Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Investing in Freedom

Diane and I have just returned from spending a few days teaching at the Teen Challenge UK School of Ministry.  They now meet in the their new national HQ called Willoughby House on the main road between Leicester and Nottingham.  There, in what was a Best Western Hotel, they now have a men's rehab unit for drug addicts and alcoholics, their national admin offices, and also the 6 month SoM.  It was a tremendous joy to be in the atmosphere of this dynamic place.  The guys on rehab spend about one year getting cleaned up and set free from life-controlling addiction.  The success rate for this ministry is 80% - a phenomenal outcome for people who were so messed up before.  Once they graduate from the programme they have the option to take a further 6 months in the School of Ministry to prepare for Christian service.  This is a real example of the Bible verse that says: 'If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation: the old has gone and the new has come!' Exciting!

One real concern I have is that this organisation is so heavily dependent on gift income to survive.  Each person they take out of an addicted lifestyle is saving the state millions in prevented crimes, released hospital beds, empty prison cells etc.  In fact, I met one guy newly arrived from prison who had been sent there by the courts. Yet there is very little state funding of the programme. Also, when you consider the millions that are recouped from illicit drugs money by the authorities, how come so little of this finds its way into rehab?  So, when I saw an empty gymnasium with no equipment because of lack of funds, and a broken down minibus that will cost £24,000 to replace and so is lying unusable, I was angry at the lack of vision in our society.

I really hope and pray that businesses and even governments will respond to this challenge and make sure that these young people who are no longer part of the victim culture or even the drugs supply chain itself, have the resources they need to start this new life with a flying start.  You can find out more at their website www.teenchallenge.co.uk

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fishing in the Aquarium

Shock horror!  Front page news 3 days running!  Major crime alert in Island community!  The local media are claiming that someone has allegedly stolen a large sea bass from Guernsey's Aquarium and entered it into a Bass Fishing Competition and won first prize of £800.  Can this be true?  Surely this must be a new low in British corruption?  How could this dastardly deed have happened in such a peace-loving society?

The Island Police force is taking a dim view of this event and are following several lines of enquiry.  Their net is drawing in and the scales of justice will soon be weighing in.  Officers have been hooked out of more mundane duties and it is reported that a fish-head has been recovered and is being processed as evidence!  Where the rest of this poor creature has gone goodness only knows - after all, today's front page is tomorrow's fish and chip paper!

Mind you, quite apart from the dishonesty involved, as you would expect a preacher like me spies a moral in this tale.  Fishing in the Aquarium is not real fishing is it?  The warm artificial tanks exist to preserve various species and provide ideal conditions for them to thrive - but not for angling.  Real fishermen ply their trade in the wide open sea where the huge stocks are waiting.  Jesus said 'follow Me and I will make you fishers of men' yet many are doing their fishing inside the equivalent of the Aquarium - the church with its buildings and safe ghetto like glass ceilings and walls.  Maybe we should 'cast our nest on the other side' and start fishing for men where they actually hang out in great numbers?  Tight lines!