Refugee Crisis: 5 ways to get engaged

My previous post has generated so much interest and sparked so much discussion about how best to respond to the current European refugee crisis that I felt that a further post was necessary. Here are 5 ways to get engaged:

1. Get clued up

I was going to put prayer as the first thing we should do, but controversially, I’ve put this ahead of prayer. That’s not to downplay the importance of prayer. Far from it. Intercession is the most crucial thing that we can do! But I’ve put this point first because I believe that getting clued up will help us pray with more clarity and more compassion.

How do we get clued up?

Well obviously the news is a good place to start, especially right now as we are being bombarded by a torrent of information from pretty much every available news source. But there is certainly more we can do. A really helpful thing to do would be to speak to those who are already on the frontline of local outreach to refugees and ask them to give their perspective on what the greatest needs are. Similarly we can read articles and books from experienced practitioners. Furthermore we can contact our local councils and others who are responsible for policy making and coordinating emergency provision. Getting educated from these kinds of sources will really help with the next point…

2. Get on your knees

If you’re anything like me you probably look on at the refugee crisis as it unfolds and feel totally overwhelmed. What difference, if any, can I make? This is actually a healthy place to be as it’s when we feel small, weak and incapable that we are perfectly positioned to cry out to the only One who is wise enough to understand the situation in its totality and strong enough to do what’s right. Sometimes prayer can feel like a token gesture that we do when we don’t know what else to do. That is the wrong perception of prayer. Prayer is where the power is at:

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
– James 5 v 16

Can I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take God at His Word and to spend some serious, considered time on your knees on behalf of those who are suffering right now. (If you don’t know what to pray, the Evangelical Alliance have written a model prayer you could use).

3. Get in touch

One of the most simple yet practical things you can do is to write to your MP / AM and express your concern for the current situation. Tell them that you, and your church, are burdened about what’s going on. Ask them what they are doing about it and implore them to press our government for meaningful action. Furthermore, if your church is willing and able to help out practically let them know. There are some helpful pointers on what you could offer here. You’d be surprised how encouraged they will be to know that there are people in their communities who are ready and willing to serve. It also testifies to the life and love of the local church. Finally, you can also put pressure on the government to act by signing this official home office petition.

4. Get your wallet out

There will always be opportunities to give financially. Already my inbox is pinging with messages offering opportunities to respond. Tear fundWorld VisionOxfam and Open Doors are just a few of the organisations you could give to who have people at work on the ground. However, you might also consider helping to support a local ministry that is serving refugees and asylum seekers who have already made it to the UK. I guess this is where I’d like to raise one specific opportunity for those of us in South Wales to consider.

My friend Liz Perret-Atkins runs an outreach in Cardiff. Every Thursday she and her team of amazing volunteers at the Rainbow Centre bag up loads of food and give it out to the scores of asylum seekers who attend. They also faithfully share the gospel with these guys each week. I have had the privilege of speaking at the Thursday morning outreach and it is incredible to see how the work is growing as more and more men, women and children from all over the world come to receive food. Apparently they had 75+ there this week and there will be more again next week. I was there last week and the demand was so great that they started to run out of food. Liz shared with me that it is becoming increasingly difficult to finance the work as it is entirely donation based and funds are short. If you have some money that you would like to donate to a gospel-centred practical outreach to refugees and asylum seekers then I can personally vouch for Liz and the ministry at the Rainbow Centre. If you would like to give then get in touch with me (contact details are here) and I’ll put you in touch with her. Alternatively you can text a donation to 70070, citing “Matt25” plus  “£ (amount)”.

5. Get the red carpet out

Finally, we can get involved by opening our hearts and out homes. If you live know of any refugees who have come into your area, why not make every effort to welcome and befriend them. Be the one who chats to them at the bus stop or in the park. Smile at them. Serve them. If you don’t personally know of anyone who has come to this country under duress, find out what is being done for refugees in your area and volunteer you help. If no one is serving refugees in your area – you and your church should start something up. Serious! A coffee morning. Toddler group. Anything…

Finally, a few crazily radical ideas on how you could roll out the red carpet for refugees and asylum seekers:

  1. Could / would you host an individual or family in your own home at your own expense? Could your church building be used as emergency accommodation? If so, tell your local council. Tell your MP. Obviously be wise and realistic, but also be compassionate and courageous. There’s more chance that the government will let refugees into the UK if they are persuaded that they will not be alone in having to make provision. How beautiful it would be if the church of Jesus were at the front of the queue to serve in this way!
  2. Could / would you be willing to provide emergency, or even long-term, foster care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children? If so, Home For Good are collecting names of those who are interested here.

