Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Tradition...

Thought it would be good to share a few images from the Christmas Day Dinner we held at Zac's Place. We hosted around 25 friends from the local community - many street homeless, others in housing crisis. Our thanks to all those that helped on that day and boxing day to these special times of 'belonging' - it was a precious time indeed.

It is also a time when we remember that the first invited guests on the scene at the birth of Christ as a baby were 'shepherds' - they probably had no voting rights and were not trusted enough to give evidence in court. We consider this kind of deliberate inclusion, a tradition worth continuing. Below are some pics of some of the most famous people I know - famous because God talks about them all the time.

My thanks to everyone who has supported, shown interest and added to the Zac's Place chaos over this past year - my love and prayers for God's blessing and peace into this new year.
(We continue to provide breakfast on weekday morining in partnership with The Wallich and also provide a hot meal on thursday evenings for Swansea's rough sleepers - volunteers always wanted!)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In Haste

Only seems like yesterday was travelling back from the heat of Australia, but was actually weeks ago. After several weeks of multiple sickness in our household am now getting stuff together for the additional meals for the homeless on Christmas Day and Boxing Day at Zac's HQ. (Do breakfast each weekday morning and a meal Thurs eve regularly).

Been a busy few weeks at Zac's - great to open the huge baptistry to see it used by us for the first time, as Denise took the big step of a public declaration of her faith in Christ. Love the symbolism of a full immersion baptism - death to life, washing clean, .......

Great to have two top gigs booked already for 2008 - Bryn Haworth and Martyn Joseph.

...Also been on the road - Manchester and my home town of Reading. I still help run a huge charity ride I founded with some mates 22 years ago and bring a 'reflection' to the thousand or so that take part. (

Doing the BBC and ITV news interviews................

Anyway, I'll leave these Bruce Cockburn lyrics with you as something to reflect on:

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

Friday, December 14, 2007

No Room At The Inn?

So why was Jesus born at such a busy time of year? Surely God should have realised the shops would be busy and the sales wouldn't start 'til January!

The fact is, even 2000 years ago Jesus was born at a hectic time. Countless families were on the move to go to the place of their birth to take part in a population census. It wasn't usually a problem getting a bed for the night in Bethlehem, but as the heavily pregnant girl, Mary, knocked on the doors of guest houses looking for rest, she got turned away each time. No room. Eventually shelter was found out the back in some shared accommodation with the livestock - at least it would have been warm.

I struggle with Christmas - in the main because I think good will and peace to all men came and was banished to the shit house out the back. I don't think much has really changed. For most in the middle classes, it's an excuse for excess to the extreme, for others it's when poverty and loneliness become accentuated to the extreme. Occasionally they meet, and exchange pleasant greetings.

As the story is re-told, with varying forms of accuracy and sincerity I am reminded that the birth of Christ took place on the margins of society. He didn't enter humanity in the mainstream - his story became an experience of exclusion as he began his life as a homeless refugee. Maybe we can take heart from that though.

The Christmas message is about God entering our world in the frailty of humanity. Maybe God is still on the side of the rejected and the lonely.

Happy Christmas? Maybe, maybe not. Here's wishing you God's gift of grace and peace whatever the coming days and events bring.

Cheers and God bless ya.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First degree murder by Dark Country.

How many Zac's Place related folk can you unearth in this moody shoot....?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Julia Harris - Live at Zac's Place

Here's another glimpse from the benefit gig back in April '07 with a performance from Julia Harris. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Klong Toey, Bangkok via Melbourne, Newcastle & Launceston

My recent visit to Australia which included God’s Squad’s 35th anniversary celebrations in Melbourne and other engagements in New South Wales and Tasmania, with John Smith and Sammy Horner, saw me take the opportunity to return home via a slum community in Bangkok.

The several hour stopover at Bangkok airport gave me enough time to go through immigration and get a cab into the city of bizarre extremes and visit friends in Klong Toey - a slum community of many thousands on port authority land over looked by huge commercial blocks. I have visited the area twice before. Thousands upon thousands of people live in semi-ordered community of shacks and some more permanent dwellings on and over the mud flats of the Port Authority. Flooding is therefore common and as I saw first hand so is the risk of fire.

