ISSUE 14 / APR - JUN 2012 / €2
IRELAND’S CRUEL EPIDEMIC Calling for a Christian response to suicide
TRAVELLERS COME HOME “Next time you look down at a Traveller, remember our Lord was one too.”
AN INVITATION TO A JOURNEY Why knowledge is not enough
E a s t e r people! he exultant taste of spring is in the air; that vibrant, sparkling, whiter-washed tingling that bursts into bloom; long-awaited yet still somehow unexpected. People fill their lungs and lift their faces to the sun’s surprising warmth. It seems fitting to celebrate Easter surrounded with the signs and symbols of new life. The day always holds special meaning for me - I was the first baby born on one particular Easter Day (more than a few years ago now). Yet it also makes me wonder… Why is our remembrance of the resurrection reserved for just one day a year? If it takes four weeks of Advent to embrace Immanuel and more than 40 days of Lent to consider the cross of Christ, surely the ultimate victory deserves more than 24 hours? A hope-filled empty tomb should offer us 366 reasons to rejoice (yes, it’s a leap year) but all too often we endure the thief’s bitter legacy. Love is stifled, hope is snatched away and joy is crushed underfoot - “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.”
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A HOPE-FILLED EMPTY TOMB SHOULD OFFER US 366 REASONS TO REJOICE Friday seems to end in defeat but Sunday’s coming! “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10 (Amplified) Transformation in our own lives is the first step (An invitation to a journey, page 22 and Taking a walk with God, page 26). And when we begin to experience the shepherd’s lavish care, when we learn to live the resurrection, we will start to overflow life and light to those around us. We will respond with compassion to the pain and devastation of suicide (Ireland’s cruel epidemic, page 12) and challenge the injustice that damages marginalised groups within our society (Travellers come home, page 24). We will be Easter people - joyfully celebrating and generously sharing the life we have received!
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APR - JUN 2012 VOX
ADVENTURES IN INVESTING
TAKING A WALK WITH GOD
NOT THE FULL PIGEON
APRIL - JUNE 2012, ISSUE 14 ISSN: 2009-2253 PUBLISH E R Solas Publishing
CONTENTS 12 22 24
EDITOR Ruth Garvey-Williams email@example.com ADVERTI S I N G Jonny Lindsay firstname.lastname@example.org LAYOUT A N D O P E R AT I O N S Jonny Lindsay email@example.com PROJECT D I R E C TO R Tom Slattery (Evangelical Alliance Ireland) SUBSCRI P T I O N S Ireland (32 counties): €10 for four issues / €16 for eight issues Overseas: €15 for four issues / €24 for eight issues All cheques should be made payable to Solas Publishing. SOLAS P U B L I S H I N G Ulysses House 22 - 24 Foley Street Dublin 1 Tel: 01 443 4789 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vox.ie DISCLAIM E R
The views expressed in letters and articles are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Solas Publishing or Evangelical Alliance. The acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement.
PRINT Cube Printing, Limerick VOX magazine is a quarterly publication, brought to you by Solas Publishing.
14 17 20 26 30
COVER STORIES Ireland’s cruel epidemic - calling for a Christian response to suicide An invitation to a journey - why knowledge is not enough! Travellers come home - “Next time you look down at a Traveller, remember our Lord was one too.” FEATURES AND INTERVIEWS Inside the suicidal mind - plus resources to equip and help churches and individuals Not the full pigeon - changing attitudes towards disability Lesser known, greater things - a taste of what’s in store at New Wine Sligo this July Taking a walk with God - leaning to embrace the joy of His presence Adventures in Investing… on earth and in heaven
VOX VIEWS He-motions - “How do bottled up feelings come to the fore? The answer is badly!”
Give me neither poverty, nor riches with Dr Craig Blomberg
06 08 10 16 18
REGULAR FEATURES VOX: Shorts VOX: World News Your VOX: Letters Facts from Acts Family Focus
19 22 35 36 38
Confessions of a Feint Saint Web Watch Reviews Event Listing VOX: PS
Cover Image: Krista Burns (www.thecrimsonclover.net) with Beth Ryman
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: 04
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Christian Motorcyclists Association Our vision is to change the world, one heart at a time. We seek to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ (Íosa Críost) to the biking community and others. Luke 14:23 says to “go out to the highways and along the hedges and bring them in that my house may be filled.” If this ministry sounds right for you, first pray about it and then call us on 086 8057982. We’d be delighted to answer any of your questions.
We’d also like to offer you a Biker’s Bible “Hope for the Highway”.
www.cmaireland.ie | email@example.com www.country.cmainternational.org/ire | Tel: 086 8057982
Wear it out campaign and No Shoes Day
In a world where ‘image’ is so important – what do your clothes really say about you? The WEAR IT OUT campaign challenges lifestyle choices around clothes and fashion. The challenge involves a ‘fashion fast’: a commitment to abstain from buying new clothes (or jewellery or gadgets) for a significant period (minimum three months). The idea is to learn from the experience and also to put any money saved to good use. Supported by Summer Madness, Tearfund, Fields of Life (featured in
VOX edition 13) and 3RockYouth in Dublin, the campaign asks for a €15 or €35 registration fee. At the end of three months participants can either receive this money back in the form of a T-shirt or pair of TOMS shoes or donate the money to Fields of Life. As part of the challenge, Wear It Out is organising a world record attempt as part of No Shoes Day in Belfast (April 10). Find out more at www.wear-it-out.co.uk
Making fair choices
There are now 48 official Fairtrade towns and cities in Ireland and 30 more are seeking Fairtrade status. Consumer spending on Fairtrade Certified products in Ireland grew by an estimated 16% in 2011. A wide range of Fairtrade products in discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi have helped the trend. Yet Irish supermarket giants Dunnes Stores and Supervalu still trail behind - a search came up blank on both their websites and when VOX magazine contacted them, they failed to respond. Fairtrade Maltesers will be on shelves in April joining other iconic chocolate products like Cadbury Dairy Milk and Nestle Kit Kat and all of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in announcing the switch.
VOX APR - JUN 2012
Around the country, churches, organisations and individuals took to the streets to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. The team at LifeFM handed out flowers during the St Patrick’s Day parade in Cork. Each flower bore the message: Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” from John 10:10. In Limerick, the Abundant Life church reflected the city’s parade theme - the world in union - by creating a colourful display of 27 flags representing each of the nationalities within the church. Giving out free pens and sweets, wearing T-shirts displaying the words “One in Christ” and entertaining the crowds with puppets all added to the celebration. In Athlone and Ballinasloe, OM Ireland’s Big Red Bus was a welcome addition to the St Patrick’s Day parades. Together with local churches, the team handed out several thousand leaflets sharing the message Patrick brought to Ireland. Tell us your good news stories. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer pressure and media put Irish young women at risk
Tuning in to Christian radio! Ireland has the third highest rate of anorexia in Europe according to a new study by the Centre for Economic Performance. Unsurprisingly, the survey of 3,000 women found young women, aged from 15 - 34, were influenced by the size and weight of their peer group as well as images in the media. Austria has the highest rate of anorexia with 1.55% of women affected followed by France (1.42%) and Ireland with 1.32%. However, Northern Ireland has the lowest prevalence (Ed: Why the difference… anyone?). “Anorexia together with other food disorders can be characterised by a distorted body image. The power exerted by media stereotypes of beauty and the social norms is widely accepted. Further, it has been suggested that the consequent fear of rejection based on physical appearance is behind the increase in eating disorders,” the report stated.
Katie climbs into the ring for children’s charity
Irish World Champion Boxer, Katie Taylor joined forces with Zest4kidz to launch its Business Partners campaign. The Irish-based charity, which helps children in desperate circumstances around the world, is promoting “In Your Corner”. The campaign offers Irish businesses the opportunity to support Zest4kidz. Katie Taylor said, “In my role as Ambassador for Zest4kidz, I’m delighted to be involved in the “In Your Corner” campaign. I face into every fight with the knowledge that I have a strong, supportive and active team in my corner. In the same way, Zest4kidz is the team that is working alongside children who face enormous challenges, to help them achieve great things. I urge any business to join the Zest4Kidz Business Partner programme and be part of the team.” For full details visit – www.zest4kidz.com
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Spirit celebrates its first birthday As Spirit Radio marked one year on air, new research revealed the Christian radio station is attracting over 100,000 listeners in Dublin alone. CEO Rob Clarke said, “It is really thrilling to be at this point. I think our programming is resonating with a lot of people. Plans are in place to launch on AM to reach the rural sectors and to launch on FM in another 15 towns across Ireland” Spirit Radio is broadcasting in Dublin on 89.9FM, Limerick 89.8FM, Cork 90.9FM, Galway 91.7FM and Waterford 90.1FM. Exciting days ahead for UCB From June, UCB Ireland will be available to listeners in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford cities on a new Irish DAB broadcast system. Listeners who own an inexpensive DAB/DAB+ radio will be able to tune into UCB Ireland's exciting Christian music and programmes. At present, UCB is broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be heard on the UPC cable network channel 918, on SKY Channel 0214 and online at www.ucb.ie A fantastic year at Life FM March 16 was a significant milestone for the team at LifeFM in Cork as they celebrated four years on air. Delighted station manager Brian Daly told VOX, “It is a testimony to God’s faithfulness that He has supplied all our needs. He has kept the station going. He has provided volunteers and the finance.” The team marked their anniversary with the launch of a new website www.lifefm.ie and a host of new initiatives for the coming year. One dream is to launch a 24-hour Prayer Line and Brian Daly appeals for people who would like to get involved to contact him (email@example.com or telephone 021 4964444).
