CHRISTIAN TODAY DIGEST - WINTER 2009

From:-
TORCH TRUST, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HL, U.K.
Telephone: +44 (0)1858 438260, Fax: +44 (0)1858 438275, email: info@torchtrust.org
Charity Number 1095904.

Contents

Welcome!

Welcome to this last edition of Christian Today Digest for 2009!

With Christmas just round the corner, let's reflect on the Christmas story with a thought from UCB Word for Today, entitled "He's always on time":

The time came for the baby to be born. (Luke 2:6)

John Walker writes: "We manage, waste, spend and save time. We wish it would come ... we wish it would pass ... we see it fly and we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars, creating the illusion that somehow we control it."

God controls time ... Do you think he was surprised that "while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born?" We're surprised by unexpected developments ... God's never surprised, even by the most disastrous turn of events. How would your faith be, if you knew God wasn't surprised by your circumstances and is working towards a holy and healthy conclusion?

George Mueller once waited on the dock for a special chair to be delivered because he had a bad back and needed it for his ocean voyage. When departure time came and it still hadn't arrived his friends offered to buy him one, but Mueller said, "Either God will provide ... or ... give me grace to do without." Then, just like a Hollywood ending ... the chair arrived ... right on time! How would you act, think, and live differently if you were absolutely certain God was at the end of your deadline ... even if there were only seconds left?

The Bible says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). Time doesn't diminish His love or his power to work within your life. He was there in the past; he's here now, and he will be there in your future. A thousand years are like a few hours to him. He's interested in bringing you into eternity, not just getting you through until the weekend. When you see it like that, it changes the big picture, doesn't it?

And what about an idea for Christmas - in fact not just for Christmas, but for 50 days - at least!

50 Steps Forward is our 50th anniversary celebratory devotional book, written by 50 different authors, including the late Mrs Heath, co-founder of Torch. At just £5.00 per copy, in any media it is a real gift - for you, for your family and for your friends. Just think how many stockings you could fill! You can ring or email with your order.

We pray you have a very blessed Christmas and many rich blessings in the year to come.

Jill Ferraby and the editors

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Christians are asked to wear crosses

The Bishop of Lichfield has spoken out in defiance of dress codes and workplace uniform policies with a call to Christians to wear their cross necklaces and fish badges in December. In a pastoral letter published in parish magazines across the Diocese of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill said Christians should not be intimidated into putting their Christian jewellery away.

"The Christian roots to our governance should not be nibbled away without discussion," he said. "Sometimes I think it wouldn't be a bad thing if in December we all wore a fish badge or cross necklace and sent out a loud message that Christians aren't going to disappear quietly from the market place or put away our crib figures in a hurry."

He went on to challenge Christians to demonstrate a more costly sign of their faith than lapel pins and necklaces by serving their communities.

"The mark of a real Christian community is not so much the lapel badges and crosses we wear as the spontaneous, generous and practical love we show to the world," he said. "Christians should not be intimidated into putting away their neck crosses or lapel badges, but in the end it is not the badges that matter. The mark that matters is far more challenging."

His letter comes just one month after Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin filed for discrimination after she was told by bosses at the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust Hospital to either accept redeployment to a non-nursing role or face the sack for refusing to remove her cross necklace.

Bishop Gledhill condemned companies that threaten to sack their Christian employees for wearing cross necklaces and local councils that want to rebrand Christmas for fear of offending ethnic minorities as acting in "sheer ignorance".

He said: "Ethnic minorities are far more anxious about the rampant secularism and commercialism that erodes all Christian standards than they are about their host country properly celebrating its Christian foundations."

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Christmas savings bring buffaloes to families in India

British families have helped send buffaloes to impoverished families in India by meeting Operation Mobilisation's challenge to spend less at Christmas.

The "Just Christmas" campaign is the brainchild of an Edinburgh church and was first launched nationwide by OM in 2008 to great success. OM said several buffaloes had already been sent following the recent launch of this year's campaign. The campaign encourages individuals, families and whole churches to rediscover the true spirit of Christmas by replacing gifts with practical acts of kindness and pooling the money that they save to bring joy and hope to a poor family.

This year's campaign focus is to send buffaloes to oppressed Dalit families in India, who are often denied access to well paid jobs. They can sell the buffalo's highly prized milk to gain some much needed income.

