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!


True Medal Count?

A few times during the Olympics our ever enthusiastic BBC TV and radio presenters commented that we were on top of the medals table when you consider the number of medals we won in proportion to the size of the country.  I noticed Hungary were doing well, and that New Zealand had a handful of medals, and I knew that their populations were significantly smaller than that from which Team GB sourced its talent from.  I couldn’t help myself, the statistics obsessed nerd within got the better of me and I did some number crunching and worked out how many golds and how many medals overall other countries would have won proportionally if they had the same population as the UK.

Number of Golds Won

1.   USA  –  46
2.   China  –  38
3.   GB  –  29
4.   Russia  –  24

Number of Golds Won Proportionally

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Bahamas  –  176
3.   Jamaica  –  92
11. GB  –  29
25. Russia  –  10
28. USA  –  9
48. China  –  2

Total Medals Won

1.   USA  –  104
2.   China  –  87
3.   Russia  –  84
4.   GB  –  65

Total Medals Won Proportionally 

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Jamaica  –  276
3.   Trinidad & Tobago  –  189
10. Montenegro  –  100
23. GB  –  65
33. Russia  –  37
49. USA  –  21
74. China  –  4

So, a lot of countries in reality did even better than the wonderful Team GB.  That’s not a bad thing, just nice to know that there must be a lot of very satisfied sports fans out there from other nations!  If you want to know how other countries fared let me know and I’ll happily divulge more numbers.

However, there were six countries with bigger populations than the UK who didn’t manage a single medal between them. They are Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam and Congo and together they have double the population of the United States.  I think this is sobering and should remind us that for a vast percentage of the world’s population there are not the resources to put into enjoying the Olympics.  As the celebrations die down we need to remember that there are things in this world that should take a higher priority than sport.

Scottish Independence and The Balkans

This is a fascinating article in The Economist comparing Scottish independence to Yugoslavia pre 1990.  The piece does not give any answers but rather raises questions and issues that are intriguing.

I particularly think the point near the end where the article says those in Yugoslavia were told everything would be the same but they would be richer is interesting.  Anecdotally I have been told that, in Montenegro at least, people are now worse off then they were in a united Yugoslavia.

Personally, I speak with absolutely no political bias and am certainly uninformed but I would be very sad to see Scotland leave the UK as they make up a colourful and vital part of our culture and identity.

I’m in a daze

I really can’t take it in.  I’m back home.  Sat in my bed.  The house feels fantastic.  It was so nice to have such a warm welcome from Dan & Cath.

I’m pretty speechless to be honest but it feels great.  It was a great trip but when I woke up in Frankfurt this morning and it was grey and rainy and the hotel breakfast was crowded with businessmen and the shower was cold…I just wanted to get home quick.  So we rushed to Dunkerque abandoning plans to call in on Maastricht and managed to get the earlier ferry.  The M25 was grim but we drove into Solihull at 9.20pm.  Anya has been a star.

Rada’s dad had his major heart op today.  It was successful and he’s in intensive care.  They should be waking him up tomorrow morning.  Please pray for him.  Rada will be back home in a couple of weeks.

Maths Whizz

Just a very quick update on Anya’s time in Montenegro for anybody who is interested.  January is school holidays so she’s been off for 3 weeks.  She may not go back at all as the schools may not re-open to keep swine flu under control and we’re probably leaving about 7th February.

Anya is missing her hamster, Florence, painfully.  Anya has grown taller and certainly wiser and works very hard at all the homework we set her.  Most days she completes a number square like the one below – the idea is to see how many she can get right in 10 minutes.  This week she took off to a whole new level and has been getting all 100 timestables correct in less than 10 minutes with a fastest time of 8:47!  I’m very impressed.

X 6 1 9 8 10 3 2 4 5 7


I dare you to print it out and have a go yourself! Another highlight this week has been seeing Anya discover Inspector Gadget.  Another proud moment.

It has been great watching Anya flourish in Montenegro.  Her language has improved greatly and she seems so comfortable in the culture here.  Of this I am pleased because I have always been concerned she’d be more British than Montenegrin having spent most of her time in the UK.

Hypnotised by Anya

Why can’t North Korea test nuclear weapons?

I don’t understand why it is reported as something abhorrent in the West when North Korea (and Iran for that matter) do anything that suggests they have nuclear ambitions.  I checked up on an unnamed but highly reliable internet encyclopaedia which countries have nuclear weapons.  They are:

United States, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

North Korea have about 0.2% of the amount of nuclear weapons that are possessed by the United States.  Therefore, I don’t understand the uproar.  How come the other countries are allowed nuclear weapons but North Korea aren’t.  Could somebody please enlighten me?

I love Eurovision because…

…Terry Wogan is not on it anymore

…you get to glimpse a tiny bit of cultures you wouldn’t normally be exposed to

…if you ever feel embarrassed ever you can just think about the cringe worthy script the presenters have to read out to an entire continent and realise your own embarrassment pales into insignificance

…Graham Norton is quite likably and innocently enthusiastic*

…we get to hear Balkan music on British television and it is gorgeous music

…it is just really nice to see a load of people having a really good fun time – it’s healthy to get my snobby little nose a little more horizontal and just smile with the people being daft and crazy and eccentric

…I am a statistic geek and you can’t get anymore statistics than that crammed into one night’s entertainment

…we’re all different and it’s good to remind us (especially in the UK) that different isn’t bad and diversity makes life a whole lot more interesting 😀


*Yes I know I wrote ‘Graham Norton’ and ‘innocent’ in the same sentence but I loved the way he was genuinely excited everytime we were given a few points and he’s soooo much less offensive than Terry.