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WAR ON CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA
ARMED ATTACKS ON TEAM HOPE PARTNERS IN CONGO NO LEGAL RECOGNITION FOR MANY HUNGARIAN CHURCHES
Hungary's new constitution, brought into effect on 1 January, grants state recognition to 14 religious groups but leaves all other groups decertified. This includes over 300 Christian groups or denominations such as the Methodists and all but one of the evangelical churches. This means they lose their official status, tax exemptions and freedom to run schools.
TWO YEARS ON…
The earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010 left more than 200,000 dead. Today, over 650,000 people still live in makeshift camps, often in terrible conditions. Christian relief agencies continue to rebuilt homes, schools, churches and hospitals.
POOREST COMMUNITIES SUFFER FROM CORRUPTION AND EXPLOITATION
In 2008, African exports of oil, gas and minerals were worth roughly nine times the amount given to the continent in aid. Yet secrecy and corruption often results in natural resource wealth going missing and not benefiting the citizens of these nations, especially those who are poor. Tearfund Ireland called on individual Christians and churches to pray and speak out against this injustice. To find out more visit www. tearfund.ie
Since Christmas, Team Hope’s partners in Eastern Congo have twice come under attack from armed militia groups. African Revival Ministries (ARM) is based in South Kivu Province, where they have run orphanages and schools in rural areas serving children who have suffered from years of conflict. This area that has experienced one of the world’s highest rates of rape of both adults and children as a weapon of war. Team Hope reports that ARM has experienced two attacks since Christmas. In the first, an ARM vehicle was riddled with bullets and the occupants were taken into the bush where all their possessions and clothes were stolen. Miraculously, none of the staff were hit by bullets or physically harmed by the militia group! Last month the ARM centre in Marungu was attacked. In the ensuing fighting a family member of ARM’s Congolese team leader was shot and killed. He leaves a wife and three young children. Medecins Sans Frontieres was the only other NGO working in the area, and they have now left as a result of a separate attack on their staff. Team Hope continues to support ARM’s work in the area, consisting of orphanages, schools, HIV/AIDS programmes for victims of rape, vocational training for war widows, and Christmas Shoebox distribution to children. Find out more from www.teamhope.ie
Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group, has announced a "war" on Christians and said it would launch a series of co-ordinated attacks in order to annihilate the entire Christian community living in northern Nigeria. Sometimes described as the Nigerian Taliban, Boko Haram has hit the headlines in recent months after perpetrating several suicide bomb blasts against churches throughout northern Nigeria, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In early March, a Boko Haram spokesman said, "We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians won't be able to stay." Nigeria is almost evenly divided between Christians (in the south) and Muslims (in the north). Yusuf Wushishi, President of the Christian Council of Nigeria, responded, “We shouldn’t take reprisal attacks, we shouldn’t think of revenge, we shouldn’t think of retaliation. We should lift everything to God. All we need to do is to pray and if we pray and believe in God, God will do something.” Read more about Nigeria in the latest issue of Church in Chains magazine. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a free copy. Images: Team Hope / Tearfund
8 VOX 08 VOXAPR APR- -JUN JUN2012 2012
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APR - JUN 2012 VOX
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Letters to the editor
of VOX we In each issue all of a €25 One4 award a prize r. tte le ite ur vo r fa voucher for ou u! yo It could be
VOX provides a necessary platform I would like to commend VOX magazine for its courageous latest edition ( Jan - Mar 2012) which didn’t dodge controversial issues, in particular the Evolution question, which was well subscribed by Letters to the Editor following on from Dr.Keith McCrory’s article in the previous issue . Any Christian magazine worth its salt MUST engage with the current world view, whether it believes it or not. If it does NOT engage the magazine loses its evangelical commission and preaches only to the converted. VOX needs to be salt and / or leaven in the dough of the world. Need I mention ‘The Socratic Club’ in Oxford where CS Lewis (as chairman) actively welcomed all comers, even atheists, into debate on matters of ultimate importance? God, creator of all things (including mind, reason and debate) is big enough to defend Himself against all arguments – not that He needs to. But thank you, VOX, for providing a necessary platform, a level playing pitch.
PETER BRABAZON KILKENNY
Ed: We’re humbled and grateful for the comparison with one of Ireland’s literary greats!
A PLEA FOR UNITY
In the midst of the creation-evolution debate that appears to be raging in the pages of VOX, I would like to make a plea for unity among those of us who believe in the divine inspiration and supremacy of scripture. I believe that the subject of origins is of secondary importance and that, therefore, there should be liberty for Christians to hold differing views as to how the first two chapters of Genesis should be understood. I think the maxim, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity (love)" is a good one for us to bear in mind. As Christians involved in the debate we are all agreed that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). It is only when we begin to ask "How?" and "When?" that differences begin to show. Whether, then, we believe that the earth is old or young, that God
VOX APR - JUN 2012
created life on earth in six literal days or by a slow evolutionary process over a much longer period of time, can we not accept that others who love the Lord and His word just as much as we do may hold a different viewpoint? After all, as Seamus O'Callaghan says in his article Truth, Science and Evolution (VOX Jan - Mar 2012) none of us was there to witness the events of creation! I am somewhat agnostic on the whole subject! But please, in spite of our differences, let us not fall out with each other over something, which is of secondary importance. BRIAN KERR DERRY
Just cannot let the occasion pass without congratulations to you in producing yet another wonderful VOX magazine. Increasing size and maintaining a high quality of content and production deserves the highest praise. Well done indeed. DAVID MCCABE BLACKROCK, CO. DUBLIN Ed: Thank you! This was a real encouragement to the whole team!
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ccording to the World Health Organisation, suicide rates have increased globally by between 5 and 62.2% in the past two decades. The western world has the highest rate of self-inflicted death. Some people in the world’s richest nations are so hopeless, helpless and unhappy that they feel the only solution is to end their existence. Google “suicide in Ireland” and you will see alarming statistics. Suicide claims more lives than road traffic accidents with an average of 500 deaths a year and is the major cause of death for young people, particularly young men. Health professionals and community groups believe the suicide rate will increase as the recession deepens. Yet suicide remains a subject that many feel uncomfortable talking about. Suicide leaves behind a trail of pain, anguish and betrayal. It seems the ultimate escape for an individual but it leaves family, friends and the wider community reeling with grief and unanswered questions. The resulting conflicts can trigger further cycles of depression, self-harm and even suicide. Losing a loved one is always painful and difficult. Something within most of us cries out “No” when death strikes. Even when the natural cycle of life is completed and a person dies peacefully in old age, death is rarely welcome. The families and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide suffer all the sadness and mourning that follows any bereavement but they also contend with guilt and confusion. Close social systems are torn apart. Burying a parent, child or friend who has deliberately taken their own life goes against the grain and raises so many questions.
CALLING FOR A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO SUICIDE
EPIDEMIC BY JULIA MUIR
WHY DID THEY DO IT?
The question usually hangs unanswered. The suicide cycle is a treadmill of hopelessness. Negative thoughts and a low self image can lead people to imagining the world and even loved ones, will be better off without them. Trapped in depression and emotional pain, for some death is perceived as the only answer to the agony of life. I believe the church of Jesus Christ SUICIDE LEAVES BEHIND A TRAIL must provide an OF PAIN, ANGUISH AND BETRAYAL. alternative.
Ireland has seen the collapse of traditional SO, HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD? spirituality. Hedonism, materialism and the “me” We must face the reality of suicide culture leave a gaping emptiness in people’s hearts and in our society and within our churches. minds. While it is logical to abandon things that do Suicide is a very real issue and anyone not work or that harm who is society, the revolution struggling with never delivers what it depression promises. The resulting or emotional BEING A CHRISTIAN DOES NOT MAKE A PERSON pain might be void hurts! When people at risk. Those IMMUNE TO DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE commit suicide because left behind they do not know what after a suicide else to do with the pain contend with and loneliness of their devastation problems, the void wins. and confusion. Our churches need to address all of these issues.
BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS LEAD TO BROKEN PEOPLE
At the heart of all human conflict is broken relationship. We need love and acceptance to thrive. Fundamentally, love is the glue that sticks us together. When love is disturbed, it produces negative emotions that, unless dealt with correctly, remain hidden but active within the mind. God has created us to have three basic relationships: with Himself, with others and with ourselves. Conflict and separation in any of these relationships produces harmful emotions. Given time the internal struggle of unresolved conflict causes depression, hopelessness, wrong decision-making and low self-esteem. In Ireland, speaking of a relationship with God may produce scorn and ridicule. The recent history of the church has not helped to promote faith but secularism is not the solution to spiritual toxicity. Church (or religion) itself is not the answer but the core message of the Church is. People need an encounter with Jesus Christ to bring them back to the God who created them and loves them. Relationship with God offers the hope of healing for hearts and minds. In Him, the hurts and brokenness of relationships can be resolved and we can be freed from damaging self-hatred. Being a Christian does not make a person immune to depression and suicide but it can provide hope beyond one’s own abilities.
EQUIPPING THE CHURCH
Training in emotional healing should be part of every church’s discipleship programme. For someone who is at the end of their emotional tether, a person who cares and who knows what they are talking about could literally make the difference between life and death. I hope pastors and Christian leaders will be stirred to equip and inspire their churches to touch a society so broken that people are killing themselves. It is not sufficient just to preach the Gospel, we need to heal those who are hurting and deliver the afflicted. We need to learn why people kill themselves, how to recognise the signs and how to intervene appropriately – or at least be prepared to find someone who can.
