Sunday, 23 March 2008

The Risen Christ Changes People!

On this joyful Easter morn, I must spare a few minutes before going to our early Easter morning Holy Communion of celebration, to ask if you heard this morning's 'Something Understood' on BBC radio? It was given over entirely to an interview with Archbishop Tutu in which he spoke powerfully about the way his firm belief throughout all the Apartheid trials that God is in charge of the world and that people can change, so that enemy can become friend.

In addition to watching 'The Passion' on BBC TV today, may I urge you to listen to the repeat of 'Something Understood' later tonight. It is a priceless jewel!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Methodists in TV News

If you’re in Britain on Good Friday morning, keep your eye on BBC Breakfast, Fox Business News and Sky News tomorrow. There will be plenty of Methodist interviewees.

Methodist President's Easter Message

20 March 2008

The really good news gospel: the Easter message from the Methodist President

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, President of the Methodist Conference, says;

“Donald English used to say that death and resurrection is not simply what happened to Jesus but is the deep movement God implants in all creation. The Christian God is a God of death and resurrection.

“Like many I have been challenged by poignant examples of death - its reality and hard consequences - and blessed by wonderful examples of resurrection - and the hope and joy it brings.

“I will never forget a conversation with a Sierra Leonian man, bearing the scars of the rebel war in the 1990’s so powerfully depicted in the recent film Blood Diamond. He thanked me fervently for bringing the gospel to his land - he talked to me as if I was one of those first Methodist missionaries to West Africa! He explained with deep emotion how he had received Christ quite recently, in the war years, and this coming to faith had enabled him to begin to forgive those who mutilated him - and, as I learned a little later, killed his wife. I was moved to tears. In all his pain and lasting disability he knew that Jesus was alive, and there was hope in his life. He knew in a deep way that the gospel of Christ truly is good news.

“More recently, when in Uganda with MRDF, I met Christian folk who have so little, who live with the reality and proximity of death and suffering in a way I do not, yet who remind me more than most of the life and hope of Christian faith. Death and resurrection belong together.

“Or I think of some friends who have died in recent times. They knew their prognosis. They lived with the stark consequences of their impending death, for themselves and especially their loved ones. And at just the time when hope might be most lacking in these dear people and those who love them, they talk of the nearness of Christ, the wonderful love and forgiveness of God, the comfort of their faith, their trust in Jesus, the salvation he freely gave and their hope of heaven. In the most traumatic situations of life, it is often those going through them who embody and make clear that the Christian gospel truly is good news.

“Death and resurrection is also evident in the life of our churches. I was at Walworth Methodist Church some weeks ago. A church with a venerable past, ‘Clubland’ had a great ministry among local youths and others in that London neighbourhood. But there came a time when almost all signs of life disappeared, and a long three days of darkness ensued. But resurrection has come and new life bursts out everywhere. Methodist Christians, young and old, many (originally) from various parts of West Africa and beyond, share life and worship that exudes the good news gospel.

“Our world lives with death and resurrection in many ways and in many places. An ‘average’ news broadcast gives cause to both weep and rejoice. In places of death and darkness we must continue to weep with those who weep and ‘look for the morning’ as people of resurrection faith and hope. With those who rejoice in life and hope we must celebrate and point to God, the giver of it all.

“Our Easter faith is not death or resurrection, it is death and resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is not a reversal of death. It is much more than that. The risen Jesus is known by the scars of crucifixion. He is the Living One Who Died. But now he is alive forever. And, marvellously, he stands today with this needy world in the reality of death and the promise of new life. This ministry he shares with us, his Easter People Church, a people bearing the marks of both death and new life. A people who know and live out the profound truth that death and resurrection life both lie deep in the purposes of God, in whom all things will be well. Alleluia!”


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Appeal for the poor of India

Mericristal writes -

I have gone through your blog. Here I am with one more christian charity. C.O.T.R. College of ministries & N.T.C of India.India focused mission engaged in church planting, pastor training, education, and humanitarian efforts. This organization is help for the poor people.if any body want to help for the poor people please visit

19 March 2008 05:00

I felt that this appeal needed more prominence, so that visitors to my blog can respond more easily - and especially so that we can all support this vital Christian ministry by our prayers. We send our Christian greetings to you all in India this joyful Eastertide and may God bless your work richly.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Press Reviews and Viewing Figures of 'The Passion'

Reviews of last night’s episode of The Passion have been generally good. Here are a few extracts…

Daily Express - Page 15 - Hickey - Fresh from plaudits which are already pouring in for his portrayal of Jesus in BBC 1's new drama The Passion which began last night, actor Joseph Mawle is preparing to star in a new play with a similarly Biblical theme at Islington's Almeida Theatre.

