A21 and the sex slave industry

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Church

Last Thursday night a women in our church organised an amazing event in conjunction with the A21 campaign to raise awareness to the plight of the 27 million slaves in our world.(you read that right 27 MILLION). It was an amazing night and what an eye opener. It was so touching and so sad and it also made me so angry!!!! Some of the statistics are frightening.
Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion USD per year.
Over 25 percent of sex trafficked victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe.
90% of victims trafficked into the European Union member states will end up in the sex industry.
Tragically, only 1-2 percent of victims are rescued.
The average age of a trafficked girl? 14!
The number of traffickers that are convicted? 1 in 100,000
But we can get lost in a world of statistics. For me the most poignant and memorable thing from the night was 2 photographs that a detective in charge of the trafficking unit here in Northern Ireland showed. Both where from a house somewhere in Belfast (at most 20 miles from our church building). The first photo showed a door to a bedroom, actually bedroom is not the best description. It was a room with a mattress on the floor. The first picture showed the outside of this door where some poor girl was forced to engage in prostitution. How do we know she was forced? The picture showed the padlock on the outside of the door. The second picture was even worse. It showed the inside of the door where the girl / girls had been clawing to get out! The DNA on the inside of the door didn’t match the DNA of the girl that was rescued from the room during the raid.
That is what is happening on our own doorstep and trust me if it’s happening here it’s happening where you live as well!
There are more slaves today than any other point in history. How can that be? What can we as Christians do? Well what we can’t do is stick our heads in the sand and hope that the problem just goes away! Why not check out the A21 website. Be informed, be aware and be praying.


Posted: March 28, 2012 in Church

Ok this was the reading from our staff devotions this morning. Thought it was worth sharing.


“Blessed is the man who perseveres” James 1:12 NIV

On June 1st 1965, a 13ft boat slipped quietly out of Falmouth, Massachusetts. Its destination? Falmouth, England. It would be the smallest craft to have ever made the voyage. Its name? Tinkerbelle. Its pilot? Robert Manry, a copy editor for the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” newspaper, who felt that ten years at a desk was enough boredom for anyone.

Manry was afraid, not of the ocean, but of the the people who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he only shared it with some relatives and his wife, Virginia, his greatest source of support.

The trip? He spent harrowing nights of sleeplessness trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run over. Weeks at sea caused his food to become tasteless. Loneliness led to hallucinations. His rudder broke 3 times. Storms swept him overboard. Had it not been for the rope tied around his waist he would never have been able to pull himself back on board. Finally after 78 days alone at sea he sailed into Falmouth, England. During those nights at the Tiler he had fantasized about what he would do once he arrived. He expected to simply check into a hotel, eat dinner alone and then next morning see if perhaps the associated press might be interested in his story. What a surprise! Word had spread far and wide. To his amazement, 300 vessels with horns blasting escorted Tinkerbelle into port. AND 47,000 people stood screaming and cheering him to shore.

One the great themes of scripture is perseverance. No matter how great your calling, your talent, your cause or your goal, without perseverance you won’t make it. Hence James writes, Blessed is the man who perseveres!


Time flies when your having fun

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Church

Where does time go? I keep asking that question and no one seems to have an answer. This past weekend we celebrated 10 years of ministry in the best church in the world (I might be a little biased). It’s hard to believe how quickly a decade goes in. When we arrived in Bangor Elim, Daniel was just 3 and Joanna was still a large bump in Sonya’s belly. Where do the years go? They say that time flies when your having fun so I guess thats why the years have passed so quickly. Some people may think I’m being sarcastic when I say that but trust me I’m not. One of my pet hates is pastors moaning about how hard ministry is. They complain about everything including how hard they work, how little they get paid, how demanding the job is and ironically how the people do nothing but complain ;0) Now don’t get me wrong somedays ministry is tough, really tough but the truth is that there is no greater privilege in this world than serving Gods people. I have the amazing privilege and pleasure of serving God and his people in an amazing church and I hope I never ever take that for granted.  I don’t know if I’m a great pastor but I can assure you I pastor a great church and thank God everyday (ok most days) for the amazing privilege I have to be their pastor. 

Sex slave trade around the corner

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Church
Tags: ,

Here in Northern Ireland we tend to think things like the “sex slave trade” is an issue in other parts of the world. We tend to think that sort of thing doesn’t happen here! The truth is, it is a world wide problem including right here in the UK. I was shocked to read this news story this week…..