The reason for my return visit was to see the good folk of UNOH (Urban Neighbours of Hope), whose pioneering work in their home of Melbourne saw them move to Klong Toey some years ago to live and serve amid the community there. Amid the sights, the stench of open sewers, the aroma of spicy thai food being cooked on every corner, there is also the fragrance of Christ permeating through these narrow walkways partially covered by tin roofs and linked with precarious bridges across the river.

The river itself boasts of life itself - to my amazement fish survive amid the sewage and below the film of slime. The dogs are everywhere but are silent and the radiance of the Thai smile beams from faces working away from dark spaces inside their small home.

I don’t recall any other place where people smile so freely - I was keen to reciprocate as I was acutely aware that after my first visit Rod’s young Thai friends warned him after I had left that I was probably a drug dealer. Before I met with Rod this time I was more aware of the quizzical stares as this white, bearded, long haired, tattooed ‘farang’ entered their neighbourhood. I hoped that my broad smile would speak the words I could not.

Rod had moved to a different unit since my last visit and his place was also home to several others - including a young couple and their baby daughter and a haven to others who had been victims of hostile gang behaviour. The work of the Community Centre thrives - Ash was in NZ, but Anji was busy sorting jewellery made by local ladies which UNOH sells overseas and therefore provides a salary for several families. Not wanting to keep them from work, I had a coffee from their street stall - Starbucks coffee beans no less, (which also provides another wage), I left Rod to continue packing boxes of ‘Free Burma’ T-shirts - printed locally and for sale in Oz at a UNOH event.

I wandered back through the narrow passage ways seeing hard working smiling faces on my way back towards the chaos of the city streets -huge Mercedes billboards providing shelter for those with no home, buses crammed full, tuk-tuks loaded with produce, small motorcycles everywhere, policeman bribing who they can and further on towards the lights westerners empty journey for temporal intimacy finds solace of the young and pretty.
As I journey back to the vast new airport in a cab, bartering with the driver for a fare, once again the land of smiling faces, amid desperate poverty and bizarre extremes leaves a lasting impression.

To learn more about the work of UNOH please visit: and the handicrafts can be found here

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I was recently asked to conduct a few lectures for students at Cliff College in the Peak District. The Bible College has Methodist roots and I had made connections with the Principal, Martin Atkins, and an American lecturer, Ron Willoughby, back in 2004 at the Lausanne Forum in Thailand.

I was asked to speak with specific reference to Mission and the Emerging Church. Often when talking about the evolution of Zac's Place, over the past nine years, I use some illustrations which I think best describe what is going own - many of these I've never written down, I just tell them as stories. Zac's is being discussed at many levels as a possible expression of the emerging church. Some think it's the spawn of the devil, others including Rowan Williams, have come into bat for us. To be honest, I have shyed away from getting into too many discussions and forums about it all - mainly because being involved at ground level is so time consuming, never mind have time to write a book on it all and go to endless conferences and forums.

Of two things I am certain though; something special is happening and it's not rocket science.

I have grown up within a church culture that likes things clearly defined. It's been important to know who's in and who's out for example. What theological boxes do you tick and what box can we place someone in. Several years ago it became clear that Zac's Place was very messy around the edge and over a simple lunch it became clearer! Where many church communities tend to be like a boiled egg or a fried egg on toast, where the edges are clearly defined - there's a yellow bit, a white bit - you can see the line that separates them and another edge onto the toast. It's safe, presentable and neat. Zac's however is most definitely more like scrambled egg on toast. There's yellow bits and white bits all mashed in together, it's cooked, it tastes good and it nourishes, but the edge of anything, even the toast and plate is almost impossible to find.

I thinks there's probably at least two kinds of emerging church. There's the ones that emerge from the established mainstream who take much of the familiar with it's clearly defined edges into an unfamiliar environment. Then there are those that emerge from the street, which are messy and where's the brown sauce.

