The #weekwithoutcoffee and the #warongeorge

GAwwcThis last week I’ve been in Atlanta at the annual conference for the Society of Biblical Literature. And since Australia has some of the best coffee on the planet (for example, just 50 metres from my office is my ‘coffice’—Handcraft Specialty Coffees), it’s always hard going to America, where they don’t seem to have discovered coffee yet. It’s like most people in America are caught in a kind of Matrix, and very few people know that it’s all an illusion.

And so I had a #weekwithoutcoffee.

For some perverse reason, this provoked people around the world into a #warongeorge (I’m blaming Sam Freney). Suddenly, my Facebook timeline was flooded with pictures of beautiful, lovely, delicate, smooth coffees (real coffees!), while I battled through with Christmas-laced Starbucks.

I’m now back home in Sydney, and the ordeal has come to an end.

Now of course it was all in good fun, and I must say that I had plenty of laughs. And so, it seems, did many others.

So here’s the situation: I was away from my home and family, suffering without coffee, and forced to have something when I really would have preferred something else that I really liked. And I did it because I was seeking to engage further in biblical studies.

In the scheme of things, though, my suffering over the last week was meagre when you compare it to:

  • Syrians and Iraqis who are being forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives, often being separated from loved ones, or having them violently torn from their embrace, and with little hope of ever returning home;
  • people who suffer from Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS) who, despite being able to eat and drink certain things, are neurologically unable to feel ‘full’, and instead feel constant hunger, meaning they would desperately love to eat or drink what they really crave (some of my best friends have children with PWS);
  • students who, for financial reasons, have to leave family behind while they go to another city or country in order to further their studies in Bible and theology, before eventually returning home to make a difference to their communities (many of the students I have the privilege of teaching at George Whitefield College in Cape Town are in this very situation).

So here’s the deal:

If you either participated or enjoyed (!) the #weekwithoutcoffee and the #warongeorge, I would dearly love you to support one of the following causes by making a donation:

  1. The Archbishop’s Syrian Refugee Appeal (Anglicare)
  2. The Prader Willi Syndrome Association of NSW
  3. George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa*

You can pick one of the three, or all of the three. The amount you donate is totally up to you. You might, for example, like to donate a week’s worth of your coffee budget (or more!). But any amount would be fantastic.

GAwwcoverThen, if you do support one of these causes (or even if you don’t, actually), I want you to post a picture of a cup of coffee on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #makethecoffeecount and a link to this webpage (wp.me/p13v4V-m4), so that others can participate too. It would be great to drum up some good support for these causes.
So please join me and let’s make my #weekwithoutcoffee and the #warongeorge actually count for something.

 


* Donation is made in South African Rand (ZAR).
AUD $1 = approx. ZAR 10.
US    $1 = approx. ZAR 14

anglicare7e234b_715fcd5fd1a44baa9aeef6ab63717f59  GWClogo

 

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Theological College and the New People of God

Over January I was privileged once more to teach at the summer school of George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve written a short blog piece for them titled Theological Education and the New People of God.

BeFunky_diversity-1.jpg-53029_213x213The new academic year is upon us. In my brief visit to GWC for the annual language Summer School, I’ve seen new students arrive, as well as old students and faculty return. One of the joys in this is seeing the diversity of people coming to the college. I’m reminded that when the gospel is preached, the Spirit draws people from all nations into Christ’s church to the glory of God the Father.

Click HERE to read the rest.

Forgiveness and the Tragedy of the St James Massacre

It was on this day twenty years ago (25 July, 1993) that armed gunmen broke into the evening church service at St James, Kenilworth, in Cape Town, and opened fire on the congregation of 1300 people. Eleven were killed, and 58 were injured. Hundreds more who survived still carry invisible wounds today. The death toll would have been significantly higher, as the attackers had intended to torch the building with petrol bombs to kill all who were inside. They were only repelled when one of the congregation members, Charl Van Wyk, who was carrying a revolver, fired back and scared off the attackers.

St James, Kenilworth, today

There are many stories of tremendous strength and compassion from that day. There was the selfless gesture of two young men who shielded the young women beside them from the grenades the attackers had thrown. One of these men did not survive the attack. After the deadly melee, Rev. Ross Anderson walked onto the church stage and urged people to stay put and remain calm, as many in the congregation believed more attackers were waiting outside. There was the man who looked down the barrel of the television cameras moments after his beloved wife succumbed to her wounds and told the attackers that, while they should turn themselves in, he forgave them as Christ forgave. And there was Rev. Dr. David Seccombe, who had just arrived in South Africa from Australia to take up the post of principal of George Whitefield College. He was due to take the pulpit that evening, but ended up sitting with the body of a Russian sailor who had perished.

The St James Massacre was an event of great significance in South Africa as it was coming out of the darkness of Apartheid. But the stories of forgiveness and reconciliation that came from this tragic event were not merely of political consequence. They were born of a deep Christian commitment to forgive in the face of horrendous sin and suffering.

We remember the fallen, salute the brave, and give thanks for those who survived.

St James, Kenilworth, is a thriving church today that continues to expound the gospel of Jesus Christ, calling men, women, and children of every background to put their trust in the one who laid down his own life to bring forgiveness.

Related Links

Where Splintered Pews Had Lain

St James Church Massacre