Over the last few weeks I’ve learnt a few things—never too old to learn.
- Meeting Jessica Harris. Aside from her being an outstanding ambassador for Christ, a champion for the local church, a very gifted 31-year-old speaker and a very nice person, she brought a very sobering message about pornography. Did you know that according to Barna Research 50% of pastors in America confess to some kind of struggle with porn? I doubt it is any different in NZ. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The ‘hooks’ it has in so many young people, both male and female, is nothing short of frightening. WillowNZ will be addressing this issue again next year, that’s for sure.
- Meeting a Christian who has been born and breed in Saudi Arabia. Jeanette and I had the privilege of hosting this man for one night last week. Saudi is, of course, the ‘cradle’ of Islam where both Mecca and Medina are. Our dinner-time conversation was eye-opening to say the least, as we heard about life in an Islamic country where Sharia Law is the rule of law. It prompted me to think about what we should do as a follow-up to Dr Mark Durie’s visit two years ago.
- The number of under-13-year-olds on anti-depressants has increased by 80% in ten years to 2163 youngsters, and the number of 14 to 18-year-olds on anti-depressants has more than doubled in ten years to 12,617 youngsters. You can see the 2-minute clip here from last week Wednesday’s TV1 news. It starts at 6.33 minutes. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/one-news-at-6pm/episodes/s2017/e158. The timing of our Mental Health and the Church conferences couldn’t be better in this respect given that we are focusing on the mental health of children and teenagers this year.
- Domestic Violence is such a sad fact in our nation. But did you know how bad the problem really is? Last year 110,000 incidents of violence against women were reported to the Police. That’s 300 incidents every single day of the year. Good grief, it is too hard to believe! Women’s Refuge1 say that this is only 20% of the total number of women affected. NZ has the highest rate of domestic violence in the OECD. I don’t get it! How come we have become such a violent society? How come so many men (mostly) get so angry that they lose control and hit and bash the people that love them the most? We have had a few instances in our neighbourhood in Raglan, if you please, where either Jeanette or I or both have intervened. It’s horrible; there’s no other word for it. May all our churches become safe places for children, women and men to run to if they are at risk and/or have suffered any kind of abuse.
Finally. I guess we are all following the high drama in high places in America right now. What I think is one of the most compelling statements made under oath by James Comey to the Senate Committee last week was this: “I documented my interactions with Trump in memos because I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meetings, and so I thought it really important to document”. As at writing we don’t know where the truth lies, and in many ways, that is now a secondary issue in my mind. I think it is shocking that the head of the FBI even has to do such a thing. But that is a whole other discussion.
I suspect a few of my readers will say, “This is a very negative blog, Alan”. It is! It is a small window into our increasingly broken and fragile world. BUT, where there is brokenness and darkness, the gospel can be at its very best. And so can the local church.