Fusion Sponsored 14km Run

Fusion Sponsored 14km Run

My family in Cape Town – Fusion – are doing a sponsored 14km run.

The best thing about it is that YOU can sponsor them, and by doing so you’ll be helping raise running costs (pun intended) for the coming year. We are opening a residential house for those coming off drugs and out of gangs, with a bakery onsite, offering employment to the currently unemployable.

Follow this link to donate, and make a BIG difference to the lives of gang members, drug addicts and prostitutes in Manenberg.

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Cancer healed

“A complex gospel thrives where there is no experience.” (Bill Johnson)

What do I think he means by that? Potentially, that if you are not experiencing God’s supernatural inbreaking in your life, and haven’t for a while (or ever), the easiest thing to do is adapt your theology accordingly. In other words, you lower your expectations of God’s power, and adorn your disappointment with loquacious academic concepts. This often does nothing except make a diluted theology more ‘acceptable’ to the imperious rationalism of Western culture. 

It has been an interesting year studying Theology, Politics and Faith-based Organisations at KCL. The last essay I wrote was on whether it is possible to empirically measure the truth/effects of prophecy, and if so, how. My conclusion quoted Jesus’ linking of truth and freedom, in John 8:32 – “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  I wrote that it is possible to apply this assertion, empirically test it, and convey it in terms comprehensible to the world, and that this shows prophecy’s role in confronting “the puncturing spiritual hunger of… [those] who are not spiritually satisfied with the unremitting fare of rationalism, scientism, humanism and dead orthodoxy”; and in reminding the church that “truth is that which sets us free – that which is properly transforming, both spiritually, historically, and existentially.” In others words, prophets will be known by their fruit, and the fruit is the transformative effect prophecy has by freeing individuals, communities and nations.

One Sunday at church (I go to Christchurch, Fulham – best church ever!), whilst I was in the process of reading for the above essay, we had a visiting preacher. He got some of us to come to the front. He picked me, amongst others. We were then to pick another person, who would partner with us in giving prophetic words to whoever came up to us. I felt God say to pick a specific guy in the front row. He came and stood next to me, and whispered in my ear, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever had a prophetic word for anyone’! Perfect. Anyway, we did as we were asked, and it was fine though fairly unspectacular. At the end, a man came up to us and asked for prayer. He had (and I quote), “malignant basal cell carcinoma” – skin cancer, basically. The three of us had a little chat and it turned out that the guy I had picked to pray with me had also once had skin cancer, but it had been effectively dealt with by doctors and he was now totally fine. I got him to lay hands on the man in front of us and impart healing. We then declared Jesus’ authority over cancer and spoke healing over the basal cell carcinoma. That was that. No drama, just smiles and handshakes all round, and we headed home.

Weeks later I received an email from the man we prayed for. I’ve copied and pasted below (with his permission):

‘It was diagnosed as a malignant basal cell carcinoma. I don’t want to “big it up” – but after an initial biopsy I needed to come back for the rest of the growth to be removed. There was no massive urgency – they apparently are slow growing. There was no big deal during the prayer – just a sure sense to go and ask for this thing to be healed.

Last week I went back for the check-up and possible removal. The Consultant was genuinely surprised when he couldn’t find it under his very large magnifying glass. I subsequently received a copy of his letter to my GP:

“Thank you for asking me to see this chap with a BCC over the left cheek biopsy proven. The plan was to remove it from him. However it has completely disappeared. There was nothing to see today at all and I have simply reassured him and will see him once more in 6 months time and if all is well discharge him back to your care”.’

There it is – the truth of prophecy shown by freeing someone from sickness, and empirically proven by medical confirmation. In short, God backed up my wordy assertions in my essay with his supernatural power. Isn’t that the funniest, kindest thing ever?

So here’s to making sure we don’t overcomplicate things. Here’s to beating cancer through whatever means. Here’s to knowing the truth, and being set free.

 

[Want more? For an amazing website on prophecy, with clear teaching and cool testimonies, have a look at: http://www.unwrap.tv]

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Higher and Higher

Drug related crime in Cape Town is growing exponentially, with substance abuse reaching pandemic levels.

