Talitha

Sallie came across as we walked in her direction. Of all the ladies we spoke to this evening she was one of the best dressed, she wore good quality make up and her hair was nicely done with highlights. The conversation was in Africaans, so I didn’t get much of it, Caroline stopped to quickly fill me in: ‘ Sallie had been working at the bakers but they soon found out that she previously worked the streets and so had told her they had no more work for her.’ This had happened a few times over the last few months, her ‘boyfriend’ would always turn up at the new work place and tell stories about what ‘she was really like’ and then the work would stop; she had no alternative but to return to the streets, believing what she was being told – that she was worthy of nothing more.

I picked up the gist as Caroline proceeded to tell the story of Rahab, a prostitute who had helped God’s servants and so been blessed – God honoured her and she became the ancestor of the great King David … and of Jesus, God’s own son. The message was clear as tears filled Sallie’s eyes – there is a God who loves and honours people as broken and cast off as she. The conversation continued and we ended with a prayer, we found a clean tissue and gave some homemade sandwiches; Sallie went her way and we moved on.

Sallie was one of about 10 ladies who between us we stopped and spent time with this evening. A little while ago, one afternoon, Sallie had got herself together and with her kids had headed off to the church. ‘Mum, where are we going?’ ‘We’re going to church, ‘cos I’m going to give my life to Jesus again.’ When they got to the church the person she was expecting to meet wasn’t there, Sallie returned home disappointed.

She is longing to return to Jesus but she’s not sure if she can count on the people at church. If she goes will she be introduced as ‘one of the ladies we minister to on a Tuesday night down town’? Will she ever find the fresh start that she so desperately wants. She approaches every glimmer of hope braced for a revisit from her past through well-meaning and malevolent means alike; expecting the bubble to burst at any moment.

The ransom that Jesus paid for Sallie’s redemption was his life, in no universe can that have been in vain. But the powers of darkness and our own well-meant ignorance can sometimes create a perfect storm through which that redemption has to push in order to meet its mark.  Will the body of Christ stand up and push back the darkness so that Sallie, her kids and the hundreds in your neighbourhood like her, can find the life that Christ purchased for them?

Talitha Koum – little girl, get up.  That’s the name of this group because they believe that inside every lady that they meet on the street is a little girl that Jesus is gently calling back to life again.

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Beyond the Horizon…

Hello! Well today I thought I’d share the latest issue of Beyond the Horizon. Its a collection of some great stories of what’s taking place in Fusion across the world. I hope you are inspired and encouraged by the read. I really enjoyed putting it together.

http://www.fusionyac.org/eMail/BTH_Nov2012.pdf

 

three days alive

The task was to locate and articulate the dream that would take us through the next 2 decades. After a pilgrimage of training, mission and reflection in the summer, followed a couple of months later by a week of ‘Foundations for life and mission’, we had three days together. We weren’t harnessing just any dream, not only was it be ‘ours’ but it was to be a dream for an entire nation.

working on the dream...

working on the dream…

Those three days with the Brazilianteam were the most exciting I have spent for a few years. We were so alive as we went on the journey together. They drilled down to find the gems, the finger prints of God in the history and people of Brazil, getting greater clarity as they shared with me and each other. ‘I’m not usually patriotic’ exclaimed one after a few hours of this work ‘but I LOVE my country!’ . We looked at the areas where God’s glory and presence was most absent in the nation today, and the conviction and call to mission between them took root. It wasn’t long before they came up with a vision for their work and lives in Brazil to take them into the next 20 years.

I felt so alive during those three days. To be part of a gr

oup of people who became friends… brothers and sisters on a mission, was like basking in the healing sun and letting the sea breeze blow away the staleness of ill health. As I look back on my life I have been incredibly blessed at several points to be part of a group like this; in Leicester, at Trinity in Poatina, in South Africa during 2009 and again in 2011.

Last week I visited a school in Cambridge with a friend who’s great, great, great grandfather was the founder. We went to the whole school chapel service and as the place filled up with junior and high school kids, I remembered the excitement of working and walking with teenagers who were on the frontier of discovery of life (and sometimes knowledge!).  Although there is something deeper for me about working with young adults and teenagers, there was this similar theme of being with friends on a mission, sharing life as we move into the future together. it is something I aspire to and for which my heart longs.

The Brazilians went away with a plan and strategy for the next few months, and they continue to meet and pray over skype, I am looking forward to catching up with them and sharing life with them again. One  thing is for sure, although they are separated by many miles from each other, they are alive and moving forward together.

team Brazil..

team Brazil..

Delirious – the myth…

My housemate has recently retrieved some of her belongings from storage (it seems to be a theme in our household at the moment!). Amongst these things were some Delirious CDs from the ‘90’s. Having lost all mine several years ago in a moment of generosity I have been loving listening to cutting edge 1-4. It’s taking me back to a very special time in our journey.

Do you remember the mid 90’s in the UK?  Holy Spirit was doing some very special stuff amongst his people, bringing refreshing and restoration, despite all the angst over Pensacola and Toronto! Stoneleigh and Soul Survivor took off, Alpha spread like wild fire. Amongst my friends at Uni there was a real hunger for an authentic ‘Monday morning’ faith with teeth; one that was practical, powerful, challenging and life changing without religiosity. We began praying for the city and the universities, we pressed in to seek God in new and different expressions of worship, we took over night clubs to reach out to our mates.

In the midst of all that, Delirious emerged role modelling corporate worship as an expression of lives sold out for Christ and making a difference. They galvanised the Christian young adult population in a move to impact their generation through the secular music scene. They became a prophetic voice not only taking a stand and speaking into some of the current affairs of the time, but also calling out us Christians to a life of radical faith that cost. It was an exciting time to be alive and pursuing Christ; a time when for us we were tapping into the social myth of our nation – that part of us that was made to courageously stand for what is right and godly.