We can help by encouraging people to talk and share their feelings without condemnation. We can examine our church resources and challenge our approaches. We can equip ourselves with information and practical skills. We can be open about the issues people face and allow people to express pain. We can permit tears. We can offer long-term, patient support rather than “quick fix” sticking plaster solutions. We can offer hope in Jesus. We can learn how to bring healing to hearts broken by negative emotion. Easter is upon us; a time when we remember a man who was crucified so that we could have a relationship with our Creator. If the crucifixion was the final word then death wins and suicide might seem the only option. But the final word was life. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to demonstrate that death was overthrown. His death was an act of supreme love making a way possible for rescue and healing. His resurrection shows He has conquered death. Julia Muir heads up the Open Arms Counselling Centre and training programmes in Kildare. She received her doctorate in Theotherapy, a biblical model of counseling.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUICIDE People who talk about suicide won't really do it. (False) Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats.
Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy. (False) Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
If a person is determined to kill him/ herself, nothing is going to stop them. (False) Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop.
People who commit suicide were unwilling to seek help. (False) Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
Talking about suicide may give someone the idea. (False) You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do. Source: SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Image: Krista Burns - www.thecrimsonclover.net
APR - JUN 2012 VOX
INSIDE THE SUICIDAL MIND BY JOANIE REILLY
‘It will never change’... John believed no one would understand, and his sense of shame kept him imprisoned, even though he was surrounded by a loving family. I see the same pattern repeated, especially with men. Not knowing how to deal with negative emotions, they bottle them up, deny them, avoid them, cover “Tell me about your suicide thoughts.” Sitting in the them over with activity or anesthetise chair opposite me, John was calm. He was too calm. them with alcohol or drugs. It works, for He began to talk. John had attempted suicide. I asked a while, but eventually repressed feelings him if he had another plan and he told me yes. I felt will demand a voice. myself swallowing hard. I could feel familiar feelings For years, John managed to hold it of anxiety and panic. It is normal to feel this way in a all together but now circumstances had death-threatening conversation. lifted the lid on the bottled up feelings. After five years, I have learned not to react. Acting He felt trapped by helplessness and out of our own fearfulness around suicide can make hopelessness. He us want to avoid it. Imagine began to think he how much more fearful the would be better suicidal person is. John and I off dead and that continue our conversation. It ACTING OUT OF OUR OWN FEARFULNESS his family would is matter of fact, even bizarrely be better off humorous, in much the same AROUND SUICIDE CAN MAKE US WANT without him. way we might discuss what we TO AVOID IT. To the had for lunch. rational mind, Not everyone who has this can appear suicidal thoughts is high risk. ludicrous. People ask, ‘What about your The thoughts become important only when they family, how can you be so selfish?” persist and someone starts to make plans. John is at But it is important to understand this this point. How did he become like this? is not the thinking of a logical, rational John was outwardly together - a successful business and family man, well-liked and respected. But mind. This is the irrational thinking of someone who is totally lost in deep underneath he had a deeply painful story that he had emotional pain. John truly believed he never been able to talk about. He was full of pain and was a worthless person and his family grief. He coped by numbing his feelings and burying would be better off without him. himself in work. No one ever suspected. John did not want his family to His suicide attempt was not an impulse but a slowgrowing, carefully hidden and calculated plan. Suicide suspect. His wife was so shocked when for John had become the perfectly rational solution to he attempted suicide. Family members often feel guilt for what has happened. his deep pain. They are left bewildered and often Suicide is not a rational act. It is an irrational way angry. Some of the saddest situations of escape from what has become overwhelming. I encounter are family members who John’s inner world was full of anguish and extreme believe (wrongly) that they were loneliness, a toxic mix of unrealistic shame, guilt, somehow responsible for a death because anxiety and self-hatred. they did not see it coming. They blame Fuelling all those feelings were a whole collection themselves. Yet a suicidal person can and of irrational thoughts. ‘It’s all my fault’, ‘I’m worthless’, Counsellor Joanie Reilly describes an encounter with someone who is contemplating taking their own life. Out of respect for confidentiality, Joanie has created a fictional character (John) to represent the many hundreds of conversations she has had and to help us understand a little more.
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often does hide their feelings very well. John began to change when he decided to seek help. His greatest need was for compassionate understanding. Despite our own anxiety, we need to move in and not be afraid to ask, ‘Do you have suicidal thoughts?’ Listening with kindness, respect and acceptance helps break into the isolation and distorted reality. As he began to talk, light began to shine into the dark messages he had believed and he gradually saw his irrational thinking for what it was. Today, John is free from suicidal thinking. He is recognising and challenging his faulty beliefs, not burying them. One remarkable thing that I have seen happen on many occasions, is that as John began to get unblocked emotionally, he began to open up spiritually. He also began to read the Scriptures with new eyes and to discover the Jesus who said, “I came that you might have life”. Joanie Reilly is a Christian counsellor with a degree in counselling and psychotherapy and has a private practice in Naas, Co Kildare. email@example.com
CHRISTIAN RESOURCES: COUNSELLING SERVICES: Hope Counselling Longford, Athlone and Roscommon Phone: 09064 89839/087 0568925 www.hopecounselling.ie Oasis Counselling Service Ballyfermot, Dublin Phone: 01 626 8519 www.oasiscounselling.net Open Arms Counselling Centre 13 Newbridge Industrial Estate, Newbridge, Kildare. Telephone: 045 436990 www.openarms.ie Irish Association of Christian Counsellors www.iacc.ie
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter”. Proverbs 24:11
Other resources available from Choose Life www.chooselife.ie DVDs: Choose Life and Life Matters. Book: Journey to Wellness« Courses Plus a range of online articles and information
COMMUNITY RESOURCES: HELPLINES AND SUPPORT GROUPS/ ORGANISATIONS:
Life was a lonely, desolate straight away. Deep down, I didn’t place for me. I was tired of hiding want to die. I just wanted the pain behind a smile while inside I was to stop. experiencing gut wrenching pain. A gentle voice talked to me on No words can explain the sense of the phone and I knew he understood utter despair, desolation, failure and how I was feeling. I made it through unhappiness that grips the core of that day and the following day I your being and strangles you from went to see him. I came away feeling the inside out. different. I had a strange sense that I was worn out and I couldn’t something huge had happened fight anymore. I thought of just inside me. God had answered when leaving this world behind. The pain I called out to Him. inside was growing more intense and I met with the counsellor once I thought about it more and more a week for six weeks and each time as a release. felt better. I felt I felt dying God’s love for me was my only more and more way out. DEEP DOWN, I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE. every day. God I cried away my pain I JUST WANTED THE PAIN TO STOP. took out, "Oh! and emptiness God, I can’t and filled me with take this a comfort and anymore, peace I had never please take this pain away". I stood experienced before. up to walk out the door and go to There are still days that I find the sea to end it all, when a text hard, but they are few and, with message arrived, "Hi, thinking about God’s help, I get through. Do I still you, how are you"? want to die? No, a thousand times I had nothing left to lose so I No! responded, “I’m battling with the will to live". My friend responded Excerpt from Journey to Wellness immediately and gave me the phone produced by Choose Life (www. number of a counsellor. I rang him chooselife.ie). Used with permission.
Image: Krista Burns - www.thecrimsonclover.net
The Samaritans provide a 24/7 phoneline where you can talk to someone anonymously, day or night. 1850 60 90 90 (IRL) or email firstname.lastname@example.org AWARE groups provide support for people suffering from depression (www.aware.ie) GROW is a Mental Health Organisation which helps people who have suffered, or are suffering, from mental health problems (www.grow.ie )
SPECIALIST HELP AND COUNSELLING SERVICES: Specialist help for those who are suicidal or self-harming: Pieta House, Lucan Phone 01 601 0000 www.pieta.ie General Counselling Services from www.irish-counselling.ie
TRAINING: ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. Details available from the National Office for Suicide Prevention (www.nosp.ie)« Support for those bereaved by suicide Console Helpline: 1800 201 89 (www.console. ie) or Living Links (www.livinglinks.ie)
« HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY THE
VOX MAGAZINE TEAM APR - JUN 2012 VOX
Parents are the most influential factor in steering children away from drug use! Join us for our 2-day How to Drug Proof Your Kids (DPYK®) Facilitator Training in Dublin on Friday, 25th and Saturday, 26th of May 2012. We will work with you to help you prepare and equip parents to talk to their children about drugs and alcohol. (Please note: participants must attend both training days.)
Focus on the Family Ireland Unit 11 The Plaza, Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 T: 01 806 6288 E: email@example.com W: www.family.ie
To register your interest go to www.family.ie/dpyk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get the Word out by all means could never see the point of poetry when at school and thought it all part of a ‘grind the kids down’ policy. However Browning’s How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix did penetrate my resistance because even I could recognise the way its metre mimicked the horses’ hoofbeats. I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I gallop’d, Dirck gallop’d, we gallop’d all three... Later in life studying the Acts of the Apostles I saw a parallel, because a very good title for the Acts would be How they brought the Good News from Jerusalem to Rome. Nor do I think I’m imposing an alien idea. Obviously, in terms of geography that is what happened, but there is more - we get the Good News spelled out for us, it is the universal prescription for humanity: forgiveness of sin as the core of salvation (Acts 5:31). For a world of sin damaged people what can be more liberating and healing than pointing to Jesus as the source and provider of forgiveness based on His grace not our inadequate effort (Acts 13:38, 26:18 )?
This is the Good News unashamedly proclaimed and preached effectively to Jew, Greek and Roman, to pagan and ‘religious’, to artisan and intellectual, and all the while the missionary team, even when storm-driven, were moving towards Rome. We have ‘signposts’ embedded by Luke the author, unobtrusive but significant, by which he keeps reminding us of the growth and spread of the Good News (Acts 6:7, 12:24, 16:5, 19:20, 28:31). The final piece of evidence is in fact, the very last word of Acts in Luke’s original, Paul is at Rome, preaching and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ ‘unhindered’. The Good News has continued to spread worldwide to this day and wherever the same message of grace and forgiveness is passed along and people hear and receive it, almost identical stories and incidents occur. So How they brought the Good News . . . calls us to answer the question . . . are we bringing the Good News to our world in our day? BY WARREN NELSON
NOT THE FULL PIGEON BY JOAN BRADLEY
“MAYBE HE WAS BETTER OFF, MAYBE HE WAS SUFFERING, MAYBE… MAYBE…!”
