I prayed this prayer in my devotions this morning. It was most meaningful and powerful.
O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter it. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Thy sight; I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto thee? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare they servant from strange sins.
- St. Augustine
May you be truly blessed and renewed by the coming of Jesus Christ this Christmas.
With much love.
I was fortunate to get a transcript of his sermon. It challenged and moved me deeply. I was reminded that at Christmas I celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, and that His birth and my faith in Him has radical consequences for my life.
The way of Jesus is a bold, loving and gracious way. It subverts the culture of power and dominance that occupies the popular mind of our time. It reminds me that Jesus came for peace, yet so much of the resources of this world, both financial and human, are spent on war. The best of our minds, the majority of our budgets, are not applied towards peaceable aims - they are applied in the interests of vengence and violence. This is an affront to the Prince of Peace who came to live among us, living our life and dying our death in order to overcome both sin and death by His love.
So, this Christmas I was challenged to remember that the Prince of Peace came as a man to die on a cross. The sacrifice of his life was for the salvation and transformation of the world. At Christmas I am challenged to remember that the Jesus of the manger is also the Jesus of the Cross.
So, this Christmas can I please encourage you to read Alan's powerful message? It may not be all that easy! But it will be deeply challenging.
I had to face myself and my own denial honestly as I read it. Some of what you read may not be easy to hear - it was not easy for me. But, I would rather face my lies, and the lies of our world with honesty and courage, than be party to deception and simply tell myself that all is well.
The text below comes from 'The War Crimes Times' newsletter (Winter 2013, pp. 5-7 and are republished with Alan's permission).
Here is the editor's introduction:
This is a transcription of the final presentation of a four-day peace conference held at Lake Junaluska, NC, November 8-11, 2012. It was delivered on a Sunday morning, at a United Methodist conference center, by an ordained minister, to an audience largely consisting of religious folks including a good number of clergy men and women (many retired – well “past half time”), and it began with a scripture reading. By all indications, it was a sermon, a lecture on a topic of morality.
But the lesson, the moral, of this sermon was intended for more than the flock of faithful, mostly Christians, gathered that morning. This lesson needs to reach people of all faiths, people of no faith, and people in the highest offices of governments around the world. It is a lesson of peace.
At its conclusion, this sermon received a standing ovation. But not everyone rose. The few who didn’t were, I suspect, clergy too stunned by the bold challenges of Alan Storey’s concluding remarks.
The speaker made references to other conference presenters. The Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a co-founder the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who endured many beatings and arrests as a civil rights activist, had spoken of how the kindness and trust bestowed on him as a 14-year-old in a multi- cultural neighborhood helped form his character. Liberian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, had remarked on the importance of channeling anger into a proper container. (A documentary film on her work was also shown.) Michael Nagler , author, teacher, and founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, had shared his definition of “nonviolence.”
Alan Storey’s remarks were introduced with a reading from Genesis (excerpts of chapters 6 through 9) – the account of the Great Flood, when God punished the evil people and spared the righteous. But when the waters receded, God promised to never again resort to such destruction, setting God’ s rainbow in the clouds as the sign of his covenant.
Here is the transcript of Alan's message which was entitled 'Not even God can use violence successfully' by the newsletter.
I wonder what you have just heard during the reading of those Hebrew scriptures. I wonder what you heard. What did you hear?
Did you hear Sunday school children singing, singing about animals going in two by two? Or did you hear children screaming panic-stricken, terrified, gasping for breath; people fleeing to higher ground, pleading, praying to be let into that ark – and if not me, then take my child. Knocking, banging, banging on the ark, let me in! Yet the doors of the ark remained sadistically closed.
What did you feel when those words were read? Did you feel the desperation, the despair, the drowning, the death?
And then after the 40 days, what did you see? The sunshine? Green lush, beautiful blossoming? Birds and bees? Or decomposing bodies, swelling, smelling – disease, decay gathered in every single nook and cranny?
The cruel results, the inevitable cruel results of divid- ing up a world with the simplistic notion that there are some who are wicked and others who are righteous, that there are two types of people in the world: good and bad. And if we can just get rid of the bad people, then we will have peace. There is an axis of evil in the world and if we can just destroy the axis of evil, then all will be safe and secure.
The persons who act on this notion of dividing the world into wicked people and righteous people should be brought before the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity and all of creation – even if that person is God.
This deathly division between good people and bad people continues today especially in my faith tradition – especially in my faith tradition. The Christian faith, more than any other faith, has participated in this deathly division – dividing the world into good and bad, saved and unsaved, those who will be ushered into heaven and those who will be cast into hell. That thought process is nothing less than hate speech.