The Times - T 2 Page 19 - Greatest Story Told Again - Joseph Mawle, the hard of hearing actor from Soundproof, plays him as meek, mild and hangdog, as self-questioning as Hamlet. That had to be wrong. If He did not believe He was 100 per cent He was right how could He have persuaded everyone else? I longed for the panache of Dennis Potter, who took a grip of this story in his 1969 Play For Today: Son Of Man and made Jesus a political revolutionary. But the proof of the Passion will undoubtedly be its crucifixion scene.

The Independent - Extra Page 22 - Last Weekend's TV - Don't Pass Over This Easter Treat - If you believe Christ is your redeemer I can't so far see anything in The Passion that would have affronted that faith. And if you don't, its account of the politics of a week that was crucial in world history proved surprisingly gripping.

The Guardian - G2 Page 31 - The Easter story goes real-time in the BBC's down and dirty new adaptation - and it's brilliant. There's a vitality and realness about the whole thing that you rarely find with this story. A passion, you could even say, in another sense of the word.

The Guardian - G2 - Page 31 - picture - You could watch The Passion and totally forget that this story was central to a major world religion. And that's good.

Daily Telegraph - Page 30 - The Weekend On Television - A faithful retelling? - The programme provided exactly the kind of intelligent and engaging drama you'd expect from a series written by Frank Deasy and produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark.

Daily Star - Mike Ward On Telly - I must confess the whole thing goes way over my head. Try as I might during last night's opening episode, I couldn't see beyond a load of identical-looking beardy blokes in bits of old sack.

Daily Express - Page 51 - Television Express - Gritty take on Easter epic - A lavish enterprise with the production values of a feature film and a cast of known faces from the small screen who fit remarkably well into grimy biblical garb, it is clearly a serious attempt to set the Passion story in a convincing historical context, aiming at believers and not-believers alike.

Viewing Figures
The audience for episode 1 was 4.1 million. That is, to be really frank, a bit disappointing. But the big problem was that ITV chose to schedule against it in order to knock the audience. They ran the final of Dancing on Ice, which got an audience of 11.9 million. Even Eastenders, which was on immediately before The Passion, got a lower than usual audience because of Dancing on Ice. Such is show business!

The good news is that the BBC are running an omnibus of The Passion on Easter Sunday at 2.15 on BBC1. So people who have missed some or all of it can watch the whole thing in a run. The final episode is now confirmed for 7.30pm on Easter Sunday.

The popularity of Dancing on Ice is no doubt the main reason for lower than expected viewing figures, but a number of regular church-goers to whom I spoke last week were not intending to watch this new drama because "after all, we know the ending". I thought that it was a pity that they could not appreciate this opportunity to gain a greater understanding of at least the historical context. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch this first episode from the beginning because we had an unusually long evening service with a newly-returned mission partner as visiting preacher and it was quite late by the time I reached home. So I found it difficult to identify the characters and even in parts to follow the plot. I shall therefore be eager to watch episode 1 again on Easter Sunday. Thank you BBC.

Marking the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War on 19 March

I have contemplating recently the length of time that has elapsed since the start of the war in Iraq and all that has happened there since then. How could any of us have imagined that five years on our troops would still be out there trying to bring peace to Iraq, and what it has cost us as a nation both monetarily and in terms of those who have lost their lives (on both sides of the war). So I was glad to read this Press Release from the UK Methodist Church and to share it with you.


17 March, 2008

Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice: “The war in Iraq has been far more costly in terms of lives lost than anyone could have imagined. We are acutely aware of the appalling death toll of Iraqi civilians as the country struggles to contain the violence. We are mindful of British troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Chaplains who serve alongside them. We are aware of the costly service that they undertake. Our hearts go out to all families who have lost loved ones in the past five years.

“The kidnapping and tragic death of Archbishop Rahho illustrates the extreme danger faced by Christians and other minorities in Iraq today. We are enormously concerned for the Iraqi Christian community and will continue to uphold them in our prayers.

