Pray For London

Posted: January 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

London in Focus

Over the past 500 years, since the Reformation first came to Britain, London has acted as a hub for the spread of the gospel, not only in Britain but around the world. Yet today London represents one of the neediest mission cities in the western world. FIEC’s London Director, Trevor Archer, elaborates.

London in Focus primary image

As author Bill Bryson put it in his travel book Notes from a Small Island(published by HarperCollins, 1995), “I can never understand why Londoners fail to see that they live in the most wonderful city in the world.”

As a 2000-year-old city dating back to the Roman invasion of Britain around the time of Christ, London is now regarded as a leading global centre for trade and technology, the arts and academia, learning and leisure. It welcomes a staggering 14 million foreign visitors every year.

With around 8.5 million residents, it represents about 12.5% of the total UK population – larger than the combined population of Scotland and Wales.

Every year, the population grows as people from around the world are drawn to this metropolis of diversity and opportunity, and it is expected to reach over 9 million inhabitants by 2030.

Stark contrasts

London is a multicultural, multi-ethnic smorgasbord of 300 languages, with almost half of the population being non-white, Asian or African. When surveyed about their religion for the 2011 National Census, 20% said they had no religion, 12% said they were Muslim, 5% Hindu, 2% Jewish and 1% Buddhist.

The capital is also a ‘young’ city, with around 60% of the population aged under 40, and 32% under 24. It is also a city of stark contrasts between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, indulgence and indifference, beauty and ugliness, suburban comfort and urban deprivation.

It is estimated that no more than 3% of Great Britain’s population is composed of Bible-believing Christians. In London, the presence of many large Black and Asian-majority churches swells that percentage to around 5%. This means that even the most significant evangelical groups in London are small in comparison to the size of the population.

Historical divide

Those evangelical groups can be broadly categorised as Black and Asian, Anglican Evangelical, and Independents (including Eastern European and South American churches). Whichever way the cake is sliced, it remains that millions are yet unreached for Christ!

In addition, despite some fine efforts in recent years, there remains a historical divide between White and Black/Asian Churches in London. Looking ahead, perhaps the best hope of bridging that divide lies in the ‘second / third generation’ factor – the children and grandchildren of immigrant churchgoers. These people find themselves with something of an identity crisis between loyalty to their parents’ cultures and the traditions and the draw of their multi-cultural British upbringing and education.


The challenges facing evangelicals are numerous and often interwoven. Some are distinct to particular ethnic groups. They include disengagement with locality because of a failure to understand or engage with a rapidly changing culture. This can often result in a ‘ghetto’ mentality in churches.

Many congregations are made up of elderly people and lack leadership and gospel vision, and there may be a failure to engage with, and invest in, the next generation of young adults in the church.

There’s often a loss of confidence in the gospel and of teaching the Bible as the means of growing the church, and the high crime rates of vast urban estates, along with antipathy towards the gospel, provide huge barriers. White British people of all social groups are often the hardest people to reach.


The sheer immensity of the task before the church can be numbing of gospel expectation, but – despite all of these challenges (and more) – there is good gospel reason to be optimistic about the future!

Even the most cursory historical knowledge reminds us that the church has been here before. The First Century church faced a very similar challenge. The Lord was pleased to move then and subsequently through the Reformation in 16th Century Europe and in 18th Century revivals. The Lord’s heart in the Bible for great cities such as Nineveh and Jerusalem give every confidence that the gospel can yet ring into, and from, London in the coming years.


But, for this to happen, we must commit to pray about the situation in this great city. So, please would you join in with praying for:

  • A growing awareness among evangelical leaders, born of gospel heartedness and urgency, to develop generous partnerships across historical and ethnic divides.
  • New churches to be planted in the most populous and unreached urban areas of London.
  • Failing churches to be willing to embrace change for the gospel’s sake, and for thriving churches to come alongside to love and serve them.
  • The Lord to raise up young leaders from the White and Ethnic evangelical groups who will understand the specific cross-cultural challenges London presents, and be given great wisdom and vision to work together for the glory of God and the good of London.
  • The Christian leaders whom the Lord already has in place in churches, government, industry and care agencies. Pray that they will display grace, wisdom and boldness.

Remembering London’s Lost Lads

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

The Great War caused the loss of 42,000 London lads in a fight between empires intent on holding sway over the trade of commodities from cocoa to opium.

For each soldier killed many more were injured or traumatised, and families were impacted not for weeks but for years, and sometimes generations.

My family have our own story to tell. In 1917 John Montague Miller died reconnoitring enemy lines at the Somme. He had a wife, Annie, and 5 kids. Annie was devestated and was eventually sent to an asylum. Two daughters were sent to Banardos and promptly exported to Australia where they were used as fruit pickers. Annie’s youngest son Bert, stayed with her, as did her oldest daughter who became a young carer. Her oldest son, Jimmy lied about his age so he could join the army. By his 15th birthday he was being shot at defending Jewish villages in the British Protectorate of Palestine.

When WWII started Jimmy joined Churchill’s special service commandos, Bert became one of Montie’s “desert rats”. Bert died in a tank trying to relieve the siege of the Libyan town of Tobruk. Jimmy was shot at the battle of Monte Casino where his unit were wiped out. He survived to return to his wife, Peggy, in Scotland where he went on to be father to two kids, including my Dad.

Although Jimmy had been a Company Seargent Major with responsibility for dozens of men in the country’s elite forces he found it almost impossible to find work after the war. He ended his career as a caretaker for the local power station living in a council house in Southern Galloway.

Jimmy’s siblings had been failed by society. His sister’s had been packed off to Australia and his brother died in a desert but there was a feeling that things would change after WWII. Returnees from the war voted for a system that attempted to ensure there would no forgotten groups in society.

