Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cry of an orphan

You may have read my post "for the love of Juliet" on 4 or 5 November .
On a similar theme, the AIDS crisis, I have been very moved by this poem.

Cry of an orphan

Our beloved deceased parents
Your absence means a lot
You left our hearts torn apart
You left us so prematurely
Mum and Dad
Where did you come from Mr Aids?
Was it from the hills or the forests?
Who gave you permission to invade our earth?
Mr Aids, you truly are very cruel!
You took Mum and Dad
Life is too hard for me Mum
Sleeping on an empty stomach
Moving naked, without wearing rags
Eating what dogs eat.
Oh! Mum and Dad where are you?
I remember those sweet days of ours
When you used to call me Junior
I used to enjoy life
Now life is hard
If I request something to eat, something to put on, or school fees
Some say "sitinaphe makolo ako ndife" which means "we did not kill your parents"
oh! Mum and Dad I cry
We are now called orphans
I wish you come back one day
To hold me again... ........

Jeremiah Jere, Muselama Primary School, Chitipa, Malawi

Monday, November 27, 2006

Reflections on London

A few people have asked me how I got on in London.
Hotel - OK (cheap and in South Kensington therefore miraculous)
Conference - awesome
Shopping - as expected. Pressies for other people. But then I did get to buy a copy of "Cosmo".

I went to HTB as part of an Alpha EMEA week - European, Middle East and Africa week. I felt right at home. From stepping off at Heathrow to entering the conference venue I was struck by the sheer number of different nationalities represented. To me, it had a heavenly quality. Every nation, tribe and tongue will be represented there!

Had my first ever experience of not being able to get into a church service. Yes, you read that correctly, the 5pm service was full, as was the overflow facility. Bring it on! (that was the fourth service of the day) And so I enjoyed a solitary Costa cup of tea, reading my glossy magazine and marvelling at a sell-out, SORRY, packed church service just across the road. BTW, is Costa OK? I hear from neighbour's blogs that Starbucks isn't.

Enjoyed the 7pm service immensely, particularly the fact that there seemed to be so many other visitors for whom this may have been their first "church worship" experience. I was asked twice where the toilets were. I must have that "in with the bricks" look about me. Oooooooh, Coxy, could I be an Anglican?? :-)

Listening to (now assistant Bishop) Sandy Millar was - as ever - fantastic. I could listen to his wisdom for hours. For the church planters among you - HTB has planted 11 congregations since 1992, sending 200 people each time. Sandy said last year he thought he should take his own advice to the congregation of 3,000 and stepped down as vicar to lead a plant to an empty church in North London with 200 members.

And so to the conference itself. As an Alpha adviser I had some other meetings to attend outwith the main conference but I managed to hear most of the main sessions straight from the man himself, Nicky Gumbel. A most engaging and entertaining speaker yet not afraid to challenge.

Whatever you think of Alpha, I heard and saw the evidence that God is anointing it as an evangelistic tool hugely around the world. I would have questioned its effectiveness in different cultural contexts and yet I heard delegates give reports in the Sunday evening service) on huge numbers of converts to Christianity in France, Spain, Latvia, Ukraine, Soweto, S.A., Sweden, Uganda, Burundi, Russia.......(can't remember all of the representatives who spoke!) For me, most moving was to see the Orthodox priests (beard, robes, huge cross), monks, nuns and loads of Catholic priests in attendance. They had paid money to travel to be there - such was their hunger to learn more about alpha. I felt so THRILLED to see them there. As Nicky Gumbel says: alpha focuses on that which unites us, not that which divides.

Two-thirds of the dioceses in France run the course. It has found its place as one of the most useful tools for a parish to evangelise. Some of the things that I picked up in my summer reading/exams came in handy - being able to remember that Vatican 2 called for re-evangelisation and a call to community and a place for spiritual gifts :-)

So I've come home renewed in the vision to continue to use alpha with the families I come into contact with. All my questions (relating to an upcoming assignment) like: does this work cross culturally? were answered. The emphasis on community (people are invited out of relationships with people inside the church); the sharing of food, the invitation to speak freely and share opinions without (me as leader) butting in and the lack of intensity plus the anointing of God make this course work!