“Following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq many more people now question whether the invasion was justified and whether this was the only course open to us. It is right that such questions should still be asked today. Iraq has shown us that a military response that seeks to exert control can easily bring further chaos. We need to learn lessons regarding the role of diplomacy, the relationship between the intelligence services and government policy-making and the importance of regional alliances in addressing conflict and post-conflict reconstruction.

“The UK must continue to work with the people of Iraq and offer support. We would ask those with influence to consider how regional powers might be brought together to work on solutions and how to provide security for minorities. We also need to consider how external powers can best help to foster national reconciliation and strengthen political institutions in Iraq.”

For those unfamiliar with the Methodist Church, I would like to share with you th statement 'Our Calling' that lies behind the above statement on the war in Iraq:-

About The Methodist Church
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches serving Great Britain, with nearly 300,000 members and regular contact with over 800,000 people. It has about 5,800 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million. Its activities, both alone and with ecumenical and secular partners, are based on four aims known as Our Calling:

To increase awareness of God's presence and to celebrate God's love
To help people to grow and learn as Christians through mutual support and care
To be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice
To make more followers of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Excitement to read Bible stories in own language!

Yesterday a fellow member of our church, some years younger than me, said,'I don't see any need to learn to use e-mail. I've managed this far without it!' Well, all I can say is that it has been a great blessing to me. It has brought me friends whom I have never met and am never likely to meet because of the distance between us. This email that arrived this morning is such an example. It has brought me such joy to have this insight into the work of Bible translation and the effect it has on its recipients. I do hope you too will enjoy hearing this report.

Fosters’ Communiqué

Since we last wrote an exciting thing has happened; a direct answer to your prayers and ours. In our communications with you, we shared about helping the Hutterite endeavor to bring God’s Word to the Hutterite people. Even though we have been assigned as part of that team, our actual involvement has been more behind the scenes. Here is the latest exciting news sent to us by our co-worker, Dick Mueller, who has spear-headed this endeavor.

Dick writes:

"Last Tuesday evening, at about 7:30 P.M. the first volume of six Hutterisch Bible stories arrived in Linda Maendel's house. Linda is my Hutterite coworker in Elm River colony in Manitoba. We opened the box and we each grabbed a book and started looking at it. Shortly we gave Linda's mom, Asnath a copy. She is in her 70's. She had read little, if any, Hutterisch previously. We asked her to read the book aloud. She began reading aloud, and continued to read until she had finished the 180 page book, about 10 or 15 minutes later. When others came into the house we gave them a book and asked them to read aloud, and they did.

"The next morning we went to the school, and in a little while Linda gave the books to the three 6th to 8th graders.

"They immediately each began reading, Shaniah silently, and Damion and Caleb aloud simultaneously on different pages. They read lickety-split, seemingly not even taking any time to look at the beautiful color pictures on each page. Occasionally one of them asked Linda about the pronunciation of a word. About a third of the way through the book Damion said, "I want one!," and kept reading ‘till each of them finished the book. After they finished, we asked them which language could they read and understand better? Damion answered, "Hutterisch, because that is my language."

"On Thursday afternoon in Baker Colony, the colony where our publisher, The Hutterian Brethren Book Centre is located, we visited Frances, a Hutterite English teacher who teaches Hutterite high school English by closed circuit TV for students in 25 colonies. She was about at the end of her class, so we asked her to show the Bible Story book to her students. She did, and then read a few pages for them. Then she found out that I was one of the authors of the book, so she asked me to come on the TV and be interviewed. She asked about my role as a linguist for this book, and to explain what a linguist does. Then her students made comments, and asked a couple questions. We were thrilled to be able to show and tell about the book to students in about 14 colonies, some as far away as Minnesota, near Minneapolis.

"We are praising the Lord for allowing the book to get this far. Please now pray for the distribution of the book to many colonies. Also pray for Tony Waldner, Hutterite educator and Martin Knauber, another SIL co-worker in the project, as they work on the Hutterisch New Testament. Tony now has Matthew, Mark and Luke in 1st draft. Pray for them as they work to assemble a translation checking committee of Hutterite leaders. Also please pray for them as they will be meeting with Linda, that they will be able to come to a consensus about details on how we should spell Hutterisch."

Thanks for your prayers for us and for allowing us to be your representatives to a world that still needs Christ.

We appreciate each one of you that God has brought in to be part of our ministry team.