Today our “fairness” systems are breaking again. Wealthy men can expect to live 10 years longer than poor men, and have 19 more years of “healthy life”. In 1918 the most common cause of death for young men in the UK was gun shot wounds from the battle fields. In 2018 the most common cause of death for a young man in the UK is suicide. In London suicide has been overtaken as a cause of death for teenage lads by homicide by stabbing. We have another generation of young men who are dying in struggles and turf wars – will we remember them too?

Jimmy Miller would have been heartbroken to discover his great grandson died by suicide whilst on a waiting list to see an NHS psychiatrist. He would have been horrified to see the spike in crime across his beloved London following cuts to the capital’s hard pressed police force. He’d have been disheartened to see that the Officer/NCO class divide in society is still there even in our churches.

Lads of London have been dying and not followed up on for too long. This rememberance day I suggest we make a decision to remember all of the London lads who have died. We remember those who have given their lives in the wars of the twentieth century, we remember those who have died fighting the demons of mental health, we remember those who have died in the needless territory wars and initiation ceremonies of London’s gangs. I pray that we can work together to strive for peace and reconciliation and provide a peaceful home for Londoners young and old.

Christians have a particular role to play in being peacemakers in our cities. Before 1945 it was very clear that Christians had a responsibility for the poor and marginalised. If there had been a knife crime problem in the past it would have been a problem shared by the church. Most of London’s hospitals were started by churches. By 1870 when the schools were nationalised there were 36,000 attending the ragged schools for London kids founded by London City Mission. Since 1945 churches have often left “love for our neighborhood” to the council. This has changed since the introduction of austerity in 2010. As benefits have been cut and children’s centres have closed, churches have moved into the gap. 95% of Foodbanks are provided by local church groups. Church toddler groups and community centres with CAP courses are often filling the gaps left as Sure Start centres close.

The Church offers more than just the practical love of a handout, and the helping hand of a CAP finance course. The Church brings a message of good news, hope, forgiveness, love, and justice, much needed in our broken society. When we talk about the gracious example of Jesus, we talk of someone who knew hardship, who knew how to cross cultural barriers and bring people together. When we talk about the sacrifice of Jesus we come to understand that it is not our empires that will save us but Jesus’ death and resurrection. Last week a 15 year old lad, Jay Hughes, was stabbed to death outside a fried chicken shop in Lewisham. He’d been attending a local school and was well known to the LCM centre in Lewisham. He wasn’t a gangster. He was a good kid who was enjoying friendships with people at Ecclēsia church. His death is a tragedy, keenly felt. The loss of Jay and others must drive us to work and pray for a society where the are no marginalised or forgotten groups, where everyone has a chance of hope and good news.

100 years ago the families of the fallen were often forgotten about or mistreated. Let us resolve to do a better job today. When we hear of young Londoners dying in tragedy, let us take it upon ourselves to reach out with love. Let us remember and make a difference.

Some practical steps to make our outreach to kids more effective for all kinds of kids – many thanks to Mark Arnold

The Additional Needs Blogfather

20% of children and young people have an additional need or disability of some kind; if your church includes children and young people, some of them are likely to need additional support.  Many of these children and young people, and their families, feel excluded from a wide range of social and other activities, including church, so how does the church reach out to and meet the needs of these children and their families?

Inclusion is something that should be offered to every child; it doesn’t stop at wider doors, ramps and disabled loos but should include creating places of belonging and developing the faith of every child, whatever their ability or needs.

As churches plan for their summer programmes, perhaps looking to run a holiday club for local children for example, or taking a group of children or young people on a summer camp, what does reaching out to children…

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A call to think of of the box about “urban mission”

Practical ideas to support urban mission from @BearwoodChapel

More useful data from Tom

Gospel Data Geek

Gritty inner city areas and wealthy suburbs feature more evenly among the churches in this week’s analysis – in contrast to the focus on the Salvation Army and RCCG in my previous blog.

The FIEC and Gospel Partnerships have a combined membership of more than 900 churches and have much in common in their doctrine – in fact, some churches are members of both organisations. So it is unsurprising that their churches can be found in similar areas.

However, there are some differences. Overall, about half (50.2%) of FIEC churches are located in the poorer half of the country, while slightly fewer (46.3%) Gospel Partnership churches can be found in these areas. And if you live in an area within the most deprived 10% of the country, it’ll be harder for you to find a congregation linked to the Gospel Partnership as this is where they have the fewest churches (7.8%).

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A call to long term urban mission

Some analysis by Gospel Data Geek

Gospel Data Geek

The Church of England is retreating from poorer areas in favour of the rich. That’s according to someone on the inside – the Bishop of Burnley.

So do any church networks or denominations invest the other way around – focusing more heavily in poorer areas?  In the next few blogs I intend to dig out the data that shows who has churches in which areas.

First up, it’s one of the largest Black Majority Church (BMC) networks in the UK, and another denomination that’s possibly one of the most well known.

RCCG  – or to give its full name, The Redeemed Christian Church of God – first started in Nigeria, but analysis shows they now have a strong presence in some of the most deprived parts of this country.

In fact, the more deprived the area, the more likely you will find one of their churches, with 78.1% in the…

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Like for Like – Notes on HUP

Posted: January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

How important is ethnic diversity to a church? Bearwood Chapel places a great emphasis on this.

Source: Like for Like – Notes on HUP


I don’t understand why a person armed with an axe would choose to board a train and attack a group of strangers.

But I do know that love is stronger than hate.

I don’t understand why a person would choose to drive a lorry into an innocent crowd, intending only to kill and destroy.

But I do know that light is stronger than darkness.

I don’t understand why a person would choose to take a gun into a nightclub and open fire.

But I do know that hope is stronger than fear.

I don’t understand why a person would corrupt a religion – any religion – and use it in an attempt to justify unimaginable harm.

But I do know of a person who taught us to love our neighbour.

I know of another who suggested that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong…

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A challenge by David Robertson to the pragmatic prosperity gospel of ministry only to the prosperous


Life is a learning experience – the more I learn the more I realize what I do not know! The Creflo Dollar ‘experience’ has taught me a great deal, not least as I set that in contrast to where I have just been this past couple of days – speaking at the Independent Methodist ministers and church leaders conference in the beautiful Lake District town of Windermere.

