BlogPodcast

ben kwashi jos nigeria

Ben Kwashi is one of my heroes, so I was thrilled to get to interview him today. You can hear it here. A little on him:

Benjamin Kwashi is the archbishop they just couldn’t kill. Three times, the terrorists tried. Each time, they failed to take his life, crush his faith or dampen his joy. Neither bomb nor bullet can silence this turbulent priest who courageously continues to speak truth to power. Ben Kwashi has been described as one of the most influential Christians alive. His home is on the frontline of faith in Nigeria. Here, Boko Haram and heavily-armed Fulani militants are fighting to create a hard-line Islamic state.

Before they killed him, he insisted his Islamist aggressors allowed him a last moment of prayer. They took him to his bedroom, he got down on his knees and shut his eyes…

Go on, get the book to find out what happened next! Here’s a link to buy ‘Neither Bomb Nor Bullet’, do keep supporting Christian bookshops rather than the Amazonian empire!

As well as Ben Kwashi’s remarkable ministry, there’s also a fabulous range of stories over the last few weeks of the podcast ‘Inspired’, so do take a listen and share with your friends:

Nicky Gumbel – Looking Back, Looking Forward

Pioneer of the Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel looks back on his life and remains excited about future gospel opportunities.

Dom Muir – Modern Day Elijah

Dom’s pleasure-seeking led him nowhere. When the day of change came, it was a radical one, and this modern-day prophet is fearless in calling out what he sees are dangerous cultural trends.

Joanna Whittaker – She’s Just Alice

Living with MS and losing her precious daughter, Joanna’s faith radiates through her hopeful story. Do pass this one on to others who would be encouraged by it.

Listen to Inspired…

You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on all major platforms. No app? No problem, listen here.

BlogGLO

Great Lakes Outreach is a lean machine, I’m proud to say. And we use donated money carefully, accountably, and strategically.

Today is the culmination of 6 months’ intensive work, and is the launch of our spanking new website. You might think we commissioned a marketing agency for £20k, but no, it was all done in-house, so huge thanks to Paul and Adam – great work guys!

Why not take a look now, starting with the stunning short film on the front page explaining what GLO does? 
I’m very encouraged as we continue to have a nation-shaping impact. There are masses of positives in the mix. However, as you’d expect with the longer-term outworking of Covid, some people have understandably stopped their monthly giving to us. In fact, in the last few weeks, we’ve lost £685/month of regular support.

Monthly support is our bread and butter, and at GLO we’ve taken the title ‘GLO Ambassadors’ to describe those of you who are monthly supporters. We are so grateful to each of you because – as any non-profit organisation will tell you – it’s the regular monthly gifts that enable reliable planning and commitment of funds consistently in key areas.
Could you spare £10/20/50/month? Is there a luxury that you could give up to facilitate this?

What always happens in crises is the last and the least suffer the most. That’s Burundi. But in Jesus’ name, we’ll totally resist that trend – with your help.

So if you can dig deep, please do so HERE.

Do enjoy looking through the website. There are so many beautiful films, stories, and fresh content. One of our values is excellence, to the glory of God, and I think we’ve delivered that. Call me biased, but I think it’s as good as any international mega-minted NGO! 

God bless you all.
Sermons

I invite you to listen to this last Sunday’s sermon, it’ll challenge you to the core! We had a powerful time…

Watch the sermon:

Listen to the sermon below or download here.


Jim Wallis writes: “The danger of secular fundamentalism is its allergy to spirituality and disdain for anything religious. Prophetic religion is the antidote to bad religion. Prophetic faith is not the battle between secularism and faith, but rather between cynicism and hope. Prophets begin in judgment, social critique of status quo, but end in hope – that those realities can be changed. It’s a spiritual choice. Ultimately, cynicism protects you from commitment. If things are not really going to change, why try so hard to make a difference? And if you have middle-class economic security (as many cynics do), things don’t have to change for you to remain secure. That is not intended to sound harsh, just realistic. Cynics are finally free just to look after themselves… Perhaps the only people who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints. Everybody else may be living in some kind of denial about what is really going on and how things really are. And the only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power, and possibility of hope… Hope is not a feeling; it is a decision. And the decision for hope is based on what you believe at the deepest levels. You choose hope, not as a naïve wish, but as a choice, with your eyes wide open to the reality of the world – just like the cynics who have not made the decision for hope.”

Remember if we want to receive the Kingdom of God, we HAVE to be child-like (not childish). The stakes are high…

Here’s a little checklist for you to assess how you’re getting on.:

Needy and dependent v self-sufficient and independent

Humble and teachable v proud and having the answers

Curious v indifferent

Joyful v serious

Forgiving v resentful

Faith-filled v sceptical

Pliable v brittle 

Hopeful v cynical

Secure v doubting self

Trusting v fearful

Sermon notes available on request.