For the last couple of days I have been helping to facilitate a weekend with the national team I work with here in the UK. Through the process we have been engaging with the redemptive, God story of the UK down the centuries till now, naming some of the moments and areas where we can see God’s fingerprints and his nature expressed. One of the things I am most proud of is our heritage of individuals and groups who were willing to take on the whole of society, standing for justice for the oppressed in the name of Christ. There have been many occasions where society has been turned around in a single generation because men and women compelled by Christ’s love and life said enough was enough.  This is all part of the social myth that forms the heartbeat of our nation. I find it fascinating too that there seems to be something inherent in our nature that means whatever happens here has significant impact beyond our boarders. When we are at our best we feel the weight of responsibility not just for our own but also for the wellbeing of others.

As I look over the last few decades I see something brewing. Our nation, the continent and the world are looking for real answers to a pretty confronting reality. There is a call going out, requiring Christ followers to rise up within all sectors of society, count the cost and stand against the tide; in meekness and power restoring the godly values that will turn society around, bringing life and wholeness back to every layer. The likes of Delirious did it in their time, they gave us a small glimpse of what may be asked of us, others through the corridors of history, heroes of the faith like Wesley, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury all cheer us on from the grandstands as we take our positions at the starting blocks. In one sense we stand on the shoulders of giants, in another sense we stand alone, it’s our turn, how will we run I wonder?

want to be inspired?

Hi, this week i posted two new links on my blog, i’d love you to have a look if you havent already. You’ll find them on the left under ‘newsletters’. the first is the most recent edition of Beyond the Horizon, a vibrant collection of stories and interviews with youth and community workers on the front line in the countries across the two thirds world. the second is an exciting report of the last 18 months or so here in the UK with Fusion. i KNOW you will be inspired by one or other of these and i will be suprised if you’re not encouraged by both!!

Malta


I am struck by a country so small has such a history and heritage as to dwarf most others – it has been a privilege to be here this week. We stayed in what the locals call a village, but to me Mellieha is more of a small town. It seems that every part of Malta is expanding with new apartments and hotels going up on every piece of land available, Mellieha is no different in this respect. From our apartment we look out over the impressive catholic church that sits on the town’s main prominence overlooking Ghadira bay below, just beyond lie Camino and Gozo the two smaller inhabited islands that, together with the St Pauls Islands and Filfla, make up the archipelago of Malta.

We are facing north east, a short walk past the church opens up views of the north west shore of the island with Popeye village in the near distance – just five minutes on the bus takes you from Ghadira bay across the island to Popeye village. According to cab the driver when we arrived, the main Island is a mere 28K in length and 18 Km at its widest point. From our balcony we can see the Red Tower on the other side of the bay, it was built in 1647 one of many such towers along the coastline used as communications and lookout posts when the country was owned and ruled by the Knights of St John.

The Knights of St John together with St Paul seem to form the two central pillars of Malta’s history and culture. The Knights were originally the Order of St John of Jerusalem where in the 11hundreds they ran a Christian hospice Eventually their emphasis turned to fighting for their faith and in 1187 they were driven out of Jerusalem by Saladin. Based in Rhodes for a while they were eventually given the Islands of Malta in 1530 when all 4000 of them relocated to make the country their base. 35 years later the Turks joined forces to take Malta, their 30,000 against the Maltese 7,000, this first great siege in the history of the country lasted almost four months but finally ended as relief came from Sciliy. It is said that during the siege, Grand Master Valette (leader of the Knights) aged 72, threw himself into the fray inspiring his followers by his courage. Against all the odds, due to the resilience and courage of the people and their Knights, the Turks were defeated and this turned the tide of the expanding Ottoman empire on its march through Europe. This small nation literally turned the tide of history in Europe.

I’ll share more of my reflections on my time in Malta in other posts, but as I look back over my week in this incredible country, I am so grateful for the gift of inspiration I have received just by visiting a few places and hearing the stories. Once again as I sit with all this and recall many other similar stories, lives of friends, family and other heroes, I am somewhat awestruck by the capcity of the human spirit to dig deep and transcend the most difficult and painful situations, to find life and purpose in sacrifice, creativity, love and the giving of self for others.

the oxford blues

It’s Saturday evening and we are just home from my goddaughters roller hockey training session. I am in Oxford staying with the family, its been really special catching up. I’ve never been to roller hockey game before, and i have to say it looks like a lot of fun! A fabulous mixture of grace and brute force – a lot like ice hockey, just not quite as obviously violent!

Kitting out a bunch of kids in massive pads, helmets and gloves, then putting them on roller blades and handing them a stick, makes for some pretty comical moments. There were times when i seriously doubted if the 7 year old goalie could actually move herself across the court. It reminded me a lot of the boy David going to battle in the kings armour and not quite making it! It was pretty special at the same time seeing 14 year olds work on the court with 7 year olds, sometimes turning out better than others!

More than half of the kids are new recruits, fast learning the skill and poise of skating at high speed while playing a fairly technical, incredibly competitive, contact sport. For many of them life is not simple, and being part of this club provides so much of what they need. Their coaches are experienced players who love the game and obviously enjoy seeing the kids learn and become skilled. They’d drop a word of encouragement, spotting something that a kid was doing well, paying particular attention to the young and inexperienced ones. There just seemed to be a really lovely, positive atmosphere. Even on the benches, where the parents sat and watched there was a pleasant buzz.

My goddaughter’s father took over as manager of the club at the end of last season. I’ve really enjoyed hearing how things have developed since then. Hope rises for me as I hear how these young people are being taken seriously, Pete and the team are willing to invest time and encouragement into their lives – and the lives of the parents. Why not go and check out the club website on http://www.oxskate.com.