In a sense Creflo and the Independent Methodists are at opposite ends of the ‘Christian’ spectrum. Whereas Creflo has a church with tens of thousands, millions of dollars and a massive profile, the Independent Methodists are a small group of 1500 members mainly scattered throughout small churches in the post-industrial and rural areas of Northern England, whom very few have heard of.   Creflo has a ‘world changers’ ministry. The Independent Methodists would struggle to see themselves as changing Chorley, Croxton or Crosby.

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Gallery  —  Posted: May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

A Copper’s Christmas

Posted: December 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


And now for something just a little bit different…

…A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’).

Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.


Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured)

Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census

– Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week;
– Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note;
– Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening;
– No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder;
– Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’;
– 12 officers on duty;
– Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs…

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London Gospel Challenge

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Service 2014
Recently London City Mission held its annual Thanksgiving Service at All Souls, Langham Place.

It was a wonderful evening. We heard testimonies from missionaries. We heard of lives changed, sins forgiven, hope provided around our great city of London. We sang and gave thanks for God’s gracious provision.
The heart of the evening was Guest speaker Andy Paterson’s sermon from God’s word. Andy is Mission Director with FIEC, and he inspired  staff and supporters alike as he opened up Colossians 1. He challenged us to not to lose our nerve and imagine that somehow we should give up on verbally sharing the gospel just because it is unpopular. He also challenged London City Mission to “help plant and support indigenous churches, go on resourcing gospel-hearted churches with some of the brilliant evangelists that you have and work with those churches so that they might effectively welcome and grow and develop people who are coming to faith in Christ and please use your expertise to grow a generation of working class church leaders.” Thirdly, he impressed upon the Mission the role it has to play in training, facilitating and equipping truly multi-racial, multi-ethnic churches in London.
Our own census shows that 48% of Inner City London’s Christians are “Black Majority Ethnicity”, 38% are White Ethnicity, and 14% are Asian and Other Ethnicities. We are a global church with an opportunity to reach the rich mix of London, but our congregations are less diverse than our workplaces and schools.

The full 30 minute talk is available below.
Andy’s Sermon


Andy Paterson, Mission Director with FIEC, speaking at London City Mission’s Thanksgiving Service

The service was a great time of blessing and fellowship as we thanked God for all he has done in and through the Mission over the past year and lifted up the coming one to him. There is still much to be done in London and much to be prayed for.
Pray for London

Because London Needs Jesus

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

After a year of prayer and reflection, London City Mission looks to the future and refocuses its ministry to make a greater gospel impact.

‘…. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)

Mission in London

London has many needs. People disagree on what it needs most: more schools and hospitals; less traffic, and improved air quality; more police, and less crime; more affordable housing, and less of a gap between rich and poor. There’s wisdom in all of this, but at London City Mission we believe that, most importantly, London needs Jesus. That’s why we got started in the beginning, and it remains our firm conviction today

London City Mission has an opportunity to serve God by seeking to extend the kingdom into the least reached parts of this city

London City Mission’s first missionaries showed incredible courage in their commitment to those in need, caring for them as they suffered and died of cholera, and sharing an eternal hope in their darkest hour. With courage, compassion and commitment, generations of missionaries have followed in their footsteps, reaching out to the least reached in the name of Jesus in communities across this city.

Over the past decades London has changed dramatically. Many of the districts we work in have changed beyond recognition. But the gospel need remains – and our vision, to take the gospel to London’s least reached and hardest to reach people, remains the same. Because of its diversity, London is a unique mission field, and one of the world’s most strategic cities for world mission. A city of great need, yet a city of enormous gospel opportunity.

The number of homeless people in London is growing

London changes, and it is important that we do not stand still. Over the past year we have been engaged in a review of our mission work and ministries. We have prayed, and talked to church leaders and other wise and godly friends. As we have prayed and talked, we have tackled a number of questions about mission:

  • What is London City Mission’s unique calling, and what can we contribute to mission in London that others can’t?
  • How can London City Mission have the biggest possible impact for the gospel in London?
  • How can London City Mission make the very best use of the resources, skills and experience God has given us for mission in London?

As we have done this, we have been struck by three recurring themes:

  1. London City Mission is primarily a gospel organisation. We have been and always should be focused on sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people in London.
  2. Our calling has always been to the least reached of London, and we need to make sure that our work is focused on those who are in the hardest to reach communities of this city.
  3. Our ministry must serve God’s church in London, and our activities need to aim for partnership and collaboration in evangelism and discipleship. Our prayer is that we will see an increasing number of Christians in London engaging in gospel work!

The Great Commission and the challenge of Samaria

Our vision,to take the gospel to London’s least reached and hard to reach people, remains the same

Jesus told the disciples they would be his witnesses in ‘Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ To apply this to the church in London today: Jerusalem is where we are based, and implies friendship with and evangelism to people like ourselves; Judea is church planting just down the road to people quite similar to us; and the ends of the earth is world mission. As Christians we are good at reaching those who are like us, at planting churches and at sending people overseas, but what about Samaria? Reaching Samaria is about sharing the gospel with people who are chalk to our cheese, those who may be geographically close but are a million miles away in culture, tradition or lifestyle. I sometimes fear that this part of the Great Commission has fallen on deaf ears.

As we look to the future and think about our ministries, London City Mission will increasingly focus on London’s ‘Samaria’ – those people who are more often than not the least reached of this city. This ministry focus will mean change for us as an organisation, change both to where we do mission andhow we do mission.

Cross-cultural mission

 Who are the least reached?

We are encouraged by the gospel work that is going on in London. Churches are growing, and there is much emphasis on new church plants. But in the midst of this great gospel effort, many are still not coming into contact with the gospel. London City Mission has an opportunity to serve God by seeking to extend the kingdom into the least reached parts of this city. By least reached we mean those who are least likely to be reached by local church evangelism.

