Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

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5 Benefits of a Multi-Cultural, Multi-National, Multi-Ethnic Church!

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One of the greatest joys in my life is pastoring a church that has over 20 nationalities present in any given weekend.  That’s awesome. I think if you have a monocultural church in London you are doing something wrong.  I love the variety and the life that this exposes us to. Here are 5 of my favourite things about the Tree being multi-cultural:

5.  There are people clapping on every beat.  Maybe you have never noticed this but during the praise music, black people generally clap on the upbeat, and white people generally clap on the downbeat.  At the Tree we have every beat covered!  

4.  We find out about preachers that we would never have found about otherwise.  Ever heard of Stanley Ndovie?  Man, that guy can preach.  He is from Malawi, and I would never have known about him without people from our church from that awesome nation.  I would never have heard some of the amazing preachers from Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana or India without people from those nations introducing me to them.  In fact, a lot of European and American preachers who minister mainly to a particular ethnic group I would never have heard either.  That’s a great thing, because you are getting to help learn Scriptures that maybe you wouldn’t have looked at or who wouldn’t have looked at in a particular way.  These things are really important because…

3. The body of Christ is made up of different parts – just like your body.  If all you do is fellowship with people who look like you, who act like you, who grew up where you grew up and see things your way, then you never learn anything new.  You can’t get help when you meet help.  If you got a splinter in your foot, you would never be able to take it out with another foot – you need a hand to take that splinter out.  When you reach a problem you cannot solve, calling someone just like you will just add to the ignorance in the room.  I am so glad for the wisdom I have received on topics such as giving, prayer, integrity, passion, honour, discipleship, peace, healing from people who have come from a different culture and brought wisdom and life no Englishman could ever have taught me.

2. The food.  I love groundnut soup, fufu, jollof rice; I love daals and chili, I love food from all nations.  Our church pot-lucks are amazing!  Seriously… amazing!

1..  It’s a love tester.  It proves that our community and church are built on love.  If you only love those like you, you are just like a tax-collector said Jesus.  Really – if you cannot love someone who is different from you then you cannot really love anyone.  Racism comes from fear and pride – I’m better than you, and I think that your differences will detract from me.  The counter attitude to racism is gracism: I know we are equal in Christ, and I know your differences can benefit and bless me.  That’s the attitude we are cultivating in our church full of the nations.

Gracism!

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Racism is defined as treating people differently on the basis of nationality or outward markers of ethnicity.  Still racism is an issue in the world and the church today – people are neglected, ignored, devalued because of their nationality and ethnicity.  Jesus said His vision is for His house to be a house of prayer for all nations.

The Greek word for nations is ethnos, which we get our modern word ethnicity from.  God wants the church to be a place that people from every ethnic background can get together and worship and spend time with Him together.  A Father of love, loving His family of many backgrounds!

It’s time to stop seeing people through the eyes of race, and look at people through the eyes of grace.  Time to become a bunch of gracists.  Only looking at people assuming the best, ignoring their sin, bypassing their flaws, and looking at their potential, their strengths, their loves, their passions and valuing them as unique and special – not just special to God but special to you.

It’s gracism time!

Christian teacher tells of race slurs by pupils aged 8

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A teacher claims he has been sacked for reprimanding pupils who made racist remarks about his being a Christian.

Nicholas Kafouris said he lost his £30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the ‘openly racist’ behaviour of pupils as young as eight.

He said the predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class, and hailed the September 11 terrorists as ‘heroes and martyrs’.

Greek-born Mr Kafouris, 40, taught for more than ten years at Bigland Green Primary in Tower Hamlets, East , where according to the most recent Ofsted report ‘almost all’ the 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language.

He is taking the school, its headmistress and assistant head to an employment tribunal where he will claim he was forced out after highlighting the rise in racism among pupils.

In 2006, said Mr Kafouris, he brushed against a boy while giving him a book.

‘He said rather brusquely to me, “Don’t touch me, you’re a Christian”. I found this very offensive.’

Later that year, he said children aged eight and nine in his class praised the suicide bombers in the 9/11 attacks.

‘In late November and December 2006, many various unacceptable and openly racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks were being made by many and various children in Year 4,’ he said.

‘These included, “We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up”, “the Twin Towers bombers are heroes and martyrs”, “we hate the Jews” and “we hate the Christians”.’

And in January 2007, he claims some pupils ‘expressed delight’ that a child had died when a wall collapsed on him in London.

When asked why, he said one of the children replied: ‘Because he’s English.’ The following month, during a religious education lesson about Jonah and the whale, he claims one of the pupils asked if Jonah was a Jew, before shouting: ‘I hate the Jews, they’re our enemies.’

Mr Kafouris says he completed ‘Racist Incident Reporting Sheets’ and notified headmistress Jill Hankey in writing about each incident.

But he claims his concerns were ignored because she wanted to maintain the school’s ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

Mr Kafouris, who is unmarried and has no children, was also reprimanded for handling a discussion about religion with a child ‘inappropriately’, which he denies.

He says assistant head Margaret Coleman accused him of shouting at pupils and telling them Muslims had produced suicide bombers – claims he rejects.

‘I believe after I complained to the head about the racist and religious discrimination incidents, I suffered victimisation,’ he says.

‘I also suffered less favourable treatment and incurred harassment by the head and assistant head.

‘The two people above created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, threatening, humiliating and offensive environment for me at my work.’

Mr Kafouris says the way he was treated brought on stress and depression, and that he was forced to take time off work. He was finally dismissed because of his absence, on April 30 this year.

A spokesman for , on behalf of the school, said: ‘The governing body stands by its decision and we believe all the correct procedures were followed.’

Church provides shelter for hounded Romanians

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A Belfast church has opened its doors to a number of terrified Romanians who were forced to flee their homes after being targeted by a race hate gang.

Many of the migrant families had to seek refuge after their homes were violently attacked by youths reportedly linked to a militant neo-Nazi organisation.

After a series of racist attacks on their homes, families sought somewhere safe to spend the night in Belfast.

Twenty families slept on the floor of a church hall on Tuesday night after leaving their homes.

The families are still in temporary accommodation, too scared to return to their homes.

But despite the violence they have endured, the families thanked those in Belfast who have helped them.

One Romanian woman said: “Right now I want to thank you very much, for everything you’ve done for us.”

Trish Morgan, the Vicar’s wife at the church said: “Slowly but surely the intimidation escalated. There’s been verbal abuse, there’s been people threatening to set fire to their homes and I think a few bricks have been thrown.”

Members of the mob were seen making Nazi salutes and residents in the area found letters quoting Hitler’s Mein Kampf posted through their doors.

Couaccu Siluis and his relatives were among those who took refuge in City Church, near Queen’s University in South Belfast.

Mr Siluis said: “We are not going back to our house. It is not safe. They made signs like they wanted to cut my brother’s baby’s throat. They said they wanted to kill us. How can people do this to us? We have done nothing wrong.”

Red Cross volunteers have also provided food and bedding for families forced to leave their homes this week.

Many of the migrants were moved to a council leisure centre yesterday and will be offered emergency housing in unused student accommodation.

Police have been criticised for not stepping in sooner to protect the families despite being aware of the mounting intimidation.

Paddy Meehan, who lives in the area, said: “Local residents think these people have to be defended. Sometimes there are about 20 of them gathering outside the properties.

“There is a hard core of maybe six or seven shouting abuse and kicking doors down. These families are terrified, so are all their young children.”

The police are now treating the most recent attack as a ‘hate crime’.

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