Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Extremist

November 28, 2009

Quote of the day from Martin Luther King. Most famous for leading the civil rights movement but also a Minister of the Gospel.

The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love?

Martin Luther King page on RE:Jesus

The BBC tolerating injustice

September 22, 2009

George Alagiah
The other week through Tearfund’s Superdager application in Facebook i sent the following message to the BBC’s Director General Mark Thompson in relation to the BBC decision i force George Alagiah to resign as Patron of the Fairtrade Foundation:

Dear Mr. Thompson,

Regarding the forced resignation of George Alagiah as Patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, the BBC is concerned that Fairtrade causes a ‘potential conflict of interest’ and ‘could undermine [his] impartiality’.

But Fairtrade is not controversial. The Fairtrade mark has become mainstream – more than 70 per cent of the UK population recognise it, and Fairtrade goods are on every high street. Worldwide, consumers spent over £1.6 billion on Fairtrade products in 2007 – that’s over 1.5 million producers and workers in 58 developing countries now benefiting. Who can say this is controversial?

Surely criteria could be agreed that will serve to ensure that both the integrity of the BBC and Mr Alagiah’s enduring service to the Fairtrade Foundation are effectively safeguarded.

Please reconsider Mr Alagiah’s forced resignation from the Fairtrade Foundation and allow him to continue acting as Patron.

Rhys Llwyd

This week i received the following response from the BBC:

I understand that you are disappointed that George Alagiah had to step down from his role with the Fairtrade Foundation.

On its website http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get_involved/donate/ the Fairtrade Foundation asks its supporters to help fund its “lobbying and influencing key players across society in commerce, government and campaigning groups” and that the organisation will “continue to push the Government to ensure that all aspects of the global trade system are fair and supportive of development”. Other leading charities have said that The Fairtrade Foundation seeks to “transform trading in favour of the poor and disadvantaged”. Such an ambition is the prerogative of the charities. Many may find it admirable though others may take a different view of global economic priorities.

It is not the business of BBC journalism to take a view on this or to be perceived to take a view. We are committed to due impartiality which means we don’t take sides on issues of controversy. Our job is to represent all sides in an argument accurately and fairly and test them as rigorously as we can to allow our audiences to reach their own judgements. And it’s not enough for our journalism to be impartial. We must also be seen to be impartial. That’s why it’s inappropriate for a BBC journalist to take a high profile, public role representing an organisation which, as the charity makes clear, takes a very particular view of the controversial issue of global trade.

Thank you once again for taking the trouble to share your views with us.

Regards

Craig Wilson
BBC Complaints

This response from the BBC is shocking because it legitimizes the argument for un-fair trade! Proverbs 28:5 springs into mind: ‘Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.’ In the name of impartiality the BBC have in reality made their stand by tolerating injustice.

Visiting Tearfund HQ

September 12, 2009

tearfundYesterday I travelled with Hywel Meredydd, Tearfund’s manager in Wales, to Tearfunds head office at Teddington, London. Hywel was taking part in a Poverty Prayer DVD they were filming but he took me along with him because he’s keen to get my input on different strategies to get more Welsh speakers and Welsh speaking churches a part of Tearfund’s work. Amongst other things we discussed was the need to develop more of a Welsh online presence.

Tearfund work to inspire the church to transform communities. They mobilise the local church to work with poor communities to bring material and spiritual transformation: to speak out in advocacy, and to prepare and respond to disasters. Tearfund are addressing a wide range of issues including HIV, water and sanitation, reducing the impact of disasters, economic injustice and climate change.

If Tearfund would just be a humanist charity it would still be an amazing organization; but what excites me about Tearfund is the fact that it’s not just any humanist charity it’s a radical movement of committed (or if you wish ‘evangelical’) Christians. That spiritual dimension to Tearfund means that the zeal and Koinoniaesq feel around the work is very special indeed. What this means in practice is that prayer is central to Tearfund’s work. At Tearfund they believe in doing everything they can. It’s a way of working that they call integral mission. It means that while they know people need material things to survive, they choose to work through church-based partners who won’t stop at just the material basics when it comes to helping their neighbours in need. They’ll do everything they can. Churches know and care about the people they live with. They see them as more than just mouths to feed – they know what they’ve been through and the kind of help they need.

Tearfund see people as more than just physical entities, we all have emotional and spiritual needs as well. The local church, operating at its best, has the power to change people’s lives, to give them a new perspective, to help heal emotional scars and offer the hope they need – to bring people together. Taking this approach has proved, in Tearfund’s experience, the best way to help people make lasting changes in their lives that free them from poverty. This is why working through local churches at the place of need is such a powerful way to help people.

