It’s rare that South Africa contributes to the world stage. This week, though, South Africa is the world’s stage. From the UN General Assembly down to everyday citizens across the globe people are pausing to mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela.
In my heart, amidst the sorrow, I feel that this deep global respect is not just right but necessary. Yet my head asks “Why?” Why is it that Madiba should have carved a place so deeply in people’s hearts? It’s not that he led his people to freedom. Nearly all sub-Saharan countries can point to the man who led them out of colonial rule. It’s not that he was warm, witty and charismatic. Many politicians can claim that as can some second hand car salesmen.
Madiba not only freed his people from oppression, he forgave his oppressors. It is this forgiveness that resonates so deeply with the world. Understandably so. Forgiveness is as rare as it is valuable. We all need forgiveness. None of us in the quiet of our own reflection will claim to have treated everyone well. And we all need to forgive those around us. The reconciliation and wholeness on the other side of forgiveness is what we all desperately yearn for.
Yet forgiveness is hard. It requires a heart of extreme generosity. We all know how hard it is to forgive someone who has wronged us. Which is why we revere Nelson Mandela who forgave those who intentionally, systematically and brutally oppressed his people, his family and him. They attempted to destroy not only the fabric of his life but his very human dignity. They failed. “When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both”.
With a heart of extreme generosity he not only denied his oppressor victory, he shared his victory with them. We will not likely get the opportunity to exercise such revolutionary social generosity. But people will hurt us, wrong us and fail us. In that spirit of generosity we too can forgive and offer reconciliation. And though we may not be people of Nelson Mandela’s stature, we have a God who was even more generous than Nelson Mandela. He was generous to us, giving us His son who gave up his life so that he could give us forgiveness. With that as a platform we too can be players on the world stage.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by tedeytan
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (Micah 7:8b)
This month we celebrate the fact that our glorious Lord came as a babe to redeem this world from darkness.
When we were in darkness, he sent His light. The light of the world.
As we enter in to the festivities of this season, the reality is that many around us sit in darkness. There are those that are lonely, those that are sick, those that are in debt… the list is endless.
Our God has called us to be the salt of the earth. How can we be a light to those people this Christmas? How can we show them that He who is the light in our darkness, loves them with an everlasting love and wants to reach out to them?
He came to be our light. Your generosity and sacrifice can be the demonstration of His light this Christmas.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Wim Vandenbussche
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.
This past Tuesday, 3 December, was the second annual ‘Giving Tuesday.’ Bill and Melinda Gates sent out an e-mail that describes the day and their involvement: ‘Giving Tuesday, the idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back.’
The Giving Tuesday website lists lots of great organizations that need your support, and although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time. Remarkably, the first campaign in 2012 demonstrated a spike in online giving of up to 53%. This year’s numbers are not in yet. Except for Charlotte.
Charlotte, a four year old in the UK, made her donation before Giving Tuesday. Like Bill and Melinda, Charlotte sent out an invitation to friends and family. But here’s the difference: Charlotte wanted to give on her birthday. She had never even heard of ‘Giving Tuesday.’ Charlotte invited her loved ones to come to her birthday party bringing not gifts for her, but donations to and her Mum’s favourite charity, charity: water .
How did she get so inspired to give to others? Charlotte watched a video with her mum, Claire. That’s how she started thinking about giving generously on her birthday to others. Together, mum and daughter made birthday party invitations with the request: ‘Instead of presents, please visit Charlotte’s charity’s page.’
Claire used give.net to set up a fundraising page and asked people to donate in her name in lieu of birthday presents to charity: water. How did it turn out?
Her friends, classmates and family loved the idea and donated almost £200. (She also got some small personal presents, like a mermaid cup.) Charlotte’s goal was £100. But the best bit: a little girl from her class brought an envelope with £10 in it to the party. Claire said to Charlotte, ‘Honey, you met your goal. Why don’t you keep this bit for yourself?’
‘No, mummy, those children need clean water. I want to help give it to them.’
