Life at the speed of TASTE

Last Sunday afternoon, Tim drove a couple of hours from his home to Keffi to see his dentist. He had arranged to visit his friend who was preparing a crown for him. When he got there, Tim discovered that the dental work was not ready and, because Monday is a busy day in the office, declined the invitation to stop over while the work was completed the next day. Instead, he returned to Jos on Sunday evening.

As he was getting close to Jos, he rounded a bend and ran over a large piece of metal which had been laid across the road. Both near side tyres were shredded. His immediate response was that armed robbers were at work, so he kept driving a short distance until he reached a group of houses. He stopped to examine the vehicle – no damage except the tyres – and a few people came to see what the trouble was. A couple of young guys offered to take Tim back to check the road and, when they returned, they discovered that a truck had broken down and, instead of using a trail of vegetation and a warning triangle to warn oncoming drivers (the normal procedure in Nigeria), the truck crew had simply dragged a big lump of iron off the truck and laid it across the road.

Having realised that they had caused a problem, the crew were skulking in the bushes but they were soon flushed out by the growing crowd of onlookers. Tim challenged them to make good the damage inflicted on our vehicle, which they point blank refused. So Tim did what many of us would have done – he called the police. They arrived, took one look at the scene and locked up the crew of the truck!

By now this was well into Sunday evening. Tim was offered a bed for the night by one of the locals and on Monday, he and the police contacted the truck owner who travelled to the scene. The owner admitted liability and offered to go and buy Tim some new tyres. This activity spread into Tuesday and resulted in Tim spending more than 48 hours away from work. Tim did manage to travel home on Monday, having first paid some local youths to guard our vehicle. Then, Tuesday morning saw an immediate return to wait with the vehicle. Once the tyres were fitted, another visit to the police was necessary to withdraw charges from the truck crew, before Tim could return to Jos.

Such is the speed of things in Nigeria. Why didn’t the dentist call Tim to say the crown wasn’t ready? Indeed, why didn’t Tim ring before he set off? Then why did it take 48 hours to get two tyres?

Sometimes I wonder why things take so long to happen in Jos. This was a timely reminder that the pace of everything is slightly different to our pace in Sheffield! A reminder that patience is an endearing quality and that, just because we move at breakneck speed in UK, the rest of the world does not have to follow suit.

Poor Mr Cameron is in trouble ….

Poor Mr Cameron is in trouble because he has said that Britain is a Christian country and that we ought not be afraid to say so. He admitted that he had vague views about the Christian faith, virtually admitting that he himself was not a Christian although he admired Christian values. He went as far as to say, “But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.

A contributor to BBC News website added his/her own views:

40 years ago I was taught RE in a secondary school. It was the Christian faith we discussed. Though I cannot claim to be a Christian, much of what I was taught has been useful in my adult life. The value system of honesty, belief in right and wrong, of standing up for what you believe in and much more works today, as it did then. The only trouble is that RE isn’t taught like that now. It’s not PC.

What chance DFID agreeing with the PM and offering TASTE funding for our projects because we are explicitly Christian?

What’s that I see in the darkened sky outside?  Pink, four legged creatures flying …..

Unto us a child is born ….

With all our thoughts on Christmas – and hopefully on the real meaning i.e. that Jesus Christ was born as a baby to eventually become the promised Saviour, children have a higher than normal profile. Is that possible you may well ask? Perhaps I’m over sensitive, as I’m due to become a grandfather again very soon. Perhaps that’s it!

But, you know, every four minutes a child dies in Africa from diarrhoea ….and contaminated water plays  real part in that. Imagine – every four minues. I’ve just been talking with a supporter who popped into the office with the contents of a couple of TASTE bottles. Just a quick chat – but two children died as we spoke. How mind-numbing is that?

There’s another 12,180 minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve. That’s time for another 3045 children to die. So spare a thought for their parents and family this Christmas …… please!

I want all these things ….

Did you see the story in the Metro about the 13 year old who threatened to kill Santa if he didn’t deliver the presents that she wanted? Now I kind of liked the initial thought – “If you don’t … the reindeer gets it….”. It appealed to my dark sense of humour. But, as I read the story, the hair on my neck stood up!

The darling 13 year old was reported as saying to the press:

‘I don’t really believe in Santa any more but I was angry because I thought I wasn’t going to get all the presents I wanted this year. I want all of these things and I don’t see why I shouldn’t get them.’

Form an orderly line behind me to tell her!

Question of Spirit?

I’ve just been to watch one of my favourite TV programmes being filmed. Question of Sport – 40 years old and still going strong! I went as a guest of that much-loved TV personality, Mr Dan Walker. Can’t comment on his performance but I can say that the donkey let him down badly!!

But what got me thinking was the event that I attended afterwards. Dan was hosting a programme for BBC Radio5 Live that was effectively an audience with QoS stars, Sue Barker, Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell. It was a great programme and will go out on Christmas Day. But it was the audience that did it for me. More than 200 people came out on a freezing cold night to attend the recording of something that they could listen to in the warmth of their own homes. And the final programme will be superbly edited so that what goes out will be better than what was recorded (if that makes sense – well it will be the best 30 minutes from 70 minutes chat).

Why come out on such a cold night? Hero worship? Nothing on TV? And it got me thinking – how many of my friends (who all say they support TASTE) would come out on a freezing cold night to hear about how God is directing and blessing TASTE? More to the point, how many can be bothered to save up clothes for our black bag day or come on the Fun Run?

Please don’t get me wrong – without our amazing supporters, TASTE could not exist. But I was just comparing the enthusiasm for QoS stars and enthusiasm for God’s work. Perhaps we could all learn a bit from the strange people (me included) who were in a Salford Quays at ten o’clock last Tuesday night!