A grey pigeon on a grey forecourt and a tragedy took place before my eyes. He was one of a flock feeding on crumbs thrown by residents of the apartments. He was hopping unnaturally and, taking a closer look, I saw that he had only one foot. The result of an accident, no doubt, but he was managing quite well, feeding and living almost like the others. Suddenly a van came on the scene and the flock rose into the air. It was when it had passed that I saw the pigeon lying dead on the forecourt. A grey disabled pigeon on a grey forecourt at dusk, the driver was not to blame. A neighbour joined me and looked at the bird and then our eyes met. No word was spoken but our faces registered it all. “Maybe he was better off, maybe he was suffering, maybe… maybe…!” But he still had one foot and two wings, more vulnerable, yes, but still a pigeon. His vulnerability was part of his disability. If I had been another bird in the flock, it should have concerned me more. To have stopped him feeding on the forecourt would have infringed his rights; but I might have raised my head from my own picking to watch out for speeding vans. The dignity and the equality of human beings are traced in the Bible to our creation. Our value depends on God's view of us and relationship with us. Paul Oesteicher said: “A society's maturity and humanity will be measured by the degree of dignity it affords to the disaffected and powerless.” Job asked: “Did not the One form us both within our mother?” I made a judgement about the pigeon and so did my neighbour. Had I said it of even the most severely disabled human or of one with a different colour skin or of one not yet born, I would have been guilty of playing God. I have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of others, whatever they are, even if I have to renounce some of my own to do so. Joan lives in central Dublin. She has been disabled for most of her life. Her interests include Christian writing and encouraging others in the Irish Christian Writers' Fellowship.
In the recently published “National Survey of Public Attitudes to Disability in Ireland”, the National Disability Authority pointed to a disturbing trend. Studies in 2001 and 2006 had shown an improvement in attitudes towards people with disabilities (except those with mental illness) but the study in 2011 showed a hardening of attitudes. In particular, there was a less positive response to children with disabilities in mainstream education. “The findings show that where someone knows a person with a disability (and this is decreasing across our surveys) they are generally more likely to have positive attitudes to disability. This highlights the importance of promoting and enabling active participation of people with disabilities in the mainstream community and access to mainstream services,” said Peter Mc Kevitt, Chairperson of the National Disability Authority.
Image: Daniel Jarr
APR - JUN 2012 VOX
“When the elephant died, the pot cooked it. When the buffalo died, the pot cooked it. When the pot died, there was nothing available to cook it ” - African saying
HE-MOTIONS BY OLAJIDE JATTO
magine if there was only one doctor on earth, if he gets sick, who treats him? If only one person could drive, who drives the Limo on his wedding? Get where
I’m going? Where I’m from, the man is the ultimate symbol of strength and authority. An unflinching pillar when anyone is troubled. A neverbending never-yielding beam of support that can always be leaned on. The one whose eyes are ever dry, no tears shed. Always logical and thoughtful, totally devoid of emotions. Everything he feels is bottled up inside. And since the E-word is a bit out of bounds, I’ll call what he feels HEMOTIONS - a word I heard from Bishop TD Jakes. I’m not aware of many women committing suicide over finances. In my opinion, one of the reasons for this is because men feel as if the buck stops with them. A man's ego will tell him "Dude, you'll look weak if you talk to anyone about it". And he consequently keeps quiet and when the situation becomes unbearable sadly in some cases, he considers suicide.
Ever seen a divorce? Women can win in the court of public opinion. “Forget him. He doesn’t deserve you,” people tell her. And I wonder, isn’t it possible the guy is hurt as well. Being a manly man, you know what he does? He holds his shoulders high though he is dying in secret! One word comes to mind in all of these, frustration! Feelings are feelings. Shouting. Crying. Talking to someone. Feelings come to the fore somehow. The question is how do bottled up feelings come to the fore? The answer is badly! When next you see a man with puffed up shoulders acting like he doesn’t care about what he should care about, it could be that he’s just trying really hard to hide what’s beneath. And what’s beneath, if you see, could shock you or melt even the most hardened hearts! Olajide Jatto is a Dublin based Nigerian software engineer who writes about Africa, life and religion.
FAMILY FOCUS Drug proofing your kids
How to Drug Proof Your Kids® is an initiative from Focus on the Family that provides a place where parents can discuss the challenges of parenting and learn from each other’s experiences. In May a Facilitator Training course in Dublin will equip people to run a course with groups of parents in their community.
“WHAT WILL I LEARN?”
You will learn to run a How to DrugProof Your Kids® course. This will enable you to help parents be better informed about drugs and support their children in making informed choices about drug use. When parents meet other parents with similar concerns it lets them know they are “not the only one”. You will be able to distribute comprehensive Parent Notes to each person who participates in your course. The notes contain reference material, discussion starters and fun questionnaires to do with their children.
“WHO WOULD I RUN A COURSE FOR?”
Research shows that parents and families can have a positive influence on the decisions their children make when it comes to drugs. Better informed parents communicate more effectively and can significantly reduce the risks. The course is suitable for any parent, or carer, of children aged eight through to teens who wants to know more about drugs themselves and how to help their children make good choices. To register your interest for the facilitators training or if you would like more information, go to www.family.ie/dpyk or email email@example.com Ph. 01 8066288. 18
VOX APR - JUN 2012
IS IT POSSIBLE TO DRUG PROOF KIDS? If you mean, “Can parents stop their children from trying tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs?”, the answer is NO. If you mean, “Can parents be more effective at influencing their children’s choices in relation to drug use?”, the answer is YES! Risk-taking is a normal part of growing up, as is stretching and testing the boundaries and it can be difficult as a parent to know how to respond.
CONFESSIONS OF A FEINT SAINT
By Annmarie Miles
am 40! Yes I have breached the borders of a new decade! I'm pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who were shocked that I was 40! I'm just hoping they thought I was 30 and not 50!!!! It turns out that the prize for working hard to keep up ‘the climb’ is an opportunity to go over the hill! Having said that I am delighted to have reached this grand age. I’m happy to be alive. There are times when through either sickness or sadness I thought I would not live this long. And I am thankful to God to find myself healthy (ish), happy (but only after about 11am) and alive (see last comment)! There are a few birthdays that stand out in my mind. My 15th was fun… a few of my younger nieces were allowed to come and they saw JUST HOW COOL I was. That earned me a lot of kudos, some of which I have managed to retain to this day. My 21st was great, although I had a boyfriend that no one liked. He was a bit of a ‘rogue’ and a lot older than me…
Think 80s music, Dallas hair-dos and shoulder pads. "
My 30th was arranged by my family. All I knew was what day and time I had to be ready. Turned out to be a fantastic family shindig, with all my nieces and nephews up on the stage singing ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed. Still have a little cry when I think of it. And the 40th…? Well, think 80s music, Dallas hair-dos and shoulder pads :D I thank God for 40 years, lots of laughs, lots of heartache and lots of grace! But my LIFE really began in May of ’94, when God surprised me by making direct contact. I remember thinking, “Hang on… I know you! Haven’t we met before?” and as time went on I asked Him, “Where have you been all my life?” “Right here, love”, he said. “Right here!”
Illustration: Olly Blake - www.ollyblake.com
Annmarie Miles comes from Tallaght in Dublin and is married to Richard, from Wales. She works for Focus on the Family and loves to cook, sing, read, talk and eat! Follow Annmarie’s blog at www.auntyamo.wordpress.com.
APR - JUN 2012 VOX
Image: Krista Burns
LESSER KNOWN -
GREATER THINGS GIVE ME NEITHER
Bishop Ken Clarke will be the Bible Speaker at the New Wine Ireland conference in Sligo this summer. Here he gives VOX magazine a sneak preview of his messages:
POVERTY NOR RICHES
Reading through the Bible we marvel at the history of the people of God - a story of faith and failure, adventure and risk. One thing strikes me is we have the big names (Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Peter and the apostle John) but actually the story of the people of God is also a story of people who were not big celebrities; it was through their love for the Lord, their faithfulness and radical commitment that God’s purposes were furthered. That started me thinking about the church in Ireland. In our culture today, particularly in the western world, we have an obsession with celebrity. Yet many Irish Christians are not in mega churches or large thriving congregations. Sometimes, those in small churches and those who are struggling can feel that they are not as important as big names or those in mega churches. I think the bible teaches other than that. This summer we'll be looking at people in the Bible who are the "lesser knowns" and yet they were wonderfully used by God and were very much a part of His purposes. Jesus' promise that we will see greater things, still holds true. I’m believing that in Ireland today we are going to see greater things and God is going to bring about those greater things through the lesser knowns. When I came across these words just in the last week my heart leapt within me. In 1689 Rev Michael Bruce of Killinchy wrote, “I assure you Christ will take possession of Ireland and not just of a wee nook in the north parts as formerly but Christ will have Ireland from sea to sea.” It has been thrilling to see Christians of all flavours and of all ages coming together in Sligo for the New Wine conference. We really have a sense that God’s hand is on this event and from it waves of light will go out right across this Ireland. Please consider joining us!
Speaking at the Living Faith Conference in January, author and New Testament scholar Dr Craig Blomberg took a few moments to share with VOX magazine about keeping a healthy relationship with money:
DEVELOP A BALANCED BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
I think it is important for Christians to be balanced in their presentation of scripture when it comes to money. The average American Christian does not need to hear that wealth is good, he or she is already convinced of that. Even here, given that we are all subject to the same kind of advertising, deep down inside the average Irish person, is a closet wannabe wealthy person.
DON’T STOP BEING GENEROUS!