Mammoth post - any comments??

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hello from the Big Smoke

Having a lovely time except for the traffic.
More on the conference when I get back to Scotland. I've popped into an internet cafe to print off my plane boarding pass for the rush hour squash tomorrow.

I saw SIMON COWELL today (X factor fame) ! He nearly knocked me down with his Rolls Royce. Now that would have been a shame.

I am practising saying "yah" lots as I walk through South Kensington every day :)
And it's true, people do really still say it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Excitement in the air!

I'm off to London Sunday until Tuesday. I love flying by myself; over the years I have been very privileged to fly away with only hand luggage and my thoughts beside me on various occasions - usually to London and Dublin. A few years ago I flew "solo" across the Atlantic to meet my husband who had gone ahead to a conference with our senior pastor in North Carolina, USA. That was slightly more stressful; had to dash from Gatwick to Heathrow in an hour - not to be recommended in London traffic........I was hoping for one of those Tony Campolo moments with a fellow passenger and it didn't happen (I'm sure many readers have heard Tony Campolo speak about his interactions with fellow air passengers! - incredible time of witnessing, leads them weeping to Christ etc etc)

I'm attending speaker training with a small group of people here, and I'm really excited. I will meet up with a few other Alpha folk I know; we're staying in the same hotel, and I am looking forward to socialising for two days with adults without the "he did this/she's annoying me/please can you get/do/pick up/buy/give me" type chat from my (seriously) much loved and cherished offspring.

Also, and I am slightly concerned about putting this private reflection in the public domain, I'm flying on Sunday morning rather than in the afternoon so I can wander around the shops for the afternoon. Does that make me materialistic? Ummm, hope not, I am looking forward to doing something with me, myself and I that I rarely get to do. I am planning on a visit to Hamleys (toy shop) - any other shopping recommendations?

I always, always go to the Natural History Museum, using my teacher's pass to get in legitimately for free (It's SO expensive!) but I don't think I will have time to do that on this trip.

I'm also having my monthly "I'm not suited to studying theology" crisis so I am looking forward to a Sunday off, although still working (:::::she adds hastily::::)reflecting a bit more on what I believe with time to think instead of my usual mad-runaround-Sundays. I simply can't present my thoughts well enough. I'm feeling quite inadequate when debates take place. I can never remember where to find that certain verse which was there in my memory banks a few minutes ago and a brief discussion today on atonement and Steve Chalke's views had me closing my eyes and wishing that the bell would ring (NOW that reminds me of moments in school!)

Monday, November 13, 2006


What do you do when children tell lies? Discuss without becoming red in the face!

No sooner do I get over one hurdle with one of my children than I hit another one, telling tales. Actually, I hate that phrase. Call a spade a spade - it's lying. As one of my colleagues described: it presses the buttons for many parents.

My daughter is digging her heels in and telling lies - there's been one a day for the past week.
Time to go back to the Triple P course and apply it to my family before I lead the parenting group next week!
(it does work - it only doesn't if one is inconsistent)

Is that a behaviour chart I see before my eyes???

Thursday, November 09, 2006

All age

I have been putting together an all age service for this weekend. I have always had a real desire to bring different generations together towards a common goal of worshipping our God. I love being part of it and I think it's important. Too often in our society today we are split down into our separate age groups. The "day care" mentality! (NB I'm not dissing Sunday programmes; most weeks we do this too! 3-5s go to one room, 6-7s, another room, and so on...but I love it when we are all together)

I became a Christian at age 14 with no support or back-up from my family; in fact I faced out-and-out opposition to the life changes I was making. I learned so much from being part of a big church family. I was taught, nurtured, mentored, equipped and held tight by this local congregation, where I still am.(Interestingly - but unsurprisingly! - God worked changes in me; I grew to love my biological family even more some years after I became a Christian when I appreciated all that they had done for me. Man, imagine having to bring me up!)

