Tag Archives: Justice

People often ask me how I'm doing now that I'm exiled in Zone 6.

I tell them "it’s ok, I’m ok." And I am.

But I am also scared.

I am scared that before I know it I will slip into a living coma of a comfortable & complacent suburban life.

I am scared that I’ll begin to confuse the lines between want and need.

I am scared that I won't even notice when I begin to think that neighbours parking outside the wrong house is a crime punishable by getting lost in IKEA for an eternity.

I am scared that I’ll have a 9-5 office job that I don’t really like but am too afraid to leave – because without that I wouldn't know who I was?

I am scared that living in anything but a house with a garden will become unimaginable.

I am scared that I'll start reading the Daily Mail.

I am scared that as I get lulled into a false sense of security my dreams will start to shrink, as will my reliance on the God I love and try to serve.

I am scared that Waitrose will become the norm not a luxury.

I am scared of a life of  No Adventure

I am scared I will get Stuck.

I am scared that one day Jesus will put me in a group with my fellow goats – Matthew 25 y’all, I don’t actually think I’ll turn into a goat, bah!

I am scared that I’ll become a goat and not even care.

I am scared that one day I will realise how comfortable I have become and be too afraid to change it.

I am scared that I will no longer believe that Jesus is enough.

I am scared that I will trivialise the concerns and worries of my fellow suburbanites.

I am scared that I will blame the suburbs for my own laziness.

I am scared that I don't really understand the meaning of perfect love casting out fear (1 John 4 v18).

I am scared that I over dramatise everything.

BUT I do know that God is with me always, even until the end of the age (not infact a LOTR quote but Matthew 28 v 20). So really what is there to be scared of?

What about you, are you scared of anything?

Omygosh! You will never guess what happened to me today! There was no running water in the flat. Like, the water actually stopped running! The tap was totally on, but there was no water! Nothing. Nada. Zip. No water. 

Did you get that yet? There was no water!

So I couldn't get a drink, even though I was parched.

I couldn't cook my dinner, even though I was hungry.


I couldn't water the herbs in the kitchen, even though they were drier than the plain chicken at Nandos (seriously, why is that even an option?).


I couldn't wash the dirty plates and cutlery, even though flies were hovering menacingly around them. 


I couldn't wash my hands, even though they were covered in Public Transport Filth - I dread to think of what I might have caught if it weren't for my trusty hand sanitizer. 


I'm pretty sure that the washing machine wouldn't have worked either - so no clean clothes y'all.



The tap was totally on, but there was no water. For like, at least half an hour. A full 30 minutes. And then, thank God, it suddenly came back. 



Thank God the toilet was still working.


Thank God I didn't have to make the 30 second trip to the corner shop to buy some bottled water (I mean, I don't think they even stock Isklar Water - my favourite Carbon Neutral Norweigan glacial natural mineral water with exceptionally low mineral content. I might have been reduced to buying Evian or something equally mediocre - just the very thought of it will give me nightmares for a week).


Thank God I then didn't have to carry the mediocre bottled water up two flights of stairs. 

Thank God that even if I had bought some water it would have been clean and wouldn't have made me ill. 

Thank God the water came back on.


Thank God the water came back on and I was able to drink clean water from the tap, cook my dinner, wash up and wash my hands. 


#FirstWorldProblems



From Tearfund

The truth is that not everyone has access to safe drinking water - and by everyone I mean 768 million everyones.  This is roughly one in ten of the world's population. 
(WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2013 update)*


The truth is that unclean drinking water increases your chances of developing water related diseases such as diarrhoea, trachoma and typhoid. Some of these diseases can be fatal, especially in children who are less than 5 years old.

The truth is that women in Africa and Asia often carry 20kg of water on their heads, that's the same weight as the average UK airport luggage allowance (UNDP: Human Development Report, 2006: page 34-35)*. I can usually barely lift my holiday suitcase onto the conveyor at the airport, let alone carry it on my head. Every day. And then walk a few miles. 


The truth is that sickness and having to fetch water everyday is a huge barrier to working and education.

But there is Hope - there are some great organisations such as Water Aid and Tearfund who work with communities to make safe and clean drinking water accessible. See how you can support them.


What else can you do?


Buy Belu Water.


Sponsor the 'I carried a watermelon' team. For real, they're carrying a watermelon. 