(For a little more history about Zac's Place see the main website Zac's Place section)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Currently at the Tuesday night Tribal Gatherings, we are going through John's Gospel. The second part of chapter two, sees the narrative of Jesus throwing a tantrum in the Temple - caused a right rumpous it did - money, tables and feathers eveywhere. Religious folk asking JC to justify his actions and come up with a miracle to prove his authority on the matter completely missed the point.

The bottom line is that God has always wanted a connection with people. This temple and the sacrifices that were offered there was the accepted way at the time in Jerusalem - there was even a special area where non Jews could enter and pray. It was in this area traders had set up selling even the cheapest animals for sacrifice at extortionate prices that the poor could hardly pay for. It was where the money changers exchanged foreign curency, at very high rates, into the temple acceptable local currency of those pilgrims from further afield. The Priests turned a blind eye to all this going on. This was about dishonesty, exploitation and hypocrisy of the highest degree and Jesus was seriously pissed off about it.

Ordinary folk, some who made lengthy, difficult journeys, non-religious folk wanting to reach out to God and sincere poor worshippers were being denied the opportunity to connect with God because the religious expression of the day turned a blind eye to injustice and greed on it's doorstep. I can't help thinking this sounds horribly familiar.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


As expected a great night had by all - Smithy was on form taking various characters from the Bible, (Samson, Peter, John the Baptist amongst them) and bringing them to life in all their human frailty delivering both a hope and challenge. MJ as ever brought the perfect songs, questions and stories for the occasion. Both he and I reflected how over two decades ago John's preaching drastically reshaped the way we saw the world and understood our faith.

Was disappointed a little with the turn out, but I think that's a Swansea thing generally! If you weren't there - you missed out big time!

John and Glena then headed for home in Melbourne via the slums in Bangkok to see mutual friends Ash and Anji Barker who work there. Martyn takes his excellent new album 'Vegas' on the road this autumn (Narberth and Cardiff dates for South Wales - end of October). I visited a mate on the way home from Heathrow, having dropped John and Glena off, on the Mon who's seriously ill with various strains of cancer - was a touching moment when he handed me a photo of himself, signing the back of it 'love ya mate' - I still hope to see him a few more times yet. Questions and hope still permiate, do battle and linger......just as Martyn remembers Smithy asking twenty years ago,'why didn't Jesus visit John the Baptist in prison?'

Saturday, August 18, 2007


My Aussie mate and mentor returns to the UK soon and will be speaking at Zac's on Sun eve 9 Sep, 2007. Doors open from 7.30pm

Expect a challenging message, we'll have some live music from special guest, Martyn Joseph and I'll do my best to hold it all together.......

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who invited you anyway?

In our regular Tuesday Night Tribal Gatherings, which continue to attract a regular crowd of believers and seekers alike, we have been looking at some of the Parables of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. Diverse life experiences, journeys of faith and opinion all colour what are usually lively times of honest discussion and study. Everyone may speak and everyone is made to feel welcome. Looking at the parable of the Banquet in Luke 14 served as a timely reminder to ‘keep going’ - the over looked and ignored should not be left out of a place at the table, either in our homes, our churches or indeed in heaven itself. Hospitality shouldn’t be shown on the basis of what may be received in return - that is in essence what the Gospel of Grace is all about. We take our place at the ‘table of the Lord’ not by some divine right, following on the heals of another or because we got lucky. We take our place because as Frederich Beuchner writes, ‘the party wouldn’t have been complete without us’ - God himself invites us. Who are to judge who is more or less deserving a place at the same table feeding on a feast of such delicacies as mercy, grace, justice and love?