Examples of London’s least reached are those living in the neediest districts with little contact with the church, new immigrant communities and isolated elderly people. We are talking about those who are often beyond the reach of the local church. We give thanks that we have always been able to faithfully take the good news of Jesus to London’s least reached in a wide range of places appropriate for the times; in the past those places have included post offices, railways and taxi ranks, and in the future we will continue to reach men and women in communities of need across London, including prisons, schools and old people’s homes.

A strategy to reach London’s least reached and support the church of London in evangelism

Of course, focusing on London’s least reached is not a new idea. Our founders were burdened by the great gospel need of the day; mission to those the established church was not reaching. We are encouraged by the knowledge that our mission for the future is in continuity with the original calling of London City Mission.

Flats on the Isle of Dogs

What does change mean for London City Mission?

In light of the work we have done over the past year, the Board of London City Mission has approved a plan to help us fulfil this vision for mission. In the months and years ahead we will take a number of steps to ensure that everything we do is in line with a strategy to reach London’s least reached and support the church of London in evangelism.

To begin with, this means:

  • Recruiting new staff and providing support and training for existing staff
  • Taking decisions to refocus our resources on London’s least reached
  • Carefully exiting from certain areas of ministry; for example, redeploying some of our workplace chaplains to some of the neediest districts in London
  • Transitioning some of our ministries to other partner agencies
  • Partnering with churches to share resources in mission
  • Developing new ministries to the least reached.

Over 180 years the Mission has experienced many changes, and known God’s grace throughout them all. Change can be difficult, and we pray that God will bless and guide us in the months ahead. In the midst of difficult decisions and changes, we will continue our patient, sensitive and individual evangelism to London’s least reached, we will continue our kingdom-focused work, and we will continue to seek to increase our gospel impact in this city. We pray that because of these changes we will see more people engaged in fruitful gospel ministry.

Some of our ministries may look different in future, but with a renewed focus and vision for mission in London we hope we will be able to:

  • Increase the number of staff engaged in mission to London’s least reached
  • Serve the church in London through training and partnership
  • Grow the number of volunteers and ministry trainees, and mobilise many Christians in London to get involved in evangelism and gospel work.

Please pray

Thank you for your partnership in the gospel. Please pray with us as we implement these changes and adjust to new ways of working. For some, change is like a breath of fresh air; for others it’s difficult and upsetting to step away from one ministry to focus on another. Pray for grace and wisdom as we move ahead, and, above all, that God will use this renewed focus to bring more people into his kingdom.
Graham MillerGraham Miller – Chief Executive of London City Mission

Disciple All Nations

top 20Where is Christianity growing the fastest? The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published In June 2013 an excellent report regarding Christianity in its Global Context. The full report can be found online at From this report I identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). They are listed in Table 1.  I have also calculated the number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate.  

Table 1. The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity Has the Highest Percentage Growth Rate

RankCountryContinentChristian  AAGRYears to doubleMajority ReligionPercent Christian 1970Percent Christian 2020


NepalAsia, South Central







ChinaAsia, Eastern







United Arab EmiratesArabian Peninsula





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That Happy Certainty

How do you feel about reading a book on prayer? Part of me feels that’s the last thing I need: another excuse to get me off doing the one thing I seem to avoid: praying.

But when I dipped into this pocket-size offering by Michael Reeves, formerly of UCCF, now ‘theologian-at-large’ (a pretty cool title) at WEST, I was altogether refreshed and thankful for the privilege I have of speaking to my Father God. In short, I was eager to pray.

Reeves begins by laying his cards on the table early. He believes there is a prayerlessness prevalent in evangelical culture, and he wants that to change, and longs for this book to be something of a “tonic” to kick-start refreshed prayer lives. 

Reeves’ diagnosis of the problem is interesting. He thinks one of the key reasons we go wrong is because we think of prayer as another “thing” to do, which inevitably leads us to go…

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Missionary work has never been easy.  Jonah faced drowning and heart break.  Paul defends his mission work by boasting, not of his achievements of church planting, but of his floggings, imprisonment, and beatings. In a world of impostors the Lord authenticates genuine gospel service through the suffering of his servants (2 Tim 1:8). A history of the Church Mission Society’s first overseas work states, “There were few events of a striking or remarkable character. Missionaries and schoolmasters died, and their places were supplied by fresh arrivals from England. Thus the work suffered no interruption”.  A similar account can be given of the early work of London City Mission.  The journals of many brave missionaries came to an abrupt end in the 1850s when missionaries continued providing medical and spiritual help to needy Londoners throughout the cholera epidemics.

Today we have fewer martyrs at London City Mission and even mission agencies have health and safety officers.  There is no avoiding the fact though that working for London City Mission is not an ordinary job.  We expect missionaries to face mockery and rejection.  We make best efforts to ensure those working with the marginalised are kept from harm, but this work is never “safe”.  Missionaries will make sacrifices of life’s comforts. Hours are based around the needs of our community, not our convenience.  It is common for missionaries to labour for years in difficult parts of London seeing only a handful of professions of faith, and there is nothing more heart breaking than seeing a young person you’ve invested years of life into, slipping back into addiction and despair.

How are ordinary men and women able to do this extraordinary work without falling into despair? Paul describes the missionary’s source of strength in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal

The Lord puts his glorious gospel in jars of clay so that it is clear that the good news is the work of the Holy Spirit within.  The same Spirit at work in Paul is now at work in us.  The same Lord who raised Jesus from the dead is now strengthening us.  The same wonderful hope that Paul had of eternal glory, is also our hope, and so we don’t despair. 

Each week we hear wonderful news from around the mission of God’s word proclaimed and lives transformed, but our strength and hope isn’t dependent on that.  The gospel that we preach to London is the gospel that we preach to ourselves.  We marvel at the grace of God to us, and are excited about His name being glorified. It is as we look forward to the hope of eternity that we have the strength to carry on.  The gospel perspective is vital to our ministry. 

