Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Make Poverty Personal" Nominated For Award

Some very encouraging and personally rewarding news today as the short list for the 2006 Australian Christian Book of the Year was announced by SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). Among the eight authors short listed was UNOH's director and founder, Ash Barker. Ash's book, Make Poverty Personal: the Bible's Call to End Oppression, was his and UNOH Publications' first nomination for this award, especially exciting given my involvement with UNOH Publications.

Ash in speaking to The Australian Christian said:
"This nomination is a big win for the UNOH Publications team as we seek to inspire, invite and inform more radical responses to Jesus among the poor... I’m especially grateful to neighbours in our slum here in Klong Toey and in poor neighbourhoods in Melbourne where other UNOH workers serve. Much of the biblical material and insights in the book engage with these friends and their situations. I hope that some-how this nomination can help recognise their plight
and mobilse more Christians to serve the urban poor, who will be over a quarter of the world’s population by 2020.”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Slums and Violence by dark forces

"There are dark forces at work in slum neighbourhoods. If I needed any reminder of this it was coming back from the hospital where our neighbour Pi Arn is a mess".

This is the latest in an article by my good mate UNOH's Ash Barker; written about events he, his family and neighbours faced earlier this week in the slums of Klong Toey in Thailand. Read more here from UNOH's Wild Ones blog and in a world gone crazy pray for peace.

Secret Dad's Stuff

Got in last night from another "Secret Dad's Stuff". For the past 9 months I have been running a night for expectant fathers at our local Family Birth Centre here in Ferntree Gully, I run them every 3 weeks. It is part of the antenatal nights that couples attend, and I get all the men on the 2nd of 4 nights of the classes. We look at all kinds of issues around fathering. I can't tell you exactly what we discuss because it is Secret Dad's stuff. But I will say that we might talk about life changes in being a dad, how to look after your partner, what to expect and your role in labour as well as what to do 24 hours after birth when you walk out of hospital with a brand new baby.

It's always alot of fun and I come out pumped seeing men come alive with expectations and sheer fear at the thought of being a dad soon. I love these nights and last night was no exception, I always get amazing questions. If it wasn't Secret Dad's stuff I might even be able to share them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Trouble in the Middle East

I like many others have been, and continue to be horrfied by events in the middle east over the past 2 weeks. The needless murder and destruction of human life and property has ripped me apart, and along with it the feeling of helplessness. Well yesterday I had a call from a mate who was equally outraged and he suggested we go and visit our local federal member to vent our voices. Australia has not yet condemned the Israei's for their totally out of porportion retalation to what has been going on, even though many others have including senior officials from the UN.

So we wrote our letters and took them down to our federal member from La Trobe. He was not there but his office took our letters and promised us a response. The voice of 1 can be silent in the storm, but the voice of many can be heard. It again encouraged me to use my democratic voice and be heard. You too can do the same, find out you local federal MP here, read some more about the latest from Amnesty International here.

And here is a copy of my letter, I await my reply:

Jason Wood MP
Federal Member for Latrobe,

July 25, 2006

Dear Jason,

I write to you as a local concerned citizen and minister of a local church who is, as many are around the world at this current time, feeling shocked and appalled at the recent events in Lebanon.

I realize there are complex issues behind the recent bombing of Lebanon, I also recognize that Hezbollah are no angels, but I am seriously concerned at the willful lack of regard for human life in the latest bombings.

There have been over 400 civilians needlessly murdered by the Israeli government in the past 2 weeks. In any language this is a massacre and must be condemned and we must do all within our power to encourage an immediate ceasefire.

It has been a great shame that US President George Bush has failed to condemn this waste of life, and it seems our own Prime Minister John Howard is again following in his footsteps and refusing to condemn this horrendous waste of human life.

I call upon you Jason as our locally elected representative to urge your government and in particular the prime minister to call for an immediate cease fire and to condemn the murder of innocent lives on both sides, from Israel as well as from Lebanon.

