Nice work if you can get it!

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Sitting on the beach going through some edits with a colleague last week: ‘I don’t feel like this is work, it feels more like a holiday.’ ‘hmmm, it is work, we are working right now.’ ‘yes but we are on the beach!’ Nice work if you can get it! So last week the European leaders […]

God’s not schizoid….

Its nice to be back to blogging. In the break  I have moved house, relocated office, been to Rome, viewed my Mother’s prospective new home and attended 4 different churches. From all that and much more I have plenty to reflect on and share with you!

One of the things I appreciate about the movement that I am part of is that there are very few decisions of importance and wide reaching consequence that anyone gets to make on their own. Over the last few weeks I have been involved in a number of important decision making processes, many of which will have consequences that will be felt right across the international movement.

As a Christian mission movement we believe that God has an opinion and a say in our life and the decisions we make. In a discussion recently I found myself saying ‘God’s not schizophrenic’. My statement was a reflection on the current complexity we were facing brought about by the fact that not only do we believe that God has a say in what we do, but we do NOT believe that any one person or group has the monopoly on revelation from God as to what he wants; but rather that ‘together we have the mind of Christ’. So what happens when different ones seem to have opposing notions (equally felt to be of God by the respective proponents) of the right way forward?

In this situation, in our movement’s context, we would have one of three main options; the first and easiest is to assume that one person or group does have the monopoly on ‘God’s truth’ after all – they’re the more spiritual ones or they prayed longest and hardest, or they know the bible really well or … whatever. The second is that God is in fact ‘schizophrenic’, and in one setting he said one thing and in another he said something quite different; so really it doesn’t matter which we choose, opt for the one we like best, its all just a game of roulette anyway. The third is that God has indeed spoken to each of his children who have asked and listened, what each have shared is a complex mixture of personal agenda and divine inspiration, but the joyous task is for us together in grace and mercy, with Holy Spirit’s continued help, to discern the whole of what God is saying as we piece together the different parts… separating out the stuff that we threw into the mix of ourselves.

If I am honest, I reckon we go for the first two options more often than we would like to admit! However when we do go for the third, I reckon heaven celebrates and the powers of darkness are stricken with terror. Because I believe that the third option is an expression of Trinitarian unity in action, it is humble disciples with their master, seeking first his Kingdom. The third option is extremely ‘unnatural’, it requires all those concerned to yield to the others, it asks for an unusual level of humility, it demands an acknowledgment that God is as much at work in others as he is in you (and vise versa), it relies on each party articulating what they see and demands that the group take the necessary time and action to create the environment where all these things are in fact possible.

Its easy to see that there are no end of factors that make that third option so difficult to achieve. For me with my back ground in Soul Survivor and Vineyard, one of the most important things I learnt was to say ‘I could be wrong, or only partly right, but I think God might be saying ….’. this not only acknowledges my fallibility as a human being, but it also welcomes fellowship in discerning God’s voice. (it was a bit of a breath of fresh air from the more classic Pentecostal style I had grown up with!) The down side is that I now react when people say things like ‘God said… ‘ or ‘God’s spoken very clearly and therefore we should ….’, the closedness that communicates to me then becomes a hurdle to me stopping and hearing what God might in fact be saying in what they bring.

As a movement we have chosen the hard rout in this area and one that not all Christian organisations would choose they choose the harder routs in other areas. It’s not a superiority thing, it’s simply about staying true to your organisation’s mandate and mode of operation. As we do the work to go for option three even when its really tough and time is short, we experience his favour and blessing because I believe that when all the things that make that option possible are in place, we are much more in line with God’s nature which means that his kingdom is able to emerge a little more in us and through us.

‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure (uncontaminated). It is also peace loving (shalom) and gentle at all times and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere.’ (James 3v17) I think that’s what we’re talking about!

Grace distributed

We have just returned home from a remarkable week away with the national leaders from across our movement. I went into the week with a strong hope in what God would do amongst us but no clear picture of what the journey or the outcomes would look like; by the end of the week I felt like child, wide eyed with wonder, who’s parent was showing them round a new exciting adventure park! Much of what happened is not for me to share in this forum, however there are a number of things I have been exploring recently that came together in high definition for me during the week; these I will share.

I have heard it said that God often reaches us through those he places around us. Till a couple of weeks ago I have believed this to be true only of the common graces like encouragement, provision, confirmation, direction – that sort of thing; it couldn’t possibly mean the more fundamental graces like God’s forgiveness or his act of redemption or his self-sacrificing, love… could it?

Just a couple of days ago a hurt happened between myself and a friend. We had to put it right. As we talked honestly, sharing our weaknesses and exchanging forgiveness, I realised something significant was taking place. It wasn’t just my forgiveness that I was releasing, it was Jesus’ forgiveness. I wasn’t just receiving my friends forgiveness, I was receiving the Father’s. Suddenly in that moment, ‘forgive us as we forgive others’ and ‘if you forgive anyone sin’s they are forgiven, if you don’t they aren’t’ made perfect sense. I felt the reality of God’s forgiveness and grace in that moment.

The giving of forgiveness not only releases us from emotional angst, it actually releases something in the heavens. ‘Whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.’  God makes you and I the deliverers and distributers of the most precious gift of grace that he created for us. If I was God I would make sure it was hand delivered every time, I would not trust another soul with that task, after all it cost me my whole life and an eternity of suffering. He obviously thinks otherwise!

So, over the last two weeks I have seen in ways both small and big how your selfless love for me keeps me in the Father’s love and how, when you forgive me, I experience heaven’s forgiveness and grace.

