual themes have been as follows: 2007 – The fruits of the spirit 2008 –FROG – Fully Rely On God 2009 – Christ’s Ambassadors 2010 – A peculiar people 2011 – Put on the whole armour of God 2012 – Walking in His light
Our vision is for every child to be a faithful disciple of Christ and an effective ‘agent of change’ in their generation. According to the book of proverbs, we train them up the way they should go (not the way they want to go) such that when they are old they will not depart from it. We want our children to know and be proud of their identity as Nigerians Christians well- raised law-abiding citizens of the UK. OFNC’s Plan There are currently 18 OFNC branches and each branch has a children’s co-ordinator that works with the leadership team. What we do We reinforce the importance of a personal relationship with God, regular quiet time and fellowship with God and other Christians. We encourage each branch to organise one or two outings for children at branch level. We organise annual summer outings at regional and national levels
Our bible study sessions include: reading a bible passage, learning a memory verse, bible quizzes, colouring pages, crafts, poems, songs, puzzles, crossword, word search and board games. We give the children an opportunity to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. We all do our best for the children and young people in our care. We teach them the National anthem, the Nigerian pledge, the states and important dignitaries. Above all God is glorified. So keep smiling, Jesus loves YOU! God bless you all. Yours in His service, Shalom! Mrs. Dupe Fagbenro 07883424518
We develop a robust programme for the children, for use at the annual 3-day retreat every August bank holiday.
To parents: OFNC is an organisation led by God and we make a difference in the lives of our children whilst they are young
Our outings are appealing and Holy Spirit led. The children have lots of FUN, PRAISE AND BIBLE STUDY. Summary of our outings are as follows:
Women’s Forum Report 2013 o the only wise God be glory, honour, power, majesty and dominion both now and forever. Amen.
Thanks to God Almighty who has kept us all under His wings of protection and mercy and has stood ﬁrmly with us. The women’s group has grown from glory to glory. Our conference attendance has been on the increase and there are now 17 branches across the UK. The groups meet regularly at various times convenient and agreed to by the members for various activities to uphold, strengthen, encourage and teach one another. Living out diﬀerent roles as a woman – being the total woman – (Christian, wife, mother, career / business woman etc) may be seen as ‘scary and unimaginable’ by young women and ‘stressful’ by older ones. Our conferences and workshops have been themed to empower and encourage women of diﬀerent age groups to be godly women of purpose and of faith. As we travel the Christian journey and pursue our highway to holiness, women need to be the best, hence the Women in Business and Leadership, WinBLe 2012 – year of jubilee, was themed “Going for Gold - being the best”. This conference was well attended by women from diﬀerent nations and denominations. The workshops were aimed to help women return home with determination to start a business, continue to develop and improve themselves, prospering and enjoying the abundant life in Christ Jesus (3Jn 1:2). It’s never too late to be who we were meant to be. There has been active and encouraging participation by women pastors and ministers from diﬀerent denominations as conference speakers and facilitators. This has enabled us to reach out to others outside the organization and they are encouraged and willing to work with local OFNC branches to propagate the gospel of Christ, add value and be relevant to the wider society, after all, we are one body.
Building stronger homes and families continues to be of great importance to us as an organization since home is the primary place of ministry. The Couples’ Weekend Away gives the special opportunity for a romantic getaway. This enables couples to review, renew and spice up their marriages. There are wonderful testimonies and evidences of improved relationships after this program. The organization continues to support widows and their families. A fully funded day program is organized annually to encourage, support and identify the needs of members in this group. This is open to OFNC, nonOFNC members and people from diﬀerent nationalities. It also provides opportunity for friendship, mutual support (sharing experiences, counseling, and prayers) among the women and among the children.
FUTURE • Collaboration with women groups from local churches to inﬂuence the society. • Joint branches / Regional women meetings. • Established women prayer band. I would like to express my gratitude to the OFNC NEC, all OFNC women, all women coordinators for the great support during my tenure. Thanks for the opportunity to serve and I pray that God will continue to unite and help us to be strong, working for Him. Psalm 78:4.. “we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.” Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name. Bola Kehinde OFNC NATIONAL WOMEN COORDINATOR
Women in Business and Leadership Conference, Heathrow, 10th November 2012
Photographs: Sue Jordan
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, 10th November 2012 BARONESS ELIZABETH ROSE BERRIDGE Baroness Elizabeth Rose Berridge of the Vale of Catmose delivered the opening remarks. Baroness Berridge is currently the youngest female member of the House of Lords. Her professional career was as a barrister before she was appointed Executive Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship in 2006.
KATE ANOLUE Kate Anolue delivered the closing remarks at the WinBLe Conference. She is a Nigerian born Councillor and was the Mayor of Enfield at the time of the conference. She is a Registered Community / Hospital Midwife and qualified lawyer and is influential in many causes.