The goal for people taking part is to raise £250 either individually or as a group - the cost of one buffalo. Other projects to benefit from the money raised in the campaign include OM's work with street boys in Sudan and literacy courses in Bangladesh.

In Sudan, £250 can rescue a boy from violence and crime on the streets of Sudan, while in Bangladesh, £250 will pay for a woman to attend a 9-month OM literacy training programme.

OM encouraged churches to get involved in the Just Christmas Campaign.

"The knowledge that the money they are saving will make a massive difference to those really in need is helping churches and families rediscover the joy behind giving," said a spokesperson for the charity.

"Just Christmas" packs containing ideas of how to reduce spending to bless others, can be ordered by calling 01691 773388. Further details can also be found on a special website: www.justchristmas.om.org

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Faith and courage on Berlin Wall anniversary

Church leaders have paid tribute to the faith and courage of ordinary men and women who helped unify Germany and end the Cold War on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November.

The newly elected head of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Margot Kaessmann, said dream became reality when the wall came down on 9 November 1989.

"Brave women and men from the civil rights movement in the former German Democratic Republic laid the foundation for this day by opposing the regime and inspired many more people to do the same through their example," she said.

Bishop Kaessmann said she was grateful for the decisive role played by the EKD in the GDR at this time.

"The prayers for peace in overflowing churches will remain in the consciousness as a symbol of a movement that truly earned the name 'peaceful revolution'."

She said that remembering the historic event could help bring Europe closer together.

"These events can give us courage for the continuing journey to Europe's future," she said. "In spite of all the suffering that dominates our world, the 9 November 1989 and the weeks of peaceful mass demonstrations in the preceding autumn will always come to me as a miracle."

Preaching at an ecumenical service in the Gethsemane Church in Berlin today, the head of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, called on "East and West to keep building bridges towards one another in patience and perseverance".

The fall of the wall, he continued, demanded that the German people show solidarity with those still living in bondage and contribute to a Europe "that truly serves the relationship between people and states".

"The memory of 9 November 1989 and no less the memory of the terrible events of the Night of Broken Glass on 9 November (1938, against the Jews), teach us unequivocally: walls - whether real or in people's heads - do not solve any problems. On the contrary, they create problems. They obstruct the future."

The head of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, said the church in the former German Democratic Republic had offered an inclusive space to people searching for freedom and a spiritual home.

"Christian hope and perseverance contributed significantly to the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago," he said. "A movement that started with prayers and candlelight vigils in the Saint Nicholas Church in the centre of Leipzig spread all over East Germany and inspired and encouraged people to confront the power of police and secret service in a very effective and peaceful way."

Dr Kobia said there were still many walls separating mankind today, like the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, the security wall in Palestine, as well as "the walls of injustice, racism and prejudice that separate rich and poor, stigmatise persons suffering from HIV and Aids and destroy the lives of many people".

"When we celebrate today twenty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which marked the end of the cold war era, let us remember the faith and the courage of all those people who gathered in the churches and became the nucleus for the movement of change," he said. "They taught us that Christian faith can inspire a resistance movement against fatalism and despair - a lesson which is as important today as it was twenty years ago."

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How teens view Mother Teresa, Moses and Simon Cowell

The Prince's Trust surveyed 1,095 teenagers. Also making it into their top ten great leaders were England footballer John Terry and King Henry VIII.

The teenagers defined their top leaders as those who were "inspirational" and "helped others".

England captain Terry commented: "I've always liked to lead by example. I take great pride and responsibility in being a leader. To organise and help others is one of my strengths. It's also great that young people see me in that way - I feel very privileged to be mentioned with some of the world's great leaders. It can be tough for young people at the moment. Projects like this that develop self-esteem and leadership ability are really important."

The top three greatest leaders were Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, while Ghurka champion Joanna Lumley and business guru Sir Alan Sugar were also in the top ten.

"I'd never thought of myself as a leader but I'm thrilled and touched that young people think of me that way. It goes to show that if you're passionate enough about something you can shine a light on the subject and make things happen," said Lumley.

The survey was commissioned to coincide with the launch of the Youth of Today campaign, which is encouraging hundreds of young people to become leaders and inspire others.

According to the survey, 70 per cent of teenagers claim they are more likely to be inspired by someone they know than by a celebrity, challenging popular perceptions of British youth. Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed said there were more celebrities setting a bad example than good, while sixty-four per cent said they were inspired by someone in their family.