The unexpected sight of a group of five notorious young men, known for the wrong reasons, queuing to get tested for HIV in a foreign aid sponsored initiative in Manenberg, Cape Town. Unexpected not because of the scorching weather making their long wait decidedly uncomfortable, but because they are gang members, addicted to drugs. The co-ordinator of a local NGO, himself a community member, highlights the story behind the story. R5 mobile phone vouchers are offered as an incentive for local residents to get tested (and therefore, no doubt, help fulfill funder-driven objectives in the number of HIV/AIDS tests carried out). The five friends in line know what they are doing – grouping together, receiving their airtime vouchers and immediately selling each one for R4. The half hour wait is well worth it, earning them R20 (GBP1.50) to buy a small packet of heroin. And so everyone is happy – the drug addicts smoking their next fix, and the anti-HIV funder ticking its boxes.

A futile picture on so many levels. Yet it is only compounded when one looks at statistics for drug related crime on the South African Police Service (SAPS) website. Whilst the level of crime in South Africa is generally improving, drug related crime in Cape Town is rising considerably. In Manenberg and Mitchells Plain (admittedly two of the most gang-ridden areas – though it’s not about the number of drug related cases but the percentage by which they have risen), official police statistics show a 600% increase since 2004.

However interesting it might be to focus on the factors contributing to this situation (and it’s no coincidence that the communities with the most widespread gang and drug problems were originally established to be apartheid ‘dumping grounds’), much more generative is the question of how it can be addressed – especially if one agrees with the assertion that there is a dynamic interrelationship between communities’ problems and the general social scene.

South Africa is one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, and one can well understand the ‘have nots’ resenting the Land Rovers and swimming pools of the ‘haves’. Increasing levels of substance abuse among those living in poverty, added to deep resentment (historical and present), combine to create a deeply divided society.

Substance abuse and fear of ‘the other’ are undermining Cape Town’s part in democratic South Africa. Cross-cultural dialogue and restorative justice, initiated by locals, need to replace electric fences and over-crowded jails in the next chapter of the Mother City’s development, otherwise well-meaning aid will continue to perpetuate the social ills that are continually reaching new highs.

(For a wonderful example of a local NGO working towards the shalom of the city, visit http://www.warehouse.org.za)

(‘Fusion’ is restorative community based in Manenberg, working with young ‘high risk’ people marginalized by every level of society. See http://www.fusionmanenberg.org.za)

Moving House

We moved yesterday – a story of generosity and amazing provision. Will write about it soon…

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Trevor Noah Comedy Genius

South African comedian Trevor Noah, sharing some of his thoughts…

A talk I gave on Friday night

Walking in Your Destiny:
Activating the Vision and Enjoying the Journey

Find whatever it is that you’re most passionate about – what is it? Write it down. Then put everything you have into pursuing that, and seeing your goals come to pass. ALL your heart. Never waver, continually listen to God’s voice. Luke 1:53 – he has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich/self satisfied/indifferent he has sent empty away.

The inevitable opposition to this will be: ‘that’s such a privileged way of thinking – what about those who have to be dustbin men for their whole lives, just to provide for their families. It’s alright for you, you have loads of safety nets.’
The point is, the way friends in the world would love to live, is to follow their true desires – but fear/convention holds them back.
Besides – we are privileged. We are children of the King. Heirs to an inheritance that will never fade. Add to this the fact that the world is CRYING OUT for us to be all who we were created to be:

Romans 8:18-19
Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”

So – people are desperate to see that another way of doing life is possible. THAT is our responsibility when we work out our personal destiny.
Follow your favour – look for the ‘Yes and Amen’ of heaven that you attract as you walk in obedience. And then remember that favour is never to be kept as yours – it’s always to impart and pass on to benefit others.

Such a remarkable way for a president to live – smashing status quo, consumerism, myths of power etc etc. Yet – what is he criticized for? Not growing the economy as militantly as his opponent, and not acting the way people usually expect presidents to act. Ie, he’s criticized for two of his strengths. He’s criticized for walking in his anointing. That is to be expected.

The dunamis power that is activated ‘AS’ people of God act in obedience:

FEAR/COURAGE (Joshua 3:15-16)
Faith = risk = stepping into the flooding Jordan River, in obedience to God’s command. There is a miracle waiting to happen, just the other side of intense fear!

DEAD DREAMS BECOMING PROPHETIC VISION (Ezekiel 37:1-7)
This relates to the releasing of new dreams – prophesying life into dry bones. Do you see bones or army? If all you see is bones, ask for prophetic vision.

APOSTOLIC LIFESTYLE (Matt 10:7-8)
Jesus told the disciples that signs and wonders would happen ‘as you go’. Ie, if you don’t ‘go’, you wont see. This is not an optional add-on, as church often suggests. The Apostolic lifestyle – (coming from the Greek meaning ‘sent out ones’) is for all followers of Jesus, because (Luke 6:13) he designated all the disciples to be apostles too.

