Saturday, 1 October 2016

I Still See Her Face

I still see her face. An innocent one-year old. Such trust as she climbed onto my lap and fell asleep. She had no idea as to what had happened to her and her family.

I’m so pleased that Amena’s story has made it into print. You can read my article on life in the Syrian refugee camps in the latest issue of Christianity Magazine.
By God’s grace, Amena and her family will find their way home to a peaceful country. In the meantime, let’s continue to pray.

Monday, 22 August 2016

What Are Mere Mortals That You Should Think About Them?

I love stuff like this.

Did you know that there are ten sextillion stars (that's 10 with 21 noughts after it!)? Did you know the tiniest quark is so small it's hard to describe? Imagine Wembley Stadium represents the size of one atom (and one hundred million atoms make up one inch). Now go to the centre circle of the football pitch (the atom) and pick up one grain of soil. That's the nucleus of the atom. Then divide the nucleus by 1000. And that's the size of a quark. (More on this in 'God-Life', chapter 4).

The Bible says 'what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?' (Psalm 8:4, NLT). What indeed. But He does. And when you see how small we are in the video, that's even more amazing.

Enjoy the video:


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Explaining British Politics to an American Friend

American Friend: ‘Hey Ralph, what’s happening with you guys? Crazy politics!’

Ralph: ‘Yep. Not our most glorious moment as a British people.’

AF: ‘So what exactly has happened? Explain it to me.’

R: ‘I’ll have a go. But just to get things into perspective, you guys have got Donald Trump!’

AF: ‘Fair enough!’

So here is my attempt at an answer to my American friend:


There’s quite a backstory to this. A lot of it involves the press and their ability to spin a story. Our press are not neutral. We boast a free press, but with it comes a lot of baggage. Especially press intrusion, wild headlines and frankly, lies.

We have the BBC of course. Supposedly neutral. But probably not. It tends towards the left wing of British politics and is not averse to trying to get a scoop, seemingly at the cost of the truth. (Cliff Richard, our British pop icon, has been dragged through the mud on his private life- started by the BBC filming a raid on his home. Turns out none of it is true. Hope he sues).

All of this is to say, people believe the cheap headlines.


New Labour had its day and lost the election. Not helped by a lacklustre Gordon Brown who probably should never have been Prime Minister.

The election results were a surprise though. It needed a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition to reach consensus on a new Government. They did a pretty good job. The LibDems stopped the more extreme right wing agenda of the Conservatives and the fallout from the 2008 world economic crisis was managed well.


The last election changed that. The LibDems were punished by their supporters for the alliance with the Conservatives and the first past the post electoral system meant they paid a higher price in number of MPs that the actual vote for them suggested.

Prime Minister Cameron had freedom to introduce a right wing agenda, and he did.

But on Europe, he was caught by his own manoeuvrings. At a point of weakness and with pressure from the extreme right wing, he had earlier caved in to offering a referendum on Europe- should we stay in the European Union or not? That’s the referendum we’ve just been through.


British politics needs a robust and effective opposition. There hasn’t been one since the demise of Blair and Brown.

The unions pushed through a vote on a new leader of the Labour party that favoured younger brother Ed Miliband over older brother David. That was the catalyst for Labours demise. Ed was not a leader and duly lost the election, spectacularly giving Cameron an unfettered government.

Before he left, Ed also ensured Labour would remain unelectable by letting in the £3 voters. These are people that can vote in a Labour leadership election by paying just £3. Sounds ridiculous? It was. The extreme left in the Labour party used the changes to their advantage and the unelectable labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is the result.


And now the country has imploded. Based on a set of untruths, the vote out brigade won the referendum. Economic misery is the likely result.  All three major parties are in trouble: the LibDems don’t have the MPs. The Conservatives have Cameron’s resignation to deal with and infighting still on Europe. And Labour has to deal with an unelectable leader who at the time of writing is refusing to go, despite 80% of his own MPs asking him to do so.

Some on the extreme right wing have taken the vote as an excuse for racial violence. And just when we need a steady hand and a clear mind, no one is stepping up.


Not sure. Could be violence on the streets. Could be economic ruin. I hope not. There’s a gap in politics once again, for a middle ground / left of centre party. If that’s not Labour, maybe someone will be brave enough to start a new party.

Maybe the Conservatives will sort themselves out in time. And maybe the EU will drop the rhetoric and give Britain a good deal outside of their borders. Maybe.

But it could be worse. At least Donald Trump is the other side of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


It’s been a strange campaign.

The Remain guys seem to have focussed on fear and not so much on the obvious benefits of remaining. But that’s been surpassed by the poverty of the Leave campaign.

