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.