Draughts

Black and Red were my favourite colours.

There’s something about red;
the colour of anger
passion
strawberries, cherries, lovehearts and lipstick.
To me it signified blood.
The way it oozed down my brown arms
so slowly,
like a scarlet clad army
marching across muddy terrain.
It felt good to do this to myself
because I was lost
and locked up in my own madness
I was calm and collected
on the exterior
but in side lay the Jack
waiting, just waiting to jump out of the box.
Few people knew of my secret
of times in the bathroom stalls at school
with a blade in one hand
and my soul in the other
whilst girls outside chatted about
random things and everything
and I, only separated by a wall as thin
as a cubicle,
stood in a whirlwind of distress.

 

I loved Black because it healed and concealed.
The battle scars along my arms and legs
caused stares and questions
so instead I doused myself in black
I was a dirty scrap of paper
washed in fresh ink to beautify.
I was hidden.

I wanted my room to be black so that I could
cocoon myself in pity
I wanted my bed to be black
so I could crawl into a ball
and return to the womb
because slumber was the only time I was happy
when the night fell and the blue sky
was turned black
I thought of death
hanging bodies
mutilated corpses on my floor.
I was terrified. This colour that gave way to such images
was the colour I wanted to be
and to immerse myself in.

These spirits of death and decay followed me
until I was left entirely alone
with no friends
and no one to call.
It was just me and God.
And in that loneliness I could hear Him
calling to me.
When hurricanes sweep your life
and your possessions are flying about your head
when screams are ringing in your ears
and your house, the very foundations of your being
are cracking and crashing to pieces
you cannot hear the person calling your name
to bring you to safety.
It’s only in the eye, the silent circle of calm
that things finally make sense.
So as I stood in the eye of the storm of my life
I heard God. And His voice was sweet
like a hummingbird
whistling to the forest.
I began to return to Him.

With this newfound friendship
I became best friends with two colours:
Black and Red.

 

Black is onyx.
Black is the darkness that enshrouded
the Son as He waited
behind the stone of His resurrection
the onyx that waited in this garden
with two guards beside
and turned into a pearl
when He was risen.
Onyx stands for my resurrection
from a sinner
drenched in death
to one saved by grace
and saturated with the whiteness of
His righteousness.

Red is blood.
Red is the blood that dripped
from His brow
as He hung on the tree of death for me

when it fell to the ground
in a shower of rubies
and hit the soil
that was unworthy to absorb it.
Red is the love that He had for me
whilst I mutilated the body He gave me
and carved graffiti on
His temple walls.

Red is His compassion
that whilst I cloaked myself
in darkness
and observed my blood
trailing down my arm,
He observed and He cried
and He bled, to remind me that
mine should never be shed.
Red is the fruit of the spirit
that He wanted me to bear
and the spiritual gifts
that He gave to me
to write about the things that have come to pass

Red is His Passion.
Red is my Passion.
And with this passion
I will praise Him.

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When God Just Isn’t Enough

I suppose a little catch-up is in order. Two weeks ago I went to ARME Bible Camp and it was an amazing experience. I hadn’t really prepared mentally or spiritually for it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, or what I hoped to gain by going. I’m so glad went, despite it being exam season. Not only were the sermons convicting, but I was shown an interesting way to study my Bible. We were given practical tips for having effective morning devotions, how to engage in a spirit-filled Bible study and the Bible itself proved to be a very interesting book. It really strengthened my faith in it; I was able to see that from the very first chapter in Genesis to the last in Revelation, everything written is interconnected and was put there for a purpose.

I know a lot of people went to the camp to hear Ivor Myers, and whilst I found his sermons interesting, it was a sermon by Pastor Phillip Sizemore that got to me…

He told the story of his parents. Neither were Christians but they acted truly Christlike. They helped people, they housed a couple of homeless kids and brought them up as their own. And they disliked Christians with a passion. To them, Christians were bad people and all the Christians they came across were hypocritical. When Pastor Sizemore became a Christian, it disappointed his parents; they were worried he would turn out like “the rest”.

In the end, the hypocrisy of the Christians in their lives had devastating effects. It tore his family apart. It reminded me of my own family, and the impact a pair of hypocritical Christians has had on it.

My mum’s parents, Brother and Sister ‘B’, were well known in the Adventist church. They went to one of the founding churches in London, during the time when people from the Caribbean flocked to England for work. Brother and Sister B seemed like well-to-do Christians at church, but their home was a war zone. Adultery, child abuse and neglect were some of the things that took place in that house, and there was so much hatred that today, none of their children attend church, with two of them identifying as atheist. They gave my mum a distorted view of God, religion and the Adventist church in general. I’ll give you an example. When my older brother died, and my mum went to her parents for counsel, Sister B said to her:

See? This wouldn’t have happened if you had stayed in church.