Phil Foster

Friday, 14 March 2008


A Christian debt-counselling charity has beaten competition from hundreds of other companies to win the Sunday Times award for ‘best small company to work for’. Christians Against Poverty operates from 67 centres across the country with headquarters located in Bradford. Some 97 per cent of staff said the company’s quality of management was good or excellent. Chief executive Matt Barlow said, ‘We are a passionate organisation and have a real vision to see churches empowered and lives changed.’ Staff are involved in strategic decisions and also enjoy seeing the results of their work in people’s lives. Personal growth opportunities were also rated excellent by 95 per cent of the charity’s workers.

Source: Church Times (14/3)

Repeat Viewings of BBC1's 'The Passion'

"I'm not sure that I'm going to watch it!" said a very staunch church member to me this morning. Let's face it, 'The Passion' will not be cosy, easy viewing if it is to be a true depiction of the sufferings of Jesus, so I can understand any reluctance on the part of practicing Christians to suffer this new production of 'the Passion'. Yet it is being shown at peak viewing times, just after Eastenders, which means that in the days that follow it will be in the thoughts and conversations of millions of people who do not come to church.

If Christians do NOT watch 'The Passion', how can they talk about it confidently with their neighbours - thus losing an opportunity to answer criticisms (if any) or to share their faith in a natural context. So I am glad to pass on this message from Methodist Church House telling us that the BBC has decided to repeat the first 3 episodes en bloc on Easter Sunday afternoon. We have a Gospel to proclaim! Let us be ready to do so this Easter, so that others may hear God speaking and respond.

Easter Sunday scheduling
The BBC has announced that episodes 1,2 and 3 of The Passion will be repeated en bloc on Easter Sunday 23rd March at 2.15pm after the Eastenders Omnibus. This is intended for all those who've missed it during the week or would like to catch up.

The final episode, dealing with the resurrection appearances, will then transmit at 7.30pm

Follow-up material
The team at have produced some fabulous resources to back up the series, including exclusive interviews. They are intended as a source for those who would like to go a step further in exploring faith. Please have a look, and if you can do anything at this stage to publicise that link, please do so.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Great Grub!

Some of you know that I am still mourning the loss of the blogging connections I had made in the years when I used Modblog as a server, so I've been looking to see what I had saved before Modblog went out of action. This is one of my favourites - and well worth repeating, though in 4 years Bible translation has gone from strength to strength.

""We'll prepare a caterpillar feast when you come to Congo!" Anzabati, a fellow student in Nairobi would promise me. Eventually, after he returned home to the Democratic Republic, I visited him and enjoyed the promised feast. With a triumphant air, Anzabati's wife produced a pot of brown smoked caterpillars. Everyone grinned as I took the plunge. The verdict: chewy and grainy, but good.

There was much food for thought at a translation workshop I then joined. People from three language groups were being trained to work on Luke's Gospel, the first Scripture in their languages. Luke often mentions food!

In Chapter 11, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for 'daily bread'. Not easy to translate for people who've never tasted bread! After 12 years of war and economic collapse, Wheat flour is scarce so most children have no idea what bread is. If the translators use the word 'bread', younger readers won't understand. If they substitute 'food', people who know the French Bible may object that it changes the original.

Then Jesus asks, "If your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake?" implying that no-one would, but a Congolese father might! Snake meat is commonly eaten and is a great source of protein. If there was no fish, a caring dad could well provide snake instead. So this question doesn't make sense! One translator suggested using 'chameleon'. That would make the point loud and clear. Chameleons are taboo creatures, hated, feared and avoided. Of course you wouldn't give your child a chameleon to eat!
Sarah Casson

[This is taken from the Wycliffe Bible Translators' May-June 2004 issue of 'Call to Prayer'.]

Monday, 10 March 2008

Genesis and China

The Chinese word for ‘create’ is made up of the pictures for mud, life and someone walking. Their word for ‘devil’ is made up of a man, a garden, and the picture for secret. So the devil is a secret person in the garden.

Their word for ‘tempter’ is made up of the word for ‘devil’ plus two trees and the picture for cover. Their word for ‘boat’ is made up of container, mouth and eight, so a boat in the Chinese language is a vessel for eight people, as was Noah’s ark.

We can construct the whole of Genesis 1-11 from the picture language of China. When these people first arrived in China, therefore, they believed in one God, the maker of heaven and earth.

