We've had a good Christmas. The services went well, the family was all together and we feasted and laughed, shared and celebrated in a lovely relaxed way. All-in-all, it was a really refreshing time.
I'm catching up with a few things today - one of which was to finish an article for Ministry Today Magazine on ministering in exile. That's done and sent. I've also done a bit of sorting for our new teaching programme which kicks off on Sunday.
I also thought I'd draw your attention to an interesting article in last Saturday's Times (the London Times as Americans call it). It's by atheist Matthew Parris and it's well worth reading. you can do so here.
The headline says it all but leaves a substantial elephant in the room.
I can't fault his analysis of Africa's predicament or the contribution of the Christian church to the continent. 'In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good,' he says.
And he concludes his piece by saying: 'Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the know-how that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted. And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.'
The elephant in the room is that if the Christian faith causes such transformation in Africa, does it also in the UK? If Christianity is so essential to Africa's transformation, could it not also be essential to Britain's?
I wonder if Matthew Parris would like to tour Britain's difficult places and see what Christians are achieving there through good works and life-changing evangelism. I wonder if, as a result of looking, it might suggest that his firm atheism is as harmful to him and our culture as he suggests animist and witch doctor beliefs are to Africa.