Saturday, December 23, 2006

Russell Grant On Acid?

As expected it's been a busy few weeks both on the road and at Zac's Place. The combination of heartaches and celebrations of the previous week went well and further emphasize the the diversity of ministry to the margins.

The recent series at Zac's on tues nights looking at the 'main players' in the Christmas narrative have endorsed this emphasis too. Particularly with reference to the Shepherds and the Magi. The Shepherds genericly were wholly untrustworthy - you will have bought your sacrificial lamb from them but nothing else. Their evidence wasn't even admissable in court. The Magi, (and it doesn't say how many there were), were a mixture of Russell Grant and Patrick Moore possibly on camels, (maybe acid?) - but more importantly they were foreigners - they were gentiles. So there we have it. All encompassing from day one. Closely followed by a massacre and then seeking asylum in Egypt as a refugee.

What does this mean for us today? Well it should mean Good News to ALL - regardless of status, colour, postion, orientation or religion. We'll keep doing our bit for the revolution - in the meantime we'll be serving up dinner Christmas Day and Boxing Day at Zac's for the local rough sleepers, ..... untrustworthies, ...... mystics

Nadolig Llawen

Monday, December 11, 2006

Loving Connections

Although I'm based at Zac's HQ for many activities and duties during a typical week, it's always good to be away on the road. Yesterday saw a 350 mile round trip to continue involvement in a huge charity motorcycle ride that I helped found 21 years ago in Reading with one of my closest mates, Ben. Despite the absolute deluge of a ride back down the M4 last night, it was good to see well in excess of 1000 bikes take part in the run and around 1500 people bringing gifts to a Barnardo's centre for distribution throughout the south of England. It also brings opportunity to catch up with many mates from back home and also to bring a short Christmas message to the assembled crowd. will explain more

This coming week will be as diverse as ever with the addition of a wedding in Reading on Sat, a funeral of a 21 year old lad in Swansea who died six weeks ago next Tues followed by the Christmas Tribal Gathering at Zac's in the evening. Many people, different circumstances - I pray for wisdom and the ability with God's help to always make a sincere and loving connection.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


You can now find us on myspace....
Check out
Expect to see a few music clips in the near future from live performers at Zac's and maybe some radio exerpts from myself and John Smith, plus all the usual video clips and expanding list of my space friends.

Don't forget the stuff on YouTube as well - see the menu bar to the right..


It was great last Friday to host a 'Health Day' at Zac's HQ. An initiative of The Big Issue, it attracted about a dozen agencies working among the homeless and associated groups and many of the client s themselves. Clients were able to get advice from medical professionals and staff from the different agencies were able to interact. A Welsh Assembly member was in attendance to meet us and staff from the Big Issue, Swansea Drugs Project, WGCADA, CDAT, Community Mental Health Team and many others. At a time when the homeless and addicted in Swansea City Centre are receiving unhelpful and in some cases unreasonable press, this was a genuine and real example of what can be done and indeed what is being done. As a footnote, it great to be able to see several of the breakfast regulars making a big effort in clearing up many of their accumalated empty cans from the neighbourhood on the same day.

There should be some coverage of the day in a future Big Issue and also expect to see a full interview with myself at some point too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Piss Heads .... and Pissed Off

Once again the topic of drug use and abuse is high on the agenda of news media and talk show radio phone ins. Should heroin be handed out by GP's on prescription, should all drugs be legalised, should prisoners be allowed to claim compensation for having to go through unsupported cold turkey on arrival in jail, should the prison chaplain caught on camera smoking crack keep his job? These and a myriad of other questions all from just the past few days.

Despite having been around and in the company of many people with addictions and lifestyles revolving around substance abuse, I have never been a user myself, (have never fealt the need or the urge despite plenty of opportunity), and I realise this leaves me open to missing part of the issue. I have though, seen friends die - some rapidly, some painfully slowly, I have seen highly skilled craftsmen and academics lose the plot and placid caring individuals behave like monsters as a result of their chemical explorations. All of this and much more would indicate to me that whatever the substance, the addiction and usage these are possibly merely symptoms of much deeper issues.

For me this whole issue leaves more questions than answers. Questions like; How come is it in a 'civilized' western society with a generation that is more entertained than ever we discover real 'men' can't party without several lines of coke? If we're so clever and much more sorted than other third world regions, then why are our family structures so fragmented, victims of abuse are forced to run away to the the streets and shoot heroin to block out the pain and the unwanted, unencouraged child grows into a recluse with a chronic alcohol addiction?

