Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Congo Appeal - Every cent helps

Day 4 Community Aid & Development Inc. have just launched an appeal to raise funds for the purchase of food, blankets and clothing for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Goma, north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

They are working in with a local church organisation recommended by Claude Nikondeha of Amahoro Africa.

The appeal is only running for a short time - the aid is required urgently so we are trying to raise as much as we can by the 15th of December.

No matter where you are in the world, you can donate online via Day 4's secure credit card gateway -

If you are in Australia, please contact me (Andrew) via the Day 4 website and I can give you bank account details for direct deposits into our account.

If you do use the credit card gateway, please make sure you put "Congo" in the "Order or Item Number" field.

We also have flyers which I can email to you if you are willing to advocate for this appeal within your faith community, workplace or among family and friends.

Thanks in anticipation of your prayers and support.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Questions for Brian

When I first started exploring what the Emerging Church really was all about, one of the first figures I came across was Brian McLaren. He appeared as a much debated, controversial and rather enigmatic figure that I found difficult to draw any hard conclusions about.

Most of the stuff I read on the net about Brian was polarised. People seemed to love him and lift him up in an apostolic manner, or hate him; demonising him and branding him a heretic.

Since I first raised my questions on this blog about Brian almost 2 years ago to the day, I have had the opportunity to read several of his books and the privilege of meeting him and hearing him speak on several occasions. I even spent 3 days sitting next to him at a conference in Uganda last year.

Between the polemics offered by those who adore and those who demonise, I have found a man who is inspiring, unassuming and deeply committed to drawing others into a life centred on and lived out of the way of Jesus Christ.

Brian's two most recent books - Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change have probably had the greatest influence on me, inspiring me to take seriously the way I live my life as a follower of Christ.

In an article published on the Christianity Today website back in September, Scott McKnight looks at some of the central themes of McLaren's work and the way in which they've influenced the emerging/emergent movement and challenged the standard, two dimensional evangelical understanding of the gospel and in particular Jesus' own emphasis on the kingdom of God.

McLaren tells us that he could only see this kingdom vision of Jesus when he came to a "place of cynically doubting much of what I had been told about Jesus." To use the words of fellow emergent thinker Peter Rollins, the Northern Irish philosopher at Ikon community, McLaren experienced the "fidelity of betrayal." He had to betray the Jesus and the gospel and the church that nurtured him to become faithful to the Jesus of this kingdom vision.
But rather than simply critique the positive aspects of McLaren's influence, he goes further and poses, what he says, are some necessary questions.
McLaren grew up among evangelicals; we'd like him to show the generosity he is known for to those who ask theological questions of him. The spirit of conversation that drives much of his own pastoral work urges each of us to answer the questions we are asked, and the Bible encourages those who ask those questions to listen patiently and to respond graciously. The lack of the latter has so far inhibited the former. This can be taken as a plea on behalf of all concerned to enter into a more robust, honest conversation.
McKnights questions for McLaren centre on his (McLaren's) theology of the cross - which, according to McKnight, is nowhere near broad enough; And the relationship between the kingdom and the church - while McLaren has dealt extensively with the kingdom, he has not gone far enough, says McKnight, in thoroughly defining the kingdom and in describing or developing an appropriate ecclesiology.

The whole things is well worth a read - McKnight gives a good overview of both the books in question as well as providing something for the fans, and detractors, of McLaren to think about. Hopefully, if he hasn't already, Brian will also respond.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Child Slavery - Still no action from the chocolate makers

Back in March I posted on an "action opportunity" a few of us from Alternate[Or] Community in Bunbury were involved in - helping raise public awareness of the child cocoa slaves in West Africa.

We ended up with around 80 letters urging action from the big chocolate manufacturers, signed by Easter shoppers at one of Bunbury's main shopping centres.

Yesterday, World Vision, which is behind the "Don't Trade Lives" campaign, released a new video on YouTube, calling the big chocolate manufacturers to get their act together and put a stop to the use of slave labour in cocoa farming in West Africa.

Mark Newnham from World Vision said yesterday; "The chocolate industry has repeatedly failed to adequately tackle labour exploitation in West African cocoa fields... bubbles of nothing. Big Chocolate, just say YES and stop using child labour in cocoa production."

You can find out more about the unconscionable actions of the chocolate manufacturers at, there is also an online petition and ideas for action that can be taken to help raise awareness of slavery on "Abolish Slavery" day of action on the 2nd of December.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I've been running my little "tent making" business (doing basic software fix-ups and troubleshooting computers with problems) for around 3 weeks now. Generally it's been going well.

On average I've been getting about 2 or 3 jobs a week, which is about the level I had hoped for.

Today, though, I met my first hiccup. I was checking out a laptop computer that had been malfunctioning. I disabled the usual dozen or so nuisance start-up processes - all the software that runs unnecessarily when you first boot up your computer, slowing everything down- and did a re-start. That's where the trouble started.

