I enjoy praying on a global scale. I like to believe I can be part of the way that God transforms and renews the World through my prayers. But watching the news right now, like many people, I am struggling to pray.

I am struggling because I am overwhelmed by the horror.

I am struggling because I don’t know what to hope for.

I am struggling because I feel almost guilty that I am living life as normal whilst so many suffer.

So how do I pray? How do I make sure I am not overcome by it all and continue to pray effectively. I am still trying to answer those questions but here are four things I have found helpful so far:

1. Let your tears be prayers. If all you can do is cry or sigh or groan or scream or punch a wall…do it prayerfully – in that moment where words fail – let your heart be saying ‘God please fix this’.

2. Find hope. A christian without hope is an oxymoron but hope for these catastrophic events can be hard to muster. Seek it out. Find the stories of hope, the Israeli – Palestinian couples posting photos on Facebook, the Iraqi Muslims standing with Iraqi Christians, the people who have survived Ebola against the odds. Hope will fuel your prayers.

3. Pray for the persecutors. One of the heroes of our faith was once out for the heads of Christians. Then he met Jesus. The quickest way for the crisis in Iraq to end is if ISIS members experience revival and find they cannot continue to do what they are doing. That’s a huge prayer, but daring to pray it, conquering hate with love, has been the most energising prayer I have found.

4. Pray often. Don’t wait till you have time to get on your knees. Be praying as you read the paper and watch the news. That way hopelessness doesn’t get to creep in unnoticed.

I would love to hear what’s helping others to pray for everything that’s going on in the World right now. Comment away!

As many of you know, I live in a house that was once a brothel. The locals say it was called Amy’s House, although factual information is hard to uncover. Not only was it a brothel, but the evidence (bolts on the outside of doors) suggests that the girls were kept there against their will.

Ever since we learned the dark truths of our home’s history I have wanted to do something for women like these. Every time I look up and see the garish red lights that surround my window I know I have to do more.

Through my work at Kahaila Cafe I have found an opportunity to act and I am hoping you all will join me.

Did you know that the UK government only fund safe-houses to house trafficked women for 45 days. After that these highly vulnerable women are left to fend for themselves. It is no surprise that without support system these women often find themselves back in abusive situations again.

The project I am supporting is called Ella’s Home and it will be a place where women who have been exploited will have be able to recover as well as gain the skills they need for future employment.

Ella’s Home needs regular monthly supporters to be able to sustain the home in the long term. I would like to invite you to join me in becoming one of the people who helps get this place open.

If you would like to hear more about Ella’s Home I am hosting a tea party, where the project manager will share a little more of the story. If you’re reading this and you are interested, then you’re invited.

Whether you can come or not please visit Ella’s Home Facebook Page and think about whether you can give to this crucial work to help some of the most vulnerable women in our city.

Someone accused me of ‘living on Facebook’ last week. I was mortally offended because I immediately assumed he meant that I have no life, when I like to think that I have a perfectly balanced social life.

For some people the World is split into two – those who live through social media and those who have real lives, but while there are those who go to extremes (i.e. have never used a computer or sometimes miss meals because they’re on Facebook), I think for most of us it’s about finding a healthy happy medium.

I am one of the few people for whom the emergence of Facebook coincided with my university years. When I started University I actually used the landline in my halls to call my fellow students. By my final year I never touched my landline and would Facebook my housemate to ask if she wanted to go downstairs and watch a movie.

I miss the phone calls. To be honest, I miss the fact that I don’t need to call my friends to find out what they’re up to because I can just check on Facebook, so I don’t call. The bad side of social networking is that sometimes it replaces real sociability and that can be our loss as a society.

However, for those who are not natural socialites, who actually like a night in from time to time or who don’t always make themselves heard in social settings the World Wide Web gives them a voice. The loudest person in the room is not always the wisest and social networking makes space for the quiet people, who often have the most insightful things to say.

I also wrote a few top tips on social networking for a great website – click here and scroll down a little http://www.fresh-thoughts.co.uk/#!/poke-me-i-dare-you

I have no party allegiance – although reading the party conference transcripts was a reminder to me that my blood really does not run blue! Anyway, the speeches are meant to be a rallying cry, an invitation to get behind a party leader because I share their vision of a better future. I only listened to snippets of the talks but I have read all the transcripts and unfortunately I didn’t find a vision to get behind.

Ed Miliband said “So here is my faith…I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people”. It’s a nice idea, and actually God thinks the same, he says so in Genesis 11. “But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” However, God knew something else about mankind, that we are not always good. That we become proud and selfish and when we come together we tend to do more evil than good. Wonderful things have happened when people work together for sure, but so have wars, slavery and drug cartels.  I’ll not be putting my faith in collective man!

David Cameron said that what matters is “How we compete and thrive in this world, how we can make sure in this century, like the ones before, Britain is on the rise.” and later “My job – our job – is to make sure that in this twenty first century, as in the centuries that came before, our country, Britain, is on the rise.”