It was only after Confucius and Buddha that they got involved in idolatry. The Chinese language is an independent confirmation from outside the Bible that these things happened and were carried in the memories of people scattered at Babel, who then settled in China.

David Pawson

Amazing Progress of easyBibles!

I continue to be amazed at the speed with which the easyBibles project grows as it sets up teams all over the world to work together to produce easyBibles in their local languages (using a limited vocabulary). These are invaluable for those whose reading capacity is limited for any reason and especially for Deaf people throughout the world. If you have not previously heard of this work, I urge you to check the easyBibles website regularly and join with those of us who are regularly giving our prayer support to this exciting work. I hope you will be as thrilled as I am to read the latest update from the Coordinator:-

"Dear friends - The acceleration in interest in January has increased
still further in February and March - praise God.
My travel plans for May 30th till June 18th are fixed with Ethiopia
then Malawi and possibly Zambia.

There was no Feb update - and these monthly updates will become less
frequent because several times each week, i change the website and particularly the 'Prayer Update' on it. So
please check this for your prayer information.

The latest big news is that with the arrival of easyIndonesian and
easyRussian, we're now encouraging work in the TOP TEN LANGUAGES OF
THE WORLD - Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic,
Bengali, Portuguese, Malay - Indonesian and French. Some of these have
just started and one or two are quite weak - but we're getting there.
The majority on the next 16 languages on are
also being tackled. And many important others - Swahili, Luganda,
Luo...are moving forward strongly. To date there are over 70 projects
under way.

In India, we rejoice to have the work being led by senior members of
the Friends' Missionary Prayer Band - starting with easyTamil.


EasyTagalog has arrived from Manila - but in blue biro - making
scanning difficult - but this good pastor and i shall get there soon.

I hope soon for easyUrdu and easyPunjabi from Pakistan and my American
friends who successfully introduced me to an easyRussian writer in the
Ukraine has mentioned friends to start easyHebrew, Farsi (Iran) and
Arabic (so far we only have some easyJuba Arabic).

More is on the web.

God bless,
martin & jenny"

Friday, 7 March 2008

BBC1s "The Passion" - DVD and Educational Materials

Because I have seen either no coverage on blogs, or only half-hearted coverage of the BBC1 prdoction of the new drama "The Passion" that will be shown at peak times during Holy Week, I wanted to give you the chance to read what the author and producer have to say about it. You can find the following on , together with other information.

"The Passion is a bold event drama, retelling the last week in the life of Jesus Christ and written by Emmy Award winner Frank Deasy (Prime Suspect 7). The Passion will be shown throughout Holy Week on BBC ONE, drawing to a dramatic climax on Easter Sunday.

Joseph Mawle (Jesus), James Nesbitt (Pontius Pilate), Paul Nicholls (Judas), Ben Daniels (Caiaphas), Penelope Wilton (Mary), Denis Lawson (Annas) and David Oyelowo (Joseph of Arimathea) lead the cast in this unique and compelling dramatisation.

Visually arresting and rich in colour, the story is rooted in the chaotic world in which it took place - the city of Jerusalem during Passover week. Set in the political and religious context of the time, it combines both narrative tension and thematic power to convey the events that took place that week.

The Passion places the audience at the heart of the action by telling the story from three points of view - the religious authorities, the Romans and Jesus. For the first time, all the key players are intimately characterised, with Jesus (Joseph Mawle) at the centre. The drama begins with Jesus' prophetic entrance through the East Gate, following him to his crucifixion and its startling aftermath.

Jane Tranter, Controller BBC Fiction, says: "The Passion is an example of BBC Drama's commitment to deliver ambitious and distinctive projects. It is a privilege to be making such a major piece of drama from the brilliant Frank Deasy, directed by Michael Offer (The State Within) with an amazing cast."

Award-winning producer Nigel Stafford-Clark (Bleak House) says: "The Passion is a gripping, multi-stranded dramatisation of not just the most familiar but arguably the greatest story ever told. Both truthful and simple - it gives it back to the audience in a way that will feel as fresh, contemporary and surprising as if it were happening for the first time."

The series will be available on DVD at a later date. Bible Society is producing a pack of educational materials to accompany the series for use in schools, churches and adult education. It is legal to record the broadcast for your personal use, but it is illegal to use that copy for public display.