The computer proceeded to log on to Windows, showing the desktop wallpaper and then, automatically, log itself off. I tried booting into Safe Mode, booting from a Windows boot disk and everything else I could think of, all to no avail.

So I fessed up. I told the customer what had happened and that I was unable to go any further with fixing the problem. As the problem I was now experiencing was similar to that experienced by the customer in the first place (the machine sporadically shutting itself down) I thought it could be related.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I now have one, extremely dissatisfied customer (fair enough too!) who has opted to take their computer elsewhere. I've spent the last two hours researching the problem on the net and think I have found an answer. I've also spent the last two hours ruminating over the fact that I think, I caused the problem in the first place!

In the end I called the customer back and told them what I thought had happened. At least that way they can pass this on to the new guy and he can, hopefully, go straight to the root of this most recent problem and rectify it. I also offered to cover whatever it costs to rectify this issue, if indeed it was I who caused it in the first place.

Sometimes I think I should have concentrated more on finding work marrying and burying people - much easier in the long term.

Christians live no differently to non-Christians

Rick Meigs has posted another challenging gem.

His claim, based on the research of the Barna Institute, is that;

Simple observation confirmed by numerous studies have found that how American Christians live and their basic beliefs about life are no different than those of the non-Christians.
He says the majority of American Christians operate out of the credo - "live your life, share your faith", but contends the missional imperative is to "live your faith, share your life".

I think the Australian church is in pretty much the same place.

You can read the whole thing HERE.

Congo Trouble

The situation in the Congo is desperate for thousands of people now flooding the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in and around the city of Goma in the north east of the country (the North Kivu region).

I have managed to make contact, through Claude Nikondeha of Amahoro Africa, with a church in Goma that is dealing directly with the thousands of people (including many children separated from their families and at the mercy of unscrupulous predators). I am currently working with my colleagues in Rwanda to find a way of getting humanitarian aid (blankets, clothing and food) accross the border into Goma and will post more details of this, and ways you can help support this effort, in the very near future.

In the meantime, and as you read the excerpts from my communication with a Congolese pastor, please continue to pray for the situation and those affected.

Dear Andrew,

Shalom from Goma. How encouraging and how good to be in the family of God's people! ... Your email is a relief in itself. It gives me joy to serve our IDPs who come desperately from the fighting areas. Praised be the name of our living and comforting God. We are fine in the Lord, my family and I. We are in the town of Goma even though the threat is big, the Lord has assured us of His presence and protection.
We are safe and serving our people in the town of Goma and around Goma. We are doing the little He enables us to do. Some times we feel discouraged, sometimes you find low spiritually when you see Innocent people, created at God's image suffer such a kind of injustice. But yours prayers have lifted us.
... since the first day, our church have been active in active ministry to the IDPs. We are collecting clothes, food for them and then our church building and schools hosted them. In the day they are outside... But with time we have been overwhelmed as the war continues to take other dimensions. For hospitality sake many are hosted in families

As a church, we are using our church medical centers to care for them when they are sick. As a church we are also involved in trauma healing and peace building especially at this time when hatred can arouse from the hurting innocent people. My church has appointed a Crisis committee at this time and I am heading the committee. We meet every day to see what is happening and what is needed to be done and where. Pray for us.

The problem we are facing is that all the supplies are becoming expensive that almost all the families are suffering the consequences because rebels have cut Goma from most of the centers we get most of the items from.The needs are as follows: Food, medecines, blankets, clothes.
As for us as a family, it is only food that we need.
But above all, pray for us, for the country, for the international community that seems for close the eye on what is happening in East Congo. The just judge will bring justice and light to this suffering. Send messages of courage and comfort. We need them
I love you even though we have never met. I also bless you. Shalom. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow

Yours in His love
More soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Community Transformation

Rick Meigs shares another example of community transformation over at Blind Beggar.

It never ceases to astound me how limitless the opportunities seem for making a difference and creating something of genuine community in the community.

Have a read here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

TV and Happiness have reported the findings of a recent study into happiness and have found that unhappy people watch more tv, on average, than happy people.

While happy people reported watching an average of 19 hours of television per week, unhappy people reported 25 hours a week. The results held even after taking into account education, income, age and marital status.

In addition, happy individuals were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read a newspaper more often than their less-chipper counterparts.
The researchers aren't sure though which comes first, the unhappiness or the TV watching.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Justice and "Justice"

Over the last 20 years I've spent a lot of times in courthouses.

The first few times I went to court because of things I had done. More recently I have been there in support of others. In between I spent time at court as a journalist and a news cameraman. I was even once assaulted at court, resulting in a fractured knee cap.

I have a pretty good understanding of the mechanics of court. I know when to bow. I know not to leave my sunglasses on my head, and to turn my mobile phone off. I once saw a lawyer throw his pager across the court room when he forgot to turn it off and some one paged him. The judge had already cautioned him once about leaving it on. His response seemed a little extreme, but the judge saw the funny side of it.