A gospel response to the refugee crisis


For several days I’ve been considering writing a post about the refugee crisis that is currently gripping Europe (I call it a ‘refugee’ crisis, not a ‘migrant’ crisis as the press have been referring to it as, because the difference is significant!) However, having just seen a horrifying photograph of the corpse of a tiny Syrian child washed up on a Mediterranean beach, I’ve decided I need to write!

Thing is…I honestly don’t know what to say.

There are so many voices speaking into the situation right now – from those pleading for mercy to those screaming ‘bolt the gates’. I must confess that I was tempted to launch into an undignified rant about how our nation is selfish, mean and has lost it’s gospel heart. But I don’t want to merely be another voice amidst the cacophony of conflicting opinions. Neither do I want my words to wasted. Rather, I want to bring bigger and better words to bear than my own. I want to hear what God has to say about what’s going on.

I want to let the Bible speak.

Now, this is by no means a comprehensive study on what Scripture has to say about refugees, but it should be a good start. So here goes:


Gospel tract give-away


Today I received a big, fat, chunky box from the Good Book Company. It was jammed full of tracts (simple leaflets that explain the gospel).

I wrote these tracts several years ago and every time they get reprinted I get sent a free batch – hence the hefty parcel that arrived today. Thing is, as passionate as I am about sharing the gospel, it’s probably going to take me several years to get through this lot, so I’d like to offer some to you guys for FREE!

There are 2 different tracts, one called The Remedy, which is a simply written generic gospel leaflet with helpful illustrations (you can take a look inside here). The other is called Sorted and is aimed more specifically at young people and students. It’s a photo-based tract with an urban theme that unpacks a few key bible verses (again, you can take a look inside here).

So, whether you’re an evangelist, pastor, open air preacher, itinerant minister, youth worker, community outreach coordinator, or a faithful witness at work, if you think that you could use some of these leaflets then please do get in touch with me. I’m probably not able to post them to you (cos I’m not made of money), so we can either arrange a collection or you can chuck me a few quid for postage. You can find all my contact details on my page.

Look forward to hearing from you.


Thoughts on following Jesus in the current cultural climate (Pt.2)


This is the second part of the mini-series I started a few months back that looks at the challenge of following Jesus in the current cultural climate. In the first part I argued that as the prevailing culture becomes increasingly hostile to the people and mission of Jesus we would do well to recognise the reality of our current context and to remember the words of Jesus in order to gain perspective and find comfort.

In this post I want to present a further consideration for what it means for us as God’s people to follow Jesus in the current cultural climate. In short, we need to…

Repent of our sins

I read this verse in the book of Proverbs recently and it really struck a chord:

Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14 v 34

On many levels it would seem that there is far more sin than righteousness on display in our nation at the moment, and that increasingly sin is celebrated whilst righteousness is ridiculed and rejected. So as a nation – far from being exalted we are reproached. However, it is UTTERLY crucial that we don’t look around at a society that neither loves nor fears God and to start blaming anyone and everyone who doesn’t see the world as we see it. Rather, our primary concern should be introspection and repentance.

One of the weird things about where Christianity stands in our culture right now is that it hasn’t always been like this. As I have stated previously we are now very much in the margins (where we belong) as are Christians in cultures the world over. But what makes our situation so (tragically) unique is that as recently as 60 years ago the Christian faith was front-and-centre in our land. Our laws, our values, our worldview and our aspirations were all deeply influenced by the gospel that had so dramatically shaped our society.

But here we are in 2015 and we have let go of the gospel.

Or we have twisted the gospel to suit a changing cultural narrative.

Or we have made the gospel a private affair and effectively put our lamp under a basket.

