I've been giving a lot of thought to the recent riots and disorder that occurred in Blighty whilst I was there. The two events were unconnected by the way! I've read many theories about them, watched many news items about them and still am left dazed and confused. There really was no rhyme or reason for what transpired. The initial riot in Tottenham after the fatal shooting of the man in the taxi was kind of understandable and in itself was nothing particularly exceptional. What was unprecedented, at least in my life time, was the way so many 'riots' then randomly sprang up right across the country. None of them were related to the shooting incident but rather appeared to random acts of looting and vandalism in a copy-cat style. Whatever they were and whatever the cause, I was left feeling like a foreigner in my own land.

So as I've reflected on what happened I've come to the realisation that we'll probably never know what really sparked the disorder but what we do know is that society in all its forms has failed to address the needs of many on the fringes of it. Sadly I have to include the church in there!

However, the church now has a fantastic opportunity to stand up and make a difference in the 
communities ripped apart by the disorder and across the rest of the country and the world.

For years Christians and the church have been sidelined and marginalised to the point that we've been backed into a corner. Society has demanded nominalism of the church and by and large the church has been happy to comply. Possibly because having been backed into a corner there's nowhere left to go so it's just easier to give in and give up. Obviously there are exceptions, just look at the likes of the Eden Project run by the Message Trust, but these things are the exception not the norm.

The church finds itself in a position where there is now nothing to lose. We can't be backed any further into the corner so why not stand up and declare the truth of the gospel loud and proud so that everyone can hear it!

Politics have failed! Economics have failed! Philosophy has failed! Religion has failed! 
none of these things have anything to offer. They have all contributed to the collapse 
and moral decay which is so prevalent in society.

On My Way Home

By the time you read this I should be safely aboard my flight home, hopefully taxi-ing down the runway and just twelve hours from seeing my amazing wife. I'll have to wait 'til school turns out to hug my boys but it'll be worth the wait!

If I've not managed to speak to you during this flying visit to Blighty please don't be offended or take it personally as it's been quite a hectic time with lots of meetings etc.

The main purpose of my visit was to negotiate our exit from Crosslinks with a view to ensuring that we leave them well after an amazing 12 years serving in mission together. Hopefully you received a letter from Crosslinks this morning but if not you should receive it tomorrow. All I can say of my visit with John to Crosslinks is "job done".  I'm very grateful to God for the manner in which we've been able to leave the organisation and very grateful to to Andy Lines and Giles Rawlinson for their patience and grace as we negotiated our way through some potentially tricky stuff.

Paul exhorts us in Philippians 1:27 "whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" and we've all held true to this scripture.

So I'm on my way home ready and excited for the challenges ahead. It's been a very rocky road with many a speed hump to get to this point but we know that we're where God wants us to be and in the midst of his purposes for our lives. We hope and pray that you'll continue with us in this journey.

Having been in Blighty for almost a week now I'm feeling like a true foreigner far from home. This land that I once loved so deeply seems hellbent on ripping itself to shreds. I'm not just referring to the senseless looting and violence but how society here has become so deeply divided between the haves and the have nots. The looting and violence is totally senseless but questions must be asked as to how and why it happened. What allows young people to ignore any sense of inhibition, leading them to commit acts of violence and theft and to then boast about it? As a parent I'm also horrified that there are families whose 9 & 10 year olds are participating in all of this.

This is a society in which bankers were allowed to get away with making millions for themselves and then when it all came crashing down looked to the taxpayer to shore things up. Once this was done the bankers got back to making money for themselves and enjoying big bonuses. Meanwhile the average guy on the street was being asked to take a wage cut or lose his job. Somehow things haven't felt very fair.

A change of government has done little to address the failings of the previous bunch but rather have had to look at ways of addressing the economic mess. Rather than taxing their friends in the banks and financial industry and asking them to pay for much of the mess they looked to the pockets of the workers.

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We love this sort of thing... you only have to flick through the local rag and see your amazing Chris Nissen women doing yet more good work! Not content with 'just' caring for patients in the community they are also busy knitting socks and other things for those who don't have a lot in these cold winter months. This picture comprises 3 of the HOPE carers; one live-in carer in the form of a patient's wife; 1 former patient and a family member of one of our church members amongst others!!

It just warms our hearts!!

Beach

One of the joys we share is being able to pray together on a Monday morning straight after having dropped the boys off at school.

It really is an immense privilege!

We were reflecting this morning on just how faithful God has been in answering our prayers, especially in the time since the church stopped in January. Many times we've found ourselves on the beach on a Monday morning with things seemingly falling down around us or we've been at a real crossroad not knowing which way to go or what was about to happen and yet His faithfulness through all of this has been incredible!

I'm going to miss this privilege of praying on the beach for the next 3 weeks but can't wait to be there with Paula again ASAP. Thankfully simply praying is in itself an equally immense privilege so even though I'll miss the beach I'll still be talking with my Father!