The problems of drug abuse will only be really be dealt with when the deeper issues are not swept under the carpet. Unfortunately those issues are social issues - people, relationships, both personal and corporate responsibilities - shaping families, maintaining communities, providing safe space, disciplined environments, enforced boundaries, treating people as just that - people.

Having read this weeks paragraph of shite in the local freebie paper, relating to the prescence of rough sleepers and addicts in Swansea City centre and immediate areas around St. Helens Road which includes Zac's Place, I can only conclude that a large number of 'upstanding citizens' are unbelievably narrow minded and well, just plain selfish.

I'm not wanting to make excuses for loutish behaviour or the irresponsible disposal of syringes or shitting in doorways, because there aren't any, but I do find it rather bizarre that a local trader can be reported about 'throwing hot water and disinfectant over some tramps sprawled outside his shop one morning'. If I did the same over a politician, or someone who insists on parking their car on the pavement across the Zac's main doors or any number of dozy drivers that try and run me off the road, I'd end up in court. Just because someone has no home and no vote should not mean they have no voice. Please excuse me if I seem a little irrate about the double standards. Also reported was a local club owner making similar complaints, worrying about his £500,000 investment. Poor fella, I can only assume that his night club won't be contributing to any behaviour that resembles drunken, breast flashing, butt bearing, vomitting, 'come on then if you think your hard enough - when I've finished m'kebab', binge drinkers that's more than likely to see one of the windows in our place smashed over this festive period.

Leading up to last Christmas I was out on our regular Thursday night soup run. There was at the time being enforced the 'move the beggars away from Wind Street' thing - (it will have been called something flashy like 'operation not on my doorstep'). I was sat in the gutter with one of the local characters - who's tale of how he ended up in the predicament he is in, is a genuine love story tragedy. We chatted as I poured him some soup and shared some food. As he placed his bottle of white lightening on the path to recieve the soup, he stared at a doorway opposite and shook his head slowly. Through his matted beard he muttered almost with tears in his eyes - 'it's a shame isn't it'. As I looked I saw a young woman all dressed up for the night - hair, make up and Wind Street party dress; there she was, sprawled in a doorway with vomit running down her floral pattern dress and naked thighs. That week the local paper had also run a story about how winos, addicts and beggars were making the town look untidy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And now for something completely different . . . .

Finland is a beautiful country. The Fins are nutters though. Here my friend Timo demonstrates why - the post sauna dip in the lake.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No One Gets Left Behind

Just got back from our regular Tuesday Night 'Tribal Gathering' at Zac's Place. In the course of discussions and bible study I was reminded of a recent conversation with a guy I know in a bike club and his son. His 11 year old son describes the motorcycle club as like a family - and a family is when 'NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND'......mmm bit like church then, or maybe not ...... that may well depend....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If I Have To Explain....

I am often both challenged and encouraged by the fact that much of Jesus' recorded ministry was'on the road' - it wasn't a three year 'mission' in religious buildings. It was an epic adventure with a bunch of misfits going loads of places they shouldn't of (according to some) and meeting a vast array of characters in various states of disrepair and illrepute.

As I pounded my way around the motorways of the southern counties last weekend on the bike, in the now falling autumnal temperatures, I pondered these things as I mentally prepared to meet various members of the biking, tattooing and 'celebrity gangster' community in two cities for two ceremonies. One wedding blessing, one 'christening'.

Each proved a special point of connection with old friends and new contacts, each too providing precious moments of sacred space to speak of God's care and compassion for each one present. But then of course others might say, 'how dare you enter such seedy environmemnts' - to which I shall reply 'if I have to explain, you won't understand'. JC should still be on the road among the margins, I'll continue to be available....

Friday, October 27, 2006


Just a short note amid the usual chaos to highlight this coming Tues night's, (31 Oct), 'LIVE AT ZAC'S' event. It features live acoustic music from two of south Wales' well respected songwriters and performers, PHIL JAMES and JULIA HARRIS. You can check out their respective sites at (nice pics by the way Phil....) and

Doors open at about 7.30 aiming to get the show going at 8pm. We'll also be unveiling the 'Hunger and Thirst' painting officially and hearing from the artist......

