21 May 2014


Wherever I look at the moment I am being bombarded by interactions either with kids or about them. I'm at the stage of life where a number of my friends are having or have kids - friends at Church, friends at work, friends on our road, school friends, uni friends...etc. And I love it! I love little kids - they are so hilarious and despite the incredible amount of energy you need to have to look after them, they bring a crazy amount of joy. 

I love being part of a Church and having friends who live close by who I can watch and support as they tackle the parenting adventure. Lets be honest, it is a massive learning curve! Bringing up a child is a huge responsibility, especially in a climate where more young people than ever feel unable to cope with life. 

Living in London is a real mixed bag. I love the diversity, the activity, the community. I do not love the poverty, the abuse, the neglect. Now I know these issues affect people from all strands of society; however, I especially struggle when they happen to vulnerable children. On a daily basis I probably see a child being treated in a way that I worry about. Whether its a 6 year old playing outside on their own near busy roads, or a toddler being screamed at by a parent for no good reason. Now I don't want to judge at all - I don't know what it's like being a parent. I don't know the daily grind of kids winding you up or sleep deprivation. But I do know that research has proven that children need a number of things to succeed in life.

  • Stability - having routines; access to shelter, food and essential amenities; a consistent family environment.
  • Boundaries - knowing where they stand, not having erratic expectations. 
  • Quality time with adults - intentional time of quality interaction.
  • Opportunities to have new experiences - chances to take risks, safe places to fail and learn. 
  • Positive affirmation - being told that they can achieve, believe in themselves etc

If I'm honest I look at the communities I live and work in and a lot of families are broken. I look at some of the kids and they do not have any of the above list. 

Working for a youth-work charity I see how young people struggle to communicate positively with adults because they have had few opportunities to. I see young people reluctant to try new things because they are afraid of failing. I see young people who have messed up home lives and trust issues. I see the impact of a young person not knowing that they are loved. 

It makes me think.

As a member of my community I have a responsibility to help and support parents and children in whatever way I can. Whether its by babysitting or going out for a drink with parents, or by giving up time to go and help parents during the day. I would love there to be a day where youth workers are no longer needed. Where young people feel so loved and cared for by their families and communities that my job just doesn't exist. 

However, in the meantime I want to be someone who has time for children. As a Christian I take Jesus' example pretty seriously - he prioritised spending time with children.
 "But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matt 19:14

Below is a video about a girl that XLP has been working with for about 2-3 years now - I'm not putting it up to plug XLP, but rather to show the impact that comes from having people that believe in you.

17 May 2014

HTB Leadership Conference

The May Bank Holiday was a brilliant weekend for me for a number of reasons. 

#1. It was my friend's 30th birthday and we had planned a surprise weekend away at a converted barn in the middle of countryside just north of London in a place called Hitchin. It was a fantastic weekend, super chilled, beautifully sunny and with some quality friends.

#2. Then on the Bank Holiday Monday and Tuesday I was lucky enough to have tickets to visit the HTB Leadership Conference at the Royal Albert Hall. It was so inspiring. A bit like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the droll of daily life. Imagine learning and worshiping with 7000 other people in one room! It looked a bit like this -

There were a number of things that challenged me. Having had a chance to reflect over all that I have heard and experienced I will try to relay some of the ways that God was speaking to me. 
  • I was reminded of God's faithful character. If you have ever read the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis you might recall that one of the ways that the devils try to undermine God's plan is by making Christians think they are fine with God, when actually they are slowly drifting away. Well I think that for me it has been easy to think that because I work for Christian charity and take part in corporate prayer all the time, that I am fine with God. Obviously it takes more of an active engagement on my part and this conference reminded me of how faithful God is at calling us back to himself. 
  • I was challenged about how much I trust God. Kay Warren, wife of Rick Warren who wrote The Purpose Drive Life and leads a big church called Saddleback in California shared a message that was so powerful I have just been speaking to everyone about it. There was too much goodness in there for me to type it all out so you can watch the whole thing for yourselves 
  • My faith and expectancy levels were raised. In short, my housemate has been suffering with a trapped nerve in a neck/spine and for the last 4 weeks has been in varying levels of pain. At the time of the conference I had a stiff neck too. During the conference there were opportunities for people to have prayer for healing and despite my neck injury being ridiculously non-serious, I really felt like I should go and get prayer for it. As I was being prayed for my neck really wasn't feeling any better but I just had a sense that my housemate's would be improving. And it was true! The pain she was experiencing significantly improved over those days. 
One of the things I found pretty inspiring was just hearing from normal people that God was using in pretty incredible ways. It just reminded me that when we are obedient to God he can use us to do more than we ever imagined. 

I would really recommend listening to talks or going to this conference yourself - it is well spent money!