An older woman in the congregation (who was probably only about 45 at the time, but seemed ancient then!) had a real calling to encourage me, write to me, check I was OK, pray for me through O Grades, Highers and University and still to this day checks how I am doing. A number of the key leaders came to the youth group to teach, pray, mentor (and occasionally discipline!!) my peers and I, under the loving direction of our minister.

I felt so much love and acceptance from those who were older than me.

With all my heart I want this for the children I work with today in this same church family. To love and honour the older generations as the children in turn are loved and nurtured by those more senior in years.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

help I'm hiding

It's my turn to host the 7 year old girls who play at each other's houses after school. I'm hiding while they play at being teachers. Tamagotchis dangle from their mucky dishevelled clothes so they might also provide a distraction [they haven't got to the make up/boots/Bench wearing stage yet (nod to SB!)]

Did you know two Tamagotchis, thanks to infra-red technology, MATE now!?!?!? And have babies??

Sunday, November 05, 2006

For the love of Juliet

Please watch this.


Across the globe, AIDS is responsible for an increasing number of deaths each year. Of the estimated 2.8 million killed in 2005, around half a million were children aged below 15 years. At the end of 2005, an estimated 2.3 million children globally were living with HIV.
2006 Report on the Global Spread of Aids by the World Health Organisation.

I couldn't help myself - I spent an hour on the floor having a loud outburst to God. I was crying, sobbing uncontrollably and feeling anger, confusion. I was full of questions that aren't going away. I think I have managed to bury or put these questions aside before, but I can't seem to tonight.
Why do MILLIONS of children have to die of Aids? Why do I feel the pain of this? Why children? It's not their fault - they are innocents. Why such a slow, agonising death, for some of them? Why do so many of them have to die alone without a mum and a dad to hold them, because they have already passed away?

What does it mean to be an Esther, for such a time as this?

Friday, November 03, 2006

The assault on our children........

No, this post isn't about my parenting reaction to my Boundary Pushing (but oh so gorgeous) little 4 year old at a 2 hour musical Luv Esther tonight. (He was great, watched wide eyed and open mouthed with his big sister at the rapping, dancing, visuals etc)

Hitting hard throughout this musical of the life of Esther is the prophetic call to be one who will approach The King at "such a time as this". The perfprmance weaves together so movingly news footage of the state of the nations, courtesy of ITN news. Luv esther's cast and crew also celebrate the life of a young girl who died of aids aged 10 with a beautiful song "to Juliette".

This broke me completely and I wept and wept at the footage of Juliette herself and other Aids orphans. I did some reading on this topic last year for a research project and it was all coming back. God was moving it from head to heart. Isn't that what he wants for all of my reading, research, thoughts and dreams.......?

It made me think again about the assault on the world's children:-
* There was a persecution against children at the time of Moses birth.
* There was a persecution against children right after Jesus birth.
* It has been stated that one third of all children die before they are born - aborted - a persecution pre-birth?
* And the innocent affected by AIDS - orphaned and/or infected themselves - again, children.
"12 million African children have already lost one or both parents to AIDS, and unless we take serious action now, there will be more than 20 million AIDS orphans by the end of the decade. Millions of children will have lost not only their parents, but their teachers, nurses and friends too. Businesses are losing their workers, governments are losing their civil servants, families are losing their breadwinners. As a result, entire communities are devastated and economies that are already crippled by poverty, debts and unfair trade policies are further compromised. "
(ngm website, from

If you pray, please pray tonight for children in this world - valuable, precious, desired and highly esteemed by God. Each one of them IS known by him. In my sadness tonight I felt the Holy Spirit reinforce that simple (and oft-used) statement to my heart; saying "it is true, Lynn. I know each one".

Oh, that their suffering would end. Hear our cry Lord.

Luv Esther

Am off to see ngm's presentation of the story of Esther with the family tonight. Really looking forward to it and I am hoping that Boundary-Pushing Child will be ok. He had a Big Sleep today in preparation..........