DR. CHERON BYFIELD Dr Cheron Byfield is a co-founder, Chairperson and Director for Excell3, a national educational charity with the mission of raising the academic aspirations and achievement of less advantaged children. Cheron has been a Christian for over 30 years and has been actively involved in Christian education and youth work. She is a member of Renewal Christian Centre in Solihull. Cheron has had a varied and rich career, most of which has been in the enterprise sector including women’s business development. She was the keynote speaker for the 2012 WinBLe conference.
ABBIIH OLOYEDE Abbiih Oloyede is a prolific prophetic speaker, with a unique anointing of connecting with women and encouraging them to reach full potential in their calling and purpose. She has a passion to see the local church transform lives and communities. She pastor’s City Chapel a multi-cultural church in East London, alongside her husband Dr Jonathan Oloyede, Convener of Global Day of Prayer London. Abbiih also works cross-culturally with Tearfund, ran a bed linen business and is a regular presenter on Revelation TV’s “She Matters”. She led the workshop “Business startup: moving from dreams to reality”. This workshop explored the core principles of setting up a successful business and looked at an example of an excellent business plan.
LOLA IBHADON Lola Ibhadon is the dynamic Director of Vision Shapers International. She has worked extensively with secular and Christian organisations, facilitating intelligent and frank solutions in enterprise and organisational development. She has also established and led several thriving national and international women’s groups and organisations including the Women’s Forum of the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians (OFNC, UK). She led the workshop “Securing funding in these challenging times”, which looked at how to write a winning proposal for funding and explored potential sources of funding.
LOLA MAKINDE Lola Makinde is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She works as a HR practitioner having gained varied and significant experience
in both the private and public sectors. Lola is a trained mediator and coach. She is also the Executive Director of EMAKS HR Consultancy (Management Development Consultancy). Lola led the workshop “Career progression: breaking through the glass ceiling” Amongst other issues, this workshop explored selfesteem issues, assertiveness in the workplace, writing effective CVs and interviewing skills.
REV P.O. WILLIAMS Rev P.O. Williams is the President and founder of the Women of Royal Destiny. She is married to Apostle Alfred Williams, the founder and General Overseer of Christ Faith Tabernacle International Churches. Reverend Williams led the workshop: “Principles of effective Christian leadership.” This workshop examined the differences between Christian leadership and secular leadership. It looked at how the participants could be more effective leaders in their spheres of influence. It also explored the challenges that women face and how to overcome them.
CHARITY OLUMESE IBHADON Charity Olumese Ibhadon is an Operations Analyst with Citigroup and a graduate of the London School of Economics. Her recent 3-month period in Cambodia strengthened her personal principle of “living off what one needs rather than wants”. This was closely followed by a short-term appointment with a major international financial institution during which she handled personal debt cases, thereby enhancing her understanding of financial management. Ms Ibhadon led the workshop “How to finish university without an overdraft.” This was a practical money management seminar to help university and postgraduate students as well as recent graduates look at budgeting. It also covered ways of combining part time working with saving effectively, making use of deals/offers, investing in small business ventures at university; all geared towards finishing without a heavy debt burden.
LOTWINA FARODOYE Lotwina Farodoye is an award winning entrepreneur and founder, Castus UK Ltd. Following redundancy, Lotwina Farodoye founded Castus UK Ltd in May 2009 and launched the fun range of ‘Be fruity’ natural fruit bars into Britain’s top supermarkets including Sainsbury, Waitrose, and Holland and Barrett. Lotwina has won several business awards and has featured on both National Television and Radio motivating people to soar to new heights in all pursuits. Since selling her award winning business, Lotwina published her first book Lotwina led the workshop “Lemons to lemonade: story of my journey from redundancy to restoration”
ELSA CALEB Elsa Caleb is an honorary Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs; who specialises in business development support for entrepreneurs. She works extensively with businesses in a wide range of industries to improve effectiveness, productivity, results and the bottom line’. She is currently combining projects with managing her own SFEDI Centre of Excellence under ECJ Associates Limited where she is the Director. Elsa led the workshop “Networking: An essential skill/tool for the 21st century” This workshop seeks explored how an age old but ill understood and underutilised concept can be used to stimulate growth; both in personal endeavours, professional life and business ventures. It was very practical, employing role play and dramatization to drive home the point.