Broadcast dates and times
Episode 1: Sunday 16 March, at 20:00 on BBC ONE
Episode 2: Monday 17 March, at 20:30 on BBC ONE
Episode 3: Friday 21 March, at 21:00 on BBC ONE
Episode 4: Sunday 23 March, time TBA, on BBC ONE"

I do hope that you will watch this drama, form your own opinion of its presentation, and then discuss it with orhers, while sharing your own faith at the same time. Chair of the Media Council, Revd Dr Joel Edwards said, ‘From time to time opportunities arise nationally that provide significant moments for the Christian faith to engage with our culture. This is one such opportunity.’

I shall be away for a week immediately after Easter Sunday but will look for comments on my return.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Literacy Work in Cameroon - Vacancies

The Wycliffe Bible Translators announce that there are places available in the August 2008 Team to Cameroon.

This is a fantastic opportunity to further develop a strong continuing link between Transform and the Ndop cluster project. The team will assist a literacy project, working alongside local Cameroonians to develop the first reading books in several local languages. They will also have lots of opportunities to engage with the local church and community.

There are still places on the August team going to NW Cameroon - closing date for applications 31 March. For further information and application form please go to

Don't miss BBC1's "The Passion"!

The TV showing of "The Passion" at peak viewing times during Holy Week should start people talking about Jesus and the Gospel. It is important that Christians should not only watch this pure drama (not theological) version of the Passion so that they can be ready to correct wrong impressions (if there are any) and to join in the discussions so that others may be led, in time, into true comitment as disciples of Jesus.

Episode 1

Palm Sunday 16th March, BBC ONE, 8pm

It's Passover in Jerusalem, and the city is bursting with pilgrims. It's a tense time for those charged with keeping order - like Pilate the Roman Prefect and Caiaphas the High Priest. The arrival of a preacher from Galilee called Jesus causes great excitement when he enters through the East Gate on a donkey's colt, fulfilling prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. For Jesus' band of disciples, hardened by several years on the road, this is the moment they've been waiting for, but none of them suspects how momentous this week will be.

Episode 2

Monday 17th March, BBC ONE, 8.30pm (after Eastenders)

Caiaphas is growing increasingly anxious that Jesus' preaching will provoke unrest and bring in the Romans, and when Jesus appears to threaten the Temple it's the final straw. As Jesus tries to explain his destiny to the disciples, Caiaphas calls a council and presents it with a stark choice. With Passover approaching, a fateful decision is taken, and Judas finds himself placed in an impossible position.

Episode 3

Good Friday 21st March, BBC ONE, 8.30pm (after Question of Sport)

Jesus shares his Last Supper with the disciples, and teaches them their last and most important lesson. Whilst Judas slips away to fetch the Temple guards, Jesus leads the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and tries to prepare himself for what is to come. The next few hours will bring him face to face with Caiaphas, with Pilate and with his own destiny.

Episode 4

Easter Sunday 23rd March, BBC ONE, time TBC (around 8pm)

As Jesus is taken from the cross and buried, his disciples cower in hiding. Caiaphas, fearful that the body will be stolen, orders the tomb to be guarded. But when Mary Magdalene discovers it empty, a chain of events is about to begin that will transform the lives of the disciples and reverberate throughout the world for the next two thousand years.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Breakout 'goes beyond' in 2008

Since the young people of our church usually go to Breakout each year, I have great pleasure in drawing your attention to what will be happening at this year's gathering of 'Breakout' at Cliff College.

"Thousands of young people will gather in July to go “beyond” with long-running event Breakout. Organised by MAYC, Breakout will run from 11-13 July at Cliff College in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Breakout is for all young people in year seven or above at school. In 2008 the weekend will be based on the theme of “going beyond.” Mike Seaton, National Secretary for MAYC, says that this includes “going beyond what people have tried before, whether that is in sport, art or worship. It means looking beyond our own lives to parts of our communities and society we usually ignore. It means going beyond our expectations of what a weekend away can be.”

As well as the usual sporting, worship and social activities, Breakout will also offer chances for people to make their voices heard. The organisers are applying for a community radio license, so that groups will be able to take turns broadcasting to the site." 28/02/08

Gaza - Ceasefire NOW

You will have been watching, with growing concern, the recent flare-up in the Middle-East which threatens all attempts to bring peace to the region. You may therefore wish to add your name to this petition for a ceasefire, and to pray more earnestly for an end to such bloodshed.