Tweet about it, facebook about it, instagram about it. Tell people you know - get them to do something about it too. 


*Info from www.wateraid.org


One day it will all make sense, right?


Farther Along - Josh Garrells

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
We're all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin' on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I've seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin' that line back home

So much more to life than we've been told
It's full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you've done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left go
'Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon 

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by


Now we see things imperfectly, as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. 1 Corinthians 13v12

You really need to see it. It’s just ten images of Syrian refugees with their most important thing.

For those of you who dismissed the link the first time here is it again: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21939840

It reminded me that behind the headlines of body counts and outside of the politics of interference from the west are Real People. 

Actual real people - mind, body and soul. 

Real people who have had their lives violently interrupted and ripped apart.

Real mothers and fathers who worry about the futures of their children.
Real school children whose education has been stopped.

Real business owners who have left behind their livelihoods.

Real children who fight and argue with their siblings.

Real people who get ill and tired and scared.

Real people who had roots in the family, friends, neighbours and community they love o so dearly but had to leave behind.

Real people with hopes for the future clouded by the worries of today.

Real people who hope that change is coming. 

Real people.


Not just ‘Syrians,’ a group of people ‘other’ than us. Real people.

Change a few circumstances and it could have been us, forced to leave behind everything we know for life in a refugee camp.

There are thousands of these real people. Thousands of men, women and children. Thousands of mothers, wives, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins and daughters. Thousands of fathers, husbands, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and sons.


When confronted with something so big and with such a high human cost I often get overwhelmed by not knowing the best way to respond. I have learned to do two things: 

1. Pray. Even though it often doesn't seem like much prayer takes the problem to the throne of God - there is nothing more powerful.

2. Support the people paying the cost - usually through an organisation that know what they're doing.

3. If the global scale seems outta reach then find out if you can do something on a local scale.  

Reach out your hand. The least we can do is try and support these real people: /http://www.tearfund.org/en/news/press_releases/dec_launches_syria_crisis_appeal/

Pray. Petition. Seek Peace.

So You Told Me Slavery Was Over

so you told me slavery was over.
people were no longer bought and sold.
you said it was abolished by william wilberforce.

you said wicked men came and forced free people onto ships in chains.
they had no choice.
you said they were kept in degrading conditions
by those who cared more about money than humanity.

you said they were bought and sold at auction.
families torn apart in seconds.
you said they were forced to work long hours with no regard for their person.
you said escape was near impossible
they were trapped by stronger men.

it was seen as acceptable you told me,
no-one objected.

no-one really cared.

we said how could they do that?
we'd never have accepted it
we would have put it right

you said the slave trade continued until a small group of people recognised it for what it was,
disgusting
inhumane
perverse

you said they worked hard to have the slave trade abolished.
then you told me it was finally all over.

bye bye slave trade
hello freedom

but what about today?

what about women promised better lives and then sold like cattle?
what about those kept in degrading conditions
by men who care more about money than humanity?

what about children whose names are replaced by numbers?
those forced to satisfy the lust of 12 men a night?
what about those with no escape
who are trapped by stronger men?

how could you tell me it was over when it so clearly isn't?

you said it was seen as acceptable.
noone objected.
noone really cared.
not us we said
we'd have seen it for what it was,
disgusting
inhumane
perverse
how could they have been so blind?
we would have put it right
we would have been abolitionists

but what about today?
do we see it for what it is?

do we care?
or do we think it's acceptable?

will we be abolitionists?

