Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Archbishop at Delhi Brotherhood

I was looking at the Lambeth website at pics of the Archbishop visit to India (I was meant to be there myself). He was recently visiting CMS partner organisation, 'The Delhi Brotherhood'
I enjoyed the photos of the service and the cricket.

Delhi Brotherhood: The Delhi Brotherhood Society was originally known as the Cambridge Brotherhood, where a small number of English priests set out for Delhi in 1877, with the aim of promoting higher education. This they duly did, founding St Stephen's College in 1881 which is now one India's leading universities. In more recent times the brothers have turned their energies to the plight of slum dwellers in the city, with projects currently being run addressing HIV prevention, agricultural projects, as well empowerment initiatives for women and those people with disabilities.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Nasruddin in 140 characters or less

Since I was in the Land of Mullah Nasruddin I thought I would try posting a story a day whilst I am here (this was back in May)

"what is a traitor in politics?" they asked Nasruddin "Anyone who leaves our party to join another is a traitor." (pt 1 of 2)

"Well, what about a man who leaves his party to join yours?" they asked "well, he is a convert, said the Mulla “a real convert” (pt 2 of 2)

"That pain in your leg is caused by old age" the doctor told Nasrudin. "That can't be, the other leg is the same age & doesn't hurt a bit."

Mulla, what did you think of the sermon?" "Oh, It was OK" said Nasrudin, "Only he passed 3 really good places where he could have stopped."

Nasrudin is fishing "How many have you caught?" asks a passerby. "Well, If I catch this one that's nibbling and then 2 more I will have 3!"

Mulla Nasrudin sat fishing in a bucket of water. A passer-by enquired, "How many have you caught?" Nasrudin smiled "YOU are the ninth!"

On his 85th birthday Nasruddin was asked: "Don't you hate growing old Mulla?" "Oh, NO," he said "If I wasn't growing old, I'd be dead!"

"That election was fixed" challenged the defeated Mulla. "I know cos a friend voted for me fifteen times, but I only got 4 votes in total!"

Nasrudin lost the election & felt sorry for himself: "I am a victim"! "A victim of what? asked his friend. "A victim of accurate counting!"

I found a 'Nasruddin' story of the sweetest strawberry - dedicated to Pete in Mazar.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

"a train is a fire going in one direction"

I attended the memorial service for Ian R Smith (6 Mar 1948- 29 July 2009) at St Oswald's Church, Fulford, York. He was a great railway enthusiast, as well an Area Secretary for CMS, before going on to be General Secretary for CMS Ireland.

You can read more on CMS Ireland's announcement of his death last year

He was a colleague and friend, who had visited us in Karachi in the mid eighties. I remember his enthusiasm for trains nearly got him arrested. He was driving the Mirpurkhas narrow gauge steam train to the Indian border, on the foot-plate playing Ilkley Moor bar 't'at on the train whistle. Therefore on the return the military check post assumed he'd come from over the border. He had a lot of explaining to do......

His family shared movingly about his life through clips and quotes from friends. His son talked about his unswerving hope (Heb 10:23) and how as a stranger and pilgrim he did not receive everything promised but welcomed them from afar (Heb 11:13)

Simon Barrington Ward previous Gen Sec of CMS Britain and former Bishop of Coventry
spoke of his vibrant faith and commitment to the gospel, his role in General Synod and his advocacy of the plight of Christians in Sudan. He finished his address by quoting Robert Browning's poem 'epilogue'

But it was a short film clip 'One Direction' made by Rev Chris Bennett of Holywood Parish Church for Ian's funeral, which will remain with me. It was a powerful image of a life of passion committed to a lifetime of service. And whilst Ian was passionate indeed about trains, it was the gospel that really fired his engine...

"A train is a fire going in one direction"

He wrote a number of railway books, but also a book of his travels in the Middle East, when part of CMS, called A Case of Confidence (2005)

He went looking for vibrant Christian faith in an area of the world where Christians were rapidly leaving. (partly inspired by William Dalrymple's classic 'From the Holy Mountain') And of course because of his enthusiasm and energy, he found many inspiring Christians and managed to communicate their stories in a simple compelling way....

That was part of his gift. Inspiring confidence in the good news of God's love to all he met....

I finish with a prayer written by his wife Carol

Let us remember Ian and thank God for
His life, his love and his gifts
For his cheerfulness and his smile;
His enthusiasm and his flair;
His love of life, and ability to live it to the full;
His love of the natural world, and railways too;
for his gift of friendship; his sense of fun;
His passion for the gospel;
His clear, faithful preaching;
His yearning to share the good news with others;
His love and concern for his brothers and sisters
throughout the worldwide church;
And his love for his family;
We thankyou God

Friday, 15 October 2010

Afghan girl receives enduring heart award

You remember the TIME article about an Afghan girl disfigured by the Taleban and left to die
It was very contraversial in the way the picture was used politically. However the 19 year girl, Aisha, has now received a new prosthetic nose and is all smiles.
All was revealed at a ceremony where she recieved an 'Enduring Heart award'

You can read all about it

Disfigured Afghan teenager smiles again and also

The smile that defies the Taliban: Afghan teenager whose mutilated face shocked the world unveils her new image

It's a small victory for humanity in the face of oppression. a case of 'cutting of a nose' which has now 'spited the face' of the Taleban.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Pray even if you have no prayer

President Karzai was understandably emotional as he thought about his own children and the future of Afghanistan . .


President Hamid Karzai bursts into tears during a nationally televised speech on the problems facing Afghanistan, as a peace council is appointed to start formal negotiations with the Taliban.

a friend of mine Colin responded ot this with a prayer/poem which I thought would be good to post:

Colin Darling

Pray even if you have no prayer...

Oh great God friend of the crushed and broken,
let not Afghanistan be a caravan of slaughter
on its way to a caravanserai of despair.
May you gentle king grant to people who live in security
the gift of tears and imagination,
and to those who live by violence
the gift of hope

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Be faithful unto death ...

Francis Omondi from Sheepfold ministries in Kenya has just had a reflection published on Fulcrum aboout the brutal murders in March 2010 of Christians in Jos Nigeria Be faithful unto death

I particularly liked the quote from Tohito Kagawa's book Meditation:

“I do not deny the eventuality of death, death lies sternly upon my course, nevertheless I believe that Love [the love of God] has far greater power than death. ‘ death is swallowed up in love …’

Love is stronger than death, love’s glory tramples even death under feet, I am thinking that death is transformed through love. Death is an aspect of change, while love is the substance that persists through all changes.

The Anglican diocese of Jos have published pictures on thier website. Be warned theya re very disturbing

At the end of the pictures there is a prayer:

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tangmarg School: before and after

The beautful Tangmarg school BEFORE


We had a day of fasting prayer in the Diocese (Report below). Thank you for praying with us.
I have attached a heart-breaking photo of Tangmarg school after it was burnt. Please share with other friends!
+ Samantaroy

Responding to a call by Bp.P.K.Samantaroy, fasting prayers were observed throughout the diocese from morning till 4:00 p.m. Pastors, field workers, the diocesan office staff, teachers and lay men and women totaling above 100 assembled in the St.Paul’s Church, Amritsar and spent time in prayer, singing and reflection. The participants were seen emotionally moved as they prayed for peace in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. A candlelight dedication prayer marked the closing of the fasting prayer during which people committed themselves to stick to Christian values and to work for peace. The Bishop and a few leaders met the D.C. of Amritsar and handed over a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India. The participants broke their fast with tea and snacks over an informal fellowship.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tragedy in Kashmir

I received the following from the Bishop of Amritsar about the school in Tangmarg. I quote it in full because it sets the context so well:

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings to you from Amritsar! Today was a very special day for me. In the midst of receiving greetings and messages for my birthday I got a horrifying message from Parwez that the Tangmarg branch of Tyndale Biscoe & Mallinson was vandalized and set on fire. I was shocked and immobilized for few moments not willing to believe what I had just heard. I was even hopeful that the fire brigade would be able to reach the School and save it from devastation. But the unexpected happened. The whole school building got completely burnt destroying everything in it. We have lost the most beautiful school of the Diocese. However, I thank God for there was no human casualty. The few support staff who were present in the School managed to run away to safety in time.

This ghastly incident was a result of a rumor that was deliberately spread to announce an alleged burning of copies of Quran in the U.S.A. There were few other incidents of attacks on church. Last night a C.N.I. Church was burnt in Malerkotla (Chandigarh Diocese) and a Roman Catholic Church was attacked in Poonch (Jammu) but the police successfully prevented any damage to the Church.

I have written letters to the President, Prime Minister and other high officials to take steps to give adequate protection to the Christians of J & K. apart from informing the C.N.I. Synod office, friends and partners. I request you to write letters to the Prime Minister of India urging him to take appropriate action.
The Tangmarg School building is gone but not our hope and confidence. I thank God for the gift of this challenge to rebuild on my birthday. I know my limitations. But I believe your prayers will cause a storm in heaven and invite God’s intervention in the Kashmir situation.
It is a time to pray and act together.
Diocese of Amritsar
Kashmir school principal on burning of Tangmarg school

Mr Parwez Kaul, head of the Tyndale-Biscoe and Mallinson schools, speaks on the shocking arson attack

"We ask everyone to pray for us around the world," he says. "In Kashmir we are used to facing challenges, this the worst challenge I have been forced to face."