‘I was hungry and you fed me, 
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, 
   I was homeless and you gave me a room, 
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes, 
   I was sick and you stopped to visit, 
   I was in prison and you came to me..........
.............. 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' (Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting back to 'normal'

Zac's Place is gradually getting back to 'normal' after the burglary and insurance work, (New door plus a fancy roller shutter) plus a few bits and bobs of maintenance, (four major holes in the ceiling now repaired). I have to use the term 'normal' in it's broadest sense, because the very core of most of what goes on is quite unpredictable. Breakfast and Coffee bar work among the homeless and vulnerable is back fully functioning - although there's concern for 'dancing Kenny' who's not been seen for about five weeks. S is going into rehab and it was a precious moment to pray for him before he departs Swansea. Last Tuesday's Tribal Gathering was more informal than normal as we had some food together celebrating the completion of the last series of studies! Lorraine came down and shared a few poignant songs amid a gathering which included numerous going through real heartache. Next week we'll begin looking at some of the parables of Jesus. This coming week also sees Jems Drama School's annual production - weds, thurs and fri. Lots of extra work in the venue and lots of people coming through - and 45 children performing each night under the direction of my Jayne. I continue to be humbled by the profound impact such 'ordinaryness' can have when looked through the eyes of the searching, the lonely and the lost.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another Typical Week....

Apologies for any that do return here now and again to see if I've joted a note down - it's been a while, and it's also been a little hectic!

Finally, Zac's Place as a venue is now fully functioning again having had the damaged door replaced after the burglary back in February. It has been a lengthy drawn out process. I will endeavour to use my most tactful approach in explaing the frustration and inconvenience this has caused when I next see the two young gentlemen who caused the damage in the first place.

The past week or so has seen me make a 1500 mile 5 day round trip, by bike, to NE Holland and Southern Germany fullfilling some European God's Squad responsibilities. Great to be back riding on the continent - the autobahns of Germany, although much quicker that UK motorways feel much safer, much more disciplined and respectful. Great to be in the company at each destination of very dear Christian brothers and sisters also engaged in admirable missional efforts among the biking communities they engage with. Maybe some pics to follow soon.

24 hours after arriving back I am taking the funeral service of a young man who's parents have had associations with Zac's Place and some of our musician friends. It was difficult to make the arrangements on the road through Europe - I would normally like to spend plenty of time with those grieving in person. Never the less, I was glad to be there on the day and the evening before. The utter emptiness and pain of parents losing their kids and siblings losing a brother is human wounding at it's most raw and most vulnerable. To attempt to bring any words and actions of comfort and hope, for me, need to be utterly dependant of the compassion of Christ himself.

I was very appreciative to Glenn for taking the lead at our Zac's Bible study following the funeral - despite him also having to take one the following day too.

Finally by Wednesday I was able to catch up properly with my own family & jobs at home. The following two days were spent up an 8 metre scaffold with Glenn in the main hall of Zac's Place making some long overdue repairs on the ceiling - which continue into this week.

Sometimes I get asked, usually by writers or journalists, what does a typical week look like. Diverse is perhaps an understatement.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Royal Mail Incompetence


Due to the apparent incompetence of Royal Mail, it would appear that mail to our PO Box address, (Exousia Trust, Box 437, Reading, RG30 3DF), during this year has not been getting delivered to us. As of 23 May, 2007 this matter is under investigation and is a very sorry state of affairs. It is quite probable that any cheques, letters and orders for merchandise may not have arrived. If you are in any doubt that something you have mailed to us has not arrived, please contact us asap on 07971 218644. Many thanks. Royal Mail can expect a seriously snotty letter, assuming it arrives.....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


This week, Tue 8 May, sees a two page interview in the Big Issue Cymru - not seen it yet and I was very tired when I was interviewed so it could go either way . . . . . watch this space. Get your copy and support a local vendor.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

God's Squad

Regular visitors to Zac's Place will only be too aware that it also serves as the Euro HQ for God's Squad Christian Motorcycle Club, of which I am a founder UK member. The UK chapter had our 'National Run' starting at Zac's 2 weeks ago before heading north - here's a few video clips to give you some more of an idea behind the 'Squad' images displayed in the venue.