GeneralInspiration

hand on door handle opening door

I’ve had a fun day so far, and yet it’s been such a normal day. Let me explain:

Our church was serving the local community at the weekend by providing four skips for people to bring their stuff and save them a trip to the tip (many locals don’t have a car, so it’s very much appreciated). There was one last skip that needed filling, so a couple of us did that this morning. As the skip was loaded onto the truck and about to be driven away, I showed the driver a picture on my phone, and asked him if he’d seen it before. He said no, but the conversation that ensued led to me praying for him, exchanging numbers, and him expressing interest in doing an Alpha course.

I then showed the same picture to the guy who’d helped me fill the skip. He’s a lovely Hindu from India. We prayed together as well.

Then back home, the bell rang and I answered the door. I showed that lady the picture as well, and her English was very broken but we established that she was my catholic sister from Brazil, and parted joyfully.

And now I’ve just got off from a Zoom call with someone trying to sell me (good) stuff, at the end of which I asked if he’d mind me sharing with him for a few minutes. I pulled up the same picture again. Another great conversation ensued, at the end of which I prayed with and for him, and he agreed that when he was next in the area (he knew my address now because of what he was trying and succeeding in selling me), he’d come over for a beverage to talk further.

So what am I sharing with all these folks? Well, the picture I show them and the briefest summary outline of what I share is below:


Honestly, it’s so easy. And I’m genuinely not even that good at ‘doing’ it yet, as it’s a relatively new approach to me. But if you’re winsome, open, loving, respectful, it’s such fun – all four encounters today were so positive.

You could do this!

They were such simple encounters – with a truck driver, a man helping me fill a skip, a lady who knocked on my door, and someone selling me stuff – just day-to-day normal meetings.

So I’m offering and recommending you this simple conversation starter and tool. Let me say it again, you can do this!

A few Saturdays ago, 16 of us did it in the town centre, and in one hour we led 10 people to Jesus, including one Wiccan lady with her pentagram. People are spiritually hungry – not all by any stretch, but many – and they don’t want religion (yuck!), but many do want Jesus!

Why don’t you take an hour or so to memorise the script, check out these training/example videos, and then give it a go?!

Watch this video on YouTube
Watch this video on YouTube
Watch this video on YouTube

More resources available at jesusattheddoor.com


You can also download the app (free) with the picture and script using the following links:

Let me know how you get on!

BlogPodcast

Guys, I love hearing great stories, so here are the three most recent podcasts – so good!

We’ve just launched this today: Alli ‘Mbabazi’ Blair is nuts (in a good way)! What compels a 67-year-old a few months ago to pack all her earthly belongings in two 23kg bags and move to the jungle in the North of Cambodia? She discusses naked Mai Mai soldiers, her 4m pet python, post-genocide rebuilding in Rwanda, exposing a paedophile, Freddy with the melted face, injustice, craziness and more.

(If you don’t have access to Spotify or Apple Podcasts, scroll to the bottom of this post to listen on this webpage.)


How could you not only forgive your Dad’s murderer, but preach reconciliation with him where he’d buried your father alive, and then sponsor the now-deceased murderer’s kids through schooling? And also pioneer a fruitful street kids organisation and run for President? A-ma-zing! That’s part of Dieundonne Nahimana’s story…


Jodie Lintern is not just our house-mate, but she also has a stunning story of being a pro footballer and making lots of bad choices, and then having her life completely turned around. Now she’s turbo-charged, and her story will stir your own faith to believe God can use you as well.


Please enjoy, and spread the word – we need good news and inspiration amidst so many negative voices. Go for it!

General

man sits on a bench by the sea reading a book

Hi folks,

In case you wanted some book recommendations, I thought I’d send a few your way:

A House Built on Love tells the stunning story of Founder Ed Walker’s journey in setting up Hope into Action, which has won secular awards as the nation’s best homelessness charity. I did a podcast with Ed which is also well worth listening to, click here: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Eugene Peterson was a legend. A Burning in my Bones is his authorised biography, and is well worth reading to glean many gems from this remarkable man.

Guvna B and Michael Emmett’s stories make for challenging and stirring reading, and Katharine Hill’s A Mind of Their Own will hit the spot for many of us with kids struggling through their weird (post)lockdown times.

Here’s the full list from St Andrews Bookshop.

So let’s keep St Andrew’s key ministry going, get reading, and enjoy!

Sermons

Have you ever had a love bite?! No, I’m not talking about the hickey variety…

Below is last Sunday’s sermon from St Mark’s Battersea Rise as part of their series ‘Love Justice’. After so long in lockdown, it was lovely to be back preaching in the flesh. Have a listen, it’s challenging stuff:

Here are some quotes that I shared:

Anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


Edmund Burke: “All that it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.”


The Reverend Martin Niemöller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church who spent seven years in a concentration camp: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the labor leaders, and I did not speak out because I was not a labor leader.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.