So last Saturday I spent a few hours hanging around one of the entrances to the Millwall football ground trying to persuade everyone who went by to donate some money to the Trussell Trust. Yeah, at Millwall – the team with the reputation for having the nicest fans in the country.
Why was I there? Good Question (those mind reading psych lectures have really paid off) and one I asked myself several times over the course of the day. This crazy/amazing lady called Alex was doing a 24 hour run in order to raise money for the Trussell Trust foodbank network.
Yes, 24 hours of non-stop running.
I don’t understand how it works either. I can barely stay awake for 24 hours let alone run at the same time. Like I said, crazy/amazing. She started on the track at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre on Friday afternoon and then kept running till she lapped the pitch during half-time of the Millwall game. You can still donate: http://www.justgiving.com/AlexFoodbank24hour.
So there I was, bucket in hand, fake smiling so much I felt like Barbie and getting sick of hearing myself say “We’re collecting for the foodbank network” when I was reminded of the vast spectrum of generosity (I usually get this epiphany during supermarket collections).
At one end you have those who ignore you as they walk past muttering something about 'charity muggers' (Hello! I am right next to you! I'm not deaf so say it to my face!), and at the other end you have those who donate notes rather than coins without you even having to ask. In-between you get those who give you two coppers from their fist full of change and those who dig around in their pockets for five minutes and give a few pounds. And then there’s those who ask where the money goes and give their stamp of approval that it’s to help people in the UK. I’m not wanting to judge people’s generosity (I have been several of these people), what they do with their money is between them and God, but I was just reminded of how different we are.
My favourite moment of the day was when a kid, around 6 years old, pulled on his Dad’s sleeve asking for money to give. I doubt he had any idea what I was collecting for, but something in him wanted to give money away. Maybe because he doesn't have any money of his own, giving away his Dad's money is an easy thing to do (hmmm, I think there's a lesson here). It was totally worth standing in the freezing cold and being called "flower" and "love" by scary Millwall fans more times than I can count  just to see that kid make his Dad stop and search for some money. O the things you can learn from children...

Today was the church AGM (social highlight of the year obvs). Maybe not the easiest of things of follow (accounts completely baffle me) but important all the same. During the Q & A section a friend turned to me and said “What do you want to see Rach?”
I gave my standard answer when my head is empty but full of wondering what exactly the implications are of  the restricted and unrestricted funds section of the accounts – “Good question. I’m not sure, haven't thought about it that much.” Which to be honest isn't the whole truth. I know what I want to see in the Church as a whole, but I’d never really thought about what I wanted to see in my local church. 
Which is kinda lazy and crazy (check tha’ rhymes) given that one of the reasons I chose to attend St Peter’s was because I believe in the vision of the church. But I guess part of that was me signing on to someone else’s vision. Which is strange because I have a million and five opinions on what I think the Church should look like, and yes, some of these opinions definitely contradict (keeping track of a million and five opinions is hard work).
So what do I want to see?

It’s simple really - Love. 

I want to see a community of people who Love.

Love God, love each other & love those in our community.

Love that is patient and kind. Love that is not jealous, or boastful or proud or rude. Love that does not demand its own way. Love that is not irritable or counts when it has been wronged. Love that rejoices in truth and justice. Love that never gives up or loses faith. Love that endures through every circumstance.  

An all encompassing love that is good news to the poor, comforts the broken hearted and sets captives free. 

I want to see a people who give freely, serve joyfully and worship faithfully.

A family where all are welcomed and no-one is left out. 
A family who rejoices with you in times of celebration. 
A family who helps carry you when you’re in a valley and all is dark.
A family who is right beside you through all seasons of life.

In other words I want to see a church that looks more like Jesus and less like the rest of us. 
So the challenge to myself is am I one of those people? Am I contributing to the Church I want to see?
Not always.
But the great thing is that there’s always an opportunity to start.
Shoutout to one of the YWAM crew for the photo.

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit a friend in Hove and as we wandered into Brighton we happened up a few stalls taking part in the Food Festival. For some reason unknown/bad planning, all the stalls were selling food and 8 out the 10 stalls were selling cake, of which there were many free samples! So I put aside all my concerns of people touching what I was about to eat with their filthy filthy hands and embraced the free samples. Of which there were many brownies. 

And so in typical browser style we tried all the samples, didn’t buy anything and went about our business. But on the way back I couldn't resist the temptation to get something. I could hear the brownies calling my name, and it would have been rude to ignore them.


But then I faced the ultimate question – which brownie was best?!

We decided (obviously this was too important a decision to make by myself) that rather than re-try all the brownies we would just go with whatever one we remembered as being the best. Fortunately we both decided that the first stall we had gone to was the proud owner of the Rachel & Fabienne 2012 Best Brownie Award (I don’t know what we would have done if we had disagreed, probs hold a street bake-off or something – highly illegal I know but do you have a better idea?!).


So we wondered over to the first stall where all the brownies were neatly packaged in cute little cardboard boxes. To be honest the quest almost failed at this point – “brownies packaged in boxes?!” I thought, “they must be made in a factory and pumped full of more preservatives than the Duke of Edinburgh.” But I was wrong (for a change), the stall proudly held a sign proclaiming that all the ingredients were kitchen cupboard ingredients (you never know what people keep in their kitchen cupboards though).