TEMI KOLEOWO Temi Koleowo is a business consultant and member of the Institute of Business Consulting. Through her working career, she has gained over 15 years’ experience of working in various industries as a financial and
business management professional. Having worked in both private and public sectors, she has had first-hand experience of the business world and understands the dynamics of success. Temi led the workshop “Repositioning yourself in business: Joining a franchise/ joint Venture or partnership.” This seminar tackled how to evaluate franchise opportunities, pitfalls to avoid and tips for success
ROLAKE AKINKUGBE Rolake Akinkugbe is the Head of Oil and Gas Research, Corporate and Investment Banking at Ecobank Group. She assists the pan-African banking group with its energy strategy across its 33-country African banking footprint. She manages Ecobank’s research and analytical output across the energy value-chain, and advises both internal and external clients on the industry. She has a wealth of experience and in-depth coverage and understanding of the policy, commercial and risk dynamics of pan African extractives industries, and has acted as a consultant on Africa for a wide range of corporate, governmental and financial sector clients and institutional investors, providing cogent and authoritative analysis of market developments. She led the two part workshop “A young woman’s perspective on business” Part1: Working in emerging and frontier markets: How Africa changed me Part2: More than small talk: Effective communication. Ms Akinkugbe shared her experience of working and advising on investment in sub-Saharan Africa as well as how effective communication is more than ‘making small talk’
DR. OLUBOLA KEHINDE Dr. Olubola Kehinde is a medical practitioner and the current National Women’s Coordinator of OFNC. She has a deep passion for women from all walks of life and is a firm believer in the pursuit of excellence in both career and
family life. She led a session in the Celebrating women in business workshop.
BISOLA OBILEYE Bisola is a Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA) and a member in practice (MiP) with the Chartered Institute Management Accountant. She has been self –employed for over 5 years. Prior to that, she was the Director of Finance for Rugby House Project Ltd (one of the largest drugs and alcohol organisation). During the last three years she has pursued her passion for culinary arts management alongside her finance & accounting practice. This has developed into multiple income streams. Bisola loves to assist people in their Christian development. She is passionate for His word and has compassion for His people. She led a session in the Celebrating women in business workshop.
BADERINWA OLUSUNMADE Baderinwa Olusunmade is a specialist practitioner in general practice nursing and a mentor. She is also a business woman. She led a session in the Celebrating women in business workshop.
CELEBRATING WOMEN IN BUSINESS This workshop followed the encouraging stories of ordinary women who have succeeded in setting up business ventures. They shared practical, real life experiences, answering questions about what they wish they knew from the start, what they would do differently and challenges they faced along the way. Photographs: Sue Jordan
National Women’s Conference Morley Town Hall, Leeds.
1 June 2013
his year’s conference focused on “The Woman of Faith” and what it means to lead a life of faith. The foundational Bible verse for the message behind this conference, can be found in Matthew 17:20 in which Jesus instructs us to “have faith as small as a mustard seed …”
The conference took place on Saturday 1st June, 2013 at Morley Town Hall in Leeds from 08.15 AM to 5.00 PM.
The key note speaker was Rev. P.O. Williams, who is president and founder of Women Of Royal Destiny. Furthermore, there were a number of interesting and relevant workshop topics at the conference including: • Busy mum and healthy lifestyle • Planning towards a Christian retirement • Moving from negativity to positivity • Communication in Marriage • Conflict in marriage • Managing finances effectively at home.
OFNC EVENTS 2013/2014 The Magazine of the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians
NIGERIA PRAYS RALLY 2013 – 2014 ISSUE 22
Tackling SICKLE CELL Issues Vinesong
Keys to a successful YOUTH MINISTRY
LORD TAYLOR of Warwick GENESIS IMPACT
NATIONAL MEN’S CONFERENCE Leeds 19th October 2013
JUSTIN WELBY ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Arise Contacts Peter Ikuobase | Email: Peter.firstname.lastname@example.org | Telephone: 020 7097 3908 To get a free copy of the next edition with your free gift, please call us quoting ‘ARISE’ or register at: http://www.ofnc.org.uk/arise/register
2012 BURSARY AWARDS
WOMEN IN BUSINESS AND LEADERSHIP (WINBLE) CONFERENCE 9th November 2013
CONNECT CONFERENCE Friday 15th – Sunday 17th November 2013
WIDOWS & WIDOWERS CONFERENCE 7th December 2013
AMPLIFIED YOUTH CONFERENCE
Oke Oteri from the Lincoln Branch came joint second in the A-Level bursary award. Her details were incorrectly captured in the last edition and we have printed the correct details here for the record. Oke has now completed her ﬁrst year of a dentistry degree at the University of Liverpool. She has thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far. We wish you all the best in your studies Oke!
18th – 21st April 2014
CHILDREN’S DAY CONFERENCE/OUTING Saturday 7th June 2014
GLOBAL TRANSFERS For efficient and reliable same day money transfers to and from Nigeria Contact Lara Bishi on
Saturday 31st August 2013
NATIONAL WOMEN’S CONFERENCE Saturday 14th June 2014
FAMILY CONFERENCE Friday 22nd – Monday 25th August 2014 OFNC CONTACT DETAILS OFNC currently has branches in Bedford, Birmingham, Doncaster, Lancaster, Leeds, Lincoln, Liverpool, London (Central), Manchester, Newcastle, North London, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, South Essex, Southampton and Teesside. 020 7097 5153 | email@example.com LONDON OFFICE: 12 Chambers Walk, Stanmore, Middlesex, London HA7 4FN MANCHESTER OFFICE: Top House, Shawheath Close, Manchester, M15 4BQ