If our focus was on human success then we would behave differently.  If our aim was for a comfortable life then we would place our missionaries in areas with the best schools for our kids, not the neediest places.  If our aim was to prove how attractive we are then we would build outreach centres in areas with large numbers of existing Christians and we’d win them over with better music or child care so we could shout of our numerical triumph.  If our aim was for a ministry that won worldly acclaim then we might still work with London’s poorest, but we’d put pictures of them all over our literature and win accolades for our social work, quietly forgetting about Jesus. 

Our desire is to see the Lord’s name glorified in every part of London; in Forest Gate and Kilburn, in Brixton, Dagenham, and Ilford.  We don’t focus on the places with growing house prices, instead we’ve surveyed London to find the places with the lowest density of churches.

Our missionaries do extraordinary work, but we are ordinary Christians.  All Christians are called to the extraordinary ministry of proclaiming Jesus in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.   All of us should have the same gospel motivation.  I pray that more Christians in London would have a missionary perspective on where they choose to live, how they use their time.  The church of London has plenty of resources to reach the neediest parts of our city with the gospel, but we often lack the gospel perspective to fully engage with the mission before us.  I give thanks for the missionaries who have taken up this extraordinary task but I pray for many thousands more ordinary Christians who will reach out with good news, even if they are not on the London City Mission payroll.

Christians have a message of Good News and hope that needs to be heard. It is an amazing message which transforms us and sends us back out into society with distinctive love and generous actions.


Society, however, can be wary of Christians when we want to both help the needy and bring the Christian message, and it is easy to be intimidated. Our response though should not to keep our heads down and pretend we’re not Christians. We don’t need to hide the message about Jesus to fit in with some people’s views of what is acceptable in a pluralistic society. We care about people’s needs – about their deepest needs, material and spiritual.  London City Mission have been meeting those needs for almost 180 years and we are not about to stop.

In our imagination we may look back to a golden age when the Christian message was popular and acceptable, but that is a fantasy. Reaching out with the Good News of Jesus has always been unpopular. The New Testament describes the gospel about a forgiving, risen Christ as a stumbling block for the religious, and madness for the intellectuals. We shouldn’t expect to be popular, but we press on because we have a message of Good News and hope that needs to be heard.


 In British society we too often emphasise the individual ahead of the group. We have a society full of lonely individuals, a society where old people go the doctor to find someone to talk to. The answer is not to employ more doctors (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing). Part of the answer is to have people throughout society, radically transformed by the Good News of Jesus’ love, grace and forgiveness – ready to reach out with love to their neighbours, in word and action.

 Churches have a vital role to play in London’s most needy communities. That role is more than just holding the community together though; Church is more than just a place to provide a Foodbank for the poor, or company for the elderly widow. Church is also more than just a place where people hear a stimulating talk followed by a chat with friends over a cup of coffee.

The transforming, life-changing message about Jesus flings Christians out into a world with hearts full of grace, sacrificial love, forgiveness, kindness and joy.

 As we think of the Christians’ place in society, it seems there are two extremes we can tend to. One is to say that the church is primarily a religious organisation for the betterment of its members. In that case we will stay behind our stained glass windows reading the Bible without acting on its teaching about love, mercy, justice. The other extreme is to say that church is a social service whose main purpose is societal justice, in which case we are likely to be co-opted by a needy  government into a professionalised social welfare organisation, filling the gaps in the government’s leaky social safety net.

 We have a much more vital role than that. We show Christian love, we share Christian hope, and we do so without conditions. And we don’t just show it to people exactly like ourselves.

We have a message of Good News and hope that the whole world need to hear. Good News of sins forgiven, of grace to the undeserving, of love for the unlovely, freedom for the prisoner, hope of a new beginning for the addict.

 It is as we live as 100% Christians, proclaiming the Good News of Christ and showing his love to the lost and needy, that we will play our role as salt and light in the dark and tasteless corners of this land.  Salt that has lost its taste is worthless, but distinctive Christian action, centred on a declaration of the good news of Jesus is of very great value indeed.

Based on a speech to Christians on the Left on February 18th2014

This is why London City Mission loves London
We seek to share the transforming love of God with the people of London. The Bible tells us that loving others is going to be hard and costly. It tells us that our love shouldn’t discriminate on any grounds but be open to everyone, regardless of any distinction.
This is one of the reasons we run Webber Street, our homeless day centre just a stone’s throw from Waterloo station. Here we give hot meals and new warm clothes to some of London’s most marginalised and unloved individuals, as we practically share God’s unconditional love with them. But we also want to see a change in the choices our guests make. We want to make a practical difference in their lives, but we want to make a personal and eternal difference as we introduce them to Jesus.

London is full of people who’ve come here to forge careers for themselves, people who stream through stations like Liverpool Street. Millions of people use London’s transportation system every day. While many of them don’t live in material need, we know that they have a great spiritual need. Despite outward appearances many here are hurt, broken, isolated and lonely. Jesus came for people like this.

At Departure we want to share the good news with those from other parts of the world who have settled in London. This area is typical of many in London where large ethnic communities have congregated together. They add colour, vibrancy, culture and language to London, making this one of the most diverse places on earth. The world has come to us! What an opportunity we have to share the love of Jesus with people as they settle in London.
Our commitment to ministry in London is steadfast, just like the love we want to share with Londoners. We do this through committing to specific geographical areas for the long-term.
Sticking with people through thick and thin, whatever life throws at them, regardless of the decisions they make. Through our work right across London we want to create environments
where men and women can enjoy being with one another as they search for Jesus. We love because he first loved us.
Will you join with us as we seek to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people of London?
Whether through our centres, our cafés, or our marginalised, ethnic, compassion or workplace ministries.
Will you partner with us as we love London?

