Abolish Slavery Again

The British government is being put under pressure by Christians to opt into the EU Directive on Human Trafficking. And this is not very long after so many of us were celebrating the end to the transatlantic slavery trade which to this day is a shameful memory for this country.

Three debates were held in Westminster this week which highlighted specific issues surrounding Government policy in relation to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking, which CARE for Europe has been working on. The debates also promoted awareness of the Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October.

To read more about how CARE contributed to the debates and to view parts of them online, please go here.

I thank God that enough parliamentarians care so deeply about this issue, and that many have used the opportunity to raise it before government ministers. I pray that the Human Trafficking Directive would be finalised in such a way as to make it possible for the UK Government to opt into it in its final form.

Maryam and Marzieh Acquitted

Fantastic answer to prayer – Maryam and Marzieh have been acquitted of all charges by the Iranian judicial authorities. However, they were warned that any future Christian activity in Iran would be seriously dealt with.

On Saturday 22nd May they left Iran and arrived safely in another country.

Maryam and Marzieh have sent a message of thanks to Christians who have been praying for them. “We are most grateful to everyone who prayed for us,” Marzieh said, “I have no doubt that God heard the prayers of His people.” Maryam added, “I believe our arrest, imprisonment and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory. But the prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal.”

How awful for the Christians that remain there and are not allowed freedom to serve the risen Jesus.

Maryam and Marzieh Court Hearing

Maryam and Marzieh’s Court Hearing has been set for Tuesday next, 13 April.

They need our prayer. They spent 259 days in prison for their Christian faith.  After their conditional release on 18th November 2009 from Iran’s Evin Prison, they have been convalescing and receiving medical treatment for the past five months.

Both of them still remain unwell. they are still weak and suffering from various illnesses.  However, despite their frailties they are determined to be faithful to the Lord and speak the truth in court whatever the consequence or personal cost.

On their behalf, the request is being distributed that during the next five days leading up to their court Christians pray for them.

Pray that:

  • The peace of God will protect their hearts and minds and keep them safe.
  • They will completely recover from their illnesses and be strong physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • They will know the presence of God in the midst of their trial.
  • They will be set free.

In a communication I have received it says that Maryam & Marzieh would like to express their heartfelt gratitude for the prayers that have sustained them throughout their hardship.

To see my previous posts about this faithful pair of believers, put ‘Maryam’ in the search field on the right.

My Problems are Nothing

My present problems are nothing when compared to those of others in Zimbabwe.

I am in the office once again dealing with emails concerning the business of running a church and communicating with other leaders, sorting the agenda for a meeting on Thursday, then an email comes in.

It is from Juliet, asking for prayer for her cousins in Zimbabwe. I didn’t know she had cousins there. It turns out they are Christians simply trying to do the right thing where they live.

“Mike is in and out of consciousness,” she says in her email. “Angie’s arm broken in two places, after the beatings they were urinated on by everyone.”

I looked a the Times article with horror. And this is 30 years after the same forces martyred the Elim missionaries.

Oh Lord, Zimbabwe!

A Sinner is More Music

At church on Sunday we heard from someone who had come to the end of her first week after having been baptised with the Holy Spirit.

Dianna was not sure she had received the Spirit so she came to me the Sunday before and I prayed for her. I am not sure what she had expected but I explained that we don’t need something emotional (like the priests of Baal in their challenge with Elijah), but a simple, calm, prayer of faith in the promise of Jesus.

I find it interesting that many Christians are familiar with what is known as the Lord’s Prayer, yet without knowing the context which gives it meaning. You will see in the gospel of Luke in chapter 11 that Jesus begins with that great prayer and then goes on to teach the need for persistence in prayer for .. for what!? The answer is found in verse 13 when Jesus says, “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

I liked Dianna’s simple account of her experience. You can hear it on the York Elim church website as it takes up the first few minutes of John’s sermon. You will hear that even as a new Christian, recently baptised in water, the Spirit has given her some understanding of what her prayer language is for and what it will do in her.

Dianna mentioned that the Holy Spirit was praying through her. It reminds me of the poem by John Donne called ‘A Sinner is More Music’:

Hear us, O hear us Lord; to thee,
A sinner is more music, when he prays,
Than spheres, or Angels’ praises be,
In Panegyric Alleluias;
Hear us, for till thou hear us, Lord
We know not what to say;
Thine ear to’ our sighs, tears, thoughts give
voice and word.
O Thou who Satan heard’st in Job’s sick day
Hear Thyself now, for thou in us dost pray.

Lewis

Today it is early March and the country is being hit by severe storms. Like the last clinging grasp of what has seemed a long winter.

Last night I watched a recorded episode of ‘Lewis‘ (the successor to ‘Morse’).

The reasons for watching Lewis/Morse are many but include the visual delight of old Oxford stone and summer sun. Especially, at this time of the year, the summer sun (it always seems to be filmed in summer).

It reminded me of how brief summers seem when they are over, how wonderful the long days are yet how quickly taken for granted until they are gone.

Last week I did the funeral for my cousin Jackie, a lovely lady. It is times like that I am reminded how so many good things are easily taken for granted, people, moments, places..

Perhaps this lesson is something I should use to enhance my worship. I must learn to hold the moment, enjoy the good company and long summer days, then thank, wonder and worship. Perhaps that is one of the meaning of Ephesians 5:16 where we are told to be “making the most of every opportunity” or “redeeming the time” as the AV has it.

Today I will endeavour to hang on to the moments. To hold them and worship.

See my recent post ‘See like and Artist‘ for more thoughts on worship.

See Like an Artist

It is not unusual for a Christian to consider ways to enhance their experience of worship.  Something that is so satisfying (a mystery to those who have not yet met Jesus) seems to hold out the promise of more and better.

Seeking the ‘more’ in worship seemed to be something on the mind of the Samaritan woman at the well mentioned in John’s gospel, chapter four. Jesus told her, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

Recently in a cell group I asked people to tell of a recent moment of joy, a time when something rose within them and they felt wonder or joy. Most spoke of seeing something such as sunshine through trees, frost early in the day, etc. By seeing things in a different way, and because they were Christians, they had felt worship rising within them.

I wonder, if we could deliberately try to see things differently like an artist sees things, would it help us to be better or more spontaneous worshippers?

Not all Christians are artists but seeing things like an artist sees them can lift our worship. An artist sees something that all can see, yet recognises there is still more.

Dan Price is an artist in the USA and he illustrates the point I am making. He seems to be able see ordinary things and find beauty and wonder in them. He sells journals of his drawings of the simplest of things, things many would not even notice. See the video about him first then visit his website to see what I mean.

I want to see what others miss. I want to wonder and thank and worship. I want to be better at giving God the worship he deserves.