We go back to the text. These Hebrew narrators were incredibly courageous, risky in the extreme. You see, what these Hebrew narrators are trying to do is not endorse this primitive, partisan God or world view, but rather to cleverly, and with great risk, subvert it. They knew that the common world understanding of God was that God was some almighty superhero that would punish the wicked and bless the righteous. They knew that was the dominant religious world view and understanding of their time. So they risked casting God in that light in their narrative. They don’t believe it, they know that’s not so. But they cleverly start where the audience is.
There were righteous ones, just a few. God saved them and the wicked were punished and the audience applaud. Because that was their world view. Justice has been done, the wicked got what they deserved, and the righteous what was promised. And then the narrator moves to Act II. And we read that once the flood had subsided, wickedness remained.
Wickedness remained. In other words, God failed. God failed to eradicate evil through this weapon of mass destruction called the flood.
The narrator is bold to pen those words, “God failed.” God fails when God uses violence. Not even God can use violence successfully. Not even God. God’s war on terror became a war of terror. And God repents. Listen to these words: “I will never again destroy every living creature as I have done.”
And then God is converted and God takes God’s bow, not a rainbow, but a weapon, God’s bow, and hangs it up in the sky, just as a boxer hangs up his gloves – and says, “Never again will I fight.” It’s the great narrative of the disarmament of God.
God can do all things. God can do all things – except use violence successfully.
And you and I will not be converted to nonviolence until we first realize that God has long since been con- verted. It is impossible to be a peacemaker if we serve a violent God, an angry God, a God who needs blood to be satisfied. If the God we serve, if the God we worship, has blood on his hands (I use that male pronoun deliberately), then the likelihood will be that we will too.
Using violence, God fails. So how much more will we fail if we use it? And you and I witness the failure of violence all around us all the time.
Violence fails to deliver on what it promises – peace and security. Since 9/11, billions and billions and billions of your dollars have been invested in violence, military might. And this country is less safe than it ever was. It doesn’t matter how long you have to stand in line to wait to get onto an airplane – it is less safe, less secure. And if it is not more afraid, it is definitely more feared.
Ask the people of Pakistan who scan the skies for drones... where the people who fly them can have breakfast in the morning with their family, go to the office and sit in a comfortable chair and go to war in Afghani- stan; and then can come home and have lunch with their family, and then in the afternoon they can go to war in Pakistan.
There is no victory in vengeance. Satan cannot cast out Satan; violence cannot cast out violence. War is a poor chisel to carve out a peaceable future says Martin Luther King, and yet it remains our biggest investment.
If you know history, you will know that empires do not explode. Empires implode. And the reason why empires implode is because they spend more than they have on trying to defend (read attack) who they are.
And if you just question safety and security, you will be labeled unpatriotic. You can commit the most grave of sins in the name of safety and security.
Listening to the presidential debates, if you could call them that, president Obama was asked, “What is the greatest threat to America?” Notice, please, the very narrow nationalistic question that is. His answer: “Terror- ism, and China.”
I want to say to Barack Obama the greatest threat to America is not terrorism, it’s not China. The greatest threat to America is... America. You are your worst enemy. No one will explode you – you will implode. If God fails using violence, so will the USA.
God is a nonviolent God.
Now, a couple of years ago in my country, there was a murder that took place and it was discovered that it was a family murder. An 18-year-old girl killed her 13-year-old sister, stabbed her repeatedly. The mother, as you can imagine, grieved, like only a mother can grieve. And yet at the same time as she was grieving the loss of her daughter, she stood in solidarity with her other daughter, as only, you can imagine, a mother can do. She was reported to have said, “I want to hate her, but I can’t.”
She went to court every day when her daughter was on trial. She stood behind her and embraced her when she was convicted. She visited her daughter every available opportunity in prison and when her daughter was finally released, she welcomed her home.
Mrs. Du Toit, the mother, found herself in the painful, yet privileged position of God, being parent to both murdered and murderer. At one and the same time. “I want to hate her but I can’t. I’m her mother.”
God is not only a nonviolent God, but God is the heavenly parent of both murdered and murderer. And to take vengeance on the murderer is simply to multiply the grief of God. If someone had come up to that mother and said, “Let us kill this daughter,” she would say, “No – don’t double my grief.”
Not only is this a nonviolent God, not only does this God grieve on all sides of the border, but when we remember Saul traveling on the road to Damascus because he had written permission to extend his war on terror, he is stopped in his tracks with these words from the Divine: “Why, why, why are you persecuting me?”
Please notice what the Divine did not say. The Divine did not say, “Why are you persecuting them?” but, “Why are you persecuting me?” The Divine takes persecution personally.
It is not, “Why are you persecuting the Afghans, and the Iraqis, and the Pakistanis, and whoever else? it’s, “Why are you persecuting me?” We need to hear that question here today.
So not only is God a nonviolent God. Not only does God grieve on both sides. God takes persecution personally.
Our violence violates God. All violence – we see from that illustration – is family violence. Cain and Abel were
brothers. Did you know that death enters the Hebrew scriptures through murder? – reminding us that all violence is family violence? That there are seven billion chosen, chosen people in the world? That the apartheid between nations must come to an end?