Charles Marnham at London City Mission day of prayer 8th January 2014
Acts 26:12-32
Rev 12:7-12

We live in a society which is increasingly ignorant of the basic facts of the Bible. The bad news is that Christians will be misunderstood and attacked. The good news is that we have more people asking questions.
Rev 12 pulls back the curtain and gives us an insight into the spiritual battle that is going on. Satan had been defeated but he continues to make war. We must remember that the result of the war is certain. Christ is victorious, despite ongoing skirmishes.

Paul tells his remarkable story 1-18
The orthodox zealot turns from persecuting and killing Christians to leading them and spreading their message.  Even the least likely person can be saved! Paul had been kicking against Jesus for some time. His Damascus moment was the culmination. Paul’s testimony is powerful. He is able to share his own story which shows that he is orthodox and can be taken seriously. The blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony prevailed. Giving our testimony is a powerful way of overcoming Satan’s lies. We share our story, we open the Bible, we point people to Jesus. Our story plus prayer is a powerful witness.

Paul gives a life changing message
He preached that people need to move from darkness to light, to repent and live for the Lord forever. Death for Christians is very different because we have hope of eternal life. A radical liberation from the power of Satan and a liberation into the kingdom of heaven.  Bonhoeffer complained that repentance was left out of the church in Germany and it became full of “cheap grace”. Cheap grave is grace without Jesus, grace without genuine repentance. We fall into the habit of only needing to repent of the things that the world finds offensive but fail to repent of sin, but Paul preached the true gospel.
Paul takes his opportunity and gives the true gospel message short and succinctly. We also need to be able to share the Good News in a brief, understandable manner.

Paul has an unending passion
Paul faces opposition, but doesn’t give up easily. He says, “do you believe the prophets?” Paul sees what the issue is that his hearer has and he deals with it. Sometimes people have hoax issues as a shield against God but some have genuine issues. We need to be ready with an answer. That may mean we need to read some books, but we must be prepared with an answer. It is the Spirit’s work but we must be bold. LCM recently received a donation from an anonymous donor in memory of one of our missionaries, Charles who worked with bus drivers. He worked for years and was often treated with contempt by the drivers but one man at least was persuaded to listen to him. That man became a Christian and so did his wife and children and his mother. Subsequently so did his grandchildren. One of his children wanted to show gratitude to the missionaries who continue to patiently share the Good News. Paul persevered because of an unending passion for the gospel. So must we.
Changing London

Today in London and in most of the Western world it is easy for Christians to feel they are labouring under a cloud. Church attendance is falling, the media has an anti-Christian bias, our politicians are for the most part self confessed atheists, and our churches are dumbing down the Good News in search of worldly approval. But we need to be careful that we are not falling for lies from the pit of Hell. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien describes several great leaders falling for the deception that Sauron is unstoppable and therefore despair is the only reasonable counsel. This Epiphany I believe the Lord wants us to remember that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light”. We have a King who is enthroned in Zion who laughs when he sees the enemies of his people. His victory is assured.
At the arrival of the Messiah, his people were caught on the hop. Only a couple of aged prophets at the temple were expecting God’s redemption. So God sent outsiders to make it clear that there was good news. At Epiphany we remember that God sent wise men from overseas to announce news of glad tidings to his people. Today it seems we are still in need of good news from overseas. Our churches in England may be struggling but there is revival going on in China and many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, even Iran has seen a resurgence.

The London City Mission church census last year shows that church attendance in London isn’t actually falling. There has been such growth amongst the Nigerian and Ghanaian churches that over all attendance is rising. Praise the Lord!
So it is with great joy that I welcome Jonathan Oloyede to London City Mission today to encourage us from God’s Word. There is a wind blowing through London today and it isn’t only a winter storm. God has not given up on the battle in this land. His King is enthroned in Zion and he will accomplish his desires. He laughs at his enemies. If we are wise then we’ll hear the Good News and respond in humble obedience and declare his glory!

Quotes from Jonathan
“As a Muslim I sought the Lord but Allah did not speak to me. Instead I found Jesus Christ whilst studying at medical school”
“London as a city desperately needs the gospel”
“We need to raise up a cohesive army of men and women who submit to Christ’s Lordship and reach out to the lost with the gospel”
“Nobody is to far from Goods for him to touch”

OK, so I don’t really go in for New Years resolutions. In the past I have found them more helpful for promoting a sense of guilt or false pride, rather than true godliness.
I know that putting my faith in Jesus and making him my Lord is a once off event, but the work of sanctification, overcoming my ingrained sinful habits is a long hard slog not well suited to an annual diet or fad.

I saw something in the news though that I found helpful, and got me thinking about ways to take advantage of the cycle of days to keep me Godly.
Doctors suggest giving up smoking every Monday

Doctors in USA claim that research points to the benefits of giving up smoking every Monday. By mentally making every week a new start in the struggle against addiction we are more likely to eventually win by getting to the next Monday without falling off the wagon. Now I’ve never needed to give up smoking, but there are lots of bad habits I need to wage war on. Pride, anger, selfishness, all appear in my life in the forms of: using the internet after 10pm, getting irritable with my wife and kids, missing lunch, talking more than I listen, missing my quiet times. There are habits and traits where I need to keep on putting to death the sins of the flesh in a ruthless manner. Piper talks at length about “How to Kill Sin” and it is a daily war, not an annual battle. So here is my advice. If you’ve already failed in your annual efforts to better yourself, don’t give up. Take the doctor’s advice and restart your war on sin each week. Remember God’s goodness to you and take strength from delighting in his Word. We have been saved from the power of sin, and as we meditate on our Father’s grace to us we will be more likely respond in an obedience that flows from love rather than duty.
I’ve found a few apps that have helped me with my personal goals for this year.
Prayermate is a wonderful app that reminds me to pay for family, church, mission etc

Logos is a comprehensive Bible app that gives me my Bible and theological library in my pocket at all times
Explore provides daily quiet time material, encouraging me to truly engage with the Word of God each morning.
I’m hoping that you already know the power of God in your life, and that he is at work in you already helping you to grow in Godliness so that you will have a more Christ-like witness this year.