Monday, October 02, 2006

Video Footage

Am finally getting around to re-editing some of the stuff I recorded with HTV Wales a few years back ... here's a snippet of work in progress.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Today's been a fairly typically hectic day of extremes. Started out walking down to Zac's HQ in the rain to open up and help with the daily breakfast provision for Swansea'a rough sleepers and importantly to reassure Brian I would be taking him to rehab later. An interview with a government official followed as part of supplying a character reference for a friend. Then it was a short walk around the corner to pick up the hire car and on to the Big Issue office to pick up Brian and his solitary plastic bag of possessions. We make the 300 mile round trip to drive him to Birmingham, to what will hopefully be at least a 12 month residential rehabilitaion programme for a multitude of addictions - he's begining to start 'rattling' in the passenger seat as cold turkey becomes imminent as does the struggle of not bumbing into his kids for a long time. Six hours later I arrive back at Zac's Place to oversea the Coffee Bar drop in where about 25 folk are fed (plus one ferret also), a broken foot injury is assessed and the order of service of a funeral earlier that day is passed around the regulars - i am grateful for a good turnout of volunteers and enough cover for some else to do the soup run so I can get home to see the kids before they go to bed. Nothing particulary outrageous or groundshaking about today, so why mention it?

Like many millions around the world, earlier last week I caught the glimpses of the croc man, Steve Irwin's memorial service on the news. The tribute his 8 year old daughter, Bindi, read had a big impact on me, but not the way you might think. I was impressed with how she has grasped what her Daddy was about - what inspired him, what motivated him, total comittment to the preservation and protection of wildlife. It left me thinking about the kind of impression my own kids have of me and what I do. Do they see someone who's just extremely busy and causing a stir? Or do they see someone who's desire is to follow Jesus to the extreme, and wants to change the world?

Monday, August 21, 2006


Many years ago the comments from the guy who became a mentor and friend to me, John Smith, had a huge impact on my appreciation of the arts. The arts, he said, were the 'nerve ends of a culture'. Music, poetry, theatre, film, sculpture, fine art, storytelling .... were oh so absent in my church experience of early years. How I've remedied that these days!!

It's been great to commission several artists to work on 8 pieces of work based on the 'Beatitudes' of Christ in Matthew's Gospel. This week we took delivery of Anthony Jones' contribution of an oil based work on 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice), for they will be filled'....

Have a ponder, think Nestle, think corporate faceless America shafting the poor. Me thinks this will cause a pleasant stir, along with the other completed pieces going to be exhibited away from our venue, at Greenbelt Festival this weekend.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On The Box

A bit of regional TV coming up this time - This Thursday evening, 17 August, 11.35pm, ITV 1 Wales, 'My Way' - a more biograhical interview with obvious references to Zac's Place and God's Squad. Filmed back in Feb at Zac's HQ when I was full of a cold! (Filmed by the same producer we did the 5 programme series with HTV a few years back.... It also features a few snippets from that series - clips from Rowan Williams, Stewart Henderson, Rick Elias and Ben Castle).

This pic taken at the filming, for those not familiar with the venue, is in the lounge at Zac's, (where breakfast is served each morning to rough sleepers and we have smaller regular gatherings). This space also serves as our God's Squad club room.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Was bought the current Paul Simon CD by the three kids for Father's day, (with help from Mum who particularly favoured the final track Father and Daughter) and there in the middle of it all on track 3 sits a grand a statement as you will find anywhere - 'Tell me, who's gonna love you when your looks are gone? .... God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill..'

Monday, June 26, 2006


Today was a sacred moment for our family. We thanked God amid family and friends for the gift of our daughter. Now two years old some might say we took out time, but the sentiment remains. God gives us our kids as precious gifts. I hope I don't drop and damage them ....

Moment of the day had to be when two year old Daisy looked at the dark full size mournful looking sculpture and embraced the legs as if to bring comfort to this sad figure, (so marvously crafted by Steve Spicer on 'Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted' as part of the Zac's Beatitudes commission).

Many people are a little freaked when they first see the figure, but child like intuition made a quite beautiful connection others much older and wiser miss.....


I had not stepped on American soil since the December of 1975. If I'm honest I haven't particularly wanted to return - I have been grateful to my parents for resisting the temptation to stay there and see me brought up in Virginian southern baptist ways and no doubt rebelled big time in every way shape and form.