There is something that distresses me more than anything else every time I listen to the president of this country speak. When he ends his speeches with the words, “God Bless America.”
Someone please remind him that there is a world larger than America. And not until he begins to have a vision for the world and not just a nation – (long pause)
The only flag I am prepared to salute, the only flag, the only flag that I am prepared to stand up for is the flag with a picture of the globe on it. Can you give your flag away? And claim a new flag? And certainly remove it from your sanctuaries.
Jesus said if you want to save your life, give it away. If you want to save your nation...give it away.
If you want to save your flag – give it away. If you want to save your religion – give it away.
We know that it is easier to identify with the victim than the perpetrator. It is easier to see the splinter in our neighbor’s eye than it is to see the log in our own eye. It is easier to watch a documentary called Pray the Devil Back to Hell than to face the devil in us and the hell that we create.
I watched that documentary for the first time here. I was deeply moved by it...the courage of woman.
I was inspired when one of them said, “With this tee shirt, I am powerful.” I was horrified at the children, the children carrying guns that were too big for them to carry. I wept at the senseless suffering.
But that was a distant devil to observe. Much more difficult to watch a documentary of the devil that we are, and the hell that we create. Some people here have asked me, “Gosh, listening to Bernard Lafayette the other night, – how is it possible to be able to draw that love from the wells that live within to be able to even love the person beating us?”
Now it is a fine question to ask, but I think there is an earlier question. You see, that question assumes that we are going to be the victim. That question assumes we are going to be the one who is going to be beaten and kicked. The balance of probability that any of us in this room are going to go through that is pretty slim.
You see, we identify with the victim. The question we should be asking is, “How do we stop beating and killing others who are praying for the love to be able to forgive us?” What our dollars do in this world –
You know the date. But do you know what happened during 9/11? 9/11. When country and the hopes of that country were shattered. The thousands of people dying, thousands of people dying, not just on 9/11, but the days after. 9/11. You know the day, you know what I am talking about. Yes, I am talking about 1973. 9/11. When Pinochet came into power in Chile with the help of our dollars, a reign of terror for 16 years until 1990 – we know the date.
The 20th of August 1998 – in Sudan, the Clinton administration bombs Al-Shifa pharmaceutical company that provided 50% of all medication in the Sudan. I went to the Sudan a number of years after that. I watched mothers carrying children, hopelessly dying of malaria,
not able to get medication. Do you know the date: 20th of August 1998?
We will not have peace in this world, we will not become peacemakers, until we know the dates of terror that we have inflicted on others as well as we know the dates of terror that others have inflicted on us.
By the way, the 20th of August 1998 was covered in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, The Guardian, the New York Times.
Last night we listened to Leymah Gbowee. She spoke powerfully about an analogy of violence and anger: pouring it into a violent cup or a nonviolent cup. I wonder if our problem is that we are not angry enough.
What makes you angry? When the price of gas goes up? Or when more of our children go and learn how to kill and we tell them that they are heroes when all they are are victims to the lie, the lie that says you can be a killer with honor. The lie that says you can actually be alive while you kill another.
We are addicted to violence. This nation knows that more than any other. It is never going to be easy to kick an addiction. We are always going to think, “One more drink.” And the one more drink becomes the first of many more. The alcoholic needs to admit that she is, that he is, powerless. And then join together with other people who feel powerless too. And admit their addiction, confess it.
“Hi, my name is Alan and I belong to the most violent nation in the world – that spends more money on the military than all other nations put together.”
Can we say those words? And only when we are able to admit that in the presence of others and then rely on a power – however you understand that power – that is higher than us, to begin to transform us. To make a stringent list of the things that we have done wrong. To admit them, and then to make amends. To go through, as a nation, a 12-step program. As the most violent nation in the world. Sign up. And then, in our powerlessness, we will discover what Michael Nagler invited us to see: nonviolence as that power that is unleashed when all desire to harm is overcome; and only then will we be feeling powerful again.
People have been asking me, “Alan, what do we do, what do we do, where do I stand, what do I do?” Well, it is very difficult to transform a system that we are depen- dent on....for our livelihood. Very difficult. So what we need to do is in those little AA communities, confessing that we are a violent people, we need to somehow wean ourselves off the system that we are dependent on.
I mean, don’t you get it? Let me use Christian language for a moment. I am dependent – this is the contradiction Ilivewithinmylife –Iamdependentonmysinformy survival. Sin, meaning “wages of death, way of death.” I am dependent on a way of life that is in actual fact a way of death, for my survival. And when I turn against my sin, it feels like I am dying, even though I am coming alive.
We have to admit that we are dependent on our sin for our survival. But it, like all addiction, is killing us and those after us and those around us—not to mention God’s creation.
Now let me close.