Further on in his speech he appealed to the working class that “They call us the party of the better-off…no: we are the party of the want to be better-off, those who strive to make a better life for themselves and their families – and we should never, ever be ashamed of saying so.” and later “I’m not here to defend privilege, I’m here to spread it.”

Here’s the problem. The fact is that there simply is not enough resource in the World for us all to live like Kings. That if the poor rise – a new poor will emerge behind them. We can’t all be rich. We can all have enough but only if the rich (which in global terms probably includes me) become generous. This also works nationally. If Britain rise above China, above Brazil and the other emerging economies Cameron referred to, then someone else must fall further down the pecking order and I thought we had moved beyond a vision of a Britain that rules the World by taking more of its resources than any one nation could possibly need. So I can’t get behind a vision of Britain rising above other nations again.

To be fair to Cameron, he did reference his pride in Britain’s giving to other nations. I applaud that!

Clegg didn’t really offer me a vision at all. He used phrases I preferred in many ways, things like “Reason not prejudice”, “Compassion not greed”, “Hope not fear”, and “Restorative justice”. However, he did not paint for me a picture, create for me a vision or leave me chomping at the bit to get behind him.

So…at the risk of leaving this post on a fairly negative note, when it comes to British politics, I’m still looking for a vision to chase, a leader to follow…anyone?!

Life slowed down in week 2 and I took full advantage of the extra time to keep up with the sports, including a trip to the triathlon at Hyde Park. Checked out an Olympic exhibition with all the medals and torches since 1896. Chatted to some nice people. Chatted to one or two people about Jesus. Thoroughly enjoyed working in the cafe. Popped over to the Olympic Prayer room in Leytonstone. I got the chance to see some more of the brilliant artistic talent we had imported from around the World. Gotta say that the talent was impressive but the attitude and servant-heartedness of these people who travelled across the World to help us out was even more inspiring.

So, this is my last blog from the Games and I’m sorry it’s not more exciting. I mean, it was great! London did a top job – which is probably why there’s so little to say. The arts and festival work I was involved in went pretty well. Lots of happy customers and hopefully a few changed lives in there too.

And now it’s over, and we have the paralympics to look forward to, and here’s hoping we do another great job. For now adios!

Wednesday
My sister, brother and I head to Cardiff. The footie was great! The Millenium Stadium is the best Stadium my limited football watching experience has yet afforded me so that was exciting! And being in Cardiff but having all the same flags and signs there are in London really made it feel like we were part of this big national event which is cool. Team GB won! Whoop! Unfortunately National Rail didn’t quite cope with the increased traffic with the same ease that the tube did so we spent a few hours in the rain outside Cardiff Central. Can’t say I minded that much – all part of the experience as they do say!

Thursday
Went to Hyde Park where we saw Team GB win the Cycling Team Event. Good Atmosphere! Watched the bands – generally entered into the spirit of celebration that’s floating around the city. It’s a good time to be a Londoner.

Friday
Right! Back to business, what I’m paid to do, which today was put on a band night in the Cafe. The bands were amazing and with a bit of work from lots of people promoting the event out in Covent Garden, we did manage to pull in some expectant punters. It was all going so well when the neighbours turned up to complain about the noise! We tried to be obliging and eventually had to go acoustic so as to keep the peace. Turned out to be a winner. Liz and the Lions put on a phenomenal acoustic show and the bands were good sports, choosing to find the interruptions amusing rather than annoying. I hope some people were impacted by the love of God through the music and words they shared along the way! Lesson learnt – don’t forget to inform the neighbours when you’re putting on an event – even if it’s in the middle of Covent Garden!

Saturday
The fun continues as I get the privilege of heading into the Olympic Park on Super Saturday with my little sister! Watched the Basketball and for the one and only time in my life supported the USA! They were awesome and Lithuania were pretty good. Atmosphere in the venue was great – if you ever get the chance go to a Basketball game, they’re really fun! The less said about the second match the better, but then we sat on the hill to watch Britain take this Olympics by storm on the track with Ennis, Rutherford and Farah making history. Good times!

I think this is gonna be good for London. Even though, it’s not necessarily helping our economy or solving our many problems with health, education, housing etc., there’s a lot to be said for a good morale boost. It can do more to change a city than I imagined. Only time will tell, but I’m already wishing we could host the next one too!

This is what London looked like today. Pretty much empty!

After years of scaremongering from the media, it turns out everyone has stayed away leaving business and stall holders in Covent Garden, Oxford Street and the Southbank ruing their investment in extra stock and staff. It’s a real shame. At a time when Britain’s economy could have done with a boost, it’s pretty quiet out there!

I spent my morning at Cafe Eterno (see last blog) but left after lunch as we were all twiddling our thumbs with little to do, so I decided to head into my office. I really hope things pick up   and London gets back to its busy best. You can help! Take advantage of the empty tubes and head into the city. Maybe join me for an acoustic night in Covent Garden this Friday.

In other news – we’ve got a great opportunity to plug some artists into a space in Bow which could be a really lovely opportunity to serve tourists. Silver lining.

Anyway – not much more to report today really. Off to Cardiff for the footie tomorrow. Good times!

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