Beyond the Horizon

Follow this link to find the latest edition of the bulletin that a team and i produce featuring the work of Fusion in the developing world. In it we take a closer look at Trenchtown, Jamaica, bringing communities together for peace in Nigeria and supporting mums in Athens. These are just some of the creative things teams are doing to sustain the work across the globe.

enjoy!

http://fusionyac.org/beyondthehorizon/BTHSpring2013Email.pdf

 

three things l love to do

 

During my recent trip abroad we covered three different countries and I got to connect significantly with four different teams. It was great! That time was almost a cameo of the things I love the most in life.

In South Africa we were a team of five with an impossible task to accomplish – the number of things to achieve and journeys to facilitate was almost ridiculous – but it was all for a huge, godly, kingdom dream… So we went for it and together we saw it all come together; we had mountains of fun, worked our butts off and in the process got to know and love God, the community and each other more.

In Greece, although sick and exhausted from the South African job, it was exhilarating and fascinating to help facilitate a process that helped us move forward as individuals, teams and as an international group. I really enjoy being part of that tie up between the big picture and the individual, the task and the life between us.

And from there I headed to Albania with Erion, Lysiena and Besi. It was a four hour road trip north-west from Thessaloniki through the hill country of northern Greece. Then across the boarder into Albania where the countryside feels like you have entered some bygone era when we got around on horses and donkeys, using carts to carry our loads to market. When we farmed small holdings of land in our families, together ploughing, planting and then harvesting in the heat of the day. It’s a different life and a different pace.

Besi, Lorena, Erion, Lino and Lysiena at another cafe!

Besi, Lorena, Erion, Lino and Lysiena at another cafe!

That evening I was dropped off at Lorena’s home where I was to stay for the weekend, and I slept! The next 48 hours were so different to the previous 3 weeks. This part of the trip was centred around cafes and shared meals! It was about doing life together, hanging out, spending time sharing together. It is something I love but I don’t get to do that often, there was no great task to achieve, no burning agenda items to cover, it was just about being present. Not just physically present but fully present. I learnt so much about what life was like for these guys individually and as a team and I was nourished and energised in the process. Sometimes it was just me and one other person, other times it was a whole group of us, or just three.

Lysi, Lorena, Mattia and Myself

Lysi, Lorena, Mattia and Myself

The café stops weren’t in my honour, its just how the team function, they simply enjoy each other’s company and ministry takes place as they do life together. In fact in between the café stops was a youth meeting, a Sunday service and a festival – there were other things that they did, those were just the three things I took part in.

Besi and Lino - beards thanks to Fiddler on the Roof!

Besi and Lino – beards thanks to Fiddler on the Roof!

I remember many years ago when I first started traveling, reflecting on how God shows up in the person of a stranger, but we often miss out because we are so preoccupied with something busy. My time in Albania reminded me how I really love just being present with no particular agenda but to care and not be indifferent.

IMG_1808

Beyond the Ache

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Ahhh my head is full! Four weeks ago I was checking into a flight at Heathrow airport. From there myself and two others, Anika and Leah, were headed to Cape Town South Africa. I have already shared the story of ‘Sallie’ in a previous post but those two weeks were crammed full with connections, meals, […]

Innovation Lights up the Streets of Athens

Philemon and Babis, are two leaders of Fusion Hellas (Fusion Greece) AKA Street Lights. They shared some of the projects that have emerged as a creative response to the needs around them, bringing hope to their city and country. We are all familiar with the socio-economic, political crisis in which Greece finds itself; so how does a team of young adults with families to support, continue to serve, respond and expand their mission activity with no big sponsors and no salaries to take home?

For the Street Lights leadership, the question is actually much bigger than that. Greece is at 70% unemployment with 3000 people losing their jobs each day. Finding a creative response to this need is crucial if the hope that Street Lights purport to bring is to be credible and tangible to their fellow Athenians and nationals.

Philemon explains “We wanted to use creativity to raise funds, we were looking for ways to support people and give them an income: we needed to turn creative in order to survive! And at the same time, creative work helps people to connect to our Creator-God.”

The result? Two income generating social enterprises and a third one in its pilot phase.

The Loved Projects: this is the most established enterprise. Its vision is to take communication to another level, helping clients articulate their narrative with clarity. The Loved Projects team, Philemon Armenis, Eirini Milaki, and Theodore Kritikos develop promotional materials for clients using print, video and web media; in the process they mentor their clients in communication. The income generated currently supports two Fusion Hellas youth workers. There’s another significant outcome from the project, it provides a space where young people can be trained by the team in design and film editing, which gives them a better chance for their future. “Two of our people have recently gone on to get jobs in the film industry! We are addressing a real need. This is the biggest excitement! It’s like we were made for this moment!” You can find out more by visiting www.lovedprojects.com

Street Store:  is the brain child of Babis who we met last time, (AKA Charalampos Tsakiris). Through this project young people can take a creative idea, refine the design, produce and sell their product on line at www.streetstore.gr . “The street store has really helped to build morale! It’s amazing! You walk down the stairs, leaving a street of closed down stores, down to the basement where it’s vibrant. People tell me that they can ‘breathe’ in there. It’s a hub; a place where people can learn.” The goal is simply to connect and communicate with young people and give them the experience of generating income; a percentage of which goes to fund the philanthropic work of Fusion Hellas and the rest they take home for themselves. (The Philanthropy team is operational throughout the winter months, when they move through the streets of Athens on cold nights distributing clothes and blankets to the homeless.)

IMG_7506

The third enterprise in its pilot phase still, is the PC service. The team, led by Alexandros Siozos, have the capacity to do professional upgrades on computers and see this as yet another way to train young people, serve clients, including other teams in the Fusion movement, and generate income to further fuel the growing work of Street Lights. We wish them all the best in this and all their exciting income generating social enterprises.