Tuesday 27 April 2010

Church host's political hustings.

On Sunday the 18th of April 2010, The Potters House Christian Church Croydon hosted a Hustings with Croydon North local candidates.Now I must admit up until a few weeks ago I had no idea what a 'Hustings' was! One definition says a 'Hustings' is a platform where candidates in an election campaign give speeches. To that end we had candidates from the three main parties Jason Hadden(Conservatives) Gerry Jerome (Liberal Democrats) and Malcolm Wicks (Labour).

We had a good turnout from our congregation with 150+ members of the church present. The candidates answered (eventually) tough questions on DNA records, crime levels and what their vision for Croydon is. The event lasted just over an hour and the candidates had one to one conversations with individual congregation members afterwards.

As a Pastor I believe Christians should get engaged in the political process. Churches are a tremendous force for good and social action in our communities. Often we are the bedrock of communities. Also because of the high concentration of people in Churches (especially afro carribean) churches can (potentially) have a loud voice, and what better way to use that voice that in the General election?

All in all the event was a thought provoking experience, with some people making a decision at the end of who they would vote for.

Recently we know that MP's have taken a 'bashing' over the expenses scandal and a lot of trust has been lost. Its hard to follow leaders if you dont trust them? As a Church we need to pray for all of our leaders, wether political, educational or religous (Rom 13), and as leaders we must lives with integrity and character.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Reflections on Russia March 28th – April 3rd 2010

I recently had the pleasure of travelling to Russia to preach at our conference there. We have 25 churches in Russia and several overseas in Mongolia and Cuba to name a few.

Getting to Russia proved very problematic in the sense that I had to apply for my visa 3 times?! Having visited 20% of the nations of the world and never having had a problem obtaining a visa, I thought this very strange and sensed some demonic opposition to my visit. Added to that problem, BA was on strike and all short haul prices shot up I was reminded of Ephesians 6:12 say’s that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. When on the 3rd attempt I was granted my visited I felt an overwhelming sense of ‘spiritual relief’.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my trip but as always to expect the unexpected. I was amazed at how different Russia is from the UK, considering it’s only 3hrs 50mins away by plane, it seemed years away in many senses. Russia was very similar to a lot of Eastern European nations I have visited like Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic. It has many contrasts, poverty and wealth intermingled, dilapidated buildings alongside modern construction.

After arriving at Moscow airport I was through immigration and had collected my bags within 30mins (Heathrow take note!). I was met by one of our Russian pastors who took me by Metro (underground trains) to ‘Red Square’, which has been for centuries, the heart, and soul of Russia. There I saw the Kazan Cathedral, GUM and the Lenin Mausoleum. I must say I was greatly impressed with some of the ‘architecture’ in Red square and also in the Metro, though some of its trains were quite dated. We also witnessed the ‘changing of the guard’ nearby. It was only as we re entered the Metro, as thousands of people were squashed trying to exit did we become aware of a suicide bomb attack just a few minutes earlier, wow what a start to my trip!!

We made our way to Vologda and along with Evangelist Steve Bowman had a great week of ministry. I ministered five times (Growth through preaching, 5 qualities of a disciple, The Christian’s Kryptonite, Pigs or People and Going the extra mile). It was good to connect with and fellowship with our Russian friends. I think I was a bit of a novelty as one of only two black people I saw the whole time I was in Russia. I think I had my picture taken about fifty times I found the Russian people to be very friendly and despite their struggles happy (Westerners take note!) and doing their best to survive. Russia I believe is a ‘sleeping giant’ and should it awake spiritually could change the world.

Lets keep the fellowship and its leaders in prayers, and to those who prayed for me ‘Spacebo’ (thank you in Russian).

Clement Okusi.