Desperate people dying at sea

An estimated 6,000-20,000 Rohingya from Myanmar/Burma are at sea, fleeing the ethnic persecution that has been going on for years. Their lives have become worse and worse. The Myanmar government keeps denying more than a million people basic rights, such as food, medical treatment and education. Not to mention the freedom to live in their own villages, the freedom to move around freely, and the freedom to marry whom they may want. As life as gotten intolerable for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, they have seen no other alternative than to flee by sea.

There is, however, no country willing to take these desperate people in. Both Malaysia and Indonesia turned away boats with hundreds of people last week. Thai authorities have also stated that they will not allow any boats to land. For the ones who have decided to turn around and go back to Myanmar/Burma, it has become a reverse smuggling game. Human traffickers are demanding 200-300 dollars to return a person from the boat back to his or her village. Having already spent all their money on the voyage, very few of them have the money to pay such a fee.

(from An Urgent Update On The Rohingya, Partners Relief & Development)
Save the Rohingya from Partners Relief & Development on Vimeo.

The Rohingya people are desperately in need. In May 2012, sectarian violence broke out in Rakhine State between the Buddhist Rakhine people and the predominately Muslim Rohingya. Around 140,000 people remain displaced in and around Sittwe and Maungdaw by the violence. These people urgently need food, shelter, medicine and protection. Partners has been providing emergency relief to those in camps near Sittwe, including rice distribution, basic medical support, tarps for shelter as well as animals, seeds and fertilizer to help establish more sustainable food supply. PLEASE HELP provide continuing life-saving care to vulnerable children and families. Learn how you can help at www.partnersworld.org/save-the-rohingya

Digging for bedrock

Learning to dig for the bedrock of Christ and writing from that foundation about the messy details of life.

When I was a teenager my Dad worked in the tunnels being constructed to stabilise the mountains around the Clyde dam. It was a strange underground world of darkness, dirt, noise, and water. The work of tunnelling through solid rock was arduous and exhausting.

The reason for all the drilling, digging, and blasting was because the rock is not as solid as it seemed. The mountains in that area are riddled with fault lines, underground water and massive, slowly moving landslides. Placing a gigantic concrete dam smack on top of a fault line meant the mountains had to be stabilised to prevent them cascading down into the newly formed lake.

As humans we like to think our work will last. It is demoralising to work hard on something for it to be demolished by someone who doesn’t care. We order our lives to ensure stability of home and income. Education is an attempt to predict what knowledge is worth gaining that will be of lasting value.

Over recent weeks I’ve been wondering what direction I should take with this blog. Writing blog posts can be a significant investment in time, and running a blog that is not crammed with advertising is a reasonable monetary cost. If I’m to continue writing I’d like it to have purpose and meaning, both for me and the few who read my posts.

I’ve asked God to help me determine what my focus should be, and so far the clearest idea I have is to keep digging into bedrock. The rock is Christ and knowing Him. Encompassing more than just blogging, for the time being I need to single-mindedly pursue Jesus. I’m confident that in doing this, other stuff will slip and slide into their rightful places.

I’m not sure how this will affect my writing, hopefully by making it better. My gut feeling is that I’d like to write about the intersection of life and faith. There are thousands of Christian pastors who write blogs. Yet it is oddly difficult to find blogs written by ordinary Christian men about the challenges of living faithfully for God in the messy details of secular work, marriage, and being a dad. This is where most of us live for most of the time.

Good writing, like any good art, needs to confront the most challenging aspects of life. Whether exploring our pain, anger, or fears, writing won’t ring true if it fails to confront these deeper issues or only offers pat solutions to complex issues. (Ed Cyzewski, How The Examen Empowers Us to Pray and Write)

While I don’t consider myself an artist, confronting the challenging aspects of life is a large part of why I write. I also have a deep dislike for pat answers. Life is messy and complex, trite answers don’t help anyone. This is where blogs can offer something useful with thoughtful posts and discussion in the comments to tease out the knotty intricacies of our real lives.

In the meantime, I have some digging to do. Let me leave you with a reminder that Christ is the rock that even incessant ocean waves cannot erode away.


Image 1:Drilling a blast hole with a jackhammer in 1942. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image 2:Fingal’s Cave, Staffa (Scotland). Courtesy of Gerry Zambonini (flickr)

What it means to be fully human

Profound words from an advocate for the mentally disabled

To be fully human is really to discover who I am. And who am I? I’m a member of the huge human family, where we’re all brothers and sisters wherever we come from, whatever our culture, whatever our religion. We were born in weakness. We will grow. And we will die. So the story of each one of us is a story of accepting that we are fragile.

April in review

A look back at what I’ve learned in April 2015.

I have recently begun reading Emily Freeman’s blog Chatting at the Sky. Emily has a practice of looking back at the end of each month to review what she has learned before plunging into the next month. I like this idea so am trying it myself. As an insatiable learner it may help consolidate what I’ve learned and give some insight as to where I should focus in the upcoming month.

1) Bible reading

I read an average of 4.3 chapters of the Bible per day in April. This is a little below my target of 5 per day but close. Some days I did not read the Bible at all and this is something I’d like to improve on because reminding myself of the full story of redemption and the encouragements, commands and prohibitions in Scripture is important to build up my faith.

2) Blogging

I joined the Clumsy Bloggers workshop for NZ$2 at the beginning of April using a 99% off coupon. So far the course has covered: Design & Layout; Consistency & Content; Titles, Formatting & Comments; Images; and Social Media. Mostly it is revision for me but good reminders to put work into some of the basic building blocks of my blog.

3) Evil abounds in this world.

At the very beginning of April Al-Shabab attacked a Kenyan university, killing 148 people. Later in the month ISIS released a gruesome video of the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians. There are many horrifying reports of the slavery, rape and torture of women and children by ISIS fighters. Other news reports featured Burmese men being used as slaves on fishing boats in Indonesia. Slavery is also rampant in the clothing industry. I would like to do more than wring my hands in despair.

4) ANZAC Day

In commemorating ANZAC day, our family learned more of what our grandfathers experienced in the second world war and also some details of the Gallipoli campaign that caused me to question some of the stories we have been fed about the history of our nation.

Books I’ve read

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett (Kindle edition)

A chronicle of learning what prayer means when life is a bit chaotic and has squeezed out the ability to have standard issues ‘quiet times’ with God. Micha discusses Benedictine spirituality in an inviting way and at one point describes prayer as like the soothing rhythm of fly fishing, which I particularly liked! Not a ‘how to’ manual but an encouraging read.

Social media posts

A scan of what I have posted on social media channels gives an indication of what caught my interest in the last month:

Looking forward

I noted that I want to do more than feel bad about the evil happening in the world. As Christians we are called to be a light to the world and a preserving factor in society. I’m not going to suddenly turn into a world changer in the month of May, but I can consider how God could be wanting to use me within the sphere of influence He has placed me.