A harried vicar was too busy to help a homeless lady needing help. He fobbed her off with a promise to pray for her. She subsequently wrote the following poem and gave it to a local Shelter officer:

“I was hungry,
And you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned,
And you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked,
And in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick,
And you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless,
And you preached a sermon on the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely,
And you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God
But I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.”


Food for thought…

Play/Download Audio:

Sermons

Can you hear it?

Let me explain.

An extraordinary phenomenon has taken place over the last few years in Iran – or, to give it its full title, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the context of the strict application of Shariah Law and in a climate of severe persecution for anyone who converts to Christianity, a steady stream of people are risking life and limb in their declaration of allegiance to the way of Jesus. To become an apostate of Islam is extremely costly, and there are plenty of documented cases of rape, imprisonment and torture of those brave enough to follow their convictions. Yet the Church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world.

So when an Iranian Christian couple managed to emigrate to the USA, it was their ticket to safety in the ‘land of the free’. Of course, they seized the opportunity. Unsurprisingly. Yet what was surprising, was that after living in the USA for a while, the wife said to her husband: “Please, take me back to Iran. There is a satanic lullaby in this nation. All the Christians are asleep, and I feel myself falling asleep.”

Seriously?

Here was a woman who had escaped the very real probability of sexual violence, loss of income and separation from loved ones through incarceration or worse, and yet she was saying that that risk was worth taking because of the greater danger to her very soul of the insidious and deathly lies she was (and we are) being steadily drip-fed in the Western world.

Think about that for a minute.

A satanic lullaby… can you hear it?

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A church leader in London asked me to give this prickly sermon before lockdown, addressing some key cultural issues that most steer clear of. So I’ve just re-recorded it, if you fancy a listen.

Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich was asked whether it was more effective to change society through violent revolution or gradual reform. He replied: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, you must tell an alternative story.’

Here’s to telling the best alternative story in the world!

BlogGeneralGLOGuest Blog

This is a guest blog by my Norwegian friend Arne. It’s something we’re looking to get involved in. It is so strategic, so empowering, so beautiful. 

This short film (under 4mins) explains the concept:

Over to Arne:

Hello folks!

Why do we think that the solutions for those who are poor in Africa are different from the solutions in the UK, USA and Norway? Every human throughout the world has God-given talents, as well as needs.

The need for a job, to feel wanted and valued, to provide for the family, and to have a relatively predictable and secure future – it’s the same for all human beings no matter where they live.

And the children need good role models of how to work to provide for the family, how to save and plan for the future, how to use and develop their own talents, how to be involved in community development and wealth creation, and finally how to submit to rules and authorities, and to God.

A transformed and sustainable Burundi is in need of transformed mindsets – a new way of building value-based foundations and strategies. We need to use methods bringing skills and a good character resulting in hope and a good future, one with dignity. If not, the next generations will find themselves in the same helplessness and hopelessness as is the case for many today. 

So how can a bank (microfinance is like a small bank, but for the poor) be a tool for such a transformation? We say that everything we do, we do to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor people in Burundi. And to glorify Jesus by using our God-given talents as for God (Col 3.23).

We’ve been doing this in Burundi now for 10 years, training people and providing loans to start up new small businesses. We’ve learnt plenty of lessons, and now have just under 20,000 beneficiaries, with a loan repayment rate of 96%. That is truly wonderful and amazing, and so many lives have been empowered, transformed and given dignity. I have no doubt it is the way forward. Not handouts, but hand-ups. Not giving out fish, but teaching people how to fish. Not short-term but long-term. 

Below are two typical stories from thousands that we could share. Enjoy them, and if you want to get involved, feel free to connect with us directly or through GLO:

“My biggest joy is that I now can afford education for my children,” says Odette. She lives in a remote village in Bubanza province where Hauge now is operating. I have never seen such a smile from people receiving aid, only when being enabled to climb out of poverty with new skills, with a strong character, and in a solidarity group with courage, hard work and unity.

Etienne is one of our customers in Hauge Family Microfinance. His village is cheering when he is showing the furniture he has made and is selling in his shop. He has become an entrepreneur and a leader for development in his local community. Three years ago, he received our training and a loan to buy logs. Today he has hired five people in the village to chop wood for him. A stable income has also made it possible to pay for his five children’s schooling.

Beautiful!

Check out the episode of my podcast where I interviewed Arne – his vision blew my mind!

Some more links:

Hauge Family Microfinance Burundi: www.hfm.bi
Hauge Microfinance: www.haugemicro.no

BlogGeneralGLO

Do give yourself 57 secs of joy by watching this!

This is just the briefest of messages feeding back on your beautiful response to our Christmas appeal to provide health cards to several thousand desperately needy folks. £2.50/$3 was what it cost to provide them and their immediate families three years of access to medical care. We filmed this at one of the handout events where a thousand people received their card.
So we say A MASSIVE THANK YOU on their behalf.

Oof, there will be fewer senseless deaths! With guaranteed healthcare provision, they’ll have deep peace rather than crippling anxiety!

God bless you all LOADS!