The knee jerk reaction when tough economic times come is to turn inward and figure out how to make sure you survive. One of the depressing reactions is that the first thing to be cut is missions giving but that should be the last thing you cut. Cut what affects you first and not what you give to others.
New Wine Ireland in Sligo: 8 - 13 July, 2012 For more info or to book your place visit www.newwineireland.org
CREATIVITY AND HARD WORK ARE VITAL
One of the strengths within the American culture is the can-do attitude, an attitude that sees economic hardships and says what can we creatively do about it. Although Ireland and other European countries can teach us a lot about a better social welfare, on the other hand that can lead to a sense of complacency - you can go on the dole so why try harder for something else?
VOX APR - JUN 2012
Image: Billy Stafford
KEEP YOUR CONCERN FOR WIDER ISSUES
It seems here in Europe you take issues of justice and fair trade very seriously and it is not just a niche group. It is refreshing to come to a place where people think more consistently along those lines.
A once in A lifetime opportunity
Building for the future
this is a unique moment in the history of irish Bible institute. We have an opportunity to buy out our premises if we can act before August 2012. this is a huge challenge, but a vital one. only god can make this happen through the prayers, encouragement and giving of his people. We need you and as many others as possible to be part of this project and to make this critical investment in the future of Christian training in ireland. Please think, pray and act now – so that iBi can build on the solid foundation already laid and take this unique opportunity in god’s purposes.
We need to raise €1 million this is €100 Per squAre foot And We need your helP ‘foot By foot’
3 ways you can help
GiVe prAy Get inVolVeD HoW?
Phone 01-8069060 or email Jacob@ibi.ie
[ WEBWATCH ]
AN INVITATION TO A JOURNEY BY ANA MULLAN
ever before in history has humankind been able to obtain so much information at such speed. Knowledge is easy to access. However if the message of Jesus Christ is to have an impact in the lives of its followers and in a broken world, it must be more than information. It must get to the heart, to the centre of the human being. Evangelicalism in the West has been deeply affected by a “success culture”, where numbers are counted as the most important way to measure growth. This influence is obvious in the way some churches and Christian organisations are run. Daniel Wolpert in his book Leading a life with God says that church leaders are, “often supposed to look and act like corporate managers and be judged in terms similar to a strategic planner at Microsoft”. Theological training has tended towards a strong emphasis on the intellect. Those who are training to become pastors or ministers can start to imagine (dangerously) that more knowledge will produce more transformation. I don't want to give the impression that knowledge is bad but knowledge by itself doesn't transform us. The emphasis on the intellect has caused a reaction of fear towards spirituality or anything related to feelings and emotions. In many circles, spiritual disciplines like sacred reading or contemplative prayer are rejected as part of the Catholic heritage. Yet, in the last 15 years, a great discontent has emerged among many Christians about the lack of growth in people’s lives. As a result many started to rediscover some old classics that spoke of a deeper life like The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. Authors like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and Eugene Peterson started to have a greater influence as their writings filled a gap that has been long neglected.
My top five... Web highlights from VOX readers www.relevantmagazine.com Also available as a print and tablet-format magazine, this US website's offers thought provoking articles, reviews and podcasts on everything from politics to theology to movies to sex to music, all from a Christian perspective, as well as forums for chat on all the above. www.sermonspice.com Need a sermon illustration, background for your worship lyrics or countdowns to start off your service? A one-stop shop for all things visual, in all sorts of styles and covering a vast array of topics. www.christianitytoday.com Similar to Relevant in covering many aspects of life and culture, this site is another great American-based resource for Christian articles, reviews and podcasts. Particularly good is its Leadership section. www.annejacksonwrites.com I only discovered this recently and it is truly a breath of fresh air. Anne Jackson is an author, speaker and activist from Nashville in the US. She has travelled the world speaking on issues such as social justice, sexuality, health, addiction and biblical themes of grace and restoration. Her blog is honest, beautifully written and truly inspiring. www.songselect.com Being who I am, I couldn't submit five websites without at least one being worship related. CCLI's Song Select site is very practical. Pastors, worship leaders and administrators will appreciate a comprehensive song search facility for all songs registered with CCLI. Print lyrics, lead sheets and chord sheets in any key, listen to song samples, browse songs by theme, title, author or lyrics. Well worth the nominal annual subscription for legal and accurate song sourcing.
Sarah Legge is a Senior Leader at Abundant Life Christian Church in Limerick, and heads up the Worship Department with her husband Martin. With over 30 years of leadership experience between them, they run training and conferences for their church as well as for the wider worship community. www.abunlife.com
UNDERSTANDING SPIRITUAL FORMATION
The process by which every human being is formed and shaped, is called “spiritual formation”. According to Dallas Willard, “The spirit within us takes on whatever character it has from the experiences we have lived through and the choices we have made. That is what it means to be formed… Spiritual formation of one kind or another happens to everyone.”
KNOWLEDGE BY ITSELF DOESN'T TRANSFORM US.
Everybody has been formed or shaped, whether terrorists or saints. In his book Shaped by the Word Robert Mulholland Jr. explains, “Human life is, by its nature, spiritual formation. The question is not whether to undertake spiritual formation. The question is what kind of spiritual formation are we already engaged in? Are we being increasingly conformed to the brokenness and disintegration of the world, or are we being increasingly conformed to the wholeness and integration of the image of Christ?”. Did you ever wonder what spiritual formation the woman at the well had, that led her to have five husbands? Or Zacchaeus, what shaped him that he ended up taking the money from his own people so he could live comfortably, but at the same time made himself unacceptable to others?
Christian spiritual formation seeks to transform the inner being of the disciple. To be transformed into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29) means to live in perfect harmony with the Father, with oneself and with those around us. That was God’s intention from the beginning. It does not come as a result of outside changes, but it is a revolution of character from the inside.
SPIRITUAL FORMATION IS NOT INSTANTANEOUS.
We live in a culture geared towards quick results. Yet, spiritual formation is a life long process (Philippians 3:12-14). In the words of Eugene H. Peterson, the Christian is both disciple and pilgrim. A disciple is a learner, not in the intellectual sense, but more like an apprentice who works next to a craftsman. The Christian is also a pilgrim because his
life is spent on a journey with and towards God. Our problem is to think that we have arrived, that once we have understood salvation that there is nothing more on offer. The people that Jesus most condemned were those who thought they understood of God, that they had nothing left to learn apart from a list of dos and don’ts. If we think like this, we will never experience real inner transformation, no matter how holy we might appear to others.
CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL FORMATION IS NOT “ONE SIZE FITS ALL”.
The goal of ALL Christians is to be conformed to the image of Jesus; however God’s transformation takes into consideration our personalities, human make-up, culture and background. God does not produce clones.
CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL FORMATION TAKES PLACE IN COMMUNITY AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE WORLD. The more a disciple is formed into Jesus’ likeness, the more he will love God and his neighbour as himself. Western society is individualistic and independent. Christianity is about community. Sadly, individualism has penetrated our churches. We might be good at gathering on Sunday mornings but we have little understanding of what real community is all about.
ARE WE BEING INCREASINGLY CONFORMED TO THE BROKENNESS AND DISINTEGRATION OF THE WORLD, OR ARE WE BEING INCREASINGLY CONFORMED TO THE WHOLENESS AND INTEGRATION OF THE IMAGE OF CHRIST?
Ana, originally from Argentina is married to Sean and has three adult children. She works as a Librarian at the Irish Bible Institute.
APR - JUN 2012 VOX
TRAVELLERS COME HOME BY RUTH GARVEY-WILLIAMS
N September 2011, Ireland's first church for Travellers began meeting in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Christians from both the Travelling and settled communities unite for worship, teaching and communion each Sunday afternoon at the former Carraig Eden Theological College. Many come long distances, hungry to find a sense of belonging and to share with others who are seeking to follow Jesus. Ireland’s 23,000 Travellers are marginalised, stereotyped and face greater discrimination and abuse than any other minority group. Government research shows they are more likely to live in sub-standard accommodation, more likely to leave school early, will have significantly lower chances of finding permanent employment and are more likely to die young. Sadly the rampant prejudice in our society is also evident within the Church as well. Visiting the Expect a Miracle church was a deeply humbling experience. I was welcomed so warmly and treated with such respect, yet I was reduced to tears by the stories I heard from mother-of-16, Mary, and from Jeanne Whelan who helped to start the church.
soon obvious. Settled people were the privileged ones. They were strange and different. Some were kind; many were cruel and abusive. “We were not supposed to talk to the settled people,” she says.
UNSCHOOLED BUT NO FOOL!
Mary had little opportunity for education. The family camped in isolated places and when the children could attend school, they were treated with suspicion and prejudice. “We were always put in the back of the class and that is still happening today.” Mary admits she can’t read too well but she is intelligent, witty and wise with the measured insight of someone with great life-experience. “I’m not schooled, but I’m no fool,” she shares. Like many Traveller women, Mary married young. “In our culture, a girl doesn’t sleep with boys. I got married on July 22, 1977.” Her husband, Martin (or Looly as he was called) died just three years ago. In 30 years together they raised 16 children and buried two more. Mary also suffered two miscarriages.
Born at five to midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1960, the sound of bells welcomed Mary into the world. Her early childhood was spent in a tent with no access to running water. “Daddy used to go out into the snow and light a fire to heat my bottles.” Although living in extreme poverty, those years were shaped by a strong and loving extended family. Mary grew up in a multi-generation THE WAY I LOOK AT SETTLED PEOPLE HAS community, listening to stories from CHANGED. I DON’T JUDGE PEOPLE. I WAIT TO her Ol’ Mammy (grandmother) and Ol’Daddy (grandfather). FIND OUT WHAT THEY ARE REALLY LIKE. The difference between Travellers and settled people was
NEXT TIME YOU LOOK DOWN AT A TRAVELLER, REMEMBER OUR LORD WAS ONE TOO.