By way of an update regarding the recent break-in at Zac's - things should be back to normal, (having had to put most regular third party use on hold since mid January), within the next two weeks after a lengthy period of waiting on the insurance company.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Live music has always been an important part of the foundation of Zac's Place. The Gig last Friday night, an excuse for a belated 40th birthday bash for me and a fundraiser for the Trust, underlined the exceptional standard we have set for ourselves over the years. It really was a magical night, with ten artists taking part bringing a beautiful blend of acoustic styles.

Phil James kicked things off. Phil's been receiving a lot more radio play in recent years, but his performances have always been firm favourites for the Zac's audiences. Rob Ash joined him with some great guitar work and did some of his own stuff too. They also dueted Tom Petty's 'Won't Back Down' which is a real fave of mine. Julia Harris demonstarted why she's getting so much attention, whilst Mike Toulcher emerged as Swansea's best kept secret as a songwriter delivering two great piano based songs. Allen McCarthy - small guy - HUGE voice and two fantastic songs including the Zac's CD track, Waterfalls. Bill and Rachel Taylor-Beales were joined by Karen Chalk for additional flute/keys and vox and performed a six beautifully moving songs from a combination of Rachel's Brilliant Blue album, Bill's forthcoming Scratch The Sky plus Dylan's 'Shelter from the Storm'. Lorraine King, my original co-founder of Zac's together with my wife, Jayne, as usual worked brilliantly together for four tracks and finished the night with Phil James & Rob Ash performing 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'.

About a hundred people crammed into the venue, travelling from Belfast, Leicester, Manchester, Exeter and beyond, creating an intimate atmosphere and thoughrally enjoyed what was a great night of superb live music...

Thankyou to everyone who played, helped, came and gave - your support was and is much appreciated, especially as the Trust will benefit to the tune of around £2000 as a result of the gig. THANK YOU

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Bunny Get's Slaughtered On Rubbish Dump

I started this blog around this time last year with an Easter reflection. A chaotic lifestyle leaving little time for marshalling thoughts into an ordered fashion to share with the expactant few, is a little frustrating to say the least.

As we approach Easter time, the lead up has continued to be hectic and I know I will struggle to find much space to truly reflect on this glorious celebration of reunion of creator and created. Amid all the Easter imagery of the butchered and bleeding Christ in various states of undress we can still be missing the greatest pain of all. 'Why have you forsaken me?' The pain of the severing and separation of the Father and the Son renders the brutal physical torture and humiliation of Christ a mere stubbed toe on the redemption journey. One day, maybe one day we'll fully appreciate it.

Breaking down of relationships at any level is a painful experience. Just this past few days and weeks one of my kids has experienced bullying and I believe a betrayal of trust from friends. How hard it is to see the disappointment and pain in a young life. But how sweet it is, to see signs of reconcilaition, apology, forgiveness.......

At Zac's Place on Tuesday night half the group has been looking at the New Testament letter of Paul's to the Ephesians. One of the reminders in these pages is that the non-jews, the non religious, were as welcome in God's family as anyone - the curtain separating the holy from the not so holy in the temple was torn in two on that crucifixion night. The way continues to be open for the religious and non-religious, the hurting and the lost, the betrayed and belittled, the bullied and the thug........

Happy Easter? Depends how grateful you are I guess.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Back in 1988, on my second read through of John Smith’s ‘On The Side Of The Angels’, I just knew, both John, (who at the time I’d never met) and God’s Squad would have a significant part to play in my life - here we are nearly two decades on as I head up God’s Squad in Europe and was ordained by John several years ago! What’s more, his story and the challenges regarding mission, church, the arts and justice made a huge impact on me then (and still do) and made a massive contribution in ‘sorting my head out’ when a lot of things seemed very confusing. ‘On The Side’ has been out of print for a number of years now, but has now been republished in Australia with an updated chapter and pictures including references to our work, musicians Sammy Horner, Martyn Joseph & also U2. We have the only supply of these new books available for sale in this country at moment, for £10 plus £2 p+p. Just drop us a note, (Exousia Trust, PO Box 437, Reading, RG30 3DF), with a cheque payable to ‘Exousia Trust’ and we’ll be glad to send one. (If the price seems a little high it’s because of the shipping costs from Australia).