Another great thing about Tearfund is the fact that 91% of money raised reaches the front line. Only 9% of the budget is spent on administration, staff, advocacy, education, further fund raising etc… This is significantly less than most major charities with Christian Aid coming in with 30% on administration! This is achieved by Tearfund through very careful spending reviews and a big emphasis on volunteers and action through local churches rather than an over emphasis on paid staff. Despite Tearfund only having two part time workers in Wales the money raised here is as much as other charities who have eight and more full time workers – that speaks volumes.

I don’t think you must be a Christian to be involved in charity work proper and I believe humanist charities like Oxfam and the more humanist elements withing Christian Aid do very important and brilliant work. But for me as a committed Christian and a young church leader in Wales I do feel that Tearfund shares’s the vision closest to mine – basically, believing and living the Gospel of Christ!

But what was great yesterday was meeting young Christians who were fired up to fight injustice and work to end poverty. Here in Welsh Wales we have hardly any young Christians full stop; and I can count those I know of which have a passion to fight injustice on one hand!

How to get involved with Tearfund?

  • You can visit the website to find out about the latest news so you can get praying about the work and give some money if you can.
  • And if your a Facebook user you can sing up to the Tearfund SuperBadger app through which you can lobby politicians about various issues Tearfund feel strongly about.

Please pray especially for Hywel and Miriam and all the volunteers Tearfund have in Wales and pray for Janet and the other brilliant people who I met at the head office. Pray that the Spirit will lead them in their work and that through them more and more Christians will live a more responding life to the Gospel and though that integral mission will happen and people all over the world through Tearfund’s work will see material and spiritual transformation in their life.

Report from the Tony Campolo meeting, Carmarthen

June 16, 2009

photo_1Saturday night I went to the Tony Campolo meeting in Carmarthen. The Chapel was packed out, possibly as much as 500 there, seldom do we see preaching meetings attracting so much people in Wales these days. Most of the people there were from the Baptist Union of Wales’s English convention which was held during the day but also a good number of local folks turned in – many of them Welsh speakers which was very encouraging.

The meeting started with some worship lead by a well rehearsed local (I presume) worship band. They launched through a few modern day classics like King of Kings Majesty, Mighty to Save and Light of the World before powering through the victorious Crown Him With Many Crowns. The Spirit’s present was very much felt during the singing by all who were there. This was followed by a word of prayer and a reading from scripture then Campolo took to the pulpit.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 34-40)

His message was a warm but also hard hitting mix of a call to personal faith in Jesus and a challenge for Christians to live their lives in the light that Jesus laid it all down for them. His delivery was rather eclectic – he used a lot of humor and also used a lot of stories he’d picked up during the years to convey his point. But when needed he reverted to some good old fashioned Baptist staring the congregation out and shouting on us to repent and follow Jesus anew.

photo

He finished his sermon with one of his often used motifs: “When you were born, you cried and everybody else was happy. The only question that matters is this: When you die, will YOU be happy when everybody else is crying?”

The meeting was bought to a close with the very Welsh, at the request of Campolo himself, Guide me O Thou great Jehovah. This was one of those meetings that I will remember for years to come.

Tony Campolo comes to Carmarthen

June 12, 2009

One of my favorite Christian thinkers of our time is Tony Campolo, I have huge respect for him. This Saturday he’s the keynote speaker at the English Welsh Baptist’s annual Union meeting and the evening meeting is public so I’m going to hear him speak live. I’ve been reading the books and tuning in to the podcasts for some years now so I’m really looking forward to see and hear him in flesh. It really saddens me that some Christians go around branding him as a Liberal only because he preaches the Kingdom of God in it’s full glory and not only personal salvation. He still affirms the importance of personal salvation only that he teaches that the Gospel is more than personal salvation only. In my view he knocks the nail on it’s head and brings a much needed counter emphasis to the evangelical world.

The meeting is at 7pm, Saturday 13th June at Tabernacle Chapel, Waterloo Terrace, Carmarthen – £5 on the door. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

I’ll let the man speak for himself now….

What can be learnt from Rob Bell?

April 8, 2009

Rob BellThe logic thought of great twentieth century evangelical intellectuals such as Francis Schaeffer, Herman Dooyeweerd, E. L. Hebden Taylor etc… was very modernistic in it’s outlook. They argued till death with modernism and it’s thinkers but they did it, ironically and probably unknowingly, in a modernistic way. They all, of course, loved their saviour, but their word view, one could argue was not a Jesus follower one but a modernistic one and they battled against modernism using modernism’s own intellectual tools rather than a humble Jesus from Nazareth way.