"Dear friends,

The Gaza-Israel crisis is out of control. It's come to this: bloody full-scale invasion, or a cease-fire. With rockets raining down on both sides, Israel launched a ground assault into the Gaza Strip this weekend. Three Israelis and over a hundred Palestinians, many of them civilians and children, lie dead already. The next 48 hours are crucial -- Israel's cabinet will discuss a larger invasion Wednesday. But Hamas floated a Gaza ceasefire months ago, and 64% of Israelis support the idea.

Both sides know they are in a battle for global legitimacy, and we need a massive global outcry for a cease-fire now -- sign the emergency petition below, then forward this message to friends and family. We will deliver our petition to senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week, as well as in a major billboard campaign:

Citizens on both sides are desperate for safety. Many experts believe that without a ceasefire to stabilize Gaza, there is no chance for achieving a comprehensive peace and a fair two-state deal. While the US still maintains no-one must talk to Hamas, Israel itself has begun to break that taboo, and public reports and our own contacts indicate that European and Arab officials now support a Gaza ceasefire.

Like the Hezbollah-Israel war of 2006, this conflict is spinning out of control. Just as it did then, international pressure can help achieve a ceasefire today. The combatants take public opinion very seriously. So let's send a united global message to the warring parties to stop the violence -- sign the petition and spread the word today:"

Church Unity on Gambling

As I have already posted, I am glad and proud to be a Methodist when the Methodist Church, with others, has been so influential in cancelling the proposed supercasino for Manchester, which would have caused much misery in that city. It has been good to see the way that the Methodist Church with the Salvation Army have been working to change the laws on gambling, so I am very dismayed to learn that the law will now allow the betting shops to open on Good Friday, even though there will be no horse racing. Very often it is those who can ill afford to lose money who become addicted to gambling, with dire consequencies. You can read more of this in Richard Hall's post (

This Labour Government has much to answer for and that includes its advocate of all-night opening for pubs which has done nothing to curb binge drinking but has increased drink-related crime between 3am and 6am and the associated neighbourhood diturbances - but that's another story.

None of us wants our Methodist Church and its people to be known as killjoys (which is the opposite of the truth!) and we are very grateful to our leaders who make such difficult decisions ou our behalf.

The Anglican Church is also showing its concern about the detrimental effects that gambling can have and, speaking on their behalf is a good friend of mine Philip Giddings. So I'm repeating what I posted as a comment, in case it was overlooked earlier:-


Calls for the gambling industry to do more to help fund treatment for problem gamblers were made by the Church of England this week. As the Government abandoned plans for a supercasino in Manchester, Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, asked politicians to go a step further – by warning the £10-billion-a-year gambling industry that it could be subject to a statutory levy to go towards the care of problem gamblers. Out of 3,800 licensed operators, just 360 have contributed to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, Dr Giddings said. ‘The Government has eased restrictions on their industry, so the least they could do is to show responsibility in funding research into and treatment of the side-effects.’

Source: Christian Today (28/2) "

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Illegal Custody in Sri Lanka

I am printing this letter which has come to me so that you may be aware of the tense situation in Sri Lanka and to give you the chance to help by your action and/or prayers.

“I am a ministerial candidate of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka and am presently studying at the Theological College of Lanka, Pilimatalawa. I was shocked to hear of an incident concerning my brother and brother-in-law.

On 30/1/2008 my brother, Mr. Thevaraj Pakiyarasa, and my brother-in-law, Mr. Sudarshan Selvarajah, were taken into custody by the Narahenpitiye Police on suspicion while they had gone to collect the passport of Mr. Thevaraj at the Passport Office in Borella. They had both come out of the Passport Office as they had been asked to collect the passport in the evening. So my brother-in-law suggested that they visited one of his friends who is working in Colombo. Unfortunately, they were then taken into police custody on suspicion.

They have shown their identity cards and explained to the Police why they had come to Colombo. But the Police keep on asking what has happened to the other person whom the Police believe had travelled with them, even though the two travelled on their own. The two have told the Police that only they came to Colombo to get a passport. However, theya re still kept in Police custody without any further interrogation. My brother is married and they have one son aged just six months.

These two men are entirely innocent and are being kept in custody without any accusation or charge. I feel that keeping people in custody in these circumstances is a violation of their human rights. My paents are unable to travel such a distance to visit every week because of financial difficulties. I humbly request you to take the necessary action to get them released without delay.”

Brother P. Arulraj