Friday, 6 March 2015

21ST CENTURY LONDON, MULTICULTURALISM, MISOGYNY AND REAL FAMILY.

I recently spent a week based in Colliers Wood in South West London.  The occasion was a Fatherheart Ministries A School, the first in London.  The event was hosted by Oasis Church which is a large church by British standards. There were about 450 people in attendance at the Sunday morning service.

The meeting was a vibrant life filled service.  I was impressed by the multicultural make up of the congregation.  The Pastor and his wife are Nigerian.  Looking across the crowd during the worship there were people of every shade and ethnic background. There were people from Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Pacific Islands.  I asked about the ethnicity and cultural background of people and over 50 nations are represented in the church. They were all sitting together alongside each other with a comfortable ease that spoke of being at home with each other.

At various points in the service participants from diverse backgrounds were involved. There was a moment when members who had lost loved ones in recent days were prayed for by those around them. There was one white English family, a black English family, an Asian family and an African family.  Two recently engaged young couples both of Afro Caribbean origin were introduced and celebrated. Then an elderly Indian couple were applauded on achieving their 40th wedding anniversary.  Finally a family from Pakistan were introduced who were set apart that morning to lead a new Urdu speaking congregation that was going to meet every afternoon as part of the church.  The worship band was made up of whites and blacks.

I found myself weeping for joy at this wonderful celebration of diversity.  More to the point this was London in the 21st Century.  This church was modelling something very remarkable. It was not politically correct multiculturalism but it was the family of God.  People from "every tribe and nation" coming together as a family.  This is what made me weep for joy.  It was family.  There was such an ease about it all.  

The church has for many years taught that God is our true Father and here it was being expressed as these people worshiped, celebrated, laughed, prayed and danced together in God's presence.  There was a palpable sense of his presence among us. I was deeply touched by this.  When I got up to preach I looked out across the rows of muticoloured eager faces that looked expectantly towards me. It was as much as I could do to stop crying. Thankfully Linda opened up with greetings and introductions while I got my self together emotionally.  

As we move around and work in different nations month by month, we are so conscious of the diversity of cultures. We have noticed too that sometimes there are aspects of cultures which are deeply protected but are in fact quite controlling and unhelpful. Sometimes customs practiced by cultures hide all manner of cruel and divisive behaviours that should not be celebrated or encouraged. One such example is the way women are treated in some cultures. The misogyny, the hatred of women, that is at the root of some of these practices cannot be celebrated or protected.

On the FHM A School in the following week. The issue of misogyny was addressed and the men present stood and apologised to the women for the way we have abused and misused women all through history and all over the world.  This had a profound impact on a number of the women present from British to African backgrounds. 

Towards the end of the day two young women from East Africa stood and shared how this had affected them very deeply.  All their lives they had feared men and could not lift up there heads and look men in the eye. They came from a culture where men are domineering and physically abusive of their wives and daughters.  On this day these girls spoke and testified to the sense of freedom that came to them as the men repented.  One said as she spoke that for the first time in her life she could look men in the face without fear.  It was a very special and healing moment. This freedom is rooted in the fact of the loving Father who declares us his sons and daughters.  This was not multiculturalism it was family, the family of God in operation.



1 comment:

  1. I commend the good job you are doing trevor and linda your stories are always motivating I love what you are doing to the society too keep up

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