I was on the Syrian border two weeks ago, helping the refugees. To then see them used on a Leave poster as propaganda was definitely the lowest point of the campaign.

I’m not sure there should ever have been a vote on this, but as Cameron has decided otherwise, I’ll be voting tomorrow. I don’t believe in divorce. I’m voting for belonging, for inclusion, for welcoming others and working with them.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Leicester City - The Financially Impossible Story

An amazing thing has just happened in my city. Leicester City Football Club has won the Premiership. Outside of the usual ‘big spenders’, Leicester are only the second club to manage the impossible (Blackburn Rovers being the other club in 1994/95).

They won it on team spirit, togetherness, courage and determination. In the end, money can’t buy determination.

It’s worth looking at the financials here. The chart below, from the BBC, shows how Leicester stacks up in terms of cost, against the biggest spending club, Manchester City:

Yes, that’s right. Leicester has just won the Premiership with a team valued at 7.5% of the ‘top’ club.

And that’s not all. Leicester City have also attained the greatest financial ‘over achievement’ when measured against wages. Here’s the proof courtesy of the Financial Times no less (via Pensions Playpen):

Much has already been written about this impossible success. And I’m sure there will be more to follow. Cold finance says this achievement is impossible. The dreamers at Leicester City say otherwise.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
T. E. Lawrence

Monday, 28 March 2016

Modern Day Lascars - Abandoned and Rejected

I’m a Christian. It may be something that you have noticed about this blog. I believe God can speak in dreams, words and visions. It doesn’t happen often, but I do get the odd dream and vision I believe is from God. This is the story of one of them.

Some months back, I had a vivid dream. In it, I saw an abandoned ancient city. It was in ruins. But there were still people living there.

As I approached, these people came out of the ruins. They were in rags. They looked at me and said ‘We are the Lascars’.

With that, the dream ended.

I didn’t recall ever hearing the word ‘Lascar’ before, so I looked it up. It turns out that Lascars were early sailors, primarily from India, as far back as the 1800s. They signed on to ships in the European navies and served around the world. Many served on British ships and this brought them to the UK. They settled in London and other ports. Many became lonely and destitute. They had been abandoned by their own country but not accepted by their new country.

I spent a while praying about this. What was the dream meant to signify? How was I supposed to respond to it? It struck me that for the last 17 years, I have been working into India each year, taking teams and offering support to poor communities. So I guessed it was no coincidence that God had taken me in a dream, to the Lascar people.

As far as I can tell, most if not all of the Lascars are no more. They died out - as did the term ‘Lascar’- in the 1950s.

But Lascars still exist. Every person who has stepped away from their childhood faith as a Hindu or Muslim and embraced Christianity is a modern day Lascar. Many who have simply moved away from the structured society of their parents into an adopted one of the nation they now live in is a modern day Lascar.

For the most part, they have been abandoned by their mother country and their original society, but have not been adopted by their new culture either. Abandoned and rejected, they live on the outside of both their original culture and their adopted one. Abandoned by one and rejected by another.

In my adopted city of Leicester, there are many modern day Lascars. Of Indian or Middle East origin, often brought up as a Hindu or Muslim. But now, having left their roots, they find they are rootless. Unable to assimilate into British culture, more by way of rejection than through an active decision.

The modern day Lascars. The rejected of today’s societies and cultures.

If the dream was real, then I have a part to play in reaching out and welcoming such people. My prayer is that, just as in the dream, I will meet them, and by God’s grace, introduce them to the most wonderful welcoming, inclusive and generous society of all.

If you get to read this and feel either to join me in this task, or that you are a modern day Lascar and need help, contact me.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Leaning into Relationships

A 75 year study (yes, 75 years!) by Harvard University shows that long life and happiness is reflected by strong relationships.

This remarkable study is still going after all these years. Over 700 men started out being interviewed. Over 60 are still alive and in their nineties, and still being studied.

It’s not money or fame that gets you a long and satisfying life, its good relationships. Loneliness is a killer. Family feuds take a terrible toll on the person that holds the grudges. A happy marriage adds years to your life.

This is not rocket science- but it is social science. A real study over 75 years is hard to argue against.

It’s not the first time I have heard this either. Dr JohnTrickell did a study of various societies around the world that lived the longest. His conclusion as to what brought long life? Fun, friends, family and faith.

To have good friends throughout life is a blessing. To have a faith that brings about a friendship with Christ is even more precious.

So, lean in to relationships that give you satisfaction, friendship and fulfilment. You’ll be happier for it, and live longer.

Want to find out more about the study? This is a 12 minute history: