Sunday, 22 August 2010


N.B. I've been in the Philippines for just over a week now, and like a moth is drawn to the light, my brain continues to search for meanings for the thousands of questions that I am presented with every day.

Ever since I arrived here, I have been confronted with situation after situation of instances where most (Western) people would throw their towel in and say, "No, I'm not doing that. Life is not fair!" But here, there is no option for that. Life goes on, through storm, pain and disaster. Survival is key. I have no doubt there are people in the West like that also, but I fear that they may be fewer and further between. Not because the West is a particularly bad place, but because I believe life circumstances grow people, and fewer there know the real meaning of mere survival.

A few months ago; whilst on train going nowhere; I was listening to a Youthwork Podcast, and the guest Pip Wilson said something that has stuck with me ever since, and I would say has had a fairly major impact on some life decisions I have made in the last few months:

"Growth does not reside in a place called comfortable... God does not reside in comfortable."

Read that again. Each time I read that sentence it resonates on a deeper level. It is not (excuse the irony) a comortable sentence to read. And I guess in a way, this blog may read the same way to you. I do not apologise for that, because if there is one thing that I have learnt is that sometimes the truth hurts more than a lie. Then again, some people who read this may not even understand the meaning of it. Some may be indifferent. To me, it matters not. Growing up in the west, I have seen comfortable. I have lived comfortable. I have seen comfortable excelerate to levels beyond understanding and need. I have also seen more greed and selfishness than I care to share. And I am a participant in that... on many levels, and I am ashamed because I am not ignorant. There may be some (and I say some, because the media broadcasts it nearly every day of the week) who don't get the extent to which poverty levels sink in countries like the Philippines, (well, most of Asia/Africa/South America) but I fear that there are many more who simply don't care. Or maybe their understanding is jaded by their privileged western upbringing.

At this moment, the story of the woman who gave 2 pennies in the temple offering resonates with me. I may not have a lot (Westernly) of money to give, but I am no longer satisfied with just giving some. Time after time after time it says in the Bible that we must give our ALL to God. Trust that HE will provide. How true is that in my lifestyle right now? I am not sure it is. I know, from just one week here that there is more that needs to be done, and God yearns deeply for his people to stand up and DO something! How can we claim to Love God, and to want to do his will when we sit in our overly comfortable houses, relaxing, seeing to our own needs, while countless numbers of children, families, elderly, are living destitute, starving, ill, dying in our own country, as well as in other parts of the world? Do we love God enough to love them?

Nearly a year ago, when I started my Degree course, I asked God to help me to grow, and I believe He has some amazing plans to help me do that, put I don't think it involves sitting around watching TV. Praise God.

"Try kissing some scars.
Try walking in someone else's shoes.
Try making a mistake as a learning experience.
Try loving the unlovely.
Try a vision for others not self.
Try downward mobility instead of upwards.
Try a worse home.
Try a poorer community.
Try a battered and hopeless church.
Try disturbing your comfortable.
Try comforting your disturbed.
Try pain when comfortable.
Try comfort when in pain.
Try grit in your oyster.
Try loving yourself like you have never been hurt."

Thursday, 12 August 2010


N.B. It's late, or early. Depending on what you call these small hours of the morning that only clubbers, alcoholics and insomniacs usually inhabit. I'm beginning to wonder if there is something about this place that stops me from sleeping...

Everyone's heard that sermon about reaping and sowing, and how sometimes those who plant seed's aren't always the ones that collect the harvest at the end of the crop. If you haven't heard it, maybe you've never worked in ministry. Because it is certainly a story that resounds loudly with those who sometimes get discouraged by doing all the work and never receiving a share of the crop at the end of it.

Of course, I'm not talking about plants here. I'm talking about children, young people... any people for that matter. There are those in ministry, (and I guess in all christian circles) who sow the seeds, and there are those who reap the harvest. I'm not sure at the moment who gets the raw end of the deal. I guess it's all on my mind at the moment as many of my children and young people, and others I have invested time and energy into, are off at the usual Christian festival weeks that dominate the summer holidays, and I know that whilst there many of them will make big decisions about their lives, maybe become christian's, give up a bad habit or two, or generally be impacted by the messages and atmospheres that are taught and created at all Christian festivals. And they will come back, and tell me all about how *insert name of Christian holiday here* changed their life forever, and how they now want to live for Jesus/get baptised/live differently. And in a small part, I am left thinking: "What about all the work I've been doing with you all year? What about all the times I've tried to tell you that thing, teach you that part of faith, show you how awesome it is to live that way?"

It's got me thinking about all those people who I never think about when I contemplate the journey I have travelled so far. There are people in my life whom I give credit/appreciation to for helping to mould me, but what about those who I never think about? They did have an impact on me, whether I acknowledge it or not. There was the nurse who looked after me whilst in hospital, my childhood friend Tony who I only knew for a year, the boys who called me names and beat me up in Junior school, the kids I played out on the street with, the various relatives and family friends that filled my life as a kid, and I guess as a teenager. These people had an impact on my life, and they helped to craft the person I have become just as much as those I acknowledge have. Many of these people will never see or hear from me again - never know the impact they had on me, nor know of the successes and the failures I achieve. And yet, the world keeps turning. People are constantly wandernig in and out of our of lives - and some of them leave more footprints than others.

And so, I may not get a mention in any testimonies/stories come September, but I will be the one to witness each of them grow, change and develop their faith for a while yet. The person that spoke that crucial word of change into their life may never see or hear from them again. But I will get to walk the next part of their journey with them too, as I walked the last. And though I may never be (in their eyes) the one who changed their life, maybe one day, down the line, when they are sitting up late at night contemplating the journey travelled so far, they may think of me. And maybe they won't. But then again, it is not the servant that reaps the true benefits of the harvest, but the Master.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Galatians 6: 9-10