Adam Nichols from The Youth of Today comments: "People think that youth today only aspire to be like celebrities but they're wrong. This campaign will give young people more inspiration closer to home. Shows such as The X-Factor prove that Britain really does have young talent - but we cannot rely on The X-Factor alone. We need to find new ways to unearth the next generation of potential."

The Youth of Today, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, aims to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities for young people as leaders of change in their communities.

Lumley added: "There is more pressure on young people today than ever before. We need to discover and encourage young leaders who will rise up in these difficult times and show that there is no problem too big to be sorted, nothing to be afraid of, and that help is available from the most unexpected people."

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'Jars of Grace'

UNICEF is appealing to Christians and other people of faith to fill up "Jars of Grace" for underprivileged children worldwide. The UN's children's fund is inviting individuals and congregations to drop a coin in a jar each time they pray.

It follows from last year's successful Jars of Grace campaign which raised more than £88,000 for UNICEF's work with children affected by emergencies in Pakistan, Gaza, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Sri Lanka. The money was used to provide the children with shelter, food, clean water and education.

"By simply popping a coin into the jar, goodwill is translated into a good deed, from which UNICEF can achieve tangible results," said a spokesperson for the organisation. "Any congregation can take part, just remember to top up the jar during prayers and UNICEF will do the rest."

The funds raised by this year's Jars of Grace campaign will go towards UNICEF's work in Mozambique, where around 450 children under the age of five die every day of preventable and treatable diseases like malaria and diarrhoea.

UNICEF aims to provide every child and mother in Mozambique with vaccinations, malaria nets, nutritional supplements and improved water and sanitation facilities.

UNICEF has put together service plans and fundraising ideas for congregations and youth groups to use, as well as posters, leaflets and collection boxes to support appeals.

For more information and to order a Jar of Grace pack, please call Isabelle Philips, UNICEF Fundraising Team. Tel 0207 375 6037. Email isabellep@unicef.org.uk

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Palau's Moldova mission

More than 700 people committed their lives to Christ at the Luis Palau Association's recent 10-day mission to Moldova and Transnistria. The mission, which took place under the auspices of the LPA's "Next Generation Alliance" initiative from 21 to 28 October, involved five evangelists working with churches in the Moldovan capital Chisinau and Balti, the second largest city, as well as elsewhere across this nation.

In Calarasi, the only church in the city took the outreach completely to its heart. Pastor Dorel Ieseanu said: "We have already heard that people who went to the mission, but who do not come to our church, are talking about the peace they received at the meetings. The mother of a young lady who comes to our youth group - and who was suspicious of our church - has changed her mind completely. She now tells her daughter that it's better for her to go to our church rather than the Orthodox one." All non-Orthodox churches are regarded as a sect in Moldova.

The national co-ordinator of the mission, Rev Vitalie Fedula, said: "We praise God for the final result which saw so many coming to know Christ personally. The evangelists all did a great job! We thank God for the seed that was planted. Pray that it will continue to be watered, and that God would make it grow."

Nigel Gordon of the Luis Palau Association said: "It is quite clear that God had gone ahead of us and that our prayers have been answered in the most wonderful way over these ten days as these many hundreds of people now put their trust in Christ. We now look forward to our next major outreach, which will take place shortly in Baia Mare, Romania."

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Pastor exhorts church to look beyond material to eternal

Jonathan Oloyede has exhorted Christians not to be distracted by money or fame but to seek eternal treasures in Heaven.

"Heaven is real, Hell is real and it's all going to be over very soon," said the pastor of City Chapel in east London on 10 November. "I want to encourage everyone to get on with the real business of the Kingdom and dragging people back from the precipice of Hell to Heaven. Don't get distracted running after money or fame. Become enraptured in making sure that one more soul does not go to eternal damnation."

Oloyede made the call last night at RCCG Victory House in south London, where members are in the midst of a 21-day prayer and fast for the capital and nation. He spoke of the shortness of life and reminded the congregation that wise believers were those who prepared for the time when they would be called to give an account of their life on Earth.

"Soon and very soon you and I are going to stand before our maker and He is going to ask you 'what did you do with the 60-something years I gave you?' ... 'What did you do with 40 years of ministry?' ... 'What did you do with your life for the Lord?'" he said. "I want to challenge you to look beyond the material, look beyond the immediate issues we have right now, to look into eternity and decide what kind of future you want to have because too many times we have an earthly ambition and not a heavenly goal."

