The Journey is the Destination


The death of a friend has left me reeling.

When a loved one dies we are stopped in our tracks and suddenly all we thought we knew, we realise we do not.

What is my life here on earth for? I know eternity comes after, but what about now? What am I supposed to do with this time?

On Sunday an answer came. It stands against all ambition, desire to achieve, wanting to be successful – all the messages we are bombarded with in school, as a young person, starting out in life, and even today as a relative grown up.

It is mind-bendingly simple.

  1. Start with Jesus
  2. Stay with Jesus
  3. End with Jesus

That’s it.

The journey, and the person we journey with, is important.

Where the journey takes us to? Not so much.

The journey is where we are going.

That I do it with Jesus – that, my friends, is the crucial part. That is what will make my journey meaningful and joyous and lovely.

In my grief I thank God that my friend ended with Jesus.


Know your Enemy – 20 min sermon

At the end of August I spoke in my own church in Peterborough.

We had run a series over the summer with different people reflecting on the book of Nehemiah in the Bible.

Click here to listen or download my talk from 21st August.

I was drawn to the opposition faced by Nehemiah on his mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

May God bless you as you listen. And may He equip you to deal with the opposition you face on your mission.




I recently read about a factory making parachutes during the Second World War. The managers wanted to make sure that the people sewing the fabric, packaging the parachutes, sweeping the floors, didn’t just think they were making parachutes. They wanted them to understand that they were saving lives.

For the factory workers the work was repetitive and tedious. They were at sewing machines for hours on end, sewing together huge shapeless pieces of fabric, all the same colour. The work seemed to go on and on.

The managers began to call everyone together each morning as the working day began. They told the staff approximately how many pilots, co-pilots and other service-men had worn their parachutes on missions the previous day. They told them the number of men who had jumped to safety from hit planes, because they wore their parachutes.

This factory held one of the highest levels of quality on record. The workers were motivated to work hard and to a high level of quality because they saw the bigger picture. They understood that the parachutes they made saved people’s lives.


In charities the behind-the-scenes staff, such as the supporter care officers, the fundraisers and the administrative staff, can be the people who most rarely see the impact of their charities work. Where the work of the charity takes place in other countries, and it is expensive to send people, this is often the case. However, what we then risk is having a staff team who see only the parachutes they are sewing, and not the lives saved because of them.

To motivate those who work hard at repetitive and challenging jobs – processing donations, answering phone-calls, and asking people for money – we need to show them what their work ultimately leads to.

In the charity I work for, we gather daily in the morning – just like those factory workers. We gather to pray for beneficiaries and donors, for the work we are doing, to give thanks – but we also gather to share stories. Our Programmes staff who frequently visit the countries we work in take the time to tell us what is happening there, who is being helped and how. It is so often this that spurs us on!

We have a scheme to send non-programmes staff – such as Human Resources personnel or those who do administration – to the countries we work in to meet the people they are helping through their everyday work back in an office in the UK.

There are rich rewards for investing in your ‘parachute-makers’ – in telling them the difference they are making and where possible, in showing them. The rewards are a team who feel that their work is worthwhile, it changes lives, and that they are needed. Quality of work will naturally improve, creativity will increase, staff retention will be boosted.

What can you do in the coming weeks to show your parachute-makers the lives they are saving?

Therefore, we do not lose heart


This week my lovely friend and colleague died. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and I dedicate it to her. This is for you – my beautiful friend.


As I write this piece, a dear friend and colleague of mine is very sick – she has cancer. In recent weeks I have seen her lose weight and become weaker, her body is failing. She has fought cancer before – 3 years ago – but it has returned and this time there is little that can be done.

It is a curious thing to feel the immense sadness of seeing my friend suffer, to know how short her time with us may be, but also to know deep in my heart that this is not the end for her and that the glory of eternity awaits her. In our humanity, grief can be overwhelming. I think that is why our loving God has taken me to 2 Corinthians 4 this morning. And for you, as you experience the pain of loved ones struggling with sickness and disease, Abba says “do not lose heart”.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

(2 Cor 4:16-18)

It occurs to me that as our bodies age, and as sickness takes hold, outwardly as we waste away something miraculous is happening inside. Inside, we are growing closer to glory. By the grace of God, we are being renewed – daily made new. ‘Renewed’ means repaired and healed, mended, restored, refreshed, and revived! In God’s sight – made new.