NO PLACE TO STAY?
At times the family lived in halting sites or temporary accommodation, often with limited access to running water or electricity. At others they were allocated council housing. The Irish Traveller Association estimates that one third of Travellers in Ireland live without access to the basic facilities of sanitation, water and electricity, a reality that leads to ongoing health problems. Mary describes years of hardship and prejudice with surprising dignity, honesty and a lack of bitterness. She does not accuse every settled person of bigotry and nor does she ignore the real problems and faults within her own community. Yet there are too many incidents involving discrimination and abuse to dismiss as coincidence or paranoia. “If we go into a shop someone will be standing watching us as we pick up our bread and milk. Day in day out, people accuse us yet I have never robbed in my life. It hurts your heart.”
WHAT HOPE FOR EQUALITY?
But Mary’s deep Christian faith has enabled her to choose a different path and to be remarkably gracious even in the face of insensitive and rude behaviour. “The way I look at settled people has changed. I don’t judge people. I wait to find out what they are really like. I know there are some who are prejudiced. Often they don’t realise it.” On one occasion, Mary invited a group of Christians to her house for tea. She shares, "before she would take tea from me, one settled lady walked over to the sink to wash out her cup.” “I’d like to ask the settled community, ‘What did my family do to you?’ God walked in a pair of sandals. Next time you look down at a Traveller, remember our Lord was one too.”
THEY ARE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS…
Twenty years ago, as a new Christian, Dreams of equality soon fade when injustice goes Jeanne Whelan was desperate to tell unpunished. One incident was so bad, that Mary was people about Jesus. “I remember praying determined to go through the proper channels. and God saying to me, ‘I will bring them “My girls went down to the shop one night and someone called them, ‘Dirty smelly knackers.’ One of to you’” Soon the girls had a cold sore afterwards, a and he said, ‘You have little boy from AIDS in your face.’” HOW CAN WE EXPECT SOCIETY TO EMBRACE the Travelling Horrified at how her community girls were treated, Mary PEOPLE IF WE CANNOT EMBRACE THEM? called at Jeanne’s reported the incident door. Jeanne gave and it went to a tribunal. him something “When we got there, to eat and this was the start of a long instead of apologising [the shopkeeper] pointed friendship with the entire family. After fingers and accused them of stealing and threatening behaviour. He admitted what he had done but blamed five years, Mary arrived at Jeanne’s house to introduce herself and thank Jeanne for it on my girls. We never got justice, not even an her kindness. apology.” As they shared a cup of tea together, “We are not itinerants or tinkers or worst-ofthe two women began to talk about all, knackers (a knacker is a horse that is sent to be Jesus. That was the turning point in slaughtered). We are Travellers.” Mary’s life – a deeply religious woman, “People say you get toughened - some do. They Mary realised she needed a personal have been hurt so much for so long that they get relationship with God. violent. There is so much anger built up inside them.
For many years, the small group of believers met in Jeanne’s home for Bible studies. “Last year, I felt God saying that He wanted to gather them under one roof. I felt it was time for an actual church for the travellers,” Jeanne shared. “When I mentioned it to Mary and others, they were very keen. Eventually, Expect a Miracle church opened in September. “It amazes me to see what God has done in their lives. They drive over the mountains just to get to church because they are hungry for God’s word. “These are our brothers and sisters. I feel that the change needs to begin in the church. How can we expect society to embrace people if we cannot embrace them? “I look forward to a time when instead of society looking down on the Travelling community, they will be a light and example. In settled communities elderly people are often alone and abandoned – but that does not happen in the travelling community. “They may be poor materially, but they are rich in family, in love, in loyalty and in care for one another. They just need a chance and we can give it to them!”
DON’T JUST STAND THERE…
Challenge negative attitudes, prejudice and abuse towards the Travelling community both inside and outside the church Consider giving employment to someone from the Travelling community Speak out on behalf of those who are denied justice Find out more by contacting Jeanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne Whelan (bottom right) with Mary and members of the church APR - JUN 2012 VOX
TAKING A WALK WITH GOD BY CARLA ECKHORST
hen I first found God three years ago, I spent most of my time crying in church on Sunday mornings. I had so much pain inside, so many emotional issues that needed healing. The tears were the result of all the emotional knots that were being undone. I remember at one of the first meetings my pastor told me God wanted me to know that He loves me very much. I knew if I could truly grasp this, I would never be the same. Recently I heard someone speaking about the subject of joy. He quoted John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” He pointed out the connection between have and enjoy. (The Greek word is the same.) Thinking about it, it makes sense because we really only know we have something when we can enjoy it. If I don't enjoy something, it is lost to me, no matter whether I own it or not. Like every loving parent, it gives God pleasure to see His children living joyfully. The speaker pointed out the importance of enjoying every detail of our lives because if we don't enjoy small blessings, how can we delight ourselves in spiritual ones? Most of my life, I rarely cared enough to enjoy anything. No wonder I was always depressed! Amazingly, the next speaker I heard also spoke about the importance of enjoying our life. She said we must to choose to live joyfully. Several people had told me about outings to Mount Leinster in Co. Carlow. On a radiant sunny autumn day, I felt it would be lovely to go there. When I couldn't find anyone to join me at such short notice, I decided to go on my own.
The climb up was a lot more strenuous than I had expected. The road went up, up and up, relentlessly, with hardly ever a stretch to take it easy. I was puffing and panting - I doubt I would have been able to engage in conversation with anyone because I was so preoccupied with the physical struggle of the climb! Reaching the top of the mountain gave me a sense of success. I felt proud that I had not given up and turned back but I also knew that I hadn't really enjoyed any of the scenery. I was far too driven and impatient to get to the end of the climb. I decided I would make the most of the walk back down. In my lifelong struggle with depression 26
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I learned about the benefit of “counting MAKING SPACE FOR GOD your blessings” to change a negative As I began the descent down mindset. Mount Leinster, I wanted to But whereas this exercise gave me enjoy every minute of it and be relief to begin with, my rigid mind close to God. Somehow, my heart somehow managed to twist it into a remembered what to do: I made room routine intellectual exercise considering for Him, acknowledging His presence, what I ought to be thankful for and yet just like I do during worship times in without any feeling of joy. The result was church. that I felt guilty for my lack of gratitude With practice, it has become (on top easier for me to of being consider that depressed). He is right here, Without waiting for me I WAS SO PREOCCUPIED WITH THE God I would to turn to Him; still be allowing Him PHYSICAL STRUGGLE OF THE CLIMB! stuck in that to embrace me. dilemma! We were now
THE DISPLAY OF COLOURS, RADIANT IN THE SUNSHINE, DELIGHTED ME.
walking together. colours. Some fresh bright green, it was moss I think, He would point to different things and say, “Look! then a few patches of a darker green groundcover, and Do you like it? I did that for you.” a purpley-red, and then, standing up and contrasting And I would say, “You did that for me? Thank you with it, the yellowy grey stems of dried grasses. The so much. That is beautiful. You display of colours, radiant in are amazing!” the sunshine, delighted me. I He drew my attention to thanked Him and said, “You are even more wonderful sights, an artist!” WE WERE NOW WALKING TOGETHER. and I admired things I hadn't Then He made me aware of even noticed on my way up. He the little stream of clear water showed me some rocks He had running at the side of the road – sprinkled there, and I smiled I hadn't noticed any of it on the at the thought that God can way up. It was so fresh and clean sprinkle rocks, just like that, for the fun of it. I was looking, I felt like drinking it. I noticed the trickling glad to sit down on one. and tinkling noises the water was making. So, besides Lower down, when we were no longer engulfed by sparkling in the sun, there were sound effects as well. chilly clouds, I noticed some vegetation, like a picture In order for my emotional issues to be healed and God had made, by playfully combining different for my broken heart to be mended, I need to make
my relationship with God very real. The truth that He is with me, right now and always has to be tangible. That afternoon was one beautiful experience on my journey, reminding me that I know the way out of my emotional torment. The battle with depression and negativity goes on, daily, but I'm no longer powerless. I need to make an effort, every day. Do I want to embrace the joy of His presence? Reading the scriptures and watching my thought life are utterly important. And so are experiences like this, because it showed me that my relationship with God can be deeper and even more real. I'm beginning to realise how much He wants to give to me! I have begun to open my heart to Him and to enjoy loving Him back.
Carla Eckhorst is a mother and grandmother from Germany who has lived in Ireland since 1985. She attends the New Hope Christian Centre (formerly Victory) in Kilkenny.
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MOTHER BUDDIES IN MALAWI BY REUBEN COULTER, TEARFUND IRELAND
lim disease is the name given to AIDS in Malawi. More than 10% of the population are infected with HIV and tragically are passing it on to the next generation. Rev. Harold, a church leader in Chitera was exhausted from attending the funerals of AIDS victims. “People were in a constant state of grief,” he said. “It was particularly tragic when a young infant wasted away and died.” Attending training run by the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) Rev. Harold realised that AIDS was the equivalent of leprosy in Bible times. On learning of her condition, one woman’s family set fire to her home to drive her out. ''It's not only the disease that kills,'' Rev Harold shared. “Sufferers are isolated from family and community.” As a result of the training, the community in Chitera and the local church are changing dramatically. Church members welcome people living with HIV and provide practical care and support. On a recent visit to Malawi I attended a service. The collection was like nothing you would see in Ireland - someone offered a bar of soap, another a pair of socks, someone else a single egg. It was moving to witness people with next to nothing giving whatever they could for those suffering from AIDS. The church conducted a voluntary HIV testing and counselling clinic as part of their Sunday service. 176 people came to be tested. One of them was Evelyn who was pregnant with her first child. “I was very afraid when I found out,” she says softly. “I thought there was no hope for me and my child, in Malawi this is a death sentence.”