UNDOING FLAWED SYSTEMS (Mark 2:4-5)
The story of Jesus healing the paralysed man. He is lowered down by his mates, to Jesus’ feet, through a hole in the roof. Sometimes we cannot remain in the system: we have to take the roof off, to bring forth the sozo/breakthrough/heaven on earth encounter that a situation needs. There are some huge political implications for this.

Let’s think about a ‘system’ of behaviour in our times: the exodus of populations to urban areas, increasing city number and size. It follows that cities exert disproportionate influence in shaping 21st Century culture. Add to that the pressing level of urban poverty – 1 billion people (1/3 of urban residents) live in slums.

MORE THAN EVER, SEEKING THE WELFARE OF CITIES MEANS BEING PREPARED TO SEEK THE WELFARE OF THE POOR.

“2/3 of world population lives in poverty, or hover close to it. Yet only 6 percent of Christians live amongst them and become them. If the good news were a marketable product like Coke or Pepsi, a 6 percent reach to two-thirds of the world means someone in marketing would be fired.”
(John B Hayes: ‘Submerge’)

I felt I couldn’t live in the ‘system’ without trying to take the roof off and seek Jesus’ healing from the results of a fallen world. I moved into Manenberg, a marginalized community on the edge of Cape Town. It was a beautiful experience. Yet – like anything God calls us to do – it came with a lot of opposition and personal cost. The naïve manner in which I moved in (largely isolated), only added to the intensity. Here’s a diary entry from July 2010.

5.7.10
“A desperately hard day. I am beginning to totally lose hope, and today may have been the day I did lose hope in the vision that I believe God has given me for seeing guys come out of gangs and off drugs. I’m not sure how much more I can take. So far the list of stuff stolen from the house amounts to:
Ipod, digital camera, basin, clothes vouchers, bolt cutters, toaster, hammer, saw, copper wiring and water pipes, electric drill, beef mince from freezer, toilet duck and half tube of toothpaste. (!)
Add to that the killing of 3 gang members on Friday, meaning shootings on most days recently, and armoured cars from the army base patrolling the streets at night – there was even a shooting down my street, and I was mugged by three guys with a gun, as I got out of the car a couple of weeks ago.
Not a pretty picture. I’m feeling worn out and cynical. I’m meant to be trying to think about God’s strength in my weakness (for a talk I’d been asked to do in UK) – and maybe this is it – that I’m sitting writing this on my bed, not scared and not crying my eyes out because I believe that ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ [2Tim3:12 – do we have a theology of suffering?]
And that’s it – if we really grasp the fact that opposition will always come, but ultimately God works for the good of those who love him – if we really get that, we are basically invincible to anything satan can throw at us, because God will redeem everything.
Physical opposition always starts as spiritual opposition. Which means satan’s not happy. Which means we’re doing something right, which means God is with us. Which means weakness is just fine because it leaves a whole lot more scope for HIM to do what WE never could.”

A quote from Growing In The Supernatural manual:
“The more influential your call, the more tribulation and adversity you will have to weather, because without tribulation you can’t build character and without character the weight of your call will destroy both you and others. Which is why we must rejoice in tribulation.“ (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

‘We are closest to the most powerful manifestions of God when we are in the most difficult circumstances, those in which it seems there is no way out.’
Dr. Ana Mendez-Ferrell

It was out of this hopeless-seeming situation that I cried out to God for a wife – and the very day I wrote down my cry in my diary, 17th September 2010, I met Sarah who is now my wife. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.”

WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – YOUR LONGINGS, AND HOW GOD ANSWERS. It just maximizes the excitement when you realize that something you forgot you asked for, comes into being!

Delays: all about hunger, character and prayer. (From GIS Manual)
The story of how our project is pursuing God’s call to open a Transformational Community House for ‘High Risk Youth’ in Manenberg is one of hunger, character and prayer:

Dec 2009 – Realised we ‘need it’.
April 2011 – Got the cash for it (having prayed for 15 months).

Cue four different houses, all of which we were convinced were going to be ‘the one’.
First one was a rip off being sold by a crook.
Second one, landlady went back on her word the day before signing contract.
Third one, too small.
Fourth one – not sure yet.
But then, in September, we received money to open a bakery – part of the original vision in 2009! And this year Fusion is becoming an independent NPO which will best suit the running of the project, which will now include a house, a 24/7 Prayer Room and a bakery all in one.