Duty called however, 31 years on to return by visiting the mid west, (3 states, 3 cities in 6 days), amid the vast properties and ludicrously wealthy churches, on club duty to see some guys we're seting some stuff up with out there. Going from the extreme basic living and material poverty of the Ukraine to the excesses of Michigan was about as far apart as it gets. (I had a similar experience going from the slums in Bangkok to Sydney some time ago). The raw throaty sound of the gas guzzling V8's was a far cry from the smoky 2 stroke bikes and the tiny apartments would fit twice over in any one of the rooms in many Michigan homes. A swimming pool in the back yard of 3 acres replaced the bucket for washing at the foot of a tree that had shaving mirror wired to it. The home of the 'world series' continues to be another 'world' - at least this bit of it anyway. (The poverty of the of the mountain folk and the urban poor did not feature on this trip unfortunately)......

How good it is though to experience these extremes, how difficult it is to find balance. How encouraging it was to see signs of change with regard to seeing comfortable folk being called to a different way of living. When in an environment that refers from the pulpit to struggles as being defined as ‘not being able to afford that Cadillac’ and a blessing from God is all about personal gain, I do have to wonder which bit of the Gospel of Jesus that refers to. Therefore anyone prepared to start kicking against the grain is to be supported and encouraged - so guys thanks for the hospitlality and welcome - let the revolution begin....... God bless the agents for change.

And remembering, blessing, like love, never asks ‘what am I going to get out of this’.

Next stop . . .Holland (..a wedding) and Germany

Monday, June 05, 2006


10% of all plastic surgery in the UK is now taken up by over 60's apparently. Slightly more worrying is the fact that there is also an increase in the number of abortions at 20 weeks+ for minor defects such as a club foot, (now often treatable without surgery), as parents search for that perfect designer baby.

Whilst our so called civilized society is going to more and more extremes to look good and get everything 'just right' are we in danger of getting it all 'wrong'?

Balance this up with any mention of God, sin, guilt, salvation and forgiveness and more often than not you get a hostile response. Why do 'I' need forgiveness? I often wonder if our search for external perfection has something to do with the the turmoil of disconnection of our own hearts.

Changing our face, designing our children, glossing up to erase the imperfections simply serve to paper over the cracks. If I am to believe perfection is found in the heart of God - why are we so often tempted to keep him out of the equation?

Jesus said to his mates 'blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'.

As I look at my life, those I share it with - as I see my own face in the mirror, I am surrounded by a myriad of imperfections - rebellions, hurts, tragedies, stupidities; but also I see God (and terrible skin of course!).

Amid the disorder, chaos and failure I see signs of hope, restoration, re-connection grace and forgiveness. The fast weathering look of my own face in part tells a story of ups and downs, not least of all that of being a father to three children who take after their parents - imperfect, but utterly loved and adored.

If we really want to erase the imperfection maybe we need to begin with a change of heart; then and only then will we see us and those around us as God sees us - loved and adored, forgiven and accepted.

..... now where did I put the mirror...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


UKRAINE - The first of four overseas visits in the next 6 weeks .... USA, Holland and Germany to go...

I'm standing in 4 inches of water, in the most spectacular electric storm, bump starting a Lada that had up until two minutes previously, been towing a broken down Russian motorcycle.

I'm in the Ukraine, somewhere. Apart from being a couple of hours from Kiev. I have absolutely no idea where I am. Having done battle as a passenger in rush hour traffic, travelled the wrong way down a motorway to negotiate the aftermath of a six truck pile up I am now quite glad to be eight floors up in a very modest apartment - all be it over looking a slowly sinking Lada in boggy wasteground. The next few days would see a further six road accidents within earshot, narrowly miss being wiped out by a drunk driver who did clatter head on into my friend on his bike seriously injuring him.

Ukranian hospitals are as bleak as the housing estates and the toilet in the police station was decidedly below average - no better in fact than the tin bucket the majority of village dwellers still use in their back gardens.

Mechanised farming remains non existent despite the thousands of square miles of arable land and grazing pasture. In the city the air is thick with diesel and petrol fumes as ancient Russian and Ukrainian made vehicles defy all odds and keep propelling forwards, probably without brakes.

Reminders of the Soviet state are everywhere balanced by the struggle of the young to reach out and embrace the West. McDonalds has arrived and so have American TV Evangelist channels for those priviledged enough to own a working TV - neither a step in the right direction in my opinion. The dark memory of Chernobyl is evident in the scarred skin conditions of many twenty years on as is the anger that the rest of the world and their government has tried to forget it.

