The new school year is big business in the West, with supermarket aisles crammed full of uniforms, pencil cases, notepads, and more. I asked my daughter Grace to film me as I recounted one of the most moving encounters I ever experienced with a mother desperate for her children’s future:

Even a hard-working family with a modest income will struggle to shoe, clothe and supply stationery to all their children. Often, they’ll only be able to equip one or two of their children with the bare minimum. I can’t imagine having to choose between which of my kids get to carry on receiving an education…

It’s a heart-wrenching decision that parents will be making right NOW. Sadly, there will be thousands of children (particularly girls) who will not make it through the school gate this year, and if they do, they’ll be too ill-equipped or too hungry to learn. The children suffer, and so does Burundi when educational potential is not realised.

Every year I make this desperate plea because I know the transformational power of education to lift people out of poverty. During this most demanding time, GLO is committed to providing extra support to the 615 families of our hard-working GLO partners.

Please join us in giving these parents the joy of seeing ALL their children head off to school, proudly clothed in their school uniforms, backpacks loaded with pencils and books, with full stomachs and ready to learn. What a blessing!

In the happy event that we meet our goal to provide 615 families with a gift of £30 ($40), we will make sure any additional (one-off and monthly) donations are put to equally invaluable use, distributed to where the needs are the greatest.

people rushing past the gates of buckingham palac

Back in 2017, I received an invitation from the Queen to join her at Buckingham Palace. I turned her down.

Why?

Because I’d already heard her on the radio. I’d read her written messages. I’d seen her on TV plenty of times.

That was enough for me.

Seriously?

Of course not! Lizzie and I went there with a great sense of privilege, anticipation and honour, and had a wonderful time.

Now, what is on offer today, to all of us, is not a personal invitation from the Sovereign of a nation, rather one from the Sovereign of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

So below is the first of five talks given last week under the theme title ‘Come!’ I’ll post each one week by week if you want to take a listen. They were given at Lee Abbey, one of my favourite places, in North Devon. You could join us next year if you wanted. The series was as follows:

1. Come to me Weary!
2. Come to me Dirty!
3. Come to me Hungry!
4. Come to me Thirsty!
5. Come and See, then Go and Be!

Here is the first:

Here are just a few bits if you haven’t the time to listen:

Father Thomas Green suggested this prayer: “Lord let me be just as disturbed about this situation (or this person’s behaviour) as you are – no more and no less. If you are angry let me be angry too, but if you are not disturbed let me share your peace.” He continues: “It is amazing and quite humbling how often my disturbance simply dissolves once I say that prayer and really mean it.”

As Corrie Ten Boom put it ‘worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.’

Stress management experts say that only two percent of our “worrying time” is spent on things that might actually be helped by worrying. The figures below illustrate how the other 98 percent of this time is spent:

40% on things that never happen
35% on things that can’t be changed
15% on things that turn out better than expected
8% on useless, petty worries

Dallas Willard talks about the secret of an easy yolk, which is that if you want to experience the life of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus. Following Jesus is meant to involve living his way, it’s a lifestyle, a way of life, not just a set of ideas or a program or a list of commands or prohibitions.

Some years ago in British Columbia a young man looking for work approached a foreman of a logging crew and asked him for a job. “It depends,” replied the foreman “lets see you take this one down.” The young man stepped forward, and skillfully felled a great tree. The foreman was impressed and explained, “you can start on Monday!”.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rolled by. Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today”.

Startled, the young man asked, “I thought you paid on Fridays”, “Normally we do” answered the foreman, “but we are letting you go today because you have fallen behind. Our daily charts show that you have dropped from first place on Monday to last place on Wednesday”. “But I’m a hard worker”, the young man objected, “I arrive first, leave last, and I’ve even worked through my coffee breaks!”. The foreman sensing the boy’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your axe?”, the young man replied, “Well, no, Sir. I have been working too hard to take the time.”

How about you? Too busy to sharpen your axe?  Prayer is the hone that gives you the sharp edge.  Without prayer, the more work you do the duller you will get.  We need to take time to stay sharp as we go about our work – and see our work as God’s work, in whatever sphere!


A little plug for Lee Abbey, do you want to join us next year?!

In a talk for a local church last Sunday, I was asked to look at this passage and the question Jesus asks of His disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ If you agree with what Peter answered then the implications are huge. Do take a listen.

You can also listen to the sermon or download the audio recording.

Some Quotes

Oswald Chambers: Is God going to help himself to me, or am I so taken up of my conception of what I want to make of my life?

CS Lewis: “Anything which isn’t eternal is eternally out of date”

My friend wrote this to me: “I long to preach and dispel the myth that is so readily received that ‘it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re successful, have fun, and have Jesus’. What a total lie of the evil one! It’s making our generation inept for the gospel.”

The young Zimbabwean martyr: “I am part of the ‘Fellowship of the Unashamed.’ I have the Holy Spirit. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ… I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until Heaven returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.”

What’s your answer to Jesus’ question – who do you say I am?

It’s taboo. It’s hidden. It’s devastating.

So many girls suffer in silence, in shame, in sadness. We interviewed a few of them in the poignant video below.

Now that we have a teenage daughter, this issue resonates even more deeply with us than before. We would do everything in our power for her to thrive and not miss out on her studies.

We all are (or have) sisters, daughters, nieces, etc. So this is something we can all relate to and do something about. We can all spare £4/$5 to help one (or 5 or 10 etc) precious teenager in Burundi to continue her studies without having to miss several days of school each month.

It’s easy, it’s practical, it’s impactful. Do you want to help?

We’re looking at supplying 2,000 girls with a pack of five re-usable sanitary pads. It’ll be a total game-changer!

Please do join us in helping them…

With thanks,

Simon & Lizzie

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!