We cannot waste another moment as this is literally a life and death issue for many innocent people. Not to mention the shocking humanitarian crisis that will follow as thousands of people are displaced.

Human life should be valued, no matter what color or race they represent.

Yours truly,

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Citizenship Suppers

Just got back from being with a bunch of Foothillians tonight. We were out, as we do every 6-8 weeks at our local council, Knox City Council preparing a supper for those who have just been through their Citizenship Ceremoney. A small team of us work for a couple of hours preparing the food, just to see it disappear in minutes. Its a fun thing we have been doing the past 3 years or so, and gives us a very practical way to serve those who are new to our community. Some of the stories are quite horrific, listening to tradgedy and loss, for others stories are full of hope and new starts. But for the 250 people we fed tonight it all comes down to sharing food and drink together, the essence of shared life, and what better way to do it than with a party pie and sauce.

I was reflecting the other day that so much of what we do revolves around food and was reminded of the words I was given many years ago, 'who we eat with tells us alot about our discipleship'. Jesus often got into trouble for eating and drinking with the "wrong" people, when was the last time you were looked down on for eating with the wrong crowd?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jesus is for Losers...

Just finished reading a great book by Shane Claiborne called The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical. I met Shane at Greenbelt, England 2 years ago, and was very impressed by his story and passion for following Jesus in difficult places. He is a co founder of The Simple Way community in America and is mentored by Jim Wallis and studied under Tony Campolo. Here is one of my favorite quotes,

"...we read together the passage where Jesus tells the Pharisees (the ones who "had things together"), "It's not the healthy. who need a doctor, but the sick. 1 have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:12 - 13). The gospel is good news for sick people and is disturbing for those who think they've got it all together.

Some of us have been told our whole lives that we are wretched, but the gospel reminds us that we are beautiful. Others of us have been told our whole lives that we are beautiful, but the gospel reminds us that we are also wretched. The church is a place where we can stand up and say we are wretched, and everyone will nod and agree and remind us that we are also beautiful." pg 245

Monday, July 10, 2006

Stick figures

Surrender 06 early bird deadline soon

One of the things that I have been involved with this year is helping to organize UNOH's Surrender 06; Wild adventures with Jesus conference.It should be a great time, here is an excert from a flyer we are sending around at the moment. This is a reminder that early bird registrations for our Surrender 06: Wild adventures with Jesus conference close in the next few days.

July 15 is the date you need to have your registrations in to take advantage of this great opportunity.

As well as featuring well known speakers such as Tony Campolo, Michael Duncan, Deb Hirsch, Ash Barker, Ray Minniecon and Darryl Gardiner, great music from bands such as Antiskeptic and Vox Congo, we are also proud to announce that we have many of the best practioners around for our electives.

Some of our elective speakers confirmed so far include: Marcus Curnow, Lindy Croucher, Alan Hirsch, John Jenson, Lisa Owen, Jim Reiher, Rowland Croucher, Dave Fuller, Bekki Scott, Arthur Bolkas, Kevin Maddock and David Wilson, with many others yet to confirm.

Friday August 25 - Sunday August 27 at Belgrave Heights Convention Centre should be an exciting time as we seek to invite, encourage and challenge many to follow Jesus as we are lead through wild adventures.

Ash Barker, UNOH director says,

"Wilder more adventurous and meaningful lives are not only possible, but exactly what Jesus intends for us. Jesus was the original Wild One... and he calls us to follow him."

For more information and on line booking go to today.

Hillary Clinton speaks out

Just listened to a great speach by US Senator Hillary Clinton speaking recently at the Pentecost 2006 conference hosted by Sojourners in Washington DC earlier this month. She speaks with a real passion about what should and could be done to help make poverty history. It goes for about 15 minutes but well worth the listen.

My favorite quote from Hillary,
"I did go to Sunday school, but I must have missed the lesson about how we help the poor by giving tax cuts to the rich, I missed that lesson."