"Truly a preacher to the convertible .. John Smith's message is for people who want to do more than just listen" - Bono, U2.

Drama Queens

Zac's Place is used by several third party groups - Swansea Drugs Project, Youth Offending Team, Community Lives Consortium and Jems Drama School - which Jayne, my wife, runs. Was particularly proud of her and the Jems Youth Theatre Company this week. The girls performed a recent exam piece called 'True Colours' at a local arts event at the Dylan Thomas Centre and received huge acclaim!! It's a moving piece that Jayne wrote with them about an asylum seeker trying to settle into a new life. Bullying at school for scars and eating disorders all featured in the dialogue which was based around Cyndi Lauper's song True Colours. Two of the girls were also able the following day to give a very good interview for Swansea Bay Radio who's Karen Vincent was blown away by the performance on Weds night.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Mobile phones have become a necessary evil. There's one particular caller ID I really dislike seeing come up on my phone's display trying to get through. It's my 'office'. It can only mean one of two things. Either we have some how miraculously managed to finance an assistant for me who happens to be calling me from the office - which on this occasion was highly unlikely, as it was Saturday evening and the money box is empty anyway. This leaves the only other option, that being the burglar alarm at Zac's has been activated and a recorded message is about to tell me so. Great - I'm 150 miles from Swansea, on the bike and it's belting down with rain.

By the time I get back having battled the elements, the gaping hole that used to be a door is being boarded up, scene of crime have done their thing and we work out what's missing. Fortunately, not much - but cctv and the process of elimination means the theft was probably carried out by two of our 'familair friends'. But a week of disrupted activity at Zac's beckons due to a lack of available exit and another insurance claim for another trashed door. (A different door was put in a few weeks back.) City Centre Mission, it's a wonderful thing!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Father Paul Bennett's Murder

I, like many, am shocked to hear of the tragic death of Father Paul Bennett, a vicar in the South Wales Valleys community of Trecynon near Aberdare yesterday. Apparently stabbed to death after answering his door to a local resident and in the company of his watching family. My heart goes out to them, it really does.

There once was time where it was common place for Church leaders to be slaughtered or punished for what they believed and stood for, (I say 'once was a time', but it does still occur in many countries - possibly more so than ever before - we just don't hear about it, China, Vietnam.......). We do not know the reason at this early stage why he was targetted, so for now we can only speculate.

In my experience as a minister, although in a slighlty different context, I don't think we should be surprised. Nor do I think anyone engaged in a pastoral community ministry will be. The vast majority of people are appreciateive of your efforts, particularly those most vulnerable. But innevitably there are those with issues with God and his representatives and the local vicar will always be a potential target. The fact that his home is often expected to be open house makes him or her all the more vulnerable.

On the couple occasions I have taken a beating - one such occasion included token punches and kicks as punishment for the 'sins of others' in ministry who had been exposed as abusers of trust. That issue was nothing to do with me - infact it was a headline story from another country that maybe hit close to home with this particular chap and his pals, and I and my mates were easy pickings.

Time will tell and maybe the truth will come out as to why Father Paul has been stabbed to death. Whatever the reasons are, they won't erase the pain and heartache for his family - my prayers will be for them.

For me there remains a challenge and a balancing act. The call of ministry, committment to God, serving unpredicatable people, speaking up for justice................. and protecting your family.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


It often feels like I collide with each day, buffetting around in a pinball machine of clatters and rattles. Lots of stuff happens. Sometimes you can recall milestone marks. Sometimes it's a blur.

This past week has been has been the usual chaos, but it's also been a week of my 40th birthday, our 15th wedding anniversary and the birth of our fourth child. The family continues to be the place where all the stuff you share on the road and among those seeking your words and ear is grounded.