What’s my point? Well, like most things, Kris Vallotton and Walt Disney say it best:

‘God takes a long time to act suddenly. Between the time that God gives us a promise and the time that we actually see the fulfilment of that promise there is often times a process, and that process is actually what we need to come into the promise.’ (Kris Vallotton)

‘All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me…You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.’ (Walt Disney)

(Quotes from GIS Manual)

Hunger
Transformational influence is reserved for the hungry. Hunger moves you from convenience to passion. Hunger releases a new capacity for dreaming.

Character
‘The more influential your call, the more tribulation and adversity you will have to weather. Because without tribulation you can’t build character and without character the weight of your call will destroy both you and others. Which is why we must rejoice in tribulation.‘ (GIS. Ref: Joseph, Moses, David, Paul)
Private breakthroughs precede public ministry and influence.
“Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2

Prayer
Testimony and Thanksgiving that becomes a culture of thanks.
DNA Prayer – who has God made you to be? WHO you are is the blueprint for WHAT He has for you.

“If you study the spiritual history of any nation or tribe you will find that the initial work of breakthrough is always accomplished on our knees….. ALWAYS! Any situation where the kingdom of God is advancing can be traced back to a faithful group of heroes who faced impossibilities, prayed and prevailed. The victory is first won in the heavenlies before it is expressed on earth and we first glimpse the floods of God’s blessing in the small clouds of promise.” (Ian Nicholson, 24-7 Prayer)

Disaffected

A good mate of mine, Chris MacDonald – actor, director, cricketer – Directed, produced, starred in… this short film.
It kind of follows on quite well from my first post, asking how does one live well in a big city, surrounded by the pull of the pace of life and seduction of counterfeit noise, midst the battle for significance and identity.
Is it a realistic framing of the questions many people secretly have, or is it just plain depressing… whatdya think?

My first Blog – Thoughts on London Life

Having moved from Cape Town to England 2 months ago, I’ve had an interesting time analyzing how life is lived in London.

Community

Things I think may impede Londoners being fully invested in one another’s lives, and thereby perpetuating the fast-paced, ‘no time for anyone but me’ syndrome:

–       Traffic/travel time

–       Travel costs

–       Having kids

–       Unhealthy work culture: either overworked, or deriving one’s identity from professional success – both leading to looong hours.

–       Zeitgeist of independence

–       Too busy or too British to know our neighbours.

–       Specifically for Christians, or church-goers – caught up in task-oriented church activities most evenings/weekends.

–       Never lived in a close-knit group of people before, so can’t imagine it

 

I believe this can, and often does, lead to a diluted view of what the word ‘community’ means. That we, inherently relational beings, are often living in isolation midst a densely populated city of 8 million others, seems like a pretty good definition of irony. This can lead to friendships where, unless you’re living together, you can only humanly be part-committed to those whom you count as good mates. It seems a sort of sub-conscious friend culling happens – you can only have a limited amount of people in your life in whom you’re fully invested.

 

A book I LOVE, called ‘Submerge: Living Deep in a Shallow World’ challenges us to move into areas of need and brokenness. More on that another time, but a quote in it says:

 

‘In the West it’s too easy for [us] to become caught up in our own autobiographies. We are fully invested in our own over-scheduled lives. And we have made it difficult to retreat from these driven lives because we have come to construe them as normal.’ (John Hayes)

 

And this is the elephant in the room – that maybe we are all caught up in our own autobiographies. That maybe, due to brokenness, insecurity, comparison, and the myth of a ‘First World Quality of Life’, we end up equating busyness to self worth. Essentially, this means the more full my diary is, the more important, loved and significant I feel.

 

Wanting to be significant is a GOOD thing. It’s a sign of childlikeness – all kids talk about being something significant when they’re older – before they get inoculated by grey, ‘reasonable’, limited dreams.

 

Jesus’ message back in the day, which is just as relevant to 21st Century London, was essentially – ‘another world is possible, right here on earth’. This, he called the Kingdom of God. The ones he had the biggest problem with were those who took themselves over-seriously, and equated importance with religious activity. Who were the ones who he commended, to whom he said the Kingdom of God belongs? Children. The ones who dream of significance, not because they feel a insecurity rising up in them whilst looking at the packed iphone diary of an anonymous, silent, suited stranger next to them on the daily commute – but because we were ALL made to be significant.

 

And here’s the thing – ‘kingdom significance’ seeks not to be significant IN the eyes of the world, but FOR the eyes of the world. Maybe if we all decided to do one less thing a week, and began a little movement of friends being deeply interested in doing life, and committed to each other, the resulting depth of significance and relationships would be so attractive to others that they couldn’t help but ask what it is we have that they don’t. The answer would be – Kingdom, essentially.