Archive for the taking action Category

how did it help…

Posted in christianity, community, taking action on September 28, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

First, I strongly advise you read this post of alastair’s… it’s one of my favourite posts of all time… and then this post by Connor… they really set the tone for this post…

It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently… A while ago, my two sisters and I were driving back from some church event at around midnight. As we drove along a street that our road leads off, an obviously drunk guy about 18 years old, standing almost in the middle of the road, waved at us for assistance. My elder sister was driving, and I told her to go on past him, not wanting any harm to come to either of my sisters…

I’m sure you can see the immediate stereotype that flew into my head about this guy… It actually shocked me when I realised how quickly I had allowed it to settle in my head and affect my judgement… not good at all…

Anyway, we drove on for about 30 seconds, pulled into our driveway and went into the house… but all I could think of was this guy, and how we had driven right past him without offering help. Now, I believe I did the right thing considering the circumstances… It was late at night, my younger sister is 15, she had school the next day, I wanted her home safe (which we were so close to) without any hassle… HOWEVER, I believe my motives were TOTALLY wrong… I had dictated our actions based on a stereotype and out of not wanting to have anything to do with the guy, who looked like he merely wanted help…

As my sisters went inside, I was caught in a dillemma… all I could think of was ‘Thats not what Jesus would have done…’
I was overcome with something, an emotion, I have so rarely felt before… which shames me… I was overcome with a real pounding LOVE for this guy, this drunk guy I didn’t know… I felt so awful that I had just left him there, when he needed help… I felt COMPELLED to go help him… and at the same time, I felt ashamed that this raw personal feeling was so foreign to me…

I wandered out of my driveway and started walking back towards where we had passed him. After a minute I saw him, sitting on the edge of the pavement, wearing a brand named track suit with a blue thin plastic bag sitting beside him, containing what I later found out to be a bottle of buckfast (an awful, cheap alcoholic drink)… I shouted up to ask him if he was ok, then went and sat with him. It transpired he was lost, having left his mates to, I quote, ‘take a girl home, she said she was lonely… you know, stay with friends, keep a girl “company”, no competition, right??’ – he proceeded to laugh and winked at me… Anyway, he had since left the girls house and was trying to find a certain road to get home again. It was a five minute walk from my house. I decided to take him there, for which he was very very grateful. He told me there wouldn’t be a lot of people would ‘help some random drunk b****rd on the street at night’ as he put it…

Now, we were actually chatting for quite a while before we left, and on the journey to the road he was looking for… I won’t put up his name, I’ll just call him Hamish. I learnt quite a lot about Hamish, about his home life, his family situation, where he lived and had grown up… I guess there were a number of times I could have popped in the statement ‘By the way, I’m a Christian…’ or ‘Yea, I’ve just been out at church’… but I didn’t. He never asked me WHY I was helping him. He never asked me about himself. To be honest, I’m not sure he even remembers our encounter, let alone would he recognise me again… but I don’t feel I wasted an opportunity there. As Alastair said, I think God was happier that he got home safely that night, that somebody showed a bit of compassion to a stranger that needed help, than he would have been had I tried to preach to this guy who to be honest would probably not even have remembered a word I said to him by the next morning…

I think we really need to make a point about caring more for the people around us… not having an agenda, just helping out of love, helping because there is a need… helping because our King loves them, and so too then should we. Helping for the sake of love, not for the sake of an opportunity to preach…

more prayer needed…

Posted in christianity, church, friends, taking action on September 25, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Ok, so its the second time in a few days… but could really do with some prayers right now…

Just found out that someone I’m close to has been diagnosed with cancer… don’t know if its localised, or if its spread to the rest of the body… I have to admit, I’m quite shaken up by it all… I had to get up and leave the living room where my housemates were for a while just to process my thoughts… I haven’t even told them yet…

Anyways, please please please be praying for this person – for healing… but for God’s will to be done, whatever that will be… and for courage and strength to deal with this situation, and accept whatever outcome may occur – please pray for healing… please just pray… anyone who reads this, and believes in the power of prayer, please pray…

prayer needed…

Posted in christianity, church, taking action on September 23, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Ok guys… for anyone who happens to read this before Sunday 23rd Sept (today pretty much) at 8pm ish, and you believe in the power of prayer, please please pray for me.