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(2 Cor 3:18)

As we gaze on the glory of our risen saviour we cannot help but be transformed into his likeness. Our ‘wasting away’ bodies, hide an incredibly beautiful transformation inside. ‘Ever-increasing glory’ means that it doesn’t stop – not ever. Another translation says we are being transformed “from one degree of glory to another”. On and on, daily renewed, transformed with ever-increasing glory, until we receive the eternal glory lavished upon us by our Abba, through the blood of the lamb.

The eternal glory that awaits our dear friends and loved ones far outweighs the pain, suffering and sickness of this life. And for us, when our bodies fail, we can fix our eyes on the unseen, but eternal, transformation within us.

We can love our friends in and through their sickness and their suffering. Just as Jesus grieved for his friend, so we will grieve and feel the immense and searing pain of losing those precious to us. But because of Jesus, we need not lose heart. Because of Jesus, in our grief we can whisper “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).





Don’t give a donation to charity


No, don’t.

A charity is just an organisation. People working together. Offices, computers, telephones ringing…

Instead, give a donation through charity

In changing one word, we put a charity in its rightful place – a conduit, a catalyst, a bridge between the giver and beneficiary

When we give through charity, we are giving to the person or cause in need. We are giving through the organisation that can convert compassionate giving into practical help. In the charity, money given is miraculously turned into safe places for abused people, clean water, a helpline for the distressed, food, medical aid, and much, much more.

Charities – don’t ask people to give to you. Don’t say ‘please make a donation to (my charity) today’. Say something that is far more accurate – ‘please make a donation to help people who are… (fill in the gap) today’. Speak for those you serve. Be their voice. Keep them at the heart of all you say and do.

Remember, we (the charities) aren’t important – but those we serve, and those who give so generously, absolutely are.


Giving: good. Fundraising: bad?

On 27th August 2016 I presented on a panel (with Emily Petty of The Children’s Society, and Susan Barry of Christian Aid) at Greenbelt festival. The title of this post was the question we were addressing.

Here is what I said:

As followers of Christ we are called to help people in need. Jesus demonstrated this throughout his ministry and the parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how practical Jesus makes it – help the person who others ignore, give them what they need – whether that is medical help, money, shelter or transport.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us that as we help people – with food, drink, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, comfort and companionship when they are in prison – it is as though we are helping him.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


So helping becomes an act of worship – both holy and practical at the same time.

But, we cannot all provide practical help directly to those in need.

We may not know who to help, we may not have the skills we need – we aren’t all social workers, or nurses, or people who can dig wells! We may not be able to travel to other parts of the UK or to countries thousands of miles away – where the need is, we may have responsibilities at home – children, elderly parents, jobs, church life which means we are short of time.

It can be difficult to help someone, although we want to!

I often think of it as though there are two isolated groups – those who can help, and those who need help.

What is needed is a bridge that connects the two together. I see charities as that bridge. They effectively take the hand of the person in need, and the hand of the person who can help, and they bring the two together. Without charities, those in need, and those called to help, can be like islands – separated by oceans.

But to be that bridge – charities have to a) alert those who can help to the needs of other people, and b) provide those who need help with that help. So they are a conduit.

Some of the recent negative publicity about charities and fundraising may be rooted in charities having lost sight of this – that all we are is a bridge – the important bit is not us, but those who can help, and those who need help. Charities need a humility about who they are.

People who give to charity aren’t just giving money. They are ministering love, care and compassion to someone in need. As they give, they are worshipping Jesus Christ.

They are effectively a behind-the-scenes missionary – expressing the love of God to someone in need, although that is often in very practical ways. It is this that sometimes charities have lost sight of. That giving begins in the heart and is a way that a person lives out their calling. It’s not just about money.

