P.S.

Welcome to p.s., an email and web discussion forum from Contemporary Christianity.

We issue p.s. every every month. In line with our aims, it seeks to "provide informed, credible and practical comment and analysis, rooted in biblical reflection and theological thought" on contemporary matters of broad public concern in Ireland.

We are aiming to engage Christian minds with issues in the public square, to inject new perspectives and provoke discussion.

 
Please note that the statements and views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

Click on any of the issues raised, think about what is said and leave any comments you wish.

The Good Friday Generation writes…

On April 10th 1998 I was an almost one year old baby living in Johannesburg, South Africa; a country recovering from the Apartheid; a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. As a one year old I knew nothing of this, I loved my white Father who was from England and came home every day from work providing.  I adored my coloured Mother who also went out to work and came home to look after me and my brother. My nanny who was black that looked after us kids while my parents were at work would make us laugh so hard until we cried.  These were all just people I loved, I didn’t care what colour skin they had so why would their religion title also be a measure of my love for them?

When we moved to Northern Ireland in November 2001 the Good Friday Agreement had been in place for a number of years now and the prospect of peace was high. But now 20 years on the same cannot be said. As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement being signed draws near our Province is slowly deteriorating away from the once promised peace. As the six o’clock news comes on, we sit down to the hope that the parties at Stormont have resolved their issues and once again would become a beacon of hope, prosperity and most importantly peace. But day after day we are faced with more anger, violence and disappointment. 

Am I optimistic for peace? Despite everything, yes. Recognising that God calls us to live faithfully, I am optimistic that change can occur because we are told in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for us, plans to give us hope and a future. Northern Ireland is in need of hope right now as Stormont remains dormant resulting in schools losing funding and the health service coming under further strain. My hope for our country is that however hard the past was, it is time to live in the present in order for our future and the future of our younger generation to never experience what went on over 20 years ago.  However, it seems that the stalemate we are now experiencing is, in a different kind of way, just as draining for the society as the violence was; it could be the smoke before the fire.

For the past five years I have been working as a Christian volunteer in a predominantly Catholic area helping to facilitate the running of a Christian Kids Club for all children of the area; simply with the intention of sharing the love of Jesus through songs, games, stories and crafts. I have seen kids and leaders from both sides of the community come together with questions, love, joy and understanding but most importantly, peace. If a seven year old Protestant boy and a seven year old Catholic boy can come together and play games together, cheering each on and laughing, seeking to win for their entire team, then I simply cannot comprehend why adults cannot do the same. What we are experiencing now is not peace, but as Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Therefore I see my job as part of the Good Friday Generation to take this as the slogan for my life and that of the children in my ministry, that although we may not have peace now, Jesus has already made peace with us all, it is now our responsibility to carry on this peace to those around us. 

The church over the past 20 years has learnt a lot and I feel it is still continuing to educate itself on how to address the situation. Peace-making is an underlying theme throughout the Bible so therefore it should be the Church’s mission now to fulfill this and I believe it has been better than before but like most things, there is room for improvement. Ways of tackling this may be by simply using appropriate language within the Church and also promoting and providing more opportunities for cross-community peace programmes. 

As the 20th Anniversary draws nears cannot help but think of the 40th Anniversary, 50th etc. I find it hard to believe in the generation that are currently in charge of the Good Friday Agreement because quite frankly it is non-existent so the possibility of a 50th Anniversary seems very distant and bleak. However, with my work with the youth and children of this generation my optimism in them is strong as I believe God is preparing a generation of young Christian men and woman to help lead this small but wonderful country back to the peace that was once promised. I am proud citizen of South Africa that has a coloured mother and a white father that came out peacefully from the Apartheid, but I am also a proud citizen of Northern Ireland where I have spent my life growing up happy and at peace due to the protection of the Good Friday Agreement. I want the same for the kids in my Kids Club, in my church and for the future generation. 

Tove Lappin is a student at the Institute for Children, Youth and Mission currently on placement at Reach Mentoring.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

Birthday Blues

 

At the beginning of its 70th year the NHS has hardly got off to the happiest of birthdays what with 12 hour waits to be seen at A&E departments, patients yet again lying on trolleys in corridors, cancelled elective surgery and staff leaving their jobs in alarming numbers because of low morale. And to that add the news also that we have pretty mediocre cancer survival rates compared with other western countries. Continue reading

TIME TO BURY THE ‘E’ WORD

What has Jimmy Carter to do with Pat Robertson? Both would name themselves evangelicals, but it would be a very broad church indeed that could accommodate them. David Bebbington came up with perhaps the most credible definition of the evangelical movement in his Evangelicalism in Modern Britain. Evangelicalism, according to Bebbington, has four characteristics: biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism and activism. Undoubtedly, many calling themselves evangelicals would still affirm these, but the range of meaning ascribed to each of these characteristics by those within the evangelical tradition has expanded dramatically, to the point where encompassing so much they explain very little. Continue reading

Wednesday: Surveying the Landscape

Evangelicalism is my family – it always has been. Along the way I’ve been part of a couple of Brethren churches, I’ve spent seventeen years leading a non-denominational, evangelical international church in Switzerland, and I pastored a Northern Irish Baptist Church for four years. These days, Sundays see me in a range of evangelical pulpits and I’ve been doing teaching at Belfast Bible College (interdenominational) and the Irish Baptist College. Continue reading

Reformation 500 – A Week of Reflections

As 2017 draws to an end it will be remembered for many reasons. It has been a rollercoaster year; with turbulence in current affairs of a level that many of us feel has been unprecedented in our life times. Passions run deep as arguments bounce back and forth, wafting and weaving through issues such as Trump’s rise, Brexit’s shape, Corbyn’s surge, and Weinstein’s breaking of a dam. Continue reading