The sound quality is far from excellent, but we wanted you to hear the voice of those involved.

Monday, 13 September 2010

a school in Kashmir burnt in reaction to a pastor in Florida

Ed Lorenz famously said that a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and there is a Hurricane on the other side of the world. (1972 “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?”) A threat of burning a Koran by a small town pastor of a tiny congregation in Florida and the next thing you know there are riots in Kabul and then in Kashmir schools being burnt. It is worth noting that this is a supposed 'reaction' or response to the proposed 'Koran Burnings' that did not actually happen. Fighting fire with fire just does not make sense to me.

I received a number of messages about the Tyndale Biscoe School in Tangmarg. I visited it a couple of months ago and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip - seeing the kids reherse a cultural performance they were doing for their proud parents. And a real sense of bringing education to remote under-served areas where it was most needed. I remember two young girls I spoke to during the tea break and their dream to be doctors..... Now all such dreams are on hold.

I include some of the messages as I received them and the unfolding story of this senseless waste.....

Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy of Amritsar writes:
following the Quaran burning threats in America, the Tangmarg branch of the Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson Educational Society in Jammu and Kashmir has been put on fire. Curfew has been imposed. Even as this message is being typed, the school building is still burning! Kindly pray that peace will be restored soon and that nobody is hurt.
Read more from the local press in Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Observer

S. Samantaroy The School students are not hurt. The building has totally burnt down. It was entirely made of wood. Though the officials were informed of a possible attack and requested for safety there was no action taken. The mob even stopped the fire brigade from reaching the spot. We are yet to procure a photograph. We will keep you updated.

Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy I am heart broken because I was involved with the Tangmarg School from the time we selected the land. I saw the building built and the School grow and flourish with committed staff and beautiful Kashmiri children. The School was more like a beautiful garden. How can I see it turn to ashes? The students are crying because they learnt their School is no more.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Faith on the move: myDiocese app for i-phone

I have just downloaded the new MyDiocese app for i-phone, with news from CofE and a number of Diocese - including my own Guildford. To try it out (its FREE) just go to i-tunes or apps on your i-phone

There are 4 main areas:

1 home page (with a daily reading) :

2 News (from CofE and particpating diocese - Oxford not yet one of them)

3 Faith (services, resources etc)

4 Community (find churches)

you can read more on the Guldford diocese media release

It's what you might call 'Faith on the move'

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Birmingham Balti: 'we're all in the same bucket'

A good friend of mine, Colin, ran a Balti evening in Birmingham to raise funds for Pakistan Flood relief. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but it sounded a great event. But I'll let Colin describe it himself ......

It went well.... David said grace in Urdu and prayed for blessing on the restaurant staff and the people affected by the floods - the staff and owner were really touched by the whole thing. We had 36 sat down at table and and a few who donated but couldn't come.
The final result - unless more gifts come in: We all paid £10 per person for our meal and on top of that raised £661.18 [ £554 plus we estimate DEC can expect to receive an estimated gift aid top up of 107.18 ]

It is a version of what I talked about in CMS as balti church - there was an enormous buzz of conversation - so much so, it was hard to be heard reading the poems, cos people did not want to stop talking lol.... (but little formal religious expression) and we had folk from about seven churches as well as some members of my family. We did a little quiz about Pakistan at the beginning ... and the level of that was about right....
Balti church / balti gathering cos in the end we're all in the same bucket!

A great effort if you ask me. If anyone else is inspired to do something similar then maybe you could send funds through CMS to help our response. I've written up some bits about it on this blog. Just click away on the CMS website: Give Now

Friday, 27 August 2010

from the water's edge: an update on the Pakistan floods

I received the following from a friend who is working at the scene of the floods in Pakistan... at the water's edge you could say. I quote what are a couple of glimpses into the enormous devastation that the floods are bringing, and how some people are able make a small difference.

You’ve probably seen from the television that vast areas of Punjab and Sindh have been flooded as inconceivable quantities of water have thundered down from the north of the country. In some cases the flood defences have simply been overwhelmed. In other cases the dreadful decision has had to be taken to deliberately breach the dykes, and allow the waters to flood hundreds of square miles of countryside in order to reduce the pressure near urban areas downstream. In effect it has been necessary to sacrifice villages and towns in order to save cities.

Before....... .... and after

....earlier this week I was able to go with our local partners to visit some of their projects in and around Sukkur in the north of Sindh.

One thing that amazed me was that, although this disaster is vast beyond our imagination, it is also very localised. It is 500km from here to Sukkur, and for the first 480 km you wouldn’t have thought that anything was wrong, except perhaps for a rather heavy monsoon. Then suddenly on every side there were vast camps, row upon row of tents housing families who had escaped the floods with little more than the clothes on their backs. On any available space beside the road were those for whom there was no room in the camps, or those who had managed to bring with them the few water buffalo or goats which represented their life’s savings.

In Sukkur, the Diocese of Hyderabad has long been running a programme to help the hundreds of destitute families who live on the banks of the river Indus, either in boats, flimsy shelters or simply under the stars. The diocese has been providing them with medical care, water filters, and informal education for the children. When the floods came, these families simply had to run for their lives and set up home wherever they could find room by the side of the road. Now the diocese is also providing them with hot meals, and a “Child-Friendly Space”, where the children can play together, rest, and be safe.

The contrast between “affected” and “unaffected” areas was even starker in the rural areas. For mile upon mile it appeared to be life as normal. Then, as we drove up a slight rise in the road, suddenly there was nothing but water for as far as the eye could see. Good agricultural land, farms, entire villages were now under five to ten feet of water, with no sign of a far bank. The two photographs labelled “before” and “after” show the land on either side of the raised ground.

We found a boat to take us the twenty minute journey over what used to be sugar-cane fields to a village which was still a few feet above the water level. About 500 families were living there, together with another 50 families who had taken refuge among them, and we learnt that there were five or six similar villages in the area. They were cut off from the world and rapidly running out of supplies, but they considered themselves blessed because they were safe, dry and in their own homes. Within the next few days our local partners will begin distribution of food, hygiene kits, and other basic essentials to these families.

The boat that took us to the village and villagers waving goodbye

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Afghan videos - what a waste

Two excellent movies (on vimeo) produced by Brian Cardarelli, one of the 10 aid workers killed in Afghanistan. (Thanks Khalid and Martin for pointing them out). He was with the Nuristan team to produce a video of the work. Sadly no more videos from him. What a waste......

Buzkashi from Brian Carderelli on Vimeo.

a metaphor of Afghanistan
Filmed in Faizabad, Afghanistan.

Hammer Jam from Brian Carderelli on Vimeo.

A modern twist on an ancient job.
Filmed in Mazar, Afghanistan.

Friday, 13 August 2010

10 Murdered Medical Aid workers in Afghanistan

From top left, Glen D. Lapp, Tom Little, Dan Terry, Thomas Grams, Cheryl Beckett,
Brian Carderelli, Karen Woo, Daniela Beyer, Mahram Ali, and Jawed

I have been following the news about the Noor Eye Camp team which was murdered - gunned down in fact - after they had trekked into and out of Nooristan and were returning to Kabul via a 'safer route' through Badakhshan. Below are the news reports as I posted them via Twitter feed and Facebook Updates. You can click on the links to see the newspaper reports:

Eight foreign medics & 2 afghans executed by Taliban | Raw Story: - tragic deaths of charity workers

07 August at 15:30

10 Aid Workers, Including 6 Americans, Killed in Afghanistan: Photo: AP An international Christian charity says mi...

07 August at 15:36

RT @cmsmission RT @AlertNet: Eight foreign medical workers killed in #Afghanistan #aid #health #aidworkers

07 August at 15:40

Very saddened by News of killing of 10 Noor workers returning from eyecamps. Been thinking about it all day. I knew the leader Dr Tom well

07 August at 22:25

RT @journeytosmile Murdered medics: Was the Taliban responsible? Or was it Nuristani bandits

08 August at 14:22

BBC Tributes paid to Dr Karen Woo killed in Afghan ambush - 'a true hero'

08 August at 19:14

Reading @cbsnews: Afghan Medical Mission Ends In Death For 10: - a helpful summary report. I knew Dr Tom well. very sad

08 August at 19:25

‎'Little family in Afghanistan' news_id=566 a photo essay on the 'Little Family' with a BIG impact

08 August at 19:28

Slain Workers Undaunted by Risks, Friends Say

08 August at 19:46

Afghan politician Abdullah praises killed medics He trained under Dr Tom Little.

08 August at 21:47

Libby Little talking about Noor's work

08 August at 23:29

‎'Victims of Afghan massacre gave years of service' very good background on the Nuristan team

09 August at 11:15 Just realised Cheryl was one of those killed!

09 August at 18:08

AP Exclusive: Aid workers' last moments

12 August at 09:00

Ten Dead in Badakhshan: Four Afghan Reflections

12 August at 9.01

'Killing aid workers: unravelling Afghan society' Michael Semple

12 August at 11:05

In Kabul, a Service for Slain Aid Workers

13 August at 14.00