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However a ‘mother buddy’ (a church volunteer) took her to the health clinic on a bicycle ambulance so that she could receive anti-retroviral medicines. Throughout Evelyn‘s pregnancy the mother buddy provided continuous support and prayer. The medicine can have horrible side-effects and without encouragement women often stop taking them. But Evelyn persevered and gave birth to a baby boy Ztembele, which means 'thanks'. When Ztembele was old enough to be tested for HIV and he was negative.
“Without the medicines, my mother buddy and my church I would be telling a different story today,” says Evelyn. She now wants to be trained as a mother buddy so she can help other mothers in her situation. Today, in Chitera there has been only one burial for an AIDS victim in the last six months. Behind this dramatic turnaround is the loving care and dedication of a network of church volunteers, led by Rev Harold and inspired by Jesus. Such success has not gone unnoticed. Tearfund Ireland has secured three years funding from the Irish Government towards reducing the incidence of HIV transmission from mother to child, a significant initiative in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Over the next three years Tearfund partners will provide testing for 6,500 mothers with ‘mother buddy’ support for any HIV-positive women. As a result hundreds of children will be born with a chance at life. The Malawi HIV project is only partially funded by the Irish government. €18 provides emergency transport for a pregnant woman, €35 provides HIV testing at a church and a gift of €150 will enable support for a HIV positive pregnant mother in order to prevent her child being born with HIV. Give today at www. tearfund.ie/donate.
ADVENTURES IN INVESTING BY LOUIS HEMMINGS
…ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN!
alachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the that make you cry tears of praise and I have friends who are artists. storehouse, that there may be food in my joy. Giving can sometimes have an One will paint an abstract, featuring house. Test me in this,” says the LORD unwittingly positive chain-effect. the life of my stillborn daughter. I Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the It’s hard to get the right balance commissioned another painter to floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that between faith giving and you will not have room enough for it.” common sense, thinking of What would you do if you inherited a few our unknown credit-crunch thousand Euro? Would you bury it in a deposit futures. I invested a portion of GIVING IS BIBLICAL BUT ALSO EXCITING, account? Invest in the stock market? Buy things money in shares. I don’t have CREATIVE AND PURPOSEFUL. you always wanted? Or, would you spend it with a pension, so my investing abandon on God’s will be my pension, for good endless adventure in or bad. the hurting, hungry My first few buys were at far too high create a multi-media painting that world around you? an entry price and at too high a volume. celebrates my parent’s handweaving I came into a Solar power, silicon companies and biocompany. Both give me an significant amount fuels all left me with large losses. It was a opportunity to tell people about of money a few discouraging start. God’s river of grace in the life of my years ago and did It would take a few more years for family. all the above. My my primitive awealnalyisis and financial unexpected wealth judgments to improve. A few better share PUBLISHING POTENTIAL came from selling a purchases helped me catch up on some Thinking outside the box, I wondered house - just before embarrassing losses. how to help Christian ministries, the Celtic Tiger But what about my responsibility apart from giving money. So I slouched off to visit to the world? Since 2009 we have sponsored advertisements across a the taxidermist! supported a number of crowd-funded range of Irish media. After helping loan-makers. Kiva makes micro-loans And naturally, being a writer, older family members, to farmers, shopkeepers or craftsmen/ I got involved in VOX magazine. it was time to consider women who need a modest amount of I am weary of imported Christian our future income as well capital. With Kiva you can request your books and magazines and I believe as the wider community money back when it is repaid! We have investing in VOX, as a publisher of of charities, ministries and also made no-interest loans. Irish Christian thinking, is extremely good causes. important. Ireland’s Christians are Visiting a Christian ON SCREEN OPPORTUNITIES standing on the shoulders of the with decades-long experience helping people invest One of my more unusual investing “saints and scholars”. cemented our future giving projects. This man is a adventures was with a BBC TV Personally, the most significant keen supporter of “giving while living”, rather than documentary. The BBC commissioned and fitting investment I was involved leaving charities money in our wills. Christian film producer, Norman in last year was to commission a I come from an adventurous family. My parents Stone to produce The Narnia Code new gravestone for my paternal moved from cosmopolitan London to rural Donegal documentary www. narniacode.com. grandparents and my young uncle in 1951 where they developed a hand-weaving craft Investing in films will not make who died in separate and tragic business. With this millions (I’ve yet circumstances. example, plus a dash to make any profit We can all give. We can invest of faith, I sallied forth at all) but profits time, prayer, fasting, a patient listening into my investing were not my driving ear, a well-intentioned hug for those IT’S HARD TO GET THE RIGHT BALANCE motivation. I admired who are hurting as well as money. Our adventure. Some ideas worked investments should put people before BETWEEN FAITH GIVING AND COMMON the audacious well, some lost a lot Christian faith of profits! SENSE of money, some hold Norman Stone to Welcome to the adventure. promise, some will take on godly themes yield no harvest. in the media. Recently I invested a smaller sum Louis Hemmings STOCK MARKET SORTIES for script and research for a proposed louis@samovarbooks. Giving is biblical but also exciting, creative and documentary about the significant com purposeful. You never know who will benefit from Christian influence of the Guinness your gift. Years after responding, you may hear stories family.
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2012 22nd - 29th June
Trabolgan Holiday Village, Co. Cork
Tel: 086 3923717 / 021 4373480 Email: email@example.com
Summer Fire Conference is honoured to have a variety of ministers who have the “Word of the Lord” and are at the cutting edge of ministry
Pastor Carter Conlon New York, USA Pastor Carter Conlon is the Senior Pastor of Times Square Church. Pastor Carter has a shepherd’s heart and a great love for Ireland. He is a tender and compassionate man, who is loved and well respected for his strong leadership and passion for God. Pastor Carter ministers regularly to nearly 2000 Pastors and Leaders worldwide through a ministry that he started called ‘For Pastors Only’
Pastor Teresa Conlon New york, USA
Teresa Conlon is an Associate Pastor at Times Square Church. She delivers messages of truth and freedom that cut to the heart of even the deepest issues. Teresa is also president of Summit International School of Ministry (formerly Mt. Zion School of Ministry) located in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.
Pastor Claude Houde Montreal, Canada In 1993, Pastor Claude founded New Life Church in Longueuil with a congregation of only 50 members. New Life Church rapidly became the fastest growing church in Canada. Pastor Claude is the Chairman of the Board of the Institut de Théologie pour la Francophonie (French-world Theological Institute) where he also teaches in the fields of Leadership, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology.
Pastor rick hagans Alabama, USa Pastor Rick is President of, Harvest Evangelism Inc., which includes a men’s discipleship home and ministry school (catering to former addicts) called ‘His Place’. They also have a similar home for ladies called the ‘ Hosanna Home’. They were founded to reach out to those who are hopeless and to give them the hope of Jesus.
Pastor Jay Fallon Wales, UK Pastor Jay Fallon, is a remarkable Evangelist and passionate Preacher. He is the Executive Director of Teen Challenge, UK and is reaching thousands of addicts with the power of the gospel. There will also be a variety of other national speakers
This is a year of great challenge for the Christian but despite the trying times we find ourselves in, we strongly believe that, God has great things in store for His people! Summer Fire conference has been a wonderful opportunity for the body of Christ to come together, to hear from the heart of God, enjoy great fellowship and experience a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hosted in beautiful East Cork, one of the most family friendly destinations in the country! As we gather again in faith and love, many lives will be forever touched, many ministries refreshed and re-focused on Christ.
Welcome Christians from all over Ireland and as far as the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales have been coming together since 1995 with one purpose to glorify the Lord. As we seek God for this year’s gathering, we know the importance of having the indispensible anointing of the Holy Spirit. For every service, every gathering, every worship time and exposition of the word. You are invited to be part of this great time of spiritual renewal and join with the rest of the body of Christ, for a week that will inspire and challenge you
to journey deeper into Christ. There is a great stirring in our hearts! Prayer has already begun and preparations are underway.
at this year’s conference. Visit www.summerfireconference.com for details.
Register today! www.summerfireconference.com
Where will your next big step take you?
• • • • •
How about going to IBI to:
help discern God’s call on your life help develop your gifts grow as part of a community train for ministry finish with a recognised qualification
Phone Deborah 01-8069060
MUSIC & BOOK REVIEWS
MUSIC REVIEWS BY LEANNE NICHOLS
Scars and Stories The Fray
The Purple Veil by Kerry Cole, illustrated by ‘Billy’ (David Bill) The Purple Veil started off as a poem written by Kerry Cole in the mid 1990’s, became a stage show and then was turned into a landscape format, illustrated gift book. I got off to a bad start when I read on the rear cover: “… even leather-clad bikers unashamedly broke down in tears…” That’s just a bit too girly, I thought. Why mention it? If it is meant to woo any Alpha males, it won’t. Having said that, I did take to this book. It partially reminded me of that 70’s Christian classic, The Singer. The Purple Veil is a kind of rock and roll Pilgrim’s Progress. It is a two part dialogue of a one-time husband and wife, each declaiming their piece, the majority of the text focusing on the husband and father. At times, I feel the author needed to make clear who was I reading about - the father or the mother. Or are the poems meant to create a hybrid parable? Perhaps the sumptuous, Pre-Rahaelite influenced illustrations are the confusing element? In this long poem there are allusions to the power of the drug of counterfeit sensuality, oblivion and false idols. The narrative charts a father’s descent into online pornography, abandoning his wife and family and being lured by a spirit of seduction to be eventually redeemed, to live in “another place beyond the appetite of self ”. The husband enters through the Purple Veil to the “enticing temple / not knowing it would be my soul laid out on the altar / brazen and triumphant the seductive spirit dragged me into its lair” – a powerful and savage image of heathen hedonism. The story leads on to a clever modern take on “Behold I stand at the door and knock”. At times, the poem turns prosaic, with lines like “he’s such a good dad!” Yet, at its heart, Kerry has successfully conveyed the inner kernel of despair in broken families. A definite first within modern Christian publishing circles! Reviewed by Louis Hemmings
After the major success of How to save a life in 2005, The Fray struggled to recapture their audience's attention with their self-titled second album in 2009 however this year's instalment Scars & Stories might just draw the masses back. Lead singer Isaac Slade's unmistakeable voice are the band's hallmark and from the opening song Heartbeat he draws us in singing If you love somebody, love them all the same. Heartbeat, Run for Your Life and 1961 have strong themes friendship and reconciling family. In Be still, we hear an echo of Psalm 46:10 in a lulling refrain. On the tracks The Fighter and I can barely say the band paints stories of relationships broken and in distress. There is an underlying message of hope hidden throughout the album, though God is only mentioned once, and several songs are based around bible passages. However there are a couple of questionable tracks which contain sexual themes. Over all a good album with some great hits and a couple of misses.
