Ros and I love the imaginative news analysis programme in Beyond 100 Days on weekday nights on the BBC News Channel. A few months ago, the team presented two sharply contrasting scenarios of what we could wake up to in Britain on April 1st 2019 immediately following the Brexit deadline. One scenario proceeded serenely well, whilst the other was a catalogue of setbacks and worse. Continue reading
Two themes have inspired me to write this article: firstly, that the Lord encouraged – (challenged would not be too strong a word for it!) – to let Him seek out my own prejudices – and the other is that I have just spent much of the past weekend praying for Ireland in the light of the papal visit.
It may be no coincidence that this theme of prejudice has been ‘buzzing’ away in me at this time when Ireland has been so much in the news; and this at a time when it is so important that past prejudices do not dominate future developments in that country.
This has been a major time of uncovering for Ireland, when the results of the deeply held prejudices are being brought out into the open: for example in the infamous Magdalen Laundry homes, and the cruel sanctions imposed on unmarried, in the homes for unmarried mothers when they were separated from their babies.
Last Saturday night, over 80,000 people gathered in Croker Park, Dublin, for a Festival of Families, with testimonies from around the world. That is a beautiful thought for approaching the darker aspects of Ireland that have been to the fore in the last few days in many people’s thoughts and prayer. Continue reading
Prejudices and abuse are not confined to institutions, and certainly not to any one religion, denomination or political stance.
When Ros and I travelled around Pakistan in the 1980’s we were saddened by the suffering of the large number of ‘bonded labourers’ (effectively modern day slaves) who were ‘employed’ in making bricks, but who can never escape their indebtedness to their employers.
See the important work that Barnabas Fund is doing in combatting this, together with an opportunity to contribute towards helping to ransom such a worker. Continue reading
No one today can be unaware of the gathering tension and accompanying uncertainties that are ramping up in the Middle East, whose ripple effects are being felt right across the world – of which the thoroughly unpleasant scenes in Tehran of crowds of inflamed people burning flags and chanting death to America is a potent symbol. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the nuclear deal with Iran, may the Lord protect against the power of this sustained cursing.
When I returned home a couple of nights ago from my retreat (after a lot of lovely catching up with Ros) I watched a remarkable extended report on Sky news concerning the huge influence that Iran is now exercising inside Iraq, primarily on the Shia majority. It was extremely eye opening. In this news report I learnt that Iran, with the help of the Iraqi military, has established an entirely new land route to be able to transport arms swiftly from Tehran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.*
Iran has long been stoking and stirring hostilities in the Middle East by supplying Hezbollah with vast quantities of advanced weaponry, effectively making Iran proxy for action against Israel. By some counts, Hezbollah possesses a staggering 150,000 rockets. As you will have seen, Israel has already begun launching multiple attacks on airfields in Syria and on depots through which Iran supplies Hezbollah. Prayer warriors in Israel at the moment are optimistic that although there are obvious risks that this could escalate into to a far more deadly and more wide-scale conflict than the month long war of 2006 that was centred on Lebanon, the likelihood of an all-out war with Iran is still not that high. The Israelis are hailing their multiple attacks against the Iranian military presence in Syria as a complete success. See this report from the Jerusalem Post.
Pray for all who are involved in this on going situation: diplomats, military and political leaders, and, of course, all those civilians who are affected and who have to take regularly to their bomb shelters with all the emotional and physical upset that this causes.
Let’s not for one minute forget how precious the Iranian people are to God. Again and again we hear reports of God touching people in that land in quite remarkable ways. E.g. Testimonies of Iranian converts.
The Lord so much wants to reach the tens of thousands of displaced Syrians in Lebanon and the camps in Turkey and Jordan too. (See this account of some friend’s visit to Jordan)
It was delightful when a large family of Syrians came to the farm where I was staying. It was a joy to see the children running round and playing with great smiles on their faces. During their first full year in Britain this was the first time they had been invited to come to a family home for a meal, as opposed to having occasional events laid on for them.
* That article in late 2016, in The Guardian, began to explain the process; this one from Reuters brings matters more up to date.
What is coming to me as I ponder the chemical nerve attack in Salisbury, is that this act feels like a wake-up call to the nations, our own in particular. On a rather different level, it is also a reminder call to the Body of Christ.
Clifford Hill said that we should operate with Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other. Further on in this edition we will be focusing on specific issues and details, and presenting a wide range of interesting and informative links to round out our understanding of current events. But it is important first that we see these things in a broader spiritual context. Continue reading
With the armed forces of so many nations in action over Syrian air-space at the moment, not to mention the regular Turkish strikes against the Kurds (which have been barely reported in the West), we have long been aware how easily events could spiral into a major escalation in the Middle East. We certainly hadn’t thought about Salisbury!
But whilst Russia has long since set about a vigorous rearmament programme, Britain and the West have been lulled into comparative complacency despite Continue reading
We are releasing this exquisitely moving piece in the aftermath of the atrocity that took place in Salisbury on March 2018 to aid our thoughts and prayers.
The Banks of the Green Willow, by George Butterworth, is one of the most loved pieces derived from folk-music by early twentieth century English composers.
The peaceful opening conjures up impressions of the rolling green swards around Salisbury; but at a certain moment the pastoral idyll is shattered by a deeply agitated ‘strident’ sound – a much more sombre mood that reflects the crisis that has occurred in this normally undramatic cathedral city before continuing on a more lyrical note.
Mike Halliday is the clarinettist and Nicola Gerrard the flautist in this recording we made at The House of The Open Door in 2014.
We have previously released the second part of this music in a Sound Cloud we wrote for those caught up in the swirl of desperate situations: Pounding thoughts and desperate needs.
You are sure to have heard of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ – it was the second most sought after new word in 2016! The Dutch have their own equivalent: gezelligheid, which means ‘cosy and sociable.’ I was certainly both hygge and gezelligheid in my friend’s flat in Haarlem; it was a perfect place to spend time deep in the Lord’s presence and gaining insights for a variety of writing projects, – as well as for venturing out from some exploring.
The fundamental ambiguity of hygge – the flip side of it if you like – is that it risks blurring boundaries and making us “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (2 Tim. 3:4). Continue reading
One of the highlights of my trip to Haarlem was my visit to the perfectly preserved house where Corrie Ten Boom and her family served as jewellers and watch menders. It is an extraordinary story. Corrie was already into her fifties when her family opened their door to an astonishing number of Jews on the run from the Nazis. Most of the eight hundred plus Jews who came through their doors were passed on to be cared for by others in the Resistance, but some continued as guests of the Ten Booms.
It is nothing short of a miracle that the Ten Booms were able to operate for as long as they did in Continue reading