Oloyede, who also convenes the Global Day of Prayer in London, urged Christians to drop their own agendas and start praying for God's.

"People come to prayer meetings these days to pray for themselves but when you come to pray for God's agenda, He draws you close and says 'thank you for being concerned about what I am concerned about'."

He exhorted Christians not to be reckless with the revelations they had received from God, and to spend more time listening to the Good News than catching up on the bad news in the media.

"We are good at fasting from food. I want to encourage you to fast from distractions," he said, stressing the need for purity. "You might not eat but you fill your heart and your mind with all kinds of junk ... Make sure that the manna you are eating from the Lord far outweighs what the world is feeding you."

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Preservation of free speech

The Evangelical Alliance has welcomed Parliament's decision to keep a clause preserving freedom of speech in the Coroners and Justice Bill as a careful balancing of competing human rights.

The House of Lords finally prevailed today after resisting pressure from the House of Commons to remove a clarifying clause, introduced by former Home Secretary Lord Waddington, to preserve freedom of speech as part of the ban on incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual conduct.

The clause maintains that discussion and criticism of sexual conduct is not, in itself, tantamount to inciting hatred.

Although the Government had whipped MPs to take the clause out, the House of Lords voted again by a substantial majority last night to keep it in and the Government reluctantly accepted their decision.

Responding to the outcome, the Evangelical Alliance stated that freedom of expression was a fundamental civil liberty present in the world's leading human rights declarations and crucial for Christians to be able to freely preach the gospel.

Don Horrocks, Head of Public Affairs at the Alliance, gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Committee in 2007, at the start of the lengthy parliamentary process relating to this Bill. He argued that while incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was clearly unacceptable, the law needed to clarify exactly what type of speech was allowed without creating a climate of fear of investigation or prosecution. He said in response to the Government's decision: "We're very grateful and relieved. This debate is, and always was, about one thing - free speech. We are delighted that Parliament has recognised the need to ensure that, while the evils of incitement to hatred are effectively tackled, society continues to place a high value on freedom of speech."

He added that the clause meant police would be able to deal effectively with unacceptable hate incidents without coming under pressure to investigate and pursue trivial or malicious allegations against people who are engaging in legitimate debate.

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Seven year climate change strategy

The Church of England launched a seven year strategy on 2 November aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The Church and Earth strategy was launched at a historic meeting of faith leaders from around the world and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at Windsor Palace.

The strategy falls within the Church of England's Shrinking the Footprint campaign, launched in 2006 to cut the Church's combined annual carbon footprint of around 330,000 tonnes CO2.

Church and Earth has been backed by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, who heads up the Shrinking the Footprint Task Group.

He said: "The challenge facing the human race in the 21st century is in our relation with the earth and in particular how we are going to help one another to adapt to the reality of rapid climate change. The Christian community is being recalled by this crisis to a more genuinely biblical view of creation and our place within it."

He warned that the effects of climate change would be felt first by some of the most vulnerable communities in the world and "those least able to bear the costs of adaptation".

"Neighbour-love in the 21st century embraces Pacific islanders and those who make a living in the low lying delta regions of the world as well as our children and the inhabitants of our own islands," the bishop continued. "The Church of England has gone beyond rhetoric in producing Church and Earth, a challenging plan for action which makes serious demands on our community, our schools and churches."

Church and Earth is one of seven climate change strategies being launched by faith representatives at the Windsor conference ahead of the UN's climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

Under the strategy, the Church of England is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050, and begin compiling annual carbon and energy reports for all parishes. It also encourages 'eco-twinning' between UK and developing world parishes that are already encountering the effects of climate change, and wants to establish a climate justice fund that can offer aid to churches in the developing world.

The Church and Earth strategy was commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Commissioners and the WWF. Oliver Smith, deputy director of programmes at WWF UK and a trustee of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, praised the Church of England for leading the way on climate change.

"At a time when the negotiations in Copenhagen are at the front of our minds, it's heartening to see that a major institution such as the Church of England is taking a lead in a way that our government and the other nations could learn from," he said. "The faiths have taken a moral stance, committing themselves to action whatever the outcome in Copenhagen. WWF-UK is proud to have been a sponsor and contributor to this plan and we look forward to working with the Church of England over the coming years as the plans are implemented."