Despite my own conversion to the Adventist church a few years ago, my sisters have little care for my beliefs, after all, the church didn’t help my mum in anyway, so what good could it do for anyone else?

When Pastor Sizemore spoke about his parents, the pain in his voice was so evident that I couldn’t help but think about just how much work I have to do. My family is dysfunctional, it’s not perfect and it has its problems. I would love it if we could all attend church together, be a spiritual support for one another, have family devotions (it would be nice if my parents could reconcile), but Brother and Sister B, my grandparents, left their mark. They’re both dead now, but I know my mum still hurts from how she was treated as a child. What can I do? How can I be a good enough witness to show her that the church isn’t like that anymore?

I spoke to her about it the other day. She told me that she made the decision that she would never belong to the same organisation as that of her parents. But she also said that maybe one day, before it’s not too late, she would come to the church. She hasn’t ruled it out completely.

And that gives me hope. The Spirit can soften any heart, after all.

xXx

Christ2012

When the video invaded
all means of communication
and spread like a river
breaking the bank,
the subject on the lips
of every man and woman
to stop evil and join a
new fight,
When I knew that soon enough
there would be another
movement to capture
the hearts of young people,

I thought about Christ
and whether I
would be so willing to share
the everlasting Good News
to those who are in need
of Love.

Women in Ministry

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this topic. I think I’ve spoken a lot about the gender inequality in religion and as the state of the world deteriorates we’ll inevitably get more sexism and chauvinism in church. We know that religion is a hotbed for tradition and with this tradition comes views that are not only ridiculously Functionalist but also dangerous.

For example, people love to blame women for the current state of marriage in the church, because we rebellious women aren’t submitting anymore and we want to be “independent”. Since when was independence a bad thing? Unless everyone’s getting their moral lessons from Destiny’s Child songs then an independent woman shouldn’t be a problem. Like most things, the phrase has been twisted to mean an angry black female who emasculates all the males around her, when it should really mean a woman who can fend for herself. I was listening to the radio once where driving instructors were describing their most difficult students. Several of them mentioned that there was an influx of women in their 60s and 70s learning to drive for the first time; an age where their reflexes are slower and it’s much harder to pick up new skills. Why? Because all their lives they relied on their husbands to drive them everywhere, leaving them without transport once they were widowed.

I was watching a live online Bible study about relationships and the topic of submission came up. Once again, rather than clearly discussing and empathising with the women that had been beaten physically, emotionally and spiritually by their husbands because of a warped interpretation of the word “submit” and their husbands subsequent omission of the command for them to love their wives as Christ loved the church (and gave His life for it), everyone just went into rants about rebellious women. One bright spark actually said:

Are these problems a result of the women’s rights movement going too far?

I beg your pardon? So should we start taking rights away from women, then? Because we’ve been given too much? I wanted to pursue this comment, and maybe if I did I would have been given better clarification, but it was Sabbath and I didn’t want to get into an argument. After all, I’m trying not to be so hot-headed about the issue and I’ve been asking God to hold my tongue on this matter.

Not surprisingly, these views have been used to dictate to women what they can and can’t do in the church. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I think I may make it my mission to find out this month. I’ll do some study on it and write my findings, making sure to seek God for counsel and wisdom throughout : )

There is no denying, though, that God loves women and he has called them into service. The best example I can give for this is in Matthew 28:

 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

(28:1,9,10)

The first evangelists were women. It’s one of the most powerful moments in the New Testament, and such a privilege.

God gives messages to women as well. There’s Ellen White, for example.

I wanted to start studying this topic because I read this blog post earlier, and it made me wonder why there is such confusion surrounding the matter. We’re all supposed to be convicted and influenced by the same Holy Spirit, so why are there so many hurting women in church, left to feel inadequate and excluded? We’re all part of the same body and thus, we’re all needed.

(I just discovered that blog today; it’s nice.)

So it looks like along with my weekly study, not only am I studying the book of Jeremiah but now I’ve got this subject to do as well! You can’t have too much Bible study, I suppose…

xXx

 

Christian Dress and Humility

For the past few months I’ve been attending Bible studies on Sunday evenings. They’ve been enlightening and fun, but sadly, they finished last weekend. We ended on a high: the subject was Christian dress and humility. The title was: THE ONLY OUTFIT TO WEAR TO HEAVEN.

We as Christians are called to be different: we’re a chosen generation; a royal priesthood, and this should be reflected in what we say, what we do and what we wear.

My issue once was the unfair pressure put on women to mind how they dress, whilst the men always seemed to be ‘let off’. But after this study, I now see that ‘dress and humility’ work differently for men and women. There are of course some things that wouldn’t make sense for Christian guys to wear (such as trousers swinging by the ankles), but I think with men  the issue is HUMILITY. That macho behaviour and big ego are seen in Isaiah. God talks about the women and the men:

Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the LORD will make their scalps bald.”