I have been asked to advocate for clients before the court and even mediated a few disputes at the request of the court.

I have come to see that justice, real justice, the kind of justice that leaves you feeling like a wrong has been properly put right, is often missing from the justice system.

A parent looses access to their children because their former spouse is prepared to lie and they are not.

A homeless man is sent to prison because he spent a few nights in an unoccupied house, trying to get out of the cold and the rain.

A child abuser is set free because the person he abused is unable to face him in court and because his family, out of misplaced loyalty, are prepared to lie for him.

A 14 year old boy, charged with a minor stealing offence, is sent to prison because his family refuses to cover his bail and he ends up getting gang raped while inside.

Yesterday I attended court again with a dear friend who is trying to do something I too often take for granted; have a relationship with his children.

He can't afford a lawyer and so represents himself. His former partner has a lawyer who is prepared to sprout his clients lies as if they are facts. To denigrate a man who has spent the last 10 years just trying to be the best dad he can be.

As I listen, everything in me wants to scream out "this is not justice!". When I hear the lies - blatant lies that fly in the face of things that I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears - I want to grab the lawyer and shake him and ask him "what are you doing? Why do you so want to damage this man? What has he ever done to you?"

As we leave the courtroom, I wait by the door for the lawyer to exit. There are so many things I want to say to him.

Maybe it's not as clear cut as it seems right at this moment, maybe he's just doing his job.

As he emerges I call across the room to him, "My friend ..." He looks up at me with a smile, "You make a mockery of the notion of justice!" His smile rapidly vanishes and the colour drains from his face. He turns quickly on his heal and walks away from me.

He's just a man after all. I find myself feeling a little sorry for him. I think I scared him. I wonder what lurks in his past. What pain he has suffered, what kind of relationship he had with his father. Whether he has ever experienced true justice. Where a wrong has been made right.

I wonder if true justice can only ever come about through omnipotence. Maybe this is why God reminds us that, at the end of the day, vengeance is his domain while loving our enemies is ours.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Trouble in the Congo

I am finding myself troubled by the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Around 18 months ago I visited the border town of Gisyeni/Goma in north western Rwanda/north eastern Congo. We met with a delegation of around 20 Congolese pastors and church leaders who travelled from their villages and from Goma, across the border into Rwanda, simply to greet us and to pray with us. It was quite a moving experience.

We didn't share their language and interpreting was difficult. I was asked to pray for them, which I did - I don't know if they understood the words. Some of them then prayed for us. They didn't ask us for anything, except to remember them.

We spent a few more minutes together, shaking hands and exchanging hugs before they gathered their things and disappeared back over the border into the DRC.

I do remember them. I find myself wondering what their lives are like right now. How the fighting is impacting them and the people they serve. I wonder if any of them have been killed.

I feel, right now, that I would like very much for us (through Day 4) to be able to do something but I know that, in reality, there is little good that we can achieve. We're too small and fundraising has been incredibly slow this year. But we can pray. I also promised those Congolese pastors I would remember them, and I would ask you to look closely at their faces (you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it) and remember them before God too.

Walking in the sand

Lyss and I have started using daylight savings to our advantage and, instead of walking around the streets in the evening, have taken to walking up the beach.

On Friday we walked about 4km. Today we walked 6. Ashleigh (6) and Luke (9) decided to walk with us. At first both Lyss and I were a little annoyed. We were hoping for some "alone" time. But in the end it was nice to enjoy the world-away-from-people with the kids.

One of the best things about living in Binningup is that within a few minutes of walking you can be completely alone without a man made thing in sight. Just the ocean, and the dunes, and the birds.

Lyss says the ocean reminds her of God. It reminds me of God too, but it also reminds me of the 10 days I spent sailing on the STS Leeuwin when I was 19. I was a young addict and the 10 days without my drugs, (except for smoking which was allowed then) crewing a tall ship, was an exhilarating experience.

On certain days, when the ocean is wind blown and the swells are large and messy, it brings back vivid memories of riding massive swells beneath the grey skies of the Southern Ocean on the three masted barque.

Today they kids found the dried skeleton of a seahorse, and a starfish in a similar state. They also collected bright orange sponges and speculated about the predominance of the colour red in the oceanic things we saw washed on the shore. "Perhaps", said Luke, "it's because of blood".

Before turning home we paused to worship God and reflect on the beauty of his creation. The kids thanked him for the ocean and the sand and the way in which we can enjoy it together as a family. Ashleigh asked if we could sing "Amazing Grace" for the dead starfish. So we did.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The love of the Father

The innermost desires of man
Do naught compare to the love of God

As He reaches out to touch the wayward life

Of one who would call on Him

The love of a Father that wells within at the very sound of the voice of His child

Calling, asking, loving, yet so frailly

The love of a Father that would see all so clearly

Yet as if blinded by pride refuses to condemn