Cultural Perspectives: Middle East on UK

The first guest blog in the Cultural Perspectives series is by a lady originally from the Middle East but now living in Britain:

For a person like me, who became a Christian from another religion and hated religiosity, it was difficult to find the right church that doesn’t make people run away!

I personally like Charismatic churches which are alive and where you can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the atmosphere.  Also you can see the action of the Holy Spirit and the lives of people changed.  Also, the way of worshiping God is so important for me and a prayerful atmosphere.  Good preaching and teaching are important too.  When I lived in Germany I went to some churches that were Charismatic and I loved to be in that atmosphere.

However, the first time I visited a church in the UK I didn’t have any idea about churches here.  I chose the church because it was near my home, so I went there and found the people were really friendly and kind.  I only attended that church for couple of months because it was not what I had expected.

I tried to find out about other churches and how they differed so I attended some others but none of them were what I was used to.  I spoke to a lady who was from that first church and she kindly helped me and didn’t get upset about my decision to leave their church.

She sent me to the church that I am now a member of.  The first time you experience something is very important for someone, and the first time I went to the new church there was a lady who was so friendly and accepting.  She came to me and started to speak to me.  She touched my heart and I felt like I was at home!

I think it was God’s plan for me to find this church which now is my home and family!  Before that day I was so desperate and was thinking I couldn’t settle in the UK because church for me is like my home and it’s sooo important for me to be in the right one.  I am glad and thankful for being a member of this church and they bless me a lot.  Their kindness and mercy touch my heart, in fact they are good examples of Christians who I can learn from them.

Because I was a Muslim before, I had lots of fear that maybe God would leave me or get angry with me but by attending church in the UK I’ve learnt even more about our God and his mercy than before.  I feel free now from all of those lies which religion and society in my home country taught me!

Also, I went to some christian conferences which built me up and I’ve learnt a lot about being a community in Christianity.  I am still learning and love this adventurous life which Jesus gave me.  Every day living with him is like a gift and I love to find out what’s waiting for me in it.  Sometimes I can’t wait or be patient to find out his plan for my life but I trust in him so I know anything that happened to me was for a reason and I let him work on me to become that shape which he wants me to be!

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Cultural Perspectives: New Guest Series

Tomorrow will see the first in a series of guest posts on this blog.  The series is called Cultural Perspectives and will be written by Christians who are living, or have lived, away from their native country.  The posts will observe, encourage and challenge the expressions and experiences of Christianity in the country where the writer has lived as a foreigner.

It is my belief that we all live blinkered existences and this is no different for Christians, in fact the conviction of our beliefs can sometimes make us even more oblivious to the cultural waters we swim in.  The point of the series is to explore some of the different cultural nuances that we take for granted in churches and Christian communities.

The writers are from a diverse background of nationality and Christian experience.  It will be interesting to see how the series turns out and fascinating to see what can be learnt from the different pieces.  Please do join in with comments and observations of your own.  It would be great to stimulate some open and edifying discussion around culture in the church.

To follow the series as it progresses simply click ‘Guest’ in the category index on the right hand column, or click on ‘cultural perspectives’ once it appears in the tag cloud.

Gutted about not being raptured

I’m sorry…but how did anybody with ANY sense actually believe this guy?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13489641

How did he trick them all?  Have they not read the Bible for themselves?  Jesus himself said he did not know the hour that he would return?

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

It is just so sad that ‘Christian’ leaders will be so manipulative/mad and that people will be so gullible.  There’s actually people out there who spent their life savings on him.

I think apocalyptic writings in the New Testament are fascinating but I honestly think it is foolish to try and read anything into historical or current events relating to these writings.  Instead, let’s focus on studying the character of God….the living God who can change us into better people and save us from ourselves.

The injustice of bin Laden’s death

So Osama bin Laden is (allegedly*) dead.   ‘Justice has been done’ claim many.  I think the killing of any man is a warped view of justice.  It is not justice – it is revenge.  And in this case may well lead to reciprocal killings from extremists.

My opinion is that true justice is about reconciliation.  I doubt very much that the killing of Osama bin Laden will make the world a safer place – it will just deepen the rift between the West with our superiority complex and Islamic extremists.  I wouldn’t want to claim for a second that resolution is simple, or even possible, but I strongly believe that it is wrong to celebrate the death of anyone.

* Sorry how ridiculous that his body was buried at sea because USA is so respectful of his belief he should be buried within 24 hours….very, very convenient.

State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron

Wow, I like strong leadership so, for that reason alone, this speech from the PM looks attractive.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12371994

I have heard more than once from Muslim charities that they get any money they want with barely any questions asked whilst Christian charities are scrutinised and given extra hurdles to jump – there is any issue there that this message promises to address.

I find segregation divisive but multi-cultural integration stimulating so that is another good point that Cameron will raise.

However, despite his well chosen words, I think that both the white British far right and Islamic extremists will both choose not to hear his balance and the fires of racism, nationalism and disunity in our nation could be stoked and tensions rise between those who will jump on this to fuel their hatred of those with an opposing world view.

What do you think…?  Discuss.

Don’t settle for ‘them’ and ‘us’

So that fella Michael Martin has gone.  I suspect this whole hullabaloo will fade away.  Gordon Brown’s statements yesterday suggest that Westminster is totally rid of selfishness and greed now but I doubt it.

Any MP who can be proved to have deliberately claimed expenses they should not have should face the legal consequences.  I do not think we will see any MP in court over this affair but that would prove what the public feel, that there is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else.  What has been committed is fraud and, although I am no expert in the law, I do feel there should be one or two prison sentences handed out.  You cannot steal thousands and be able to slip away into obscurity.

My hope is that through this expenses row many of us plebs will take a long hard look at politics and how we vote and how we can influence our politicians.  There is the tangible fear that the BNP (and UKIP!) will benefit from this debacle, the big parties need to grow up and win the trust of the nation and lead by example.

Those of us not standing as politicians need to get to know our local politicians.  It is not that difficult to build some sort of relationship with them and once you have done that you can genuinely influence them.

All of this aside I think recent events have proved that institutions will always be corrupt.  As a Christian I have always had a hope that world leaders would do what is right but I have learnt that this is a futile hope.  There are so many things that make the most moral leader compromise.  What the world really needs is for those who love Jesus to declare his truth so that the wrong things in our society are exposed in the light of truth.  If politicians do the right things, and if we can influence them to do the right things, bonus.  But what must always happen is that Christians speak the truth with love and without fear.

Me and God and other people

I must confess I am not much of a touchy feely spiritual person, I have very rarely felt the physical presence of God, although when I do I love it.  I don’t mind being in meetings when everybody else is feeling something but it does get frustrating when you don’t get it yourself.

However, at such times, if I just sit down and enjoy the fact that God is God then I start to feel really connected to him.  For me, the most powerful way to experience God, and to serve him, is through conversations with other human beings who were created by Him.  That is what really makes me tick.  I love to go around after a meeting and chat to people, to encourage them, comfort them, and challenge them.  It is not a problem that I hardly do the whole shaking thing.  It’s just the way I am wired.

On Friday night, we went to Cheltenham for a meeting of upcoming leaders from around the region.  There was some good teaching but I was getting bored in the times when we worship God through singing, prophecying and praying.  Nevertheless, I went away buzzing because I had some great conversations afterwards and made some new friends!

In my life Christianity is all about relationships – relationships between us and God and between each other.