Monday, May 16, 2016

Poppies In The Wasteland

Like a poppy growing in the middle of some waste ground, I love to find signs of life in unexpected places. The Joshua tree in the desert or the tender care of one vulnerable person towards another.

 I’m writing these words whilst in Ukraine, a place I have visited on many occasions. I always go with the intentions of giving and serving, but always return feeling like I am the one who has been enriched by the community I have gone to serve.
 Something happens when we deliberately choose to live on the margins, when life among the marginalised becomes the norm rather than the exception or the token gesture.

 On one of my first visits to Ukraine many years ago, I sat with a fellow biker. His face was deeply scarred with a skin condition that was afflicted on him by the fallout of the Chernobyl disaster. We rode to the ruins of what once his orphanage home and he told me his story. All I did was listen, for maybe two hours. At the end of our time together he embraced me and thanked me for listening. This was the first time he had told his story to a foreigner. As far as he was concerned, he and his story, the plight of his community had been completely forgotten by his own government and the rest of the world.

 To feel forgotten, to be left bereft of any sense that your voice is heard or even matters if it is heard, is a desperately lonely place to be.
 Over the years, I have found great inspiration from the on the road stories of Jesus of Nazareth.

 On one such occasion, he and his mates travelled across a lake to a graveyard, adjacent to a pig farm, that probably supplied the Roman garrison its food. The purpose of their journey was to meet a man that was caught in a trap of bizarre behaviour that manifested itself in many ways including self-harm, living naked among the graves and displays of almost supernatural strength that rendered him so unpredictable the community tried to chain him up.

 As Jesus was a Jew, this man presented every reason under the sun why he shouldn’t be on Jesus’ radar for a conversation. An encounter with a naked, madman, living among the dead, next to a pig farm, would have ruffled more than a few feathers in the temple courtyard and effectively rendered Jesus untouchable.
 There are many levels to this story found in the Gospels, but the thought I want to leave for reflection is this.

 At the end of the encounter, the man was clothed and in his right mind. At the beginning of the encounter, we find Jesus, deliberately choosing to go out of his way, break some cultural taboos, put himself in a vulnerable position to demonstrate to this guy, he and his suffering was not forgotten.

 If our concern for those who are marginalised, for whatever reason, moves us to act, let us be prepared to cross borders, be vulnerable ourselves and be surprised at the poppies we find growing in the wastelands.

 Cheers and God bless.
 Sean Stillman

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Is politics still about people?

As politicians and the media argue about who should take part in a TV debate, I find myself wondering what matters I’d like to put across if any of them roll up at my front door looking for my vote… 

I want to vote for a politician that with tell the truth, be humble enough to admit mistakes and who loves people more than power.
I want to vote for a party and believes in a system that looks beyond four year terms and sees its responsibility extending to future generations.
I want to see the young, the old and the vulnerable given priority when it comes to a duty of care.

How can I trust in a government and a plethora of tax payer funded institutions, that have routinely been found to withhold and manipulate the truth, whilst turning a blind eye to outrageous behaviour that heaps coals on the fires of the suffering of vulnerable people.

I want to vote for a politician that holds to virtues of truth, of grace, of mercy, of justice, of integrity, of kindness, of self control, of self sacrifice and dare I say, of love.

Is it too much to ask? Are there any such people left with a hunger for what is right, rather than what they will get out of it?

I'm not interested in your empty promises, your policies that shift around like the sand on the shore. I'm not interested in your spin, your posturing, your temporary allegiances nor the cut of your suit or your persuasive  words on a TV debate. I want to know what I see of your soul when I look in your eyes, what motivates you to play with the freedoms of people, to make choices that can cause immense good or immense pain & loss.

When you ask me what I would like to see, let it begin with a sense of deep sorrow from the seat of power itself, for the selfishness, greed, selective blindness  and manipulation of the truth at the expense of those most vulnerable in our community. Then let it continue with a renewed commitment to do what is right and just, to love people more than the pursuit of wealth, to look to the needs of others, to govern from a heart of service not privilege and power.

Have you ever thought of leading by example? Just a thought, before you post your propaganda through my door.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

BBC Radio Wales Podcast

There is a chance to listen again to the BBC Radio Wales interview I did last year,  which was repeated again last Sunday - here's the link to their podcast page HERE or if that's expired you can now just listen here - was pleased with this one. It covers a fair bit of ground personally and also about Zac's Place:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Email Address for Exousia Trust and Zac's Place

We continue to have issues with our phone line and main website, both of which we hope to have replaced soon. All previous email addresses are now obsolete and have been replaced by the following one,
This replaces all previous email addresses for
Exousia Trust and Zac's Place

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Email and Website Problems

We are currently experiencing poor and erratic service from our Internet hosting company, Demon/Vodafone. As a result the main website and email addresses may be down for Exousia Trust including Zac's Place. In the meantime you have been redirected to the blog. We will keep you updated. Many thanks. You can also find Zac's Place on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Postcard from a Tribal Gathering

A few of Zac's Place Tribal Gathering Regulars
The Guardian have been requesting pictures of church congregations for a photo collection - here's one that was submitted by Liz one of our regulars, of a few of us at a Tues night at Zac's Place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rich Mullins film 'Ragamuffin' - first trailer .....

This will be well worth watching when it's released ....