Believer is the 7th studio album for Christian rock band Kutless. The 16 track album contains some fantastic worship songs that reflect the steady faith of the group. Even if is a relevant modern day anthem about trusting in God even if the healing doesn't come. Come Back Home is a beautiful song from the point of view of the father of the prodigal son. The title track Believer speaks hope to a broken friend. The track by track message of hope and faith, the driving drum beat and heavy guitars continue right to the end. Believer debuted at number one on the Christian Billboard charts, rose to number 1 on the iTunes chart and shows no signs of slowing down. A fantastic album from a great christian band. APR - JUN 2012 VOX
Events Calendar What’s happening where and when APRIL Dream 2012 - AGI Family Conference 9 - 11 April (Easter) Enfield, Co. Meath www.agireland.org Word of Life Bible Conference 13 - 14 April Lucan, Co. Dublin www.agireland.org Inclusive Exclusivism: Christ for all Contexts (Conference) 24 - 25 April London www.thegoodbook.co.uk/a29we Irish Association of Christian Counsellors Conference 2012 Saturday, 28 April, 9 am Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth www.iacc.ie
MAY Life FM 2nd Annual May Ball Friday, 18 May Montenotte Hotel, Cork www.lifefm.ie Tickets available from Christian bookshops in Cork JUNE Summer Fire Conference 22 - 29 June Trabolgan, Cork www.summerfireconference.com Urban Soul 26 - 28 June All over Dublin www.urbansoul.eu
Irish Christian Writers’ Fellowship Christian Poetry Competition 2012
€10 per poem; €15 for 2 poems; €20 for 3 poems (Max) (Fee with entry; Cheques Payable to Irish Christian Writers’ Fellowship) Max 40 lines — on one side of an A4 Page Name, Address & Poem Titles on separate sheet; Must be author’s own work Closing Date: Last Post on 30th June; Winners Notified by 1st September Small booklet of about 50 Best Entries will be Published One Free Copy sent to each published entrant; Extra Copies €5 (Incl. P&P) All entries may be submitted by us to United Christian Broadcasters for consideration for “The Candlestick” Radio Programme Entrants’ contact details will be kept on file for administrative purposes only. Prizes: €100; €50; €25 book tokens Please send entries and requests for booklets to: Joan Bradley, Hon Sec, ICWF, Unit 2C, Iveagh Trust, Kevin St, Dublin 8 Tel. 01-4549237; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.irishchristianwriters.org
Nulty’s Self Catering Holiday Cottages Kilkenny We have four cottages all 4* sleeping up to 28 people in total. Ideal for large groups, retreats, church family getaways, weddings and small conferences. Contact us at: email@example.com www.nultysselfcateringholidaycottages.com Tel: 00353(0)56 7767139 Mobile: 0879381167 Please quote VOX when booking for a discount! 36
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Summer Madness Festival 2012 29 June - 3 July Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim www.summermadness.co.uk JULY New Wine Ireland Summer Conference 8 - 13 July Sligo www.newwineireland.org (Do you have an event in your area that you’d like people to know about? Tell us and we’ll list it here at no cost.)
BY LEANNE NICHOLS
Ms Skeeter (Emma Stone) is looking for a story. Fresh out of college and not yet ready to settle down, she goes job seeking. In 1960’s Jackson the best she can get is a cleaning advice column for the local paper. Little does she realise that this column will be the catalyst in a series of life changing events. Skeeter seeks the advice of her friend’s hired help Aibileen (Viola Davis),and while talking about stain removal the conversation turns to what it feels like for Aibileen to raise white children and whether she’s ever dreamed of being anything else. Skeeter’s interest is sparked and she asks Aibileen if she can write her stories down. However living in the middle of the unrest caused by the civil rights movement Aibileen is understandably apprehensive. It is at church that Aibileen finds her courage. As the Minister preaches the importance of doing the right thing despite the weakness of the flesh, she realises she must put herself in harm’s way for the good of others. Aibileen and Ms Skeeter take on the vicious and self-righteous Ms Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) who believes herself to be a model Christian. We see the struggles endured by “The Help” - the heartbreak of having to raise children not their own, often in the most loving way, watching them grow up to treat maids just like their parent’s did and living perpetually as second class citizens. As the civil unrest continues and begins claiming victims close to home, more and more maids join the cause until Skeeter has enough to finish her book. However one crucial story is missing, Skeeter's own. Throughout the movie we see the loving yet strained relationship Skeeter has with her mother who just wants her daughter to conform to the social norms of marrying young and settling down. But the relationship truly dear to Skeeter’s heart involves her own maid, Constantine, who instilled a real sense of self into an insecure and self-critical young girl. As Skeeter learns what happened to Constantine, the real love felt between the black women and their charges jumps off the screen. Incredibly acted through a wonderful cast, ‘The Help’, though not a true story, offers us an eye opening account of what it was like for these women to be severely marginalised for most of their lives while being dignified models of loving kindness and quiet determination. This is a must see movie! *mild profanity through-out VOX rating: MUST SEE
HELP (out now on DVD)
Although Matt King (played by George Clooney) lives in the beautiful paradise of Hawaii he is finding out that his life is anything but. He is forced to come out of retirement as the back-up parent when his wife is involved in a boating accident and is left in a coma, leaving him to care for his rebellious teenage daughter Alex and her quirky younger sister Scotty. To add to his already mounting responsibilities, Matt is brokering a deal to sell the piece of Hawaiian heaven that has been in his family for generations. In the midst of all, Alex (played superbly by Shailene Woodley) adds to his burdens by admitting her mother was having an affair. The movie has surprising laugh out loud moments while focusing on such heavy themes. George gives some of his best acting, emotionally capturing a man who's world has been turned upside down. Add to all that, the fabulous scenery of Hawaii and you've got a truly great movie. Rated 15A for language and sexual references APR - JUN 2012 VOX
PAYING THE DEBTS BY SEÁN MULLAN
NATURE, HISTORY AND SCRIPTURE ALL AGREE THAT WHAT YOU SOW DETERMINES WHAT YOU WILL REAP.
ext time you pass a playschool pause for a moment and look at the children. Nineteen years from now those children will be paying taxes to help repay the Anglo Irish Bank debt. They borrowed nothing – they did not engage in foolish investment strategies. Yet they will share the burden of paying bills created by those who did. The arguments and explanations have been hashed and rehashed. Our leaders tell us we have no choice but to accept this arrangement – that we have become economic slaves of the system we served. Two questions arise. First how can such a patently unjust solution be expected to produce justice now or in the future? Nature, history and Scripture all agree that what you sow determines what you will reap. Sow injustice and unfairness if you choose – but don’t expect that seed to produce anything other than greater injustice and unfairness. The actions being taken at present may temporarily ease our crisis but the seeds will produce more injustice in the days ahead.
IS THERE REALLY NO ALTERNATIVE?
The second question arises from the first: Is the politics of fear and the economics of scarcity the only way? Three and a half years ago major political leaders queued up to tell us the free market system was broken because it was unable to control greed. These days they tell us that their “fix” for this broken system is to load the gambling debts of the wealthy onto the shoulders of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. The weak will serve the strong – the poor will pay the debts of the wealthy – so that the system can continue. Is there really no alternative?
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Jesus of Nazareth declared one alternative. The world He lived in was even more unjust than ours - the ruling empire even more evil. But He announced a different kind of kingdom where the wealthiest paid the debts of the poorest. The ruler came to serve, not be served. This was not a kingdom of violent revolution but of willing sacrifice. The all powerful king paid the ultimate price for the debts of his people, he willingly laid down his life for them. Sow seed like that and change is inevitable. Centuries later the seed Jesus sowed is still producing people of justice and lives of loving service. What Ireland and Europe need now are leaders who will challenge the politics of fear and the economics of scarcity. We do not have to serve this empire. We can refuse to sing that tune. The alternative regime Jesus spoke of is still present. In this empire the poor are blessed, those who cry out for justice are satisfied and economic power is given to the meek. Of course if you would rather live under a regime that imposes the gambling debts of the wealthiest onto your children and grandchildren then you are entirely free to do so – though perhaps “free” is not the most appropriate word.
Seán Mullan has been working in church leadership for many years. He has developed a new project in Dublin City Centre called “Third Space”.
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FROM TOUCHING ROCK BOTTOM TO TOUCHING THE NATIONS Nick Park
"I was moved to tears, profoundly disturbed and prompted to wonder, love and praise. This book is brilliant. You will not regret reading it." Bishop Ken Clarke
Available from Scripture Union Bookshops, Amazon and direct from www.nickpark.ie
VOX is a quarterly magazine, looking at what's happening in Ireland and the world today and wondering where God fits in. Follow us on Facebo...