International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day!

Women are extraordinary – oppressed and discriminated against throughout history but always fighting for a better world, despite continually being devalued, objectified and forgotten.

Yet remarkably the identity of so many women is what they can do, rather than what has been done to them.

I am so privileged to have had so many outstanding women build into my life and inspire me. Thank you!

Let’s celebrate all women and especially those who are close to us today.

Wonderful Ukrainians

It is amazing how in the short space of a week it is possible to feel so much love, hope and
affection for people that you have never met before.  I met many great people during this past week at the YMCA Youth Unify camp in Poland and was most deeply moved through the immense privilege of getting to know an amazing group of people from YMCA Ukraine – specifically Kiev, Lutsk, Odessa and Kharkiv.  They really ambushed me with their friendship and encouragement.  I wish to use this blog post for two simple reasons:

  1. To honour their faithfulness to their nation, the YMCA and, most importantly, to God.  They work tirelessly in their home towns sacrificing time, money and man
    y other things to serve young people.  Their hunger to understand and know Christ is inspiring.  Love and humility just pours out of them.
  2. To call you to pray for the nation of Ukraine which remains in the midst of such violence and a heartbreaking war.  This video shows four of the volunteers from YMCA Ukraine sing a haunting prayer for the peace of their nation. You may wish to use the song as a tool to lead you into praying for the peace of Ukraine.

The Kingdom of God is here…..in Wednesbury!

If you’re not from the West Midlands  then chances are you have not heard of Wednesbury – unless you are an Ikea anorak.  Even most people in the West Midlands don’t seem to know much about the place.  Wednesbury is a small town of about 24,000 just off the M6 in the Black Country, situated between the bigger towns of Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.  And only 20 minutes from Birmingham.

We have lived here for just over 12 months and we moved here because this is where God’s trail of breadcrumbs has led us.  We’re passionate about the local church have been helping to plant and lead Grace Church in Wolverhampton since 2011.  We are now beginning to gather a team to partner with us in planting a church here in Wednesbury.  It is a wonderful little town with a rich and proud heritage, a great community spirit and home to the tallest rugby posts in the world!

World’s Tallest Rugby Posts

At a first viewing it seems that Wednesbury’s rich Christian heritage is in it’s past but our perception is that the Kingdom of God is here under the surface.  The local church leaders are working hard but there is a great need for more Christian mission in this town.  There is a great need for those who follow Jesus to serve him and his church here in Wednesbury.

Are you passionate about Christian mission?

Do you enjoy getting stuck into local community life?

If so, why not give some prayer and consideration to making a big call and joining us!?  I can guarantee you would make a real difference here.  Do get in touch if you want to find out more.

Riots in Wednesbury at the preaching of John Wesley!

It’s Half-Term!

I’m really looking forward to this week – just got back from an inspiring and, dare I say it, life changing weekend in Germany and Poland with the YMCA and now it’s just me and Anya at home together for the whole of half-term!

It’s going to be a great week, I have one or two ideas for what to do but I thought I’d ask Anya what she wanted to do.  Bless her, her answer was, “You know when we go to the cash and carry….can I ride on top of the trolley!?”  I’m really proud of her that she is satisfied with such simple pleasures.

We’re off to go and get an extra ingredient for baking now and I will do my best to give her a wonderful, memorable week.  I really believe that some of the best gifts we can give our kids are shared memories together.  They can be simple, silly times together but I think they are worth so much more than expensive presents.

We’re also both looking forward to having the luxury of time so that we can do some Bible study and praying together.  Such a privilege to be a dad and I really don’t want to take it for granted.

7 Years of Blogging

Today is exactly seven years since my very first blog post.  ‘nathan the alien’ was originally hosted by Myspace and I certainly have never regretted moving over to WordPress.  I guess I’m quite proud I have kept going for seven years.  Some months I would barely blog at all but I have kept going.  It has helped me process my own thoughts and get out, into the tiny part of the world I can communicate with, just a little bit about what makes me tick and what I think is important.

A highlight definitely has to be when a post about Qatar and Russia being chosen as World Cup hosts made the WordPress homepage and I got hundreds of hits a day for a few days.  But on average only a few people come by each day and I don’t mind that.  It’s easy to get caught up in it sometimes but blogging is most satisfying when you don’t write to generate views but you just write for the challenge and pleasure of writing.  It is nice of course to know that you are read, and I’d love to generate a bit more discussion than I appear to.

This is my 349th post so I have just about hit my initial target 7 years ago of blogging once a week.  I hope there’ll be a lot more to come although, as I boldly stated on my first post, I don’t think I have yet achieved title of the best blog in the history of people Sheffield yet.  Please keep reading.  🙂

Map of Israel before Sharon

image

My wife is reading a Middle East travel book that was written in 1945 and belonged to my great-grandfather.  It really is special that she is able to do this.

The photograph above is of a map that appears in the book at the start of the section on Palestine.  It is fascinating to think that less than 70 years ago there was no nation of Israel on the map.

In light of the impending death of Ariel Sharon I think we should spare some thoughts for the grief and heartache suffered by the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families who, in the decades that followed the publication of this map, were forcibly removed from their homes and have been living in an increasingly strict state of apartheid ever since.

Buy Local

I know I’m a little late but last Saturday was “Small Business Saturday” where consumers up and down the country were encouraged to buy from local businesses.  We’ve just moved into Wednesbury in the West Midlands so it is a great opportunity for us to get into the habit of using local businesses.  And it’s not actually as hard as you think:

  • Meat – We’ve been to one of the local butchers already.  Yes, butcher meat can be more expensive but it is so much better than supermarket meat in so many ways!
  • Fish – I’m afraid we bought fish from Morrisons but the butcher has told me that Great Bridge market on a Saturday is great for fish.
  • Fruit & Veg – So far bought fresh fruit and veg from Aldi, Morrisons and a market stall.  Need to be more organised to use the market stall more.
  • Bike Repairs – Have avoided Halfords and had incredible service from Wardy’s Cycles in Darlaston.
  • Car Repairs – Haven’t needed them yet but have a couple of local mechanics in mind.  On moving day we used a local van hire rather than one of the international companies.
  • Online Shopping – This is one that we need to get away from I think but it is difficult because online shopping is so convenient.  Amazon have a distribution centre about 20 miles away in Rugeley but I don’t think that makes it a local business!
  • Carpets – We’ve been recommended a little place in Bilston.  Not made a final decision yet but they have just as much choice as any of the big companies.
  • Furniture – Rather than get drawn to the ‘sales’ at the big sofa, bed or dining table warehouses how about visiting a few charity shops.  That has come up short for us on this occasion but the carpet shop mentioned above also have an extensive catalogue of different furniture.  Ikea might be convenient but it ain’t local, even if we do have one quarter of a mile away.

It does take more effort but going round the local shops means you are more in tune with local life because you meet more people and your money is going into the local community.  If anybody has got any good ideas or local recommendations then I’d love to hear them!