If you had interviewed political analysts in the Middle Eastern region in December, 2010, and if you had asked them the question, “What is the likelihood of there being
a regime change in this part of the world – places like Tunisia and Egypt – places supported by these dollars, our dollars, superpower dollars?” the political analysts would have said that it would be impossible. That would be December, 2010. Interview those same analysts in Febru- ary, 2011, and they would say that it was inevitable. As intifada and the Arab Spring began to spread and take root – because a vegetable seller set himself alight which kindled the fire of freedom and justice in the hearts and minds of families in that region.
You see, political analysts are not to be counted upon in regard to what is possible in this world. Liberation, peace, will come like a thief in the night, and it is not for you and I to know dates or times.
The most amazing thing about the people who were involved in the struggle against Apartheid, for me, were that they joined the struggle with no expectation to see liberation themselves. And yet, they joined it, not for certain results, but because it was right.
We have to liberate ourselves from our addiction to certain results. Thomas Merton said that years ago, set yourself free from limiting results. Just do what you need to do. The results will come.
We heard that over these few days. Who knew that when a 14-year-old boy, when he is treated with dignity and respect and given a social security number and given a driver’s license, who knew that what that would do would refine a conscience that could lead a people that could set people free? Who knew?
It was an unmeasurable act of human relationship and we need to awaken ourselves to the unmeasurableness of our actions. That we cannot actually see the impact thereof – and so, do what you do not knowing what impact God will do with it through the world... Do you really think that Leymah Gbowee, last night, expected to be standing here, 15 years ago?
So what do we do? I want to ask you to do something specific. But the truth is that I am 44 years old. Right? If I have a good innings, I’m at half time. I’m at half time. And I am sorry to say that looking out at some of you, you are past half time. And looking at some of you more closely, it looks like some of you are in injury time. I’m serious. You don’t have too many years left. Okay? So why don’t you make them count? You have nothing to lose.
I want to speak specifically to the people of my faith – Christians, Methodists. When is the Methodist Church of this nation going to refuse to allow members of its church to enter the military? When? When will children’s church teachers teach the children that that’s the gravest sin, that there is nothing heroic in it, to kill family.
Why don’t you do it? Let us call the troops back home from Afghanistan. Tell them to hand in their guns and their uniforms. Do it! You have nothing to lose. The game is nearly over. It’s the right thing to do. There are people on that side praying, praying that you will do that.
Let’s lament, let’s lament. Let’s not build any more monuments.
I have stood here today for one person. His name is Bradley Manning. You asked me, “What gives me hope?” People have asked, “Alan, are you hopeful?”
I said, “I am hopeful because of one person, Bradley Manning.” Bradley Manning is 24 years old...24 years old. He’s spent the last 902 days in a military prison, most of which has been in solitary confinement in chains. Bradley Manning. All because he revealed documents that exposed the truth of the killing of Iraqis from an American helicopter. And he sits in one of your prisons. Bradley Manning.
You want to know what you can do? You can give your life for his freedom, because he has given his life for the freedom of this world. Pray for his sanity, pray for his healing. Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning.
If there is anything that I have said here that is true, may it set us free.
Please could I ask you to pray for Alan and his ministry? I can only imagine that it takes great courage and conviction to speak the truth so boldly.
Alan and I have just finished recording a series of about 24 episodes for 1Africa and CVC Media in which we did a survey of the whole of the Bible from the perspectives of poverty and justice. The series is called 'DnA' and should be released shortly. Please keep an eye on this website (http://www.dionforster.com) and Alan's website (http://www.aslowwalk.org) for details.
I am currently doing a lot of reading and thinking about hermeneutics. It forms a part of my post-doctoral work.
I found the following quote insightful and quite helpful.
All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation… for interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.
- Edward Said
My previous doctorate focused a great deal on how the human brain shapes our identity and experience. From a neurobiological perspective our brains 'filter' reality. What we experience to be 'true' and 'real' are shaped by how our brains shape and parse the information that we receive through our senses. For example, a person who has survived a serious accident may respond to speed in a different way to a person who has fond memories of racing with friends as a child. The data may be identical (geographical location, route, and even the actual speed), but the experience of the event will vary greatly.
Most of us will accept such variance when it comes to the experience of physical sensations (extrinsic stimuli). However, it applies equally to mental and emotional sensations such as knowledge, memory and experience.
It was almost a week ago, to the day, that I arrived in New York.
This week has been spent meeting with the partners of EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption (such as the World Evangelical Alliance, the American Bible Society, and the Salvation Army), and then many other friends of this campaign and the Unashamedly Ethical movement. I also had the wonderful blessing to speak at two engagements to encourage and challenge Christians to take the mandate for justice seriously in their faith life!
I am more convinced than ever that our witness, and our work, is intricately linked to how we act justly in the world.