How can you be like a generous child this season?
A resource: I have a friend who on Boxing Day-after the business, excesses, and joys of Christmas-sits down with his three children and plans what to give from a special Christmas present: stewardship vouchers. Each child gets a voucher and chooses to give the voucher to designated charity. Why? Part of understanding generosity is in being generous. How can your family give in a planned and thoughtful manner after Christmas? Here are some simple steps:
Order charity gift vouchers and pass on the gift of giving this Christmas...
To request your gift vouchers (available in £10s or £20s), gift cards and envelopes:
2. Click the Donate button and choose 'charity gift vouchers' from your recipient list
3. Enter the total amount
4. Enter your order details in the 'Reference' box (e.g. no. of vouchers & cards)
5. Orders will be posted to your account address within 2 working days.
Please order by 13th December to guarantee delivery before Christmas.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Official U.S. Navy
Since September 2013, the Charity Commission has been opening statutory inquiries into charities that are late in filing their accounts for two or more years. There were three Christian charities named in the first twelve enquiries and a church PCC in the second list.
Not only is it a criminal offence to file a charity’s accounts late but the Commission regard it as a signal of mismanagement / misconduct in administration and governance, often associated with the misapplication or abuse of charitable funds.
Being subject to a very public Charity Commission inquiry can have a major negative impact, especially if the local press pick up on the matter. Therefore, charities should make sure that they have procedures in place to file your accounts on time. This includes making a timely start to gathering the information needed to prepare the accounts, as well as giving time for the drafting of the accounts and trustees report, for the independent examination or audit of those accounts and for dealing with any queries arising. Most charities accounts need to be filed with the Charity Commission within ten months of the charity’s financial year end.
If you would like to discuss any particular concerns with us, please contact Stephen Mathews, Head of our Independent Examinations Team on 020 8502 8588.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Ken Teegardin
‘No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent…’
On Friday 15 November, Mr. Richard Pulga, 27, died — essentially of a broken leg. He was alone on an island. He lived in the Philippines.
Just a week before, his piece of the continent was ripped apart by the strongest typhoon in the world this year, and now thought to be the most powerful ever to hit land.
The inhabitants of the Philippines are no strangers to typhoons, in fact this was the 25th tropical storm to hit the islands this year, but this one was like no other and its designation as a ’super typhoon’ only hints at the catastrophic results of its visit. Super Typhoon Haiyan brought heavy torrential rains to 33 provinces in Visayas, Bicol and northern Mindanao. Meteorologists had predicted that it was capable of causing the greatest wind damage from a tropical storm endured by any place on Earth in the past century. Millions indeed fell victim to it. Mr. Pulga’s story is one of theirs and should be part of ours. His leg was shattered by a coconut which the storm-force winds hurled at him like a cannonball. The father of two small children was taken to a local hospital, Eastern Visayas Regional. He lay there for days. The New York Times reported the details of his treatment from interviews with doctors at the two hospitals, Eastern Visayas Regional and St. Paul’s. Left unattended at Eastern Visayas Regional, his transfer to St. Paul’s for emergency care came too late to save him.
By the time Dr. Rodel Flores, a surgeon with a team of visiting doctors, found Mr. Pulga on Thursday, he had received no antibiotics or antiseptic and his leg was badly infected. The doctor ordered an emergency amputation to try to save his life. But the surgery was too late, and death soon followed. “In short,” Dr. Flores said, “it was preventable.”
Richard Pulga died at St. Paul’s Hospital. His wife, Marycris, was told by a security guard that her husband’s body would have to be buried in a mass grave if she could not remove it. She had no vehicle in which to transport it and sobbed for more than an hour, refusing to make a decision.
Mr Pulga’s story, and that of his surviving wife and family, is one of so many deeply affecting stories. Others’ stories will sadly remain unknown to us, but not to God. Each story, known or unknown, serves to remind us that we are all connected through our faith and through our humanity and we can all stand together in prayer.
