TB rumours

Our kids school sent home a letter about a teacher contracting pulmonary TB. The kids will all be screen, chance of infection very low, we don’t know which teacher, the info they sent was wonderful, and the health board & school have been great.

Carol tells me at her book group it hit the national news (Radio 4, BBC), camera crews were there at the school this afternoon, and you can read it in print (from least to most sensational):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7193544.stm

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1972825.0.Mass_screening_as_teacher_contracts_TB_at_Glasgow_school.php

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/display.var.1972259.0.hundreds_of_primary_kids_tested_in_tb_alert.php

I remember when I was young my sister getting the test for TB and her ‘bump’ raised more than the rest of our family (I think we all had tests through the schools as it was customary screening). She turned out fine – others debate that point in the family 🙂 – and it is a memory. My brother in law in Kenya has gotten TB more than I can count but is alive and well (true he is a doctor dealing with infected patients), and my grandfather (maternal) was in a TB hospital for quite some time as they locked you up back then.

You could say I’m spreading the rumour further but I am actually trying to show this is blown out of proportion. We asked our son a few questions and felt all is being done that can be. The school and health board have been very informative. This happens, move on! Are we that obsessed with things that this becomes national news?

Poverty

It has been raining a lot and because the weather was fair today we went out for a walk. We decided to walk along the Kelvin River and Forth & Clyde Canal. We ended up passing through the area of Maryhill. This is one of Glasgow’s poorest areasand on the doorstep of Glasgow’s wealthiest neighbourhood. As we walked through streets with litter, Tesco shopping trolleys thrown about, abandoned flats, etc. a general sadness came over me. We have enjoyed food, parties, and presents this Christmas season and this grey, lonely and blighted area brought me great sadness. Even one of the local churches seemed to be braced for what might happen in the night – steel doors and bars, no longer stained glass but plastic windows, and closed off entrances. The contrast of Maryhill and our ‘rich’ Christmas season makes me pause with gratefulness, sadness, and simply a desire to pray for healing there.

Success!!

At the last minute, I dashed out to get another passport photo of Sophie. As I came up from the subway, I received the following text message from the Home Office/Border and Immigration Control: ” Please be aware that due to a fire alert today there will be delays for your appointment time at the Public Enquiry Office for Wednesday 14th November.” I was there early and everyone had to wait outside the ‘compound’ until lunch was over and the alert had passed. I was the third inside so was 3rd in the queue. Everything went smoothly, I found out I got 24 out of 24 on the residency test 🙂 and 2 hours later, I/we emerged successful! We are now all permanent residents of the United Kingdom. Interestingly, Sophie is also immediately eligible for citizenship since she was born here. As I walked home, I praised God for yet again His provision. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

Residency here we come!

Today we passed our ‘Life in the UK’ test, a requirement for becoming permanent residents. We studied a book on the culture of the UK, covering everything from politics to religion. Overall, it was a good process and I value it as a critical part of entering into the British culture. However, some questions were really obscure and I find them rather amusing. For example, Q: What regional dialect is spoken in Tyneside? A: Geordie. I cannot understand much of the Glaswegian accent in Partick so why do I need to know Geordie? Others were as specific as 0800#’s for various organizations and you might be asked what number to call! In the end, I got a bunch of questions about Scotland (yeah!) and was the first finished. I finished before Carol 🙂 but she probably beat me on the test; although you just get pass or fail without knowing what questions you missed.

After getting the obligatory passport photos taken at a photo kiosk and paying – get this – $1900, we can apply for our permanent residence visa (aka ILR visa). This visa is an important step for us as it means we are on our way to citizenship here (dual) and citizenship would then free us to do whatever we want throughout the EU without restrictions. It affects travel, citizenship, getting into the pension system, and being eligible for other benefits. For now, the visa enables us to stay as long as we wish, we can all hold paid jobs, and it means we knit ourselves deeper into the fabric of society. For that we are very grateful!

Arrived safely

I’m back from the USA, a little jet-lagged, but grateful to have had the opportunity to visit Norwalk. The people were generous, friendly, and for small town America much more familiar with life outside the States than our media would portray. A number of people had been to the UK/Europe and even an 8th grade class was familiar with some of the news/life in the UK. We will debrief and plan our next steps but our ultimate aim is to have cultural exchange and to develop a experiencial worldview between Glasgow & Norwalk.

In the next few days I’m helping with our Mosaic gathering, we have a number of parties for the kids, and planning for our Mosaic ‘community conversation’ (a time to listen and share a bit of our vision).

Article on Scottish ‘fresh expression’

A friend referred me to this article in the Scotsman a Scottish newspaper:

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1263302007#new

I find the comments by the Scottish Christians somewhat encouraging – but I also find an undercurrent of something else. The local councillor’s comments leave something to be desired and don’t have the veneer that the professing Christian’s comments have. Here is a quote for that councillor: “Pastor Bob’s heard the call, but I find what he is doing disturbing.” He is not very politically correct and it is condescending.

Unfortunately I perceive something I’m not comfortable with even from the ‘saints’. Rev Prof George Newlands, the principal of Trinity College, the University of Glasgow’s school of divinity, said: “Problems have arisen when evangelical groups from the US get involved in missionary activity in cultures which they may not fully understand. There has been a lot of pressurised evangelism. But it would be quite unfair if all mission groups came under suspicion just because they came from America.” There is a bit of a recovery but it still unsettles me. I’m certainly sensitive being American and am sure I have done some stupid things. I wonder if I would treat Scots this way in America? I wonder if the better approach would be not to address the ‘American Factor’ and just thank our brothers & sisters and rebuke privately when we come across it personally as part of our work? For example, I hear of some Christian’s across town who are doing things ‘wrong’. Since I have no direct interaction, is it my place to get involved? All I did was hear a rumour. If I asked of Prof. Newlands who did he work with that was American and when did he experience this pressurised evangelism, would he tell me he has only anecdotal information? If so, then his comment is actually gossip (IMHO). If he is certain of the sources, is this how we should be handling it among the Christian community? As a church leader I personally have struggled with this as I’ve interacted with other ministries here. It’s not an easy thing to be caught in the middle of this so I am not suggesting we all just run around acting as Christian culture police. However, there has to be some learned Christians who could speak into the Scottish Church as to how to ‘handle cross-cultural mission mistakes’. I’d welcome the dialogue, the concern for building the kingdom, and some more Christian unity. This is a tricky one to navigate.

Attractional Church vs. Missional Church?

Here is a quote for you if your wondering what the difference is:

“The missional church goes back to the life of Jesus. It submerges itself into the culture it is reaching. He did not construct a building or start a service. Rather he walked among the poor and hurt and lost. He incarnated himself. He became flesh; God came down from heaven and lived among us. He was born poor and grew up in a despised town called Nazareth. He had a questionable birth and in all likeliness lost his earthly father at an early age. He became close friends of sinners and was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. (Luke 8:34)”

Attractional of course would represent some of the opposite – ‘we need to get more seats or we’ll lose them – if we lose them, there go our salaries!’, ‘what’s the latest music to attact kids?’, ‘quiet down back there you (visitors), we are tapping this service and we’ll have none of those shenanigans!’ (actually heard of a story like this last example!).

The quote is an excerpt from http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/567.htm and the ‘Characteristics of Missional Church’ I think Attractional Church has served its purpose but now the culture and the state of the Church demands we live out our true calling  as the people of God in a fresh way that speaks & listens to the culture. We have a lot of unlearning, new learning and appreciation for tradition to explore. We don’t have it figured out but we are trying to be faithful to what the Spirit is saying to Mosaic….

Preserve Christian values in the UK?

4×6-leaflet-voice-heard.jpg

Today, I received a flyer in the mail asking me to join other Christians and sign a declaration that upholds Christian values in the UK. I like the point they make about ‘making your voice heard’ but I am not convinced this is how I should be doing it.

I encounter many non-Christian’s who sacrifice their time and give their money to charities and this is how they primarily make their voice ‘heard’. For example, at the Annexe today I encountered volunteers of Sense Scotland who work with inviduals with communication support needs. I think many non-Christian’s participate with social justice groups whereas Christians spend more time in ‘church’ activities. I know Christians run all types of social justice/mercy ministries but if you look at our main expression of our faith, it would be our Sunday gathering. I value these greatly but I also think we as a local church need to recover the mentality that we can actually worship God through our actions. We probably wouldn’t need to make our voice heard through a petition as our acts of charity done in the name of Jesus Christ and as a form of worshipping Him as Lord of everything, would speak enough.

Should we cry foul?

Are we suppose to need the world’s acceptance of the Christian faith? Do we need the government’s money? Isn’t persecution, even if subtle as this and not physical like in the Sudan, to be expected by believers? Read this article from the Daily telegraph titled, “God Help the Needy Charities“. I don’t get upset by these I just keep serving in love in the name of Jesus and I don’t worry about the glory or treatment; that is due to God not me.