Manchester – 10 year old deaf kid held as a slave!
A deaf woman who was allegedly kept for 10 years as a “child slave” by a couple in Manchester has been giving evidence to court via a video link.
Filmed interviews she gave to the police were played to a crown court but beforehand the woman asked: “Will I be kept from [the defendants] Mr and Mrs Ashar?”. The court was told the orphan was brought illegally into the UK in 2000. No-one was sure of her age but it is thought she was about 10.
Jurors have heard that Ilyas and Tallat Ashar kept her overnight in a cellar of their house in Eccles, Greater Manchester. 
She allegedly slept on a concrete floor and was made to cook, clean, wash and iron, and also cleaned the cars and houses of family and friends of the couple.
Shown a photograph of Mr Ashar, the alleged victim said: “He is the bad man who had sex with me.”
Upon seeing a picture of Mrs Ashar, she said: “She used to hit me in the face and cut me with the ring on her finger. It would really hurt. I would clean full-time. That was my life. “She would pick things up and drop them on my head. She used to stop me eating and drinking and would say: Go out and wash the car.
“She would push me in the back and then shut the door and lock it behind me. I would sit for a long, long time crying. I was really upset, crying and alone.
“I tried to get out and she would drag me back upstairs by my hair. She would hit me with a rolling pin.”
Prosecutor Peter Cadwallader said the victim was kept in the cellar without washing facilities or a toilet for hours packing football shirts and mobile phone covers. She had not been to school at home in Pakistan or in the UK and could neither read nor write but was taught to sign her name so it could be used to claim benefits. Mr Cadwallader told the court: “At night the door at the top of the stairs down to the cellar was locked and bolted so she could not get out during the night.”Ilyas Ashar, 83, and his wife Tallat, 66, are accused of human trafficking, false imprisonment and benefit fraud.
Mr Ashar also faces 12 charges of rape. Mrs Ashar is further charged with sexual assault and unlawful wounding. They deny the charges.
Their daughter Faaiza, 24, denies benefit fraud. The alleged victim, who cannot speak, gave evidence from a remote location with the help of interpreters and sign language experts.

This stuff is going on right under our noses! Its an issue we need to be better informed and educated about. If your free why not come along ….


Ok, I’m sorry if this seems lazy but another re-blog from Pete Wilson (same subject as the other day)


One of my ministry heroes has always been Chuck Swindoll. I’ve listened to his sermons on and off since I was in college.  One time I heard him say…

“There will be people in your life who, basically, want to worship you. In their eyes you can do no wrong. They put you up on a pedestal and believe every word, every action, every thought is pure as the fallen snow.”

“On the other hand you will have your critics for whom you can do nothing right. Every word, action, and thought will be criticized with little thought to who you are as a person.”

If I remember correctly, he went on to essentially say that the wise leader will not take either one of these groups seriously. I don’t think he meant we shouldn’t still love them because, I believe we should. I think he meant we shouldn’t allow them to shape and mold us. Their false worship and eager critical hearts will simply damage the work God is doing in you and through you.

I’m embarrassed how much time I’ve wasted focusing on that blistering email, brutal review or just down right hateful comment.

Hear me now: Don’t waste your time listening to false praise or distorted criticism. The praise will go straight to your head and the criticism will go directly to your heart. Both will lead you astray and both will damage the work God is doing in you and through you.

Which is more likely to get you off course? Praise or criticism?

This is not a blog from me – its a re-blog written by Pete Wilson (Plan B). I thought it was great I hope you do as well ;0)


I got a phone call on Wednesday that blew me away. A guy called me to apologize for something he had publicly written about me over two years ago. As he apologized I played it off as if I had totally forgotten about what he had said. But in my moments of doubt and insecurity the words he wrote about me would come flooding into my mind. I could see them as clearly as if I was holding them on a piece of paper in front of me, because in many ways that had been etched into my mind. The conversation I had with him was incredibly healing, but it got me thinking.

Criticism happens, right?

I don’t care if you lead a public ministry, bag groceries, stay at home with your kids, or govern a state. You’re going to be criticized for the way you do it.

We don’t like to think about it much until we overhear it or read it, but guess what?

It’s happening right now in THIS moment. Some people don’t like you. They don’t like how you…









And there’s not a thing you can do about it. Nothing.

So in the words of my friend and favorite theologian Taylor Swift “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind. People throw rocks at things that shine.”

So, today, do your thing. Shine bright. And remember there’s a bunch of us who really believe in you!!

The death of Aslan

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Church

For the last few months I have been reading “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe” to my 9 year old daughter. We have come near to the end of the book and the other night we came to the saddest part – the death of Aslan. If you haven’t read the book (why not?) Aslan is a picture of Jesus. The white witch has a claim on the life of one of the children (sound familiar?) but Aslan does a deal with her to die in the place of Edmund. CS Lewis then paints an amazing picture of Aslan’s sacrifice that had both I and my daughters lip quivering. I think it really conveys something of the sacrifice of Calvary.  It made an impression on me and thought I might share it!

A great crowd of people were standing all round the Stone Table and though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monstrous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures whom I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let you read this book—Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the Witch’s side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the Table, was the Witch herself.

A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing toward them, and for a moment even the Witch herself seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild, fierce laugh.

“The fool!” she cried. “The fool has come. Bind him fast.”

Lucy and Susan held their breaths waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four Hags, grinning and leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The Hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others— evil dwarfs and apes—rushed in to help them, and between them they rolled the huge Lion over on his back and tied all his four paws together, shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him toward the Stone Table.

“Stop!” said the Witch. “Let him first be shaved.”

Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children, watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without its mane. The enemies also saw the difference.

“Why, he’s only a great cat after all!” cried one.
“Is that what we were afraid of?” said another.
And they surged round Aslan, jeering at him, saying things like “Puss, Puss! Poor Pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat?” and “Would you like a saucer of milk, Pussums?”
“Oh, how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and

more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him—so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.

At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him onto the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.

“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. “Are they still afraid of him, even now?”

When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. Then she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone, not of steel, and it was of a strange and evil shape.

At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,

“And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”

The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.”