Pray for the Philippines; pray for relief efforts and doctors and nurses and people on the ground as they labour in extremely difficult circumstances; pray for the governments and the peoples of our world to understand that all our actions and choices affect others. Pray for Mr. Pulga’s family; for his wife and two children. Pray for those who are in desperate need that they will experience God in the midst of their sufferings.
…Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.’ John Donne
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Typhoon Haiyan is feared to have killed up to 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more in the Philippines.
The country’s president has declared a state of national calamity.
The Disaster’s Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an appeal to help those affected by this disaster.
You can donate to this fund here*
Stewardship also supports a number of other recipients working in the Philippines, such as Tearfund(20021570)**, Christian Aid (20005801), British Red Cross (20033046), Save The Children (20021708), and many more. Please contact us if you would like further information on how you can donate.
At this time communication is impossible but we will add further updates to this page as news begins to come through.
* You can use this page to give with a debit or credit card, or from your giving account balance by logging in when prompted.
** Recipient's Stewardship account number
My son passed away on a military base in 1996. He was 22.
It was a car accident,early in the morning at 5am, just as he was called up for formation.
We got the call early. He probably was rushing; driving too fast. He always drove too fast. It was Mother's Day weekend; a beautiful spring day.
In the United States, when a member of the military passes away, two serving officers are dispatched to tell the soldier’s family the news in person - that same day. We had already had the phone call. But I said that already, didn’t I?
They come to your home to tell you; to stand with you in your shock, and then your grief.
They arrive in full uniform, official looking, straight and to the point, viewers into your eyes. Sorry for your loss is their opening words.The rest blurs.
They stand stiff, straight like wooden boards in their well pressed uniforms. They come because they want you to know: we remember you at this time.
Seventeen years have passed and I still get teary about that visit.
These two officers did not know Joey (though we would meet his soldier friends later). They were sent as symbols,remembrances being mindful of us, our now broken family, remembering us.
And what is etched most in my memory about their visit?
It was,and still is,their presence.They didn't have to say anything.
They were there.
I needed those two service people that day. Their youth reminded me of what was lost. Their commitment and purpose reminds me of why Joey was serving. Remembrances.
My tears, our sorrows, were not missed or forgotten.
Today and in the days to come, stand with our soldiers, someone's son and daughter. Stand with their families, those who still have and those who have lost.
Pray for them. Speak to God for them. He hears your prayers,and somehow our prayers work with His will. Don't ask how; I don't know. I do know He remembers. He doesn't forget a one. He remembered us that day.
Remember with Him in prayer.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 12:1 (The Message)
Place your life before God
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering…
The clocks may be changing, leaves falling, temperatures dropping and cold days a-heading, but autumn half term is a great way to celebrate God’s wonderful world and to share his gifts. Here are 10 generous things to do this half-term with the kids.
1 First of all – get ready
Create a holiday planner calendar and allow each family member to choose one favourite activity. The key is that everyone has to take part and no grumbling! It could be watching a favourite movie, playing a board game, going for a cycle or an autumn walk.
2 While the sun is shining...or at least if it isn’t raining
Go on an autumn treasure hunt: collect leaves, seeds, conkers, pine cones, anything that you might be able to put to good use later.
3 Even if it is raining
Clear the leaves or rubbish in your garden or outside area and then offer to clear your neighbour's as well.
3 Plant some bulbs
Choose some spring bulbs: hyacinths, daffodils or tulips. Plant them either outdoors or indoors. Decorate the pots with paint or stickers. Why not make two and give one away?
4 Go on a penny hunt
Collect all the small change in your house; don’t forget down the side of the sofa, under the beds and the back of drawers. Add the money up and discuss as a family where you would like to give it away.
5 Read a harvest passage from the Bible
Talk about the seasons and why celebrating harvest was so important to the farmers in Jesus’ time. Talk about God’s harvest. Here are some helpful passages:
Matt 13: 1-23 The farmer scatters seeds
Matt 13: 31-32 A tiny seed and a big tree
Luke 12: 16-21 The parable of the foolish farmer
Older children could write the story again from a different angle, from the point of view of one of the seeds for instance.Younger children could draw or paint a picture to describe the story.
6 Get crafty
Make some cards or an Autumn collage using the things you found on your walk. Send them to friends and relatives as a surprise.
7 Make pine cone bird feeders
Help our feathered friends during the colder months. Simply coat pine cones in peanut butter and then roll in seeds.You can hang these anywhere: from sticks, on branches or the garden hedge.
8 Cooking mayhem
Autumn is the time to make jams and chutneys from fruit collected at harvest time. Kids and grown-ups could make some together. Or try making toffee apples. Click here for a great recipe. Make some for an apple party and invite all your friends – see below.
Donate some food to the local food bank or soup kitchen or clear out your wardrobe and toy cupboard and again, donate to a local charity.
10 Hold an apple party
Apples are as much about Autumn as anything else. Did you know there are over 3,000 varieties grown in the UK alone. Can you name any?
>Play apple bobbing
Fill a tub with water and float apples in it. Have players hold their hands behind their backs and try pick up apples using only their mouths. Have towels handy.
>Play apple pass
Divide players into teams. Place an apple under the chin of one team member. When you say "Go!" players must pass the apple from one player to the next using only their chins and necks. If an apple is dropped, teams have to start over.
->Apple on a string
Tie apples to long pieces of string and suspend them from the ceiling, a door top or a tree. Each player is assigned one apple and must try to take a bite out of it without using his hands to hold it steady.
So no need to be bored this half term: bake, cook, stick, send, invite, donate, plant, hunt, give and, most importantly, have fun!
What are your ideas for entertaining the kids this half term? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page here.
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St. Luke’s church in Kentish town lay unused, a dumping ground for Kentish community rubbish for over 20 years. The church building held everything from stoves, to microwaves and minibus seats. The one thing it did not hold: a Sunday church meeting. This Anglican Church was reborn in December 2011. Jon and Sus March, the 30-something vicar and his wife and their three young children, led a small group of founding settlers to reclaim the church building. The church’s mission and vision statement is: ‘to transform communities’ and they do so by engaging people at their point of need. How do they do this?
St. Luke’s is not a ‘top down’ church in structure and practice. Home groups are called ‘Hubs’ and are encouraged to identify people’s needs, face outward to the community, and plan to transform hurts to healings. There are currently eleven of these groups ranging from an Alpha Hub, to a Creative Arts Hub, two Mothers’ or ‘Crumbs’ Hubs, Compassion Hub and a Metal Hub (more on that one later). What needs are being met? The Compassion Hub holds a Tea Party every six weeks for the isolated, elderly and the vulnerable of Kentish Town. Average attendance is over 20. The local council recognizes St. Luke’s as a befriending community and refers local people in need of friends. The Compassion Hub then opens the church doors to those who are alone and hurting. Recently, one participant said, ‘A year ago the only person I would ever see was my carer once a day. Now I have people from the church visiting me and being interested in me . . . it makes me want to live a bit longer, which I didn’t before.’
At the other end of the spectrum is the Metal Hub. This Hub serves as a bridge in the gap between the church and the Camden metal community. A month ago a Metal music night with Christian metal bands was held at the church. A young attendee on the night said, ‘No one thinks you can be a Christian and into metal music.’ By a wonderful twist, a number of local, older neighbours attended the night. Jon, the Vicar, reached out to an elderly neighbour before the event so she would be prepared for the music. She said, ‘I don’t care how loud the music is. I might even sit in my garden and listen. What your church has done is amazing.’ A Hub leader said, ‘We are showing people that Jesus came for you.’
That is what these two seemingly different Hubs have in common: they build community by serving communities. And they do so by identifying people’s needs and meeting them with Jesus.
How is your church reaching the local community? Let us know in the comments below.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.