Rob Bell by going down a different route to the last generation of evangelical thinkers is not a heretic just for coming up with new post-modern approaches to intellectual dialog. He is simply doing what the previous generation did and what, of course, Paul did at the biblical Mars Hill! (Acts 17) One must engage the thought of the day to present Jesus as a personal saviour and as a universal redeemer.

I have been very much influenced by Mark Driscoll’s sermons since I first listened in 18 months ago. But if I think about it he doesn’t introduce any different ideas or emphasis from the emphasis I was taught growing up in a Conservative Evangelical Church here in Aberystwyth. He does it in a more cool/hip/rad/street-cred/cussing way, but content and emphasis wise it’s nothing new for me.

Rob Bell 1

Bell on the other hand balances me off nicely from an emphasis that was missing in my conservative evangelical upbringing. I became a Christian around the age of 14 I think – but for many years after that I didn’t grow in the faith because the only thing I was taught was sin management theology – I already got that and what I needed was a deeper understanding of the Cross, a deeper understanding of the restoration through Jesus, a deeper understanding of His Kingdom. From the age of 18 onwards I saw that there was more to Christianity than sin management theology and by the age of 23 when I first got hold of books by people like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell I discovered that there were other Christians out there who had been through the same journey as me!

Sure, some things Bell says I don’t agree with but are there any people out there who would agree that men like, say, Martyn Lloyd-Jones got it right on every single issue? Of course not.

Ok. Testimony over. Thanks for listening!

Praying for the G20 meeting in London

April 1, 2009

tearfund rallyOur world has been living beyond its means, financially and environmentally, while the most vulnerable suffer the consequences.

This financial crisis means radical policy changes are being discussed at the forthcoming G20 summit in London tomorrow.

Right now is a unique opportunity to pray for a fairer, more sustainable world.

Tearfund is calling on Christians to put God first and join the movement asking for jobs, justice and a greener economy.

Billions of dollars have been made available and ‘thrown’ at bankers in recent months by Western governments despite their frequent failure in the past to meet aid targets.

There is anger about these double standards in developing countries.

World leaders have the chance to build economic policies that will sustain the environment and will limit the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable communities.

Pray for the G20 leaders and finance ministers as they focus on how to respond to financial crisis and formulate new global financial arrangements
Pray for all Christians to show their concerns at this crucial time through prayer, fasting, marching and simple advocacy approaches to local and national leaders. We worship a God of justice and power. Let’s place our hope in him to work through world leaders at this time to bring about justice and change.

Tearfund

Rhys Llwyd took the “Anglican Identity” quiz and the result is: Modern Evangelical

March 18, 2009

Facebook is the hub of community life these days, sounds odd I know, but in a post-community world Facebook is the closest you get to the real thing unfortunately. And it’s on Facebook tonight that I entered a rather deep theological discussion with a friend of mine. So interesting that i thought it would make a blog post. Tom will be entering the ministry through the Anglican Church and he came out as an “Anglo-Catholic” on the quiz on Facebook. Here’s how the discussion unfolded:

Me: i got “modern evangelical” in the anglican quiz!

Tom: hmm, do you think it fits?

Me: well, it depends what other categories there were? If I’m “modern evangelical” rather than “fundamentalist evangelical” then I’m happy with the label i was given!

But personally I try to avoid the “evangelical” label because of the unfortunate connotation attached stemming from the marriage between evangelicalism and the political right in the US 😦

Tom: Hmm, I think in modern Wales the denominations are quite blurred, though something of a Church Chapel divide still exists. I once went to a chapel funeral and afterwards I met an American Evangelical Missionary hoping to set up “missions” in Wales. He was from Bob Jones University apparently.

Me: yes, your right. Most of the activities I’m involved in are post-denominational (meaning all nonconformist denomination and non-denominational churches are involved) but Anglicans are never on the scene, thats odd really. Have the Anglicans got their own youth/young adults networks perhaps? Or do they generally lack that demographic group full stop? Not a loaded question, just a’n honest interest!

Tom: Personally, I dont think Anglican Churches get involved enough with social justice. Did you meet John Butler the previous Anglican Chaplain? In my home diocese of Birmingham there are quite a few youth groups and they tend to cross varying churches, for instance there is a Church in the centre of Birmingham which acts as a sort of hub for fresh expressions. The Cathedrals tend to attract the largest proportion of people and so tend to have groups for varying age ranges. Generally, parish churches have youth groups if they have any youth and on the whole that demographic is quite small.