“Prosperity Brownies”. Bit of an odd name I thought, must be some kind of play on prosperity gospel. It wasn’t until later when about to partake of said brownie that I read the cute little box and the explanation on it:


“Whilst prosperity brownies is about baking beautiful brownies, our chocolate heart is committed to the prosperity of underprivileged kids. 10% of all our peofits are donated to children’s charities, Viva and global compassion. These two wonderful organisations are dedicated to helping children at risk around the world.”

A quick read of the website reveals that Prosperity Brownies was started by a woman who had a great recipe for brownies and a desire to make a difference to others. Prosperity Brownies was born. 


Not only a great brownie but also committed to helping others! Cake with a conscience. LOVE IT!

Check www.propseritybrownies.com for more info.

 

So I’m standing in my most favourite stationary store of them all (Paperchase of course), a notebook in each hand trying to decide between the two products.
In my right hand I have the Hippy Central notebook – made from recycled paper and using vegetable based inks only (although maybe a real hippy would make one out of dead leaves they found in the street instead of buying one).
In my left hand I have the notebook version of a banker – straight lines, white paper and the ink is probably made out of baby panda spleen. Not a hint of anything recycled or environmentally friendly in sight.
The hippy notebook has 100 less pages than the banker notebook. The hippy notebook has yellower (is that even a word?) pages than then banker notebook. The hippy notebook doesn’t have a spiral spine or perforated pages. But the hippy notebook costs £2.50 more than the banker notebook.
Decisions decisions.
Do I stick to my principles of trying to be environmentally friendly but pay more for a slightly lesser product? Or do I sell out and get the product that is more functional and cheaper but more damaging to the environment?
Am I willing to act on what I claim to believe even when there is a cost?
This is a question I face more than I would like.
Last week I was walking through H&M in the Eastfield Temple (the Westfield in East London – get to know!) acutely aware that most of their clothes sport labels proclaiming ‘Made in Bangladesh’ or ‘Made in Vietnam.’
Now I don’t know for sure that the workers who had to sew these labels in were being exploited but my guess is that it’s more likely than not. So what do I do? Do I buy the cheaper clothes that make a profit from someone else’s misery? Or do I save up and only get fair-trade stuff from somewhere like People Tree?
Am I willing to act on what I claim to believe even when there is a cost?
Are you willing to act on what you believe even when there is a cost?
I am pleased to say that I put the banker notebook back on the shelf and proudly took my Little Hippy Notebook to the till.
But I did get the clothes from H&M (birthday present for my brother. He will almost certainly take them back though. It’s the thought that counts right?).

I LOVE this. 

A bunch of Super Rich people in France turning to their PM and saying, “Look mate, we know we’re in a bit of a fix with this debt thing and all. How about you tell us to give you more money and we’ll do it. We’re loaded; we’ll still have plenty left so we don’t mind. Tax us up baby!” Or words to that effect. And you know what’s happened? France has announced a special tax on the Super Rich.  

Now, my inner cynic says that these Super Rich knew about the impending tax and so decided to make the most of a tax-increase with a bit of positive publicity by appearing to offer their millions ‘for the sake of the nation.’ But at the same time, I believe in human kindness and generosity. And so maybe they did this out of the kindness of their hearts. 

Maybe.

Either way we can learn a lot from this in Britain. Which is why I'm considering sending this letter to the richest people in the country:

Hello Super Rich people in Britain, 

We need you to do us a favour. For the sake of the nation. For the sake of the thousands of people that have supported you in your bids for market domination.

You know this thing called national debt? You know how the government are cutting services left right and centre to make up for our lack of funds? You know how thousands of people are feeling the negative effects of this? Well how about you help us out? I’m thinking in a similar fashion to our French cousins - offer to pay higher taxes.

It’s simple enough. You have millions to spare. The government does not. Well. Actually. Let’s face it, most of the government have a few mill to spare (but don’t get me started on that). The nation itself does not.

So how about a bit of generosity. How about you give back to the nation and people that helped you get where you are today. I’m sure if you rang Dave&Nick up they’d be delighted to accept your most generous offer. And of course, you will be remembered for all time as the people who helped get Britain back on her feet.

Yours sincerely, 

one of the non-super rich people of Britain

And for those of us who aren’t super rich, get yourself supporting the Robin Hood Tax.