If love and grace aint real there, I find it hard to talk about it else where. This week it is truly good to celebrate with those closest - who often pay the highest price - who love and give the most.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Zac's Place Benefit Gig

Join us for what will be a night of exceptional live acoustic music - watch this space for more artists added to the line the meantime check out the myspace pages for music previews...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I'm pretty skeptical about obscure US based mission initiatives, but we'd had some corresponence via our myspace site about a Michigan based set up engaging in a mission initiative at porn festivals and others within that huge industry. Most of the complaints they get are from Christians - that sounds familiar!!!! I'll leave the text at that but include this youtube interview with Martin Bashir asking the questions and let you make your own mind up......

Friday, February 16, 2007


It was grerat to have Sammy around at Zac's for a few days this past week. The Sun night gig went well as did the impromtu one at Tues nights Tribal Gathering. Managed to squeeze in a radio interview for Swansea sound, for broadcast this Sunday morneing with Kev John's Heart & Soul Show and Sammy also managed to share a few song with some of the lads on 'A' wing in Swansea Jail.

Celtic music and traditions came with a breath of fresh air, accompanied with reminders or worship with the '5 stringed harp' - symbolizing that we can worship God with all of the senses we are given - which if like me you have a terrible singing voice - there's room for a whole range of creative expression.

I'll aim to put a live track up from the Sun night gig on our myspace page as soon as I can and also keep you posted when we have Sammy's new album 'Songs for the Sick and Tired' in stock. The advance copy I have listened to is great and will be an encouraging listen for many Zaccers.

Also managed to take a few new promo shots of Sammy at Zac's in a spare hour - here's another two of them....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The only reason I stick around is to see what happens next

There's a sign I've seen around that goes something like; 'I've been spat at, beat up, thrown up on, sworn at, abused & wrongly accused - infact, the only reason I stick around is to see what happens next.' It can be a bit like that at Zac's Place sometimes.

It's a been rough few weeks at the beginning of this new year for those making provision for the rough sleepers and street drinkers. A couple of isolated violent incidents make it difficult for everyone - the clients, the neighbours and the volunteers. One of the doors was smashed in in a different incident - probably an attempted opportunist break in.

Grace and forgiveness is a foundation of who we are. So is the protection of those others coming into Zac's. The hard facts of putting that into practice is not easy, especially when the voice of reason doesn't get much of a look in. The up shot is we either be walked all over, close the operation down at the expense of those who appreciate all the help that is given or we attempt to place those causing the problems on a ban for a set period of time. We've opted for the latter. How that will be received remains to be seen.

The reality is that the destructive pattern of behaviour fuelled by alcohol and drug abuse, brought on initially by a myriad of circumstances, has a very ugly face - finding the balence in a Jesus like response is often a struggle. No one more than he knows what it is to walk amid chaos into the middle ground of everyday life.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

SAMMY HORNER Gig, Sun 11 Feb.

Celtic singer / songwriter Sammy Horner returns to Zac's on his solo tour, which has the working title of 'Songs for the Sick & Tired'! Sammy is an excellent performer on many levels - whether it be with his punked up celtic combo, 'The Electrics' or with his more reflective acoustic material. His wit and warmth make a great connection and I'm looking forward to having him around for a couple of days.

He's a friend, colleague and if he lived near Swansea would be a 'Zaclican' too! So put the word out - Sun 11 Feb from 7.30pm at the Zac's Place HQ in Swansea.

See Sammy's myspace pages at

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's Not Every Day You Meet The US President

Over thirty years ago I stood, with my parents, amid crowds of people spectating the commissioning of the humungous US Aircraft Carrier, 'Nimitz' at Norfolk Naval base Virginia. Making his way through the crowds was stand-in President, Gerald Ford who was filling the boots of a disgraced Nixon ousted the previous year in '74. Ford died this week. I didn't know much about him when he stopped and commented on my obvious out of place English accent and shook my hand. Reading some of the comments in the papers and in the obituaries there is a breath of fresh air with regard to that famous office.

He never did get elected in '77, some would say it was because he 'pardoned' Nixon, (or maybe it was a dodgy trade off?). But this action won praise from his former chief of staff Dick Cheney as he commented; (Ford) "was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon."

In an age when votes are bought with short term goals and ego's fuelled with wars that aren't our own, oh to have politicians remembered for marks of healing and for forgiveness.