Me: Interesting. I believe in the one universal catholic Church but within that I think we need different congregations, I believe it’s healthy and it goes to show the strength of the body of Christ. Unity in diversity is a model we see over and over again in the New Testament. The ecumenical movement tried to get unity through union, the movement failed because in my opinion it wasn’t a Biblical model. True unity can only be forged by a willingness to respect and tolerate diversity and to do that it’s naturally to have a choice of congregations: evangelical and high-church, traditional and charismatic, pedo and baptists, congregational and presbyterian etc. etc.

Tom: Well I see the Biblical model for church as being part of a universal church too, that church is part of one body that is in a particular place and carries a particular character according to the people of that place. For instance, the Church IN Corinth and Paul adapted his ethics to the issues facing the people of Corinth rather than seeking a universal ethics applicaple to all churches. I think the same applies to communion, that seems to be used as a means of recognising the validity of certain churches. So the ecumenical movement attempted to bring all churches into communion into with each other and that of course required a universal doctrine about communion, clearly this does not work as doctrine forms to time and place.

Me: yes, the requirement of universal doctrine was the nail in the coffin of the 1980/90s ecumenical movement. The movements leaders condemned evangelicals for damaging unity because they wouldn’t let go of their doctrinal stand point but what the ecumenicals were blind to their own dogma which stated that doctrine was not important – but that standpoint in-itself was a doctrinal one!

Very interesting discussion, must head to bed now! Take care. Rhys

Stop Press: Tony Campolo visiting Wales this summer!

March 17, 2009

Tony Campolo, well-known American pastor, author, sociologist, and public speaker is coming to Wales this Summer! He is best known for challenging Evangelical Christians by illustrating how their faith can offer solutions in a world of complexity. With his liberal political and social attitudes, he has been a major proponent for progressive thought and reform in the evangelical community. He has become a leader of the movement called “Red-Letter Christian”, putting the emphasis on the reported words of Jesus, found in many Bible publications in a red font. He is, one of my present day heros.

He’s the keynote speaker at a conference organized by the Baptist Union of Wales to be held at Carmarthen on the 11th and 12th of June. As i understand the Friday night meeting will be held at Tabernacle Chapel and attendance is open to all with a request for a £5 donation. The Saturday event needs people to pre-register – i have no more information about the Saturday event yet.

This is very exiting news indeed!

Would the Apostole Paul have used short haul flights?

March 9, 2009

Highland AirwaysI read more of Dewi Arwel Hughes’ Power and Poverty last night. The thrust of what I have read so far is that God has ordained us to cultivate the land and that our laziness and shabby work in doing that cultivating leads to poverty and even death for millions of people elsewhere. Of course, Dewi presents the argument in a fuller and more articulate way. The reason I’m bringing this up now is because today I’m admitting to being part of a big structural carbon sin. I’m traveling down from Bangor to Cardiff and back to a meeting via aeroplane!

Let me first of all explain the economics of it. Compare these:

Train
Cost: £72.10
Out: Depart Bangor: 6.02, Arrive Cardiff: 9.58 
(Journey Time: 3 hours 56 minutes)

Return: Depart Cardiff: 17.20, Arrive Bangor: 21.40, 
(Journey Time: 4 hours 20 minutes)

Air
Cost: £53.90
Out: Depart Valley: 8.55, Arrive Cardiff: 10.00, 
(Journey Time: 1 hour 5 minutes)
Return: Depart Cardiff: 16.15, Arrive Valley: 17.20, 
(Journey Time: 1 hour 5 minutes)

The only catch with the aeroplane is that I have to drive 20 minutes to Valley from Bangor and I’ll have to take a taxi for 20 minutes from Cardiff Airport into the city itself; but three of us are going from Bangor via aeroplane so we’ll share a lift over to the airport and share a taxi the other end. Both services are heavily subsidized by the government but the aeroplane receives the most subsidy. 50% of the service is subsidized as I understand; so for every pound I pay Highland Airways the government give them another.

Arriva Trains WalesI’m not going to try and defend my flying antics but just look at the difference in journey times before you excommunicate me. I usually take the train, I really do, but this week I’m just too busy and the temptation, considering the convenience and time difference of the plane, was too much to resist.

What is the answer then? Massive investment to the rail infrastructure and rolling stock in Wales. Compare these services:

  • Bangor and Cardiff are separated by 130miles the train journey between both centers takes around 4 hours.
  • Birmingham and London are separated by 100miles and the train journey between both centers takes around 1.5 hours.

If Wales was served with rail infrastructure and rolling stock on par with England the journey between Bangor and Cardiff, in theory, could be cut to only about 2 hours; half of the time it takes now.

The cost of the upgrades to the Welsh lines would be colossal but that is the price society at large, humanity at large even, must pay to cut our CO2 emissions and thus show more respect and care for God’s creation. I might take Dewi’s book with me to read on the plane like some kind of catharsis!