For charities to be the bridge, they must tell the person who can help about the need of another. And sometimes hearing of need and being asked to help can be very painful. Charities expose us to the lives of other people and often their stories are heart-breaking. I believe that as charities we must tell those stories and we must ask for help – not for ourselves – but for those we are called to help.

I have wept in the office as I have read about a person who needs help because their situation is so dreadful, but I feel called to express that to God’s people and not to hide it. This is what is at the heart of fundraising.

But if I just tell you the story of a young woman with leprosy who I met in India – whose family tried to kill her for having the disease, without telling you that you can help her – and others in her position – then I’m just cruelly exposing you to her pain.

It’s when I ask for help for her, that I am bringing you and her together in a beautiful relationship of giving and receiving. So asking you to help her and people like her is wholly ethical. Not asking is unethical. Asking enables the person who can help to give, and the person in need to receive. It enables the charity to be the bridge between them.

As people give to help others, they are allowing fragments of heaven – God’s kingdom – to break in to really dark situations and lives. Like rays of light breaking through the clouds. So giving is a calling, an act of worship, and a way that God’s kingdom is enlarged.

I want to finish with a practical and a spiritual point

There is a common misconception that if a donation is not directly used to help someone in need, it is being misused/or not helping the people it was given to help. So if a donation is used to help pay for fundraising this is improper use.

But in fact fundraising is a donation multiplier! Every £1 used for fundraising at The Leprosy Mission in 2015 generated £5 for people in need. So fundraising grew a donors gift to achieve much more. This is in line with what Jesus talks about in the parable of the Talents – to use what is entrusted to us in the best possible way.

Giving is good – very good, and so is fundraising!


Love thy neighbour


It feels today – 3 days after the EU Referendum result – that our country has been torn in two. Feelings are running so strong that friend has turned against friend, and angry outbursts are happening on social media. The outcome was close – very close – and people voted with their hearts as well as their heads. They expressed something of their identity when they entered the voting booth – whether they voted Leave or Remain. So we feel this referendum result very keenly. Some are overjoyed and relieved, others are shocked and dismayed. In our churches, congregations are split and hurt is in the air.

But no matter how you and I voted, no matter how our friends and families voted, there is something that unites us in this storm of uncertaintly and bruised feelings. What unites us is the love we have for people – all people.

Consider a vote about whether it is acceptable for someone to put notes through the letterboxes of homes in Cambridgeshire calling Polish people ‘vermin’ – this has actually happened. Are you in favour, or against?

What I know to be true is that friends, colleagues and members of my church – no matter how they voted in the referendum – would vote against this without hesitation. This is how we unite at this time and this is how we must stand together.

  • We unite against hatred
  • We unite against racism, xenophobia and discrimination
  • We unite against violent words and violent actions
  • We stand united with our neighbour (wherever they are from) to protect and shield them – as best we can – from harm
  • We unite in love for the people God loves – every person

Jesus tells us that the second commandment is like the first. It is in loving our neighbour that we express our love for God. We can’t hate our neighbour and claim to love our God.

Let me just say that again:

We can’t hate our neighbour and claim to love our God

As we love our neighbour, as we stand against hatred towards them, we express both our love for someone like us, someone God dearly loves, and we express our love for our Father God. It is an act of worship.

Friends, we stand in unity together as we recognise this truth. In unity we stand against hatred directed towards our neighbour.


In the days and weeks to come maybe we will be called to challenge a nasty comment directed towards a neighbour, or to stand with someone who is not from these Islands. Maybe we will be called to show extra kindness and care for people who could feel threatened or confused. We may be called to show courage, standing up against language of hatred.  Abba – please give us the strength we need.

Abba, please knit us together as a Christian community in our love for people who are our neighbours – whether they live next door or miles away. Unite us Lord in our concern for others and may love, care and compassion spread. Holy Spirit break out in power in our homes, streets, workplaces, schools and government. Come Lord Jesus.