I’m giving a talk at my yf, and I’m gonna be bringing up a lot of uncomfortable truths… and Satan is really trying to stand against me on this one. I’m afraid of what I have to say, but I know God wants me to say it, and I’m gonna stand for whats right… but I really need prayer support guys…

I know this is breaking from my normal blogging style, but its REALLY important to me… please…

I’m pretty mad… again…

Posted in christianity, community, taking action on September 19, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Yea, I guess this is my second angry post… but I can’t help it, what I just heard on TV just enraged me so much that I couldn’t even start this post before I’d had a storm around the room to calm down a little!!!!!!

I was in the kitchen, so I didn’t actually see what the ad was for… All I heard was the backing music and what was being said… And even at that, I wasn’t paying attention to what was being said until this phrase was spoken, so I still haven’t even the faintest idea what the ad was for… which DOES make me wonder a bit now about the justification of my anger, but I’m still to angry to care much about whether it’s justified at the moment!

The offending phrase was as follows:
“The challenge is not to live off the land… but to FEAST off of it!”

Have you spotted the little problem here…?? These words, spoken overenthusiastically and even a little suggestively by some woman, really boiled deep within me more than anything else has in quite a while… When did our challenge change from living off the land to FEASTING??? What is WRONG with our society here in the west??
Actually, thats a stupid question… It’s abundantly clear what’s wrong with our society… a better question is what HAPPENED to us here in the west??? There are whole societies in the third world that are starving, dying, for lack of decent nutrition and clean water… There are whole villages in EASTERN EUROPE for flip sake, that don’t have enough money to provide any more than basic sustinence for their children!! I’ve SEEN it!

At what point did we as a society stop caring?? At what stage did we discover it was easier to look away that to see the injustice raging around us??? We sit here in our comfortable rooms, sitting with a hot drink, watching TV and listening as some woman tells us our new challenge is to feast off the land… and we don’t even spare a thought for the people around the world, the CHILDREN, who are DYING because they can’t even LIVE off the land!! And y’know what angers me MOST???

I’m probably going to do exactly that when this anger wears off and I finish this rant…

Sometimes I really hate myself…

the starfish theory…

Posted in christianity, taking action on September 13, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Based on the comments left on my last post (thanks guys), here is the story I was reminded of…

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”

putting it into practice…

Posted in christianity, confused, taking action on September 11, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

So, how does it all work out in practice?

I’m back in Belfast now… not back full time, but I am staying up here for a few days this week while I help out with some international student stuff… had a good time with it today, showing the new students to their rooms, having a chat about where they’re from and what they study…

Now, being back in Belfast means another issue has come up… kind of a big issue (and please excuse the pun, seeing what I’m about to discuss…)
I saw my first ‘Big Issue’ seller of the new academic year today. I also saw my second, third, fourth and fifth Big Issue seller of the academic year. I don’t want to say ‘homeless person’ because the truth is I don’t know if they have a home or not. That very well may be an issue in itself, the fact that I didn’t ask them about themselves… or say very much at all… but it isn’t the issue I’m dealing with right now. My issue at the moment is that after all my preaching about loving people, I’m not sure of the best way to love the big issue-ers and the people on the street… is it right for me to give money to every one that I see? Is it – dare I say it – ethical? The Bible tells me to steward my money well… so is giving money to every one I see (and I see a lot) the best way to help? Especially if I’m a ‘poor’ student? Maybe it is… maybe giving them something financially IS the best way to help them…
On the other hand, is it buying them something to eat or drink, that will warm them up? Meeting their physical needs? Maybe…
Is it offering them a room for the night? I certainly couldn’t do that for all of them… but for one, or two? Is that the best way? Maybe…
What about talking to them? I have to say, I’ve tried that before… many don’t speak english, and I don’t speak much BUT english… but maybe the best way to help them is to take the time to talk to them, try to chat to them… show them they are worth talking to? Maybe…
Maybe its a mixture of the above… I honestly just don’t know… How do I work out what their greatest need is? I don’t think financially I COULD give to all of them… but does that mean I shouldn’t do it for one? Isn’t one person worth it? I certainly couldn’t take them all in… but could I take in one, or two? Maybe not when the other guys are living here too… or is that just an excuse?