Justice is not something we should do - rather just is what we should be. Don't 'do justice' rather strive to 'be just' in all you do.
Today I head from New York to France (where I will meet up with Megan, Courtney and Liam!) and then from there we go to England where I have some meetings with friends and partners of EXPOSED, as well as meetings at the Alpha International offices, Micah Challenge, and then on to a holiday for a week or so with my brother and sister in law (Craig and Kath!)
I would appreciate your prayers for me, and for my family, and for the work we are doing. We are facing some serious challenges in South Africa around corruption and the rule of law at the moment. Our stand for justice and righteousness has provoked a rather heavy response from the governing party. Please pray that the Church's witness will be consistent and strong. Please pray that our leaders will have soft and open hearts, that their values will honourable and their actions righteous and for the sake of the people.
Please also join me and the millions of others we will reach by signing your name to the EXPOSED campaign. If you believe that God cares about corruption and poverty then add your voice at http://www.exposed2013.com
Today GateWay News posted an article in which it quotes the African National Congress' (ANC) Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, who has 'warned' ministers and Church leaders 'to back off'
It is wonderful to see that our letter to the African National Congress has touched a nerve.
We want those elected to serve the people to remember that we pray for them, but that we also hold them accountable for their actions and decisions. As citizens of South Africa we have not only a right, but also a responsibility, to pray for elected officials and ensure that they discharge their responsibilities in a just and responsible manner for the sake of the people who they serve.
I was fortunate to be among the 33 leaders who met in Stellenbosch to draft this statement to the ANC ahead of its elective congress in Mangaung (I was representing Unashamedly Ethical and 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption' at these meetings). Our intention was absolutely clear and honourable - we seek just and selfless leadership for the good of our nation.
You will see that the statement begins with our commitment to pray for and support just leaders. It also acknowledges that we are not perfect and have failings of our own. However, the statement also reminds the governing party that we are expecting them to govern justly and that we will not tolerate low morals, greed, abuse of power and the breakdown of the rule of law.
It is well worth reading the letter we wrote to the ANC (see the link in press release from Gateway News).
The document is entitled 'The Church speaks for a time such as this' you can download a copy from here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/63200140/The%20church%20speaks%20_Final%2026%2011%202012.pdf
Please join us in praying for our nation at this critical time. Please also remember to pray for those who are called to serve us in leadership.
Today (9 December 2012) is Internation Anti-Corruption Day. I am currently in New York for a series of meetings with various Christian leadears and Civic organisations. Among them are Geoff Tunnicliffe and Christine MacMillan from the World Evangelical Alliance (the WEA ran the story on Zimbabwe today - they are an incredible supporter of EXPOSED!).
I am also blessed to be able to meet friends at the United Nations, friends at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, friends who head up the Social Justice commission of the Salvation Army, and some of the leaders of the American Bible Society. I have a few speaking engagements as well.
The purpose of all of these meetings and visits is to mobilize support within the Church and wider society to take a stand for the poor and to witness and work against corruption.
You can find out more about our year long campaign to fight corruption and stand for the rights of the poor by visiting the EXPOSED2013 website at http://www.exposed2013.com - please get your friends, members of your congregation, your family and colleagues to add their names to the 100 million that we are gathering to show the world that God cares about corruption, and that we can make a difference!
Yesterday a group of Christians in Zimbabwe took an amazingly bold stand against corruption in their nation. I am amazed to think that they would take so courageous a stand amidst great personal threat, and so many of us do far less under much less threatening circumstances!
Corruption has a name! Poverty has a face! We have a voice!
Here is the press release from the World Evangelical Alliance website:
Thousands of Christians are marching on cities in Zimbabwe next week in protest against the corruption that is keeping millions in poverty. Leaders of the country's three largest Christian bodies have signed a letter urging churches to rise up against corruption during a day of action coinciding with the global Anti-Corruption Day (December 9th). The mass mobilisation is part of EXPOSED 2013, a year-long world campaign against corruption.
Dr Shana Goodwill, who as Chair of the Heads of Christian Denominations representing 75 per cent of the nation's Christians, said: "Here in Zimbabwe we will march on our cities to show our anger at corruption. And three of the major bodies have signed a letter urging the church to rise up against corruption. It has to stop. The poor are dying.
"The world church also has a vital role to play. Here in Zimbabwe we are seeing a big campaign between all the three major denominations to stamp out corruption. If Zimbabwe can do it, any country can. We want to send a message to the world. We have a dream. Ending corruption can help the poorest people in the world. The church needs to shine its light in the world and put the spotlight on corruption."
Dr Shana is chair of Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe (HOCD) comprising the three main Church mother bodies - Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe - representing millions of Christians. He is also a member of the national Anti-Corruption Commission and sits on the Steering Group for EXPOSED 2013 coalition campaign around corruption.
EXPOSED aims to mobilise 100 million Christians by next October and hold a Global Vigil against Corruption on 14-20 October 2013.