However, how we got here and whoever is responsible is really not the point anymore!

We are where we are – and the buck has to stop with the people of God.

Therefore, the buck stops with me!

Following Solomon’s dedication of the temple  in 2 Chronicles 7 the Lord appeared to Solomon and spoke these words:

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7 v 13-14

God was clear that when the nation was in distress the onus was on His people to respond. However, their response was not to point criticising fingers at surrounding ‘sinners’  or to rage against the godlessness of a Christ-less culture. Rather, what was required of His people was that they humbly turn, pray, seek their God and repent of their sins!

Saints, the brutal reality that we need to face up to is that the sin which is wrecking our society is also festering in our own hearts. I am not immune to iniquity, immorality, corruption and compromise…and nor are you!

If there is a lesson that I am being forced to learn more and more as I continue to follow Jesus it’s that I need His grace as much today as I ever did. The vile, stinking husk of my old self lurks in the shadows and leaps onto my back to pull me down at every given opportunity. Seeking to stand, fight, pray and prevail is an exhausting, humiliating and relentless struggle.

But there is no other way!

If I want things to change then I must be the first to turn to the Lord for mercy.

Repentance will always precede revival.

And repentance starts with me!

Will you join me?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Hebrews 12 v 1-2

Eric Says Thanks


I am seriously excited to share this post. The image above is the front cover of my first ever kids book – Eric Says Thanks.

This book has been a couple of years in the making and all came from a harvest assembly that I did at the local primary school that my kids attend. The assembly was so well received that I decided to write it up as a rhyming story. I showed it to the Good Book Company, who decided to take a punt on it and publish it! The book’s illustrations have been created by Xavier Bonet.

What’s more, TGBC have commissioned a further 2 Eric books which will also be available in due course.

Eric Says Thanks is now available for pre-order here.

Here are some of the endorsements for Eric Says Thanks:

Absolutely brilliant! I can’t wait to read it with my grandchildren!
– Rob Parsons

The Lord instructs us to teach our kids “in the way”. Get comfy, open this book with your kids and together embark on a delightful journey of discovery. It all starts with a humble piece of toast as Eric traces his way along a fun, rhyming path of thankfulness all the way to our generous God, his word – and a timely invitation for us all to join Eric in thanking God for his many good gifts. I’ve got a feeling Eric could start something quite lovely in lots of little – and big – lives!
– Colin Buchanan

Research has proven that gratitude is the healthiest human emotion. Kids who grow up grateful end up being great adults, and here’s a simple tool to teach it to your children.
– Rick Warren

Grateful for the Granny Ring!

A few months ago I was informed by a surgeon that my left ankle was knackered beyond surgical repair and that if I didn’t want it fused solid (which at 38 – I don’t!) the best thing I could do was try to take as good care of it as possible. What that meant in effect was that I had to stop doing high-impact sports like squash and football, and that my career as a breakdancer was probably never going to materialise. Consequently I had to ensure that any exercise I undertook in my battle against the middle-age-muffin-man-midriff was low-impact.

So I’ve settled on mountain biking and swimming.

I have been mountain biking on the surrounding hills for much of the last 8 years. There are few trails that I don’t know, few surprises left to discover. Regardless of that, it remains one of my favourite places on planet earth.

In a bid to redouble my efforts to cycle more regularly and more seriously I downloaded the Strava app for my phone. This app charts my routes, assesses my progress and even tells me how well I’m doing compared with other chuffers in my age bracket! I’ve found it to be a really help in nudging me out of the door and pushing harder once I’m out on the hills. But it can also be quite disheartening – as I found out earlier this evening!

unnamed-1Last week after the kids had gone to bed I went out for a cheeky evening ride up to the White Stone (a steep 2 mile uphill climb to the trig point on the mountain behind us). I felt really good. I knew that I was tearing seconds and even minutes off my personal best times on each of the different sections that Strava charts. I got to the top absolutely shattered but elated cos I felt fit, strong and fast. The sunset was pretty epic too! I felt like a champion.

So as I ventured out on the same ride tonight I was expecting an even better performance.

Oh how disappointed I soon was!

