faith

Words that Change your World

I love to read & I love words. I love that words can convey powerfully our love for each other. I love that words can express our inner deepest thoughts just by using a few of them. I love that words in a card or letter can encourage & inspire & change a person’s day. I love words therefore I love to read.

I have hated words & I have loved them. I hope I have made them right - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Sometimes our words are not loving, not made right, but they are just as powerful in a negative way. They can destroy a person in their inner being, in their soul. When words are used in this way they are abusive & the person using them becomes a perpetrator of abuse. The person on the receiving end of these words can be rejected, brought down, begins to doubt themselves & their own worth. Words repeated again & again have more & more power to destroy the person they were aimed at to the point that the person dies inside. Because the results of words are not physical or visual we can underestimate the power of our negative destructive words.

The words I am speaking to you are spirit & life – Jesus (Jn 6:63b)

 

 

The good news is words can also bring life. My husband often says: “I love you”, “You are funny” & “You bring joy into my life”. These words are life giving to me. These are powerful words he says that I receive into my soul & they lift me up & give me life in the sense that I’m energized & encouraged & empowered by these words to be me. What are the words that give you life? What are the words you say to people around you that give you life? What about the destructive words are there people who say these to you often?

You choose death or life in your words. 

 

What can I do to Help? 

1) Share our #NametheAbuse videos on Youtube

2) Contact us to book a Dwell workshop

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Stuck In The Middle

It was July 2012 & it was a lovely warm summers day outside. The Olympics had started in London & I tried to watch as much as I could on TV. Every time a British female athlete won a medal I cried. I cried because I felt strongly about the opportunities the female athletes had at the Olympics to compete in sports that historically they were counted out of. I cried because each time they won a medal represented a small victory against misogynistic ideas & it would inspire the next generation of girls who looked on.
4,847 women will take part in the London 2012 Games. Never before will so many have run, jumped, swum and ridden at an Olympic Games. Never before will any have boxed at the Olympics. Never before will every competing nation have been represented by at least one female athlete. And never before will a sporting regiment of women have had so many medals to win.

Robin Scott-Elliot, Independent Newspaper, Thursday 26th July 2012. Before the London Olympics 2012.

stuck in the middle
My husband & I were contemplating the new project we were setting up & its vision. The Dwell Project started in September 2012 aimed at preventing domestic violence in faith communities. As I thought about the purpose of the project I wondered if anyone would have a problem with it. Surely everyone wants to see an end to domestic violence, don’t they?! Therefore they wouldn’t have a problem with our aims.
A few months after we started we were meeting with groups from non faith & faith groups to discuss partnership work. We were surprised by the response from both groups. The response from non-faith groups was hostile & territorial. They didn’t think faith had anything to bring to the table & therefore didn’t believe a faith based project like ours could help end domestic violence. Wasn’t Christianity patriarchal & therefore condoning domestic violence, rather than as we believe, an inspiration for ending it? It was frustrating & discouraging to hear this over & over again.
Then when we met with faith leaders we would often come up against denial that domestic violence existed in their community. We spoke at churches to church leaders & heard the argument – what has this got to do with us? This doesn’t happen in our community. The influence & change they could bring to culture in their churches didn’t seem to change their thinking either.
From the beginning we felt stuck in the middle of these 2 responses & one question remained as urgent as ever: Will we as Christians be drawn further into alliances with male abusers or draw together to end domestic violence? We hope that we can have an impact on those who are in faith groups to face up to the reality of domestic violence in their own communities. Partnership is still an important part of who we are & therefore we won’t give up trying to work together with others.
Together we can end domestic violence. We can’t do this on our own. Our faith in Jesus is the reason we exist & Jesus himself is our model for how & why we work to end domestic violence.
We haven’t been shocked at these responses & we’ve also been surprised by really positive responses from faith & non faith groups to the work we are trying to do. Groups that we didn’t think would be interested have invited us to speak at their events. We’ve run interactive workshops for 82 faith leaders across the UK in the past 6 months.
saudi-woman-sport
The London Olympics was a great success for women’s sport all over the world but also a step in the right direction against sexism & gender inequality.
Lets keep on going as we have a long journey ahead & we’ve only just started walking.
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Today is World Voice Day: How are you using yours?

Do we know the power we hold in our voices? 

Many women speak out, use their voices powerfully for the causes they believe in. They speak of injustice done by those in authority and by those in power. Like Malala Yousafzai (who was shot by the Taliban for speaking about girls education)  those who speak out often do so at risk of their own lives, their own safety, their own peace of mind, sometimes sacrificing themselves, sometimes sacrificing relationships with family, for the sake of the cause.Going to a talk recently at the Women of the world festival entitled “Refusing to be silenced” made me more determined to speak about the injustice of domestic violence & its destruction of lives. It made me want to stand with the women I heard there, women like Reem Rashad & Mariam Suleiman, who speak so bravely about violence and injustice against women in Syria & Darfur. And it made me more determined to look to Jesus and ask the question what would he say to the church about violence against women in our homes? When I read about Jesus in the gospels I wonder why are we Christ followers not leading the stand, the protests, the marches against gender injustice? Why are we not speaking out, louder & stronger?
It’s certainly not that Jesus is silent on this subject! We just need to read the Magnificat, the beautiful words that say how much God believed in A YOUNG GIRL! We just need to look again at the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus’ concern for his mother when he was dying on the cross, the women at the tomb after the resurrection & we learn Jesus’ views of women & his faith in them.
How can we stay silent on gender injustice if we are the followers of Jesus? How can we ignore the injustices done against women & girls in our country, in our communities, in our work places & homes & stay silent! Women imprisoned because they came to the UK for refuge, women discriminated against in leadership at work & church, girls sexually harassed in schools, women abused & even killed in there homes!
How can we stay silent!
Do we know the power we hold in our voices!
We can make such a difference, lets begin to speak out! Shout out! Pray out!
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Lego Bro