EXPOSED 2013 also wants to secure 10 million online signatures to deliver to the G20 in November 2014.
Dr Dion Forster, International Co-ordinator of EXPOSED, said: "These anti-corruption campaigners in Zimbabwe are inspirational their actions will send a message to the rest of the world that enough is enough. We are no longer content to put up with corruption. The world’s poor are eager for us to act."
EXPOSED is a coalition of Christian Organisations that aims to challenge the global Church, business and governments to highlight the impact of corruption on the poorest of the poor.
The EXPOSED coalition partners include the Bible Society of the United Kingdom, the Bible Society of North America, The Salvation Army, Unashamedly Ethical, the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Challenge International, Association for a Just Society (AJS) in Honduras, CANOPI in Malaysia, Global Day of Prayer, Advocates International, Empower21 and Asian Access.
Our friends at the Global Prayer Resource Network put together the following prayer points to guide us in response to the above.
- God would open our hearts and minds that we may see the corruption that is keeping millions in poverty and that we may act upon it.
- We have the wisdom and strength to respond to the actions of Zimbabwe's Christians are taking and call upon our community to rise up against corruption.
- Live according to his word by shining a light for the oppressed during Anti-Corruption Day.
- Ask God to reveal to you the atrocities that are happening because of corruption and how the church can rise up against it.
- Ask God to shine his light on corruption so that many will see the truth!
I was deeply challenged by the quote below from Stanley Hauerwas:
Most North American Christians assume that they have a right, if not an obligation, to read the Bible. I challenge that assumption. No task is more important than for the Church to take the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians in North America. Let us no longer give the Bible to all children when they enter the third grade or whenever their assumed rise to Christian maturity is marked, such as eighth-grade commencements. Let us rather tell them and their parents that they are possessed by habits far too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own.
North American Christians are trained to believe that they are capable of reading the Bible without spiritual and moral transformation. They read the Bible not as Christians, not as a people set apart, but as democratic citizens who think their “common sense” is sufficient for “understanding” the Scripture. They feel no need to stand under the authority of a truthful community to be told how to read. Instead they assume that they have all the “religious experience” necessary to know what the Bible is about. As a result the Bible inherently becomes the ideology for a politics quite different from the politics of the Church.
Note, it is not an issue of whether the Bible should be read politically, but an issue of which politics should determine our reading as Christians. All reading is embedded in a politics, and avoiding politics is not something for which we can or should strive.
Stanley Hauerwas, Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America (via lukexvx)
At first I was shocked when I read this quote - of course it applies as much to South Africa as it does to North America - and, I am passionate about getting people to read the Biblical text!
But, then as I thought about it I began to wonder, what does it mean to allow people to have access to this powerful text when all we do is overpower it with our own ideas, our need to support our ideologies, and our misuse of the text to abuse others. To use the Bible in this way is more harmful than good. It disregards the God who gives us this book of love, wisdom, and challenge.
Perhaps if the Bible were more scarce, if the text was seen to be precious, we would treat it in that way! We would listen to the text, rather than choose its words to express our own thoughts.
I agree with Hauerwas' sentiments, perhaps there are better ways to recapture a respect for the text and reeducate readers of the text?
The Wines2Whales race is done and dusted! Thank you for your support and prayers! Andre and I had a super fun, safe, fast ride.
Both of us had a few small tumbles and hit some 'flat spots' along the three day route. But we had no major injuries, and our only technical issue was when the bottom came off Andre's shoe at the end of the portage at the Gantou pass on day 1.
The first day was so hot with a lot of climbing, but also such beautiful views and lots of new single track! Day 2 was fun, fun, fun! Although we raced quite hard on day 1, while we climbed in the seeding and started earlier we suffered at around 60km, but we made it home in a great time. Day 3 was awesome, fast and tough at the same time. Everyone underestimates the fact that the race only starts at around 45km when there is still about 1000m of climbing to go.
If you look at 2min49s on this youtube highlights video of day 3 you will see Andre and I climbing up to Rotary Drive
This picture shows Andre in front of me on the right and me at the back on the left. We saw the camera crew interviewing Songo from Song.info at the water stop (we were riding at the same pace as them for about 20km up to that point), then the camera crew passed us and set up on the top of the Hill.
All in all it was an amazing weekend of riding, amazing friends, beautiful scenery and some great fun and technical track!
Here is another picture of us at the end of the race.
On Friday I will be setting off for my third Contego Wines2Whales 3 day stage race here in Cape Town.
This is one of the highlights of my year! I have been making lots of sacrifices to be fit and ready for the race (hiring bicycles while traveling, battling jet lag to keep fit while I have been in England, the US, Malaysia, Holland Uganda etc.), trying my best to eat well, and going out at 4.30 and 5am (long before my beautiful wife and kids wake up) on the weekends so that I can train and still be home when they are up and about.