The first part of the ride went well (another PB it turns out!) But the second section (the steepest and savagest section) was a whole different story! I was probably only about 50 yards into the climb up the dusty track when my legs started to feel sore as the lactic acid began to burn. Shortly after I was so tired and in so much pain I thought I’d have to stop turn the bike around and head home. I’m not sure if it was male pride or simply not wanting to admit defeat but I defaulted to the only option left for me that didn’t involve going home – I dropped down to the granny ring!

For the uninitiated the granny ring is the lowest gear you can possibly go to on a bike. I guess it’s so low that even yer granny could ride up a hill in it! It’s so low that your legs are going ten-to-the-dozen while your wheels barely seem to be turning at all. But it’s a lot easier than higher gears. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had to tackle that hill in the granny ring – but I was absolutely spent and so I had no choice!

As I edged my way up the track inch-by-snail-paced-inch, I was really cross with myself. I was also really cross with my app which was monitoring my humiliation in intricate detail and would soon give me a detailed breakdown of my physical breakdown! But I was also grateful for the granny ring. Grateful for the fact that while my pace was not what I’d like it to be and my performance significantly below par, I was still going. And I could see that if I made it to the top I was once again going to witness a spectacular sunset.
Eventually I made it to the top. This time, however, I didn’t feel so much like a champ. I was kind of humbled into acknowledging my limitations. I knew what my app was going to tell me and there was no hiding from the fact that it had been a tough and discouraging climb. But the view of the setting sun was indeed stunning and I drank in the beauty of it!

My overwhelming emotion, however, was just sheer joy that I hadn’t quit and had eventually made it to the summit.

I kind of want my Christian life to be like that.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the words of Paul as the end of his life and ministry drew near. He wrote this to his young protege, Timothy:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
– 2 Timothy 4 v 6-8

I love that Paul got to the end of his climb and was able to look back on his life as poured out, faithful in battle, running to the very end of the race. I love that he kept the prize of his crown – the same prize that awaits all who endure – sharply in focus. And I love that he wrote this all down to encourage you and me!

Friends, there will be times in our Christian lives when we feel and live like the “more than conquerors” that Paul tells us we are in Romans 8, and those are great days to be cherished.

But there will also be many days when, like today, the going is hard, painful, frustrating, confusing, humiliating, tedious, discouraging and downright miserable. Days when our performance feels anything like spectacular. It is on those days that the enemy wants us to turn back. To cancel the climb and forget the summit. He’ll tell us that we haven’t got what it takes. That we are worse and weaker than ever before. That others are much better at this journey than you. That pressing on is pointless.

And it is at that precise point that we need to humble ourselves, drop down to the granny ring and decide that while the summit might feel unattainable, the next inch is getting done…

…and the next inch…

…and the next inch.

This is why we need to lift the eyes of faith to Christ and the crown that awaits.

King Jesus set His face like flint towards the cross of our salvation and now He calls us to do the same as we look to Him. And He alone is more worthy of our sweat, our toil, our pain and our passion than anyone else ever could be!

Are we strong enough?


But King Jesus is!

Struggling saints, let’s not quit.

In our marriages.

Our families.

Our friendships.

Our ministries.

Our churches.

Our dreams.

Let’s crack on!

Drop to the granny ring if you have to but DO NOT QUIT!

You can do it.

You must do it!

By grace, you will do it!!

The Son awaits…

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3 v 13-114

Pixelated Poision

A short poem that I wrote yesterday.

It’s about men and porn and Jesus and grace.

Hope it challenges / blesses / changes / encourages (delete as appropriate).


Pixelated  Poison


It addicts so quick

A generation trafficked with a

Tap >

Swipe >

Click >

That smartphone’s now a siren

That tablet a temptress

Promising pleasure

Delivering death

It’s pixelated poison

Sexual sorcery

Hedonistic heroin

Digital adultery

Too many brothers now shackled in shame

Too many good men taken out of the game

Too much of the world in too much of the church


Let the Holy Spirit stir

And woo you

And purge

And heal

And renew you

And lead you to the cross

Where the Saviour was slaughtered

To redeem broken sons

And make men for our daughters

Find grace in the blood

For the murkiest soul

Come to Jesus my brothers

Be free

Be whole.