How bleak it can sound - allowing the tragedy, discomforts, misfortunes and time gap of maybe 40 years, to crowd out vital signs of life. Within an hour of stepping out of the airport, Pasha, my contact man in Ukraine took me to meet some friends as we happened to be passing. The interest is motorcycles, as a 42 year old family heir loom was wheeled out of the shed. I am welcomed into the family home and greeted by a grubby two year old and his mother shows me some family photos on the wall. Ten teenage children no less, as I discover I am sittting in an orphanage for teenagers.

The journey continues to Pasha's home - a very small dwelling of two rooms where he, his young wife and their baby son live. Amid an obvious struggle to make ends meet, I am treated to a agenerous meal of chicken soup and potatoes. This tale of generosity would continue at sparse home in tower blocks and in basic dirt poor simple lifestyle homes in out lying villages.

As I consider putting my head to rest, in a third home of the day, (that of another couple who work in an orphanage), after nearly 24 hours of travel, I am reminded of the definition of someone who is poor in spirit - is that you know who they are just that because when you have been in their company, you say to yourself, 'my life has been enriched by the experience of being in their company'.

Sounds not too far off the mark from what the papers were saying this week about a better off society has got very little to do with how much money the economy gives us and more to do with whats going on inside.

Monday, March 27, 2006


What a weekend! Having been leading a ragged bunch of radicals here in the UK Chapter of God's Squad for best part of the last 15 years it was time to step aside for other capable hands to take the reigns. True, there's more foundations to be set down for me - Europe becomes the focus of Squad leadership, but none the less it's a milestone. An occasion to put a marker down - remember God's grace and salute a bond of brotherhood that others can only dream of.

Then would you believe it. After 135 years in the lower divisions of English football, my home team, Reading gains promotion to the Premiership for the first time in their history. Not what you call world changing in the big picture, but am gutted to be missing out on the celebrations and am right pleased for the lads and my home town. Now at this stage in the game, I reckon those of us who made up the lowest ever home gate of 1,713 v Preston North End in 1982 deserve a complimentary season ticket!!! Reading in the Premiership - that's a milestone!

Then to complete the weekend of milestones - as I put my 22 month old daughter to bed she looks me in the eye and works hard to string the three words together and says, 'I-love-you' for the very first time. No other words necessary.

Amid the bond of brothers, the feverpitch enthusiasm of dreams and the child connecting with 'abba' don't let the milestones passover.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Chocolate eggs, fluffy chicks, Easter bunnies and a reminder of Roman execution. Its difficult to see how it all fits together. Another one of the great mysteries of western consumerism perhaps?

Jesus Christ had his own questions about Easter, for very different reasons though. As he waited in a secluded place to be arrested, talking with his Father in heaven, he struggled to face what was to come. The weight of responsibility was almost over whelming; - take this cup from me - yet not my will but yours be done. Is this a road I have to go down? Is this a price that has to be paid by me? Maybe there is another way, maybe this last temptation is not such a bad idea.

The road to the eventual torture and execution, at an out of town rubbish dump littered with human remains, was by no means an easy one for Jesus to take. Neither do I believe it was one forced upon him. After all, it was a journey of pain and suffering. But amid all the pain what hurt the most?

Was it the nails that shattered his bones that stapled him to a tree? Was it the thorns that were pushed into his head or the lumps that were ripped out of his back by scourges and whips? Or was it more than physical. What about the psychological pain of seeing the same crowds that cried hosanna just days before call for your execution, watching your closest mates disappear with shame into the shadows or being stripped naked and watch men gamble for your only possessions whilst you die an innocent man between two criminals?

Or are we still only touching the surface? Much of this pain will have been experienced by any of the many crucified by the Roman authorities. Has anyone else had to wrestle with the burden of torment that was to fall on the shoulders of Jesus Christ that first Easter? To stand as one who is the accused, found guilty of and take the rap all that is rebellious toward God is a huge pain to bear. To stand in the gap and pay the price for all the evils of humanity, even in our lifetime is incomprehensible. Yet this was a pain that Christ endured and took on himself and in doing so was severed from his Father in Heaven - My God - why have you forsaken me?. Maybe we can excuse the cries of Jesus when he said, take this cup from me, when he knew what lie ahead. But possibly more amazing are the words he spoke from the jaws of death as he cried, Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. Amid his pain, there is hope. There is the hope of forgiveness in the heart of God towards each man and woman because the price has been paid by another. The cry of - it is finished - and an empty grave signals a new beginning.

Many have laid down their life for what is just and true. But at a place called the skull, at the foot of a Roman execution, is where truth and justice meet and embrace a broken world and that, cannot and need not be replicated. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me....

Cheers and God Bless, Sean