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Susan Boyle's debut album to Christians

Susan Boyle inspired the world earlier this year with her undiscovered vocal gifts on Britain's Got Talent. Now, Integrity Music will partner with Sony Music to release her debut CD, culminating her journey from former church volunteer to global recording artist.

Boyle's CD "I Dreamed a Dream" will be released on November 23 with Integrity Music distributing the record to Christian retail.

Boyle surprised the world with her powerful, heart-stopping voice when she walked onto the "Britain's Got Talent" stage. "I Dreamed a Dream" is a collection of gospel, standards and classic pop songs and is expected to be one of the biggest-selling records of the year, already setting records as the largest CD pre-order in the history of the Amazon.com.

"I Dreamed a Dream" was produced by Steve Mac (Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis, Il Divo). The 12-song disc demonstrates Susan Boyle's extensive musical ability and reflects her inspiring story. Featuring her now-signature songs "I Dreamed a Dream" and "Cry me a River" and soaring renditions of gospel hymns, "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace," the album also includes her unique interpretation of pop songs like Rolling Stones "Wild Horses" and The Monkees "Daydream Believer". "Who I Was Born To Be" is an original recording written specially for Boyle, while the plaintive and reverent "Silent Night" is sure to become a new, old Christmas favourite.

The 48-year-old Boyle lived an anonymous life in her small village in Scotland, caring for her aging mother and volunteering at Our Lady of Lourdes church. Boyle always wanted to be a singer, but her music performances were confined to singing in church and karaoke at pubs in her village. Boyle has said that her mother had encouraged her to audition for "Britain's Got Talent", but it was only after her death in 2007 that Boyle determined to seek a musical career in honour of her mother.

The rest of the story is already legendary. Boyle shot to worldwide recognition following her audition appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" in April 2009, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables". Her performance was quickly posted on YouTube and went viral, reaching 100 million viewers around the world in less than two weeks. That video has been viewed by 300 million people. That she came second on the "Britain's Got Talent" final was of no consequence as the singer had already triumphed at winning the hearts of the world.

Boyle will spend a great deal of time in the US around the release of her debut. Some of her appearances include "Today" show on November 23, "The View" on November 27 and "Dateline" on November 27.

The complete track listing for I Dreamed a Dream with comments from Boyle:

1) "Wild Horses" - Couldn't drag me away. How could you help but be drawn in by this haunting theme? It conjures up memories of childhood amongst Council Estates, poverty and struggle in the first verse. Irony and bitterness - one of my personal favourites and an emotional release.

2) "I Dreamed A Dream" - Obviously from the musical "Lès Mis!" It's about a mother living in hard times. Very similar to my dream on a more personal level, of my "life gone by" with mum who dies at the age of 91 and whose dream it was that I should "do something" with my life. Mum, this is for you.

3) "Cry Me A River" - About bitterness and anger as a relationship between a boy and girl has ended. This timeless song is from the film "Breakfast At Tiffany's". A release of tension and a greater insight into the human condition.

4) "How Great Thou Art" - A hymn which has a great personal meaning to me as it reminds me of my friend who liked to sing this hymn in church.

5) "You'll See" - About determination, independence and the ability to show them what you are made of. Doubt sows disbelief. This is about turning this around. This song is a kind of beacon. A way of keeping going. My productive anger. My way of getting rid of the labels which have been unfair.

6) "Daydream Believer" - "The tears of yesterday don't mean a thing". There is happiness out there for everyone who dares to dream.

7) "Up To The Mountain" - Reassurance, love and the ability to keep going no matter what "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" life throws at you. God is our Light.

8) "Amazing Grace" - About revelations. About finding your way. Everything was new to me. I was Scared, hope it's better. I know it can be with your continued support which I find both comforting and humbling.

9) "Who I Was Born To Be" - Ambition, fate, call it what you will, but who was I born to be? Mum must have picked this for me.

10) "Proud" - This is about conflict between a parent and his son. The dilemmas most youngsters find themselves up against. My dilemma was finding my own identity - a conflict, if you like, with myself.

11) "The End of the World" - Don't be silly! It's only the beginning! I want you all to enjoy some more!

12) "Silent Night" - Was first made public in Germany during a service on Christmas Eve. A touching hymn at Christmas - hope you like it.