I honestly just don’t know… I’m having a very confusing night… part of me would rather just give up on the issue and watch TV… but I REALLY want to know the answer to this!!

calling out… or being called…

Posted in christianity, CU, taking action on September 7, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

So, the thing that stuck out the most to me at preterm I think (talking personally now, not corporately) was, I believe, foundational to my faith… And not only that, it is something that has been building in me for a while now (funny how thats been happening lately…)

One of the seminars I went to at preterm was Social Action by Steve Stockman. Now, before I go any further, I should say what had been happening for the past while… Any time anyone spoke about social action, making a stand, year of jubilee, standing against injustice etc, I would get a chill up my spine. Even my post and Connor’s post about hospitality really got me worked up. I got excited at the very prospect of justice… GOD’S justice…

Therefore, I decided to go to Stocky’s seminar. And he completely blew me out of the water… he put the passage on sheep and goats in a way I’d never really looked at it before – which in itself amazed me, how I could have missed the simple truth of this passage all along, during all the times I’d read it… It’s so clear now…
He talked about how the defining difference between the sheep and the goats was not denomination, style of worship, doctrine… but love. How much they loved their fellow man, how much they TRUELY LOVED – for true love is not content to sit by and watch the world ‘go to hell’ (in a metaphorical and indeed literal sense), but will rise up and take action. The defining difference was love – love that stood with the marginalised and the oppressed in their affliction, love that was SHOWN, not preached.

It all comes back to that verse God has been pulling me to, and indeed has been pulling our committee to… the greatest commandments… To love God first and foremost… To care for Him deeper and greater than anything… To mourn over His pains, to love what He loves, to seek His greatest good in all things… To seek to do everything we can in this world to please Him. To have our hearts break over that which breaks His heart… to be His voice and His hands in this world, to stand for the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed…
Throughout the Bible, from start to finish, God has been concerned with the oppressed, the weak, the marginalised, the outcasts… Jacob and Esau, the older served the younger, totally against the custom of the time… Gideon was the weakest member of the least important family of his nation, but God chose him to lead the Israelites to victory… David was a shepherd boy, not a mighty warrior, but God used him to defeat Goliath, level armies, and become king of God’s people… There are countless other examples… Rahab the prostitute, Joseph son of Jacob, Daniel was used though he was a captive and an outsider in the king’s court… Jeremiah, Moses… Jesus himself was homeless, treated as an outcast by many, and hung around with the ‘wrong crowd’ – tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, fishermen, lepers, as well as dining with the highest religious leaders of the time… Many many times, Jesus did not even tell the people He helped and healed who He was, but instead simply told them to go and sin no more… He GENUINELY loved people…

I have been told there are around 4 or 5 verses in the bible that deal with swearing… and around 2100 that deal with justice, poverty and social action… The sheep and the goats… The greatest commandments… Seems to me that God’s heart lies with how much we LOVE…

What this means for me? Quite simply, at the moment, it means to love. What God intends for me along this road is for me yet to see… but I made Him a promise, to follow the road He sets out for me as best I can, and to help those I meet along the way… I don’t know what His plan is for me yet in regards to all this… but I’m excited!!