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Finn’s father is fixated on teaching his son not to mix up his Lego playsets Finn’s dad a.k.a. The Man Upstairs decides to Krazy Glue his ideal Lego constructions together.  Finn’s natural creativity is being quashed.  This is the conundrum that must be solved in The Lego Movie.
A conundrum that’s reflected in men’s actual lives.  Do we live according to the Krazy Glued ideals of being a man or according to our natural desire for something more creative?  Because you can’t live life according to both.
The Krazy Glued ideal of being a man is that sense of entitlement to power & control.
Many Christian & Muslim men in Britain have power & control in society, in our churches & mosques, politically & economically – & some men do not.
For those who embody positions of power, life can become centred on maintaining that power.  For those of us who do not have equal access to privilege, life can become centred on protest until we achieve the same power we feel entitled to.
But for most men life is not that simple.  We might hold to the masculine ideal of power & control but our actual lives often don’t match up to it, or we cannot maintain the control we desire.  It is because of these mismatches & tensions that some men choose to abuse women in the home.

Christian & Muslim men believe it is not in our nature to be violent against women – God did not create us that way.

As I heard Michael Kaufman say recently at Being A Man Festival, “To say men are violent against women by nature is much too low a view of men”.
So why did we face such a flood of men abusing women last year?  1.1 million women survived domestic violence in Britain in 2013, predominantly at the hands of men.  Why do we blokes tolerate the fact that 5 million British women or 30% of the female population have experienced domestic violence since the age of 16?
Surely a sense of entitlement to power & control over women is at war with the heart of man.  We must let go of this false ideal, this ideal often concealed by crude comedy. Let go bro!
Because it’s a tragedy when you watch the man who thinks ‘control’s my middle name’ but it’s Jon.
Join us as we regenerate a way of being men free from power & control over women & free from hidden abuse in the home.
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What I’ve Learnt Praying about Domestic Violence

Dec 16 2013
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I pray for domestic violence to end. I pray for homes that are loving and safe for all women and for relationships between men and women that are loving and healthy where power is shared and control is only of your self and your own behaviour. I pray for emotional and physical healing for those of us who have suffered violence at the hands of men closest to us. I pray that we might be able to lift our heads and know love again. And as I pray I am forced to think, challenged to change, made to consider and realise my inadequacy.
When I pray I hope I’m in touch with what God feels about women who suffer domestic violence. His love for us and the anger and grief over what has been done to us. It gives me a heart of love for sufferers and survivors of domestic violence. It forces me to face the pain of domestic violence and makes me aware of my own feelings of extreme sadness and indignant anger at the lives shattered, relationships destroyed and the many deaths as a result of domestic violence. I have to face my feelings and I give them to God because otherwise they would drive me to despair.
I am also challenged about my attitudes and thoughts about men, generally. When I think of friends who have suffered violence at the hands of men who know them I am tempted to tarnish all men with the same brush but praying challenges me about that attitude. I am reminded that Jesus was a man who was not violent towards women in fact the opposite he was loving towards all the women he met. I need to remember the good men in my life who are supportive and loving towards me. And I ask myself the question do I encourage them to be better men?
In prayer as I look towards God, I come face to face with my own imperfections, my own character and my own behaviour towards others. Am I loving or do I hurt those around me?
Prayer forces me to consider the one person I want to avoid focusing on, the perpetrator. It forced me to consider him as a human being as a person made in God’s image. I have to consider him and his behaviour and face its evil and again give my feelings to God or be bitter, angry and depressed by these thoughts. Do I believe prayer will change the minds, hearts and behaviours of perpetrators? I think if God can’t then who can?
I start to question where is God when a husband, father, brother, partner decides to be violent towards a woman in the place that should be safe, where is God and why doesn’t he stop it? Why doesn’t he grab the man by the scruff of his neck and throw him out of the situation?

Prayer for me is honest communication with an awesome God

Its is not an excuse to do nothing but says we have a part to play. Brings God into a situation that seems impossible. Crying out to God changes me and gives me hope. And helps me to believe its possible to end domestic violence because I believe in heaven. I believe in heaven as a place with no pain, no violence and no broken relationships and I believe that heaven can come to earth through those of us who are lights, those of us who reflect God in our attempts to love and to end domestic violence here on earth. Prayer is bringing things to God that I don’t understand and says I can’t prevent domestic violence on my own without him. It says I need God to come and breakthrough in a situation that seems so evil that the light of goodness feels threatened. It says help God we need you!!! Prayer changes me and challenges me and through me changes the situation of domestic violence.
During this season of Advent I am reminded of heaven coming to earth through Jesus who for me is the bringer of light and hope to earth. I am thankful for Jesus and I am thankful that he has and can bring peace and love to homes where there has been fear and violence. We need His light, we need His peace, we need His love in every home!!!                                                                                                                         O Lord, come!!!
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