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World's biggest carol sing-along

Tenor Andrea Bocelli and the St Paul's Cathedral choir led crowds in an attempt to stage the biggest carol singing event in the world on 3 November.

Bocelli led the attempt in London's Leicester Square where crowds had gathered to see the stars turn out for the premiere of Disney's new animation film, "A Christmas Carol", while the choir sang from the steps of St Paul's. Large screens were put up at the two venues as well as on Oxford Street and Regent Street to coordinate the crowds in the carol singing.

Celebrities at the premiere included Jim Carrey, who is the voice of Scrooge in the new movie. He said: "It feels great to be a part of all this tradition. I want to thank the people of Britain for the legacy of Charles Dickens and the chance to tell this story. This story couldn't be more important now - it's about the immorality of greed."

Carrey was on Oxford Street earlier in the evening to turn on the Christmas lights, while British actor Colin Firth turned on the lights on London's other main shopping street, Regent Street.

Shortly afterwards, TV personality Suzanne Shaw was out with Dickensian themed carol singers around Potter's Field in central London to celebrate the launch of the "A Christmas Carol" computer game for the Nintendo DS.

Ecclesiastical Insurance launched a national competition in October to revitalise carolling after recent research found that the public was becoming increasingly negative about door-to-door carol singing.

In a YouGov survey commissioned by the church insurer, 29 per cent of Britons said they did not want carol singers to come to their home while a further 19 per cent said they would not answer the door if carol singers knocked.

The church insurer has teamed up with ChurchAds.net to run the Christmas Factor competition, which invites people to compose a new carol in the Christian tradition.

Christian Aid is encouraging Christians to get together from 11 to 13 December and sing to raise more than £100,000 for people living in poverty around the world. The aid agency leaves it up to individuals to decide where they want to hold their Big Christmas Sing, from the local hall, a house, church, or out on the street.

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Time and love for vulnerable people

If Christians want to save people, then they have to be prepared to spend time with them. That was the message from the founder of Street Pastors at the organisation's inaugural conference, held in London from 12 to 14 November.

Les Isaac said that many people today felt unloved but Street Pastors had the potential to change that by going out and "being Christ" on the streets of the UK's towns and cities.

"When you recognise that it's not just you walking the streets but it's God in you, you recognise there is a potential to bring light and renewal and revival and restoration to society," he said. "People are not just seeing human beings, they are seeing Christ in us - that's why 75 per cent of the people we meet ask us to pray for them."

Mr Isaac stressed that if Christians were to be able to help people with their difficulties, they had to give them their time, and share with them the love they themselves had received from God.

"Love and time have become the two most valuable commodities in the 21st century. There are many people who are starved of love. Mum doesn't love me, dad doesn't love me, no one loves. If we are going to do something we need to share our time with society, with people. Yes I have two children, yes I have a wife, yes I have things to do, but there are people out there who need our time. There are people outside the extent of our family who need our time, who need to know Jesus, who need to know there's hope for them."

Mr Isaac urged Christians to be consistent in their serving because society needed to see that they were always available. He said: "We are all too used to doing the two years mission thing with only 2 weeks in the middle of it all actually doing it: we take two years to plan it, two weeks to do it, two years to recover from it and another two years to consider whether we should do it again. Six years to do two weeks. Our societies and communities want to see us consistently on their streets."

Mr Isaac founded Street Pastors in 2003 to be a comforting and protecting presence in the streets of one London borough on Friday and Saturday nights. It has since spread out across the UK and been credited by local police with helping to reduce crime and to make the streets of towns and cities safer at the weekends.

The conference was joined on the first day by London Mayor Boris Johnson who praised the work of Street Pastors in transforming the capital.

Delivering the final address of the conference, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said there were many people in the UK's towns and cities in need of a safe place where they could "shelter from life and all its problems". He praised Street Pastors, who patrol town and city centres across the UK and Ireland on Friday and Saturday nights, for "touching the lives of many people who are directionless, aimless, sometimes faithless and often hopeless".

"Your love and service are a wonderful example of God at work in the world," he said. "Your presence on the street is bringing God's refuge into the lives of people who need it."

Street Pastors have seen tremendous growth since their launch in London in 2003, having expanded across London to the rest of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Internationally, the ministry has spread to Antigua and Barbuda, and preparations are being made to launch Street Pastors in Australia in 2010.

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