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the January issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

USA: best seller
The best-selling book The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, has just sold its one millionth copy, it was reported in early December.
Born in the UK — not related to Martin Lloyd-Jones — and now living in the USA, Sally noted that this book can be given away to anyone from university presidents to car salesmen as anyone can understand it. It focuses on teaching the Bible’s own ongoing narrative, that of every story in the Bible breathing Jesus’ name. Crosswalk

EU: euthanasia coalition
A new coalition was launched in Brussels in mid-November to combat the growing threat of euthanasia across Europe.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe (EPC-Europe) brings together organisations and individuals from across the continent to campaign against the erosion of laws that protect people from euthanasia. It plans to act as a powerful voice against attempts to change laws across Europe that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Christian Concern

Brunei: sharia law
The sultan of Brunei announced on October 22 that the country will be ruled according to sharia law, which will be introduced in phases from April 2014.
Penalties for hudud crimes will be in line with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah (the deeds and sayings of Muhammed). Hudud crimes include theft, for which sharia requires the amputation of limbs, adultery, which is punished by stoning, and apostasy, which carries the death penalty. Muslims who insult, mock or deny Islamic teachings may face imprisonment for up to 30 years and 40 strokes of the cane. Barnabas Fund

Rwanda: mission
In a Rwandan mission held in October, 78,500 heard the gospel and around 8,900 made decisions for Christ. Hundreds of church leaders received training and there was a special programme for children.
Under the heading ‘Improved Literacy through Youth Education’, 50 teachers and 50 young people were trained in Musanze town. During the training, many were able to forgive and reconcile with those who had offended them. African Enterprise

For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Evangelicals Now

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the January issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

USA: best seller
The best-selling book The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, has just sold its one millionth copy, it was reported in early December.
Born in the UK — not related to Martin Lloyd-Jones — and now living in the USA, Sally noted that this book can be given away to anyone from university presidents to car salesmen as anyone can understand it. It focuses on teaching the Bible’s own ongoing narrative, that of every story in the Bible breathing Jesus’ name. Crosswalk

EU: euthanasia coalition
A new coalition was launched in Brussels in mid-November to combat the growing threat of euthanasia across Europe.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition…

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John D Manwell's Blog

    8 Representatives Together

You Tube video of 8 leaders prayer together 

With all that has separated the Body of Christ over hundreds of years there is a mountain of disunity that we need to deal with. At Saints in the Stadium thousands of Christians from all traditions and backgrounds came together to call on God to seek His help for the United Kingdom. Eight people from different denominations of the Church stood and prayed for Oneness in the Body in the United Kingdom.

There is only one God and Father. Centuries of separateness amongst believers for countless reasons does not change the unity of God. Standing together and singing or praying does not change the separation in our hearts. Issues of truth do not become flexible with us simply holding hands.

We can, however, take heart from the increasing number of leaders and church representatives who want to see a change…

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London City Mission has always had a heart for sharing the love of God, the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord with all of London. We have a particular emphasis on reaching the harder to access groups; the poor, the elderly, the sick, the immigrants, the prisoners. It’s not that middle class people don’t need to hear the gospel, but we have a calling to help the Church of London reach beyond its fringe to the 92% of people who would never walk into a middle class church. Brixton prison is just the kind of place where we want to reach out to the needy and we’ve been working there for many years. This week I was privileged to attend the HMP Brixton Christmas service and was filled with joy to see what was going on there.


From the start the chapel was packed out. It has a capacity of 140, but with the men standing at the back I’m sure we had over 150 prisoners in the room (from a population of 700). The singing was terrific. I felt I was in the middle of a Welsh choir as we belted out, “O Come All Ye Faithful”. When a chorister stood up to sing a gospel number the room broke into pandemonium. There were men clapping, raising their hands in the air, even a couple of shouts of hallelujah. And it wasn’t all in jest, it was obvious that among the inmates there are men who have faith in Christ, and others who show a deep interest. How did Christians end up in prison? Chatting to the men there was a pattern to the stories. Often there was a damaging event; a return from fighting overseas, a divorce, childhood abuse, which then led to depression. The depression wasn’t dealt with well and soon became alcohol or substance abuse. The addiction led to other crimes either theft, violence, or trafficking of drugs. Prison hopefully called a halt on the downward spiral of these men’s lives. I am not trying to explain away the crimes. The prisoners have all made bad decisions and are guilty of hurting others through their actions. What did impact me was though how possible it is for all kinds of people, even Christians, to fall off the “straight and narrow” path and end up in a mess. There, but by the grace of God, go I. Just as I have met Christian men in LCM’s homeless centre, I have met Christians in prison who should have been given greater love, help and support by their churches during their spiral down, but we live in a society which is time poor, and where we have little time for the mentally ill, and the needy.
The Bible though challenges our behaviour and if we have ears to hear the challenge will come loud and clear. Hebrews 13 urges us to treat prisoners as our brothers, and Matthew 25 warns us that those who fail to show love to their brothers and sisters in prison will be turned away on the day of judgement. Can this really mean that we need to do acts of charity to prisoners to earn our way to heaven, surely that goes against the gospel of grace? Matthew 25 and James 1 are entirely consistent with the gospel of grace outlined in Galatians and Romans. I think rather that these good deeds, showing care for the prisoner in Matthew 25, or care for the elderly widow in James 1 act as a litmus test for true Christianity. Lives transformed by the gospel of grace will always show the fruit of love. A church which has lost its love for the prisoner and the elderly is almost certainly a church in which the gospel of grace has been left behind.