But, it is worth it. The scenery, single track, fun, and camaraderie on this race are such a blessing! On Friday we will set off for day 1 of the race (I am a little bit like a diesel 'bakkie' (pickup truck for my American friends)). I am not all that quick, but I can climb just about any hill and I can just keep going! My partner Andre Swart and I are heading out in the second last batch of the morning (group I). It is going to be great to ride with Andre! I did my previous two Wines2Whales races with my good mate Greg Long. Greg is living up in Johannesburg and so decided to give the race a miss this year. I was first training with Steven Johnstone, but he had a nasty fall on a training ride we did in Stellenbosch and broke his wrist, so Andre very kindly stepped in! Andre is about 10 years younger than me, much fitter and very strong! So, I am blessed to be riding with him. Day 1 is a tough day of riding. We take off on Lourensford Wine farm (about 800 meters from my front door!) and ride across the beautiful farm, then across Vergelegen, and cross over into my regular training spot in Sir Lowry's Pass (Schapenberg Black Route), where we go over the old wagon trails and climb up to Grabouw on the other side of the pass. It is a total of 2000 meters of climbing! Once over we head to Oak Valley (also part of the ABSA Cape Epic route) and camp there for night 1.
On day 2 we head out from Oak Valley and do a great loop out towards Bot River and towards the coast. Day 2 has some of the most amazing flowing single track in the world! We ride Paul Cluver, Lebanon Forest and of course Oak Valley itself. There are some seriously technical bits on this day’s riding (Puff Adder and Boom Slang!). But, I always find day 2 quite fun. Last year we had a good ride on day 2 (except for the fact that I broke my chain twice!) Amazingly I also broke my chain on day 2 in 2010! I hope that I will not do that again this year. It is obviously poor great changing on my part that causes the problem.
On day 3 we do some amazingly fast riding down from Oak Valley to the town of Bot River, then past there we go through a valley and start climbing up towards the Hemel en Aarde side of Hermanus. That last little sting in the tail is a killer! After three days of riding the legs get a little tired! But the sight of the Atlantic Ocean the finish in Onrus is always a motivation! To know that I will be seeing Megie, Courtney and Liam gives me that extra bit of energy to make it over the top and home. In 2010 Greg and I made it onto SuperSport on day 3! We were weaving through some single track when I looked up and the camera was in my face! I also took a tumble on some sand, but fortunately they didn’t air that piece!
Well, I would like to ask for your prayers for ‘Team Transformation’ this weekend! Please pray for our safety on the ride, also please pray for our health (I am nursing a knee niggle. I broke my left leg badly in 2008 and have had a few knee and ankle hassles since. Three weeks ago when I was in Holland I did two 80 km rides on a bike that was not set up quite correctly and my knee took a little bit of straing. Please pray that it is perfectly well by Friday and that it remains strong, stable, and free of discomfort and pain). Please also pray for our equipment.
On Thursday the 1 year launch for EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption took place. It was truly an historic event.
Below you will find a short interview that I did about EXPOSED for UCB radio, our EXPOSED press release and one or two pictures form the event.
Here's what you can do to add your voice!
1. Book the dates 14-20 October 2013 and either attend, or arrange, an EXPOSED Vigil in your town or city. Details for organising a vigil will be on our website soon.
2. Consider what one thing you and your circile of influence (family, friends, colleagues, community) could do to change a something or someone that is corrupt. I would suggest that you A) Call together 5 or so friends B) tell them about EXPOSED and ask them to stand with you to witness God's will on this issue C) Pray about what God may want you to engage with in your community (corruption in Africa is very different from corruption in Europe. You will know best what is most urgent and important to deal with) D) Decide how you will engage this issue E) Go to http://www.exposed2013.com and share your story!
3. Visit http://www.exposed2013.com and add your name to the Global Call. We intend to hand tens of millions of names and signatures to the leaders of the world's most economically and politically powerful nations when they meet in Austrailia for the G20 meetings in 2014. Your voice counts! Remember this slogan: Corruption has a name, poverty has a face, you have a voice! Simply sign up and you will one of the millions who will remind these leaders to govern ethically and manage the earth's resources for the good of every citizen of the planet.
Here's our press release:
The launch of EXPOSED - Shining a Light on Corruption, is an historic event as it marks the first time in history that leading Christian agencies and organisations have united to take a stand against corruption, one of the major factors contributing to global poverty.
This message set the tone for the launch of EXPOSED2013 in London on Thursday 11 October 2012.
Campaign chairman and International Director of Micah Challenge, Rev Joel Edwards, said: ‘No nation is immune. This current economic crisis means that greed, the excesses of corporate cultures, dishonesty and unaccountable behaviour has touched us where it hurts. EXPOSED is here to join an increasing chorus of concern, which says ‘enough is enough’. It is an opportunity for the church to do what we are called to do: to raise our voice in holy outrage and provide practical offerings of hope.’