In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,  the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses  and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

….

Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle. 

(Isaiah 3:17-23 & 25)

Even though things are changing in our post-modern society, generally, there is more pressure put on women to look good and to conform to an appearance that panders to the sexual desires of men. Look in most shops on the high street: the skirts are shorter and the tops are cut lower. I would always defend a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants without being an object of lust, but sadly, the lust will happen. And even if you do dress ‘appropriately’, there are some men that will lust after anything that moves! But I’d hate to conform to the world’s standard of how a woman should look. I’d prefer to take the example found in Revelation 12:

 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

A natural beauty! The attention given to that type of woman is thankfully more respectful—and welcome. There’s nothing worse than hearing an inappropriate comment from a sexist male. I wish women could walk the streets without harassment, but sadly that’s never going to happen. And let’s not forget the inappropriate comments from church men! As in:

“Oh my God! Sister so-and-so’s dress was so tight I was reciting the Lord’s Prayer to take my mind off it. Mercy!”

These statements are offensive. To hear a man, or even a group of men saying things like this about women just isn’t nice. Just because you threw a Bible reference in there doesn’t make it any less appropriate than the guys on the street. Comments such as the above only cause shame, self-consciousness and humiliation for the woman involved. And I don’t think God appreciates a sexist comment haphazardly cloaked in ‘Holy-Jargon’.

The thing with dress is that it takes a personal conversion, a real experience with God for it to have any meaning to the individual. When I was a Goth, I was so angry and hurt whenever someone at church gave me a lecture about my clothes. At one stage I was told I was inviting evil spirits into my life, and that my outfits were giving me mental illness! But now that I’ve grown spiritually, I can see that those particular clothes automatically made me a part of a lifestyle that wasn’t of God, regardless of my heart. It was a bad witness: whenever I went door-knocking, people didn’t take me seriously because they thought my clothes were in contradiction with what I was saying.

So what is the only outfit we’ll wear to Heaven?

I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

(Isaiah 61:10, NIV)

Righteousness and salvation. Something to think about : )

 

 

Do Something!

I’ve bored my male friends silly with my talk about women’s rights and whatnot. It’s not that they don’t care or anything, but I think they know that talk is cheap. I have such strong views, but what am I doing to make a difference, to help women in those positions that truly breaks my heart?

A few years ago I watched a Dispatches documentary about women in Afghanistan living under Taliban rule. These women were forced to wear burqas—even to the point where their eyes had to be covered—they were beaten by their husbands, they couldn’t work or be educated, and even being spotted in their homes by another man without appropriate cover meant severe punishment. These women were so hurt that they were self-immolating. There was an eighteen year old in a forced marriage who had attempted the same on a busy high street, but was rescued and doused with water by onlookers. The camera crew visited her in hospital, all bandaged and weak, and my stomach dropped. The girl looked dead inside, as if her soul had gone. It was after watching this documentary that I decided to start my own charity.

There’s so many things happening in the world against women, so there was a lot of think about: what would my charity do? What section of women’s inequality should I tackle? I did lots of research and found that there are already charities helping women in the Middle East and ones that set up schools for young Afghan girls; I know that there’s rape crisis centres rapidly being established in the Congo and other parts of Africa where war rape and incest is rife, so I decided to look into the areas of violence against women that aren’t being addressed.

Cue another documentary, Panorama this time, about asylum seekers and refugees who try—by any means necessary—to escape their war-torn and dangerous countries to get into the UK. It was  a very sad documentary and made me thankful that I was already born and raised here. There was a trio of college lads who had literally left Afghanistan in just their t-shirts and jeans and ended up on the borders of Europe in the middle of winter, shivering, with just a plastic sheet between them to keep warm.

There was a woman on this documentary who left Africa after her husband was killed. She had her two young daughters with her, trying to get into the UK. There’s a part of the asylum seeker’s journey that’s dangerous—rogues operate in the area and use exploitative means to provide transport for people to get on to the next country.

You know where I’m going, right?

Yes, the woman was raped by these poachers and they molested her nine-year-old daughter. As the woman told her story to the reporter, she and the camera crew were in tears. That’s when it struck me: women who are homeless, or coming into this country poor and broken—and their children—are in danger. It’s more dangerous for women to be on the streets than men and women asylum seekers won’t only be exploited on their way into this country, but a lot of them find themselves in human trafficking rings once they’ve arrived.

So I want to start up a charity that helps homeless and vulnerable women and their children.

It’s going to take a lot of prayer, and it’s something I don’t actually have the time to tackle at the moment, what with university and assignments, but I’m hoping that with God’s help and a lot of patience, this idea can become a reality.

Stop thinking, Baker, and start doing.

xXx