Praise the Lord that the gospel message preached by London City Missionary, Rob Hooks, at the service will be going out to every prison in the country on Christmas morning on National Prison Radio. The opportunities to work with prisons are amazing. We have an open door to work with the prisoners preparing them for release and we regularly run courses like Christianity Explored and the Christians Against Poverty budgeting course at Brixton. Right now there are no volunteers to support the Christians Against Poverty work but we are hopefull we’ll get it back up and running soon. If you feel moved to get involved in the outreach to prisoners then there are several ways to help. If you are ready to make a regular commitment of time then there are opportunities to volunteer to assist in prison chaplaincies
Another way of getting involved is to support Rob Hooks in his work by donating at JustGiving and mentioning your support for Rob
For many the best involvement will be to pray for the work – you can sign up to pray for any of the London City Missionaries. We are desperately in need for more prayer supporters right now

That Happy Certainty

I’ve since produced an updated list for Christmas 2014, here, and Christmas 2015, here.

A friend asked me the other day if I knew of any short ‘make you think’ type-of-films related to Advent or Christmas to use at school. I’ve seen a few used over the last couple of years, but after I emailed some friends and asked around on Facebook a whole load more surfaced.

And so it seemed to make sense to compile them here. The caveat is they do vary significantly in spiritual-content, cheese-factor, and apologetic value, but you can decide for yourselves…

(To download full versions or play in church, you may well need to pay for some of these – details should be on the various links below)

1. Someone is Coming (graphical Bible overview giving context of Christmas)

2. The Christmas Chord (great spoken word colloquial piece from Dai Woolridge)


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What tho’ my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Listening to Irish singer Enya sing this old hymn inspired me to pray again this week for brothers and sisters celebrating Christmas in far off prisons, labour campus, and gulags. They are not far from their Lord and saviour.

Hebrews 13 says this:
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Do we treat our brothers and sisters in prison as if we are in prison with them? Do we pray for them monthly? annually? ever? Do we care for our family who have been mistreated in Syria? Have we been praying for them and sending money for food? The good news is that despite our neglect our brothers and sisters won’t be neglected by the Lord, but let us continue to pray nevertheless for what we do to the least of our brothers reveals our attitude to Jesus our saviour.

A bulldozed church in China

In addition to the Christians suffering persecution in prison, there are those being attacked in their own homes in the Middle East. Recently the Prince of Wales was joined by Prince Ghazi of Jordan on a visit to the Egyptian Coptic church in Stevenage and the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in west London, where he heard from a number of Christian families who have had first-hand experience of the rising tide of persecution. “We cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately attacked by fundamentalist Islamist militants,” he said. “The Arab spring [is] rapidly turning into a Christian winter” was how the author William Dalrymple put it on the BBC.
Christians have increasingly become the target of violence, with churches assaulted, priests abducted, individuals targeted and homes looted. In Egypt alone, Amnesty International has reported that during this past year 207 churches have been attacked and 43 Orthodox churches totally destroyed. And the situation of Christians in Syria is deteriorating rapidly as the Free Syrian Army has become increasingly influenced by foreign jihadist militants. Many thousands of Syrian Christians are now fleeing over the border to Turkey. One man who made the journey from Syria claimed: “Where we live, 10 churches have been burned down. They started to threaten Christians in the town we live. When the local priest was executed, we decided to leave.”

I’ve added some links to provide some food for thought for Christian prisoners of conscience in the Far East

Christmas is a busy time for London City Mission, it is all too easy to get swept up in a busy round of carol services and mince pies. This week though I attended a Christmas meal that made me pause.

Our Webber Street day centre provides food, showers, clothes, health services, friendship, and advice to the homeless who sleep close to Waterloo and London’s Southbank. Each day we provide breakfast and this week I had the privilege of attending our Christmas meal and talking about the Good News described in Isaiah 9 for people living in darkness. Whilst we ate our turkey I got talking to the men sitting on my table and heard their stories. P is in his twenties and has a PhD in physics (and discussed quantum gravity with me to prove he wasn’t a story teller). Q is an older  gentleman who graduated from the London School of Economics. R is an Irish man who hasn’t been home to Dublin for 30 years and used to work on building sites before he got too old for it. Each man was full of remarkable stories and could have kept me talking for hours. They discussed Isaiah 9 and young P was explaining to Q that the equations of physics describe a universe so  unnecessarily beautiful that he felt that belief in a God was the most straightforward explanation. R said he felt he’d had religion beaten out of him by the monks at his school. All of the men had sad stories explaining how they’d managed to end up on the streets. None were beyond the redemption or the love of God. It struck me that most people would enjoy sitting and chatting with these fellas so why are there so few volunteers to work with London’s homeless and marginalised?

I guess fear is one of the main reasons. We imagine “marginalised people” are very different from us and so we have a fear of the unknown. “What could I say?”, “The cultural gap is just too great”.
At Christmas we remember the coming of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. He crossed an enormous cultural divide to be with us. He went from being in heaven, served by a host of angels, and constantly loved to being a child of peasants, misunderstood, and mistreated. He didn’t just come to have a friendly chat with us, but he gave his life sacrificially so that we can know the forgiveness and love of God. I pray that this year Christians across London will reach across cultural gaps to speak of our hope and good news with the elderly, the homeless, the single mums, the Bangladeshi neighbours, the people who are different to us. As we do that we have a promise from the greatest cross cultural missionary of all time. “All authority in heaven and earth have been given to me, and I will be with you always”.

Knowing Jesus - Life with the Son of God

Check out the latest video from Glen Scrivener (@glenscrivener).

Christmas is a dark time for many people.

But fair days or foul, our plight He embraces.
Real Christmas can shine in the darkest of places.

It used to be summer when Christmas came round,
Neath tall southern skies, over sun-scorched ground,
With the backyard cricket, the barbies, the beach,
And munching on mangoes to watch the Queen’s Speech.
The slatherings of sunscreen, the glorious glare
And toasting the glow in the warm evening air.

It used to be summer… when I was young.
A golden age in a land far flung.
But there came a point, I crossed a divide,
Went up in the world and summer had died.
December is dark now, the nights close in,
So we huddle together as kith and as kin.

It’s winter now when Christmas rolls round,
We celebrate still though with…

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