The launch, attended by partners, supporters and media, marked the start of a 12-month campaign of awareness-raising and action. In the next year, hundreds of millions of people will be mobilised to commit to and promote practical steps for ethical behaviour in business, government, the Church and society as a whole. The year will culminate in the EXPOSED Global Vigil against Corruption from 14-20 October 2013 and with the signing of a Global Call against corruption which will be handed to the G20 gathering of leading economies in Australia in 2014. Organisers are aiming to gather 10 million signatories.
At the event at Westminster Central Hall, chaired by Lord Paul Boateng, EXPOSED International Co-ordinator Dr Dion Forster said ‘I am convinced that we are responding to God’s call to the Church to take a stand on the issue of corruption across the globe.’
Giving the Biblical grounding for the campaign, Dr Forster continued: ‘Corruption is a sin. It is a sin that is perpetrated against the most vulnerable members of society. It is an affront to God. It is this truth that makes the EXPOSED campaign so important and so urgent.’
Dr Chris Lodewyk representing the Unashamedly Ethical campaign which challenges people to make a public commitment to ‘values, ethics and clean living’, pledged its backing for the EXPOSED campaign. Corruption, he said, is a particular scourge in Africa but is certainly not confined to that continent.
Global partners include the British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, The Salvation Army, Unashamedly Ethical, the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Challenge International, but the EXPOSED2013 campaign has a much wider and broader support base. EXPOSED has been working with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Tax Justice Network.
In the next year, the Church will be called to act with integrity and openness. Governments will be urged to act justly and honestly and to implement laws to stop all forms of corruption, so that sustainable growth is possible now and for future generations. Business people will also be asked to promote honest dealings in pricing, procurement, taxes and transparency so that enterprises of all sizes have the opportunity to prosper.
Christians across the world will be asked to take personal action to challenge their own behaviours and stand against corruption in their own communities. Local action is also advocated, with individuals and groups being asked to join and organise a Vigil against Corruption from 14-20 October 2013. At national and international level up to 10 million Christians will be encouraged to add their voices to EXPOSED2013’s Global Call against corruption that will be delivered to leaders of the world’s most powerful nations.
EXPOSED is a coalition of Christian Organisations that aims to challenge the global Church, business and governments to highlight the impact of corruption on the poorest of the poor. The EXPOSED coalition partners include the Bible Society of the United Kingdom, the Bible Society of North America, The Salvation Army, Unashamedly Ethical, the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Challenge International. Others who have indicated their support for the campaign include Tearfund, 24/7 Prayer and the Association for a Just Society (AJS) in Honduras, CANOPI in Malaysia, The Langham Partnership, Global Day of Prayer, Advocates International, Empower21 and Asian Access. There has also been engagement with the Catholic Bishops Conference, Lambeth Palace, The Organisation of Instituted Churches in Africa, Bishop Ben Quashie of Jos, Nigeria, Bishop Zac Niringiye of Uganda, Dr Goodwill Shana from Zimbabwe, Bishop Tendero of Lausanne and the NGO umbrella body Micah Network.
Footnote 1: December 2011 report from Washington-based Global Financial Integrity
Footnote 2: Interview with Daniel Kaufman, Global Governance Director, The World Bank Institute, “Six Questions about the cost of corruption” April 8th 2004
I arrived in Holland on Monday morning and made my way through to Nijmegen where I am doing some work on my 2nd PhD at Radboud University.
Nijmegen is a beautiful city, and it is an immeasurable honour to be working with Professor van der Watt and Professor Hermans. We had dinner together that evening after our first meeting to discuss the progress in my research.
Yesterday I spent the day sorting out administration for my stay, connecting with the University and doing preparation for our EXPOSED launch in London.
You will see two pictures with this post. One is of my rental bike while in Holland. It is a great cruiser with 3 gears (plenty for the flat cycling lanes). Holla d is really geared for cycling! I love it! The other picture was taken in Central Nijmegen. It is a beautiful old city! I will have to write up some of the history when I am back at a computer. Safe to say that there has been a settlement here for over 2000 years.
As I write this post I am on a train from Nijmegen to Schipol airport via Utrecht. I fly to London today for some press interviews and final prep for our EXPOSED launch at Westminster Central Hall at 11am UK time on Thursday the 11th of October 2012. Please could I ask for your prayers for this very important and significant event?
You can see details about EXPOSED on http://www.exposed2013.com - at the time of writing this the site is being updated. So please do check back there if it is not up when you visit.
Please sign up for EXPOSED and shine a light on corruption!
You can read our press release on the launch of EXPOSED here http://gatewaynews.co.za/2012/10/04/exposed-will-shine-light-on-global-corruption/
Thanks to Gateway for supporting the campaign.
I appreciate your prayers for the campaign, our teams, my family and me!