Monday, 11 November 2019

Welcoming Strangers.

Welcoming Strangers.

Let us look at this problem in a more rounded way.  

There is now something like 70.8 million displaced people in the world.  That is, people running away from war, persecution and terrible conditions. The population of the UK is around that number.

One could probably comfortably fit the entire population of the UK into California and would still have 49 other states left to populate. (There are eleven States of the USA that have greater land area than the UK. California is equal to 1.74 UK’S.) At the moment of my writing Turkey is hosting very many refugees. Turkey has a domiciled population of around 82 million.  It is currently hosting around 4 million refugees. Then there is Lebanon, a tiny country with a population of just over 6 million, currently hosting around 1.5 million refugees.

The USA has a population 327.2 million, but please remember the vast land area.  The USA probably has, according the UNHCR, been the biggest recipient of refugees.

The other mistake that people often make is that these refugee people are coming to “take” from you/us - wherever their new country of residency is – anything and everything that is free.  Over and over again that fake news is propagated in the UK in the right-wing press, when in reality such people contribute more to the UK tax coffers, often more than the average UK citizen. I personally am aware of people who came to the UK with nothing, not speaking the language but have created jobs and employment and contributed to the wealth of the UK in a great way.

Again, on the whole subject of socialism, please read my spiel on that. You might be surprised to know that the USA was the great innovator as far as socialism was concerned.

But let me then look at it from another angle. Who are we?  I am referring to people who are Jesus followers. We are citizens of another Kingdom. Our job is to seek the Kingdom of God on earth, i.e. to be salt and light. To do this we are to speak to the rulers and the power holders, calling them to account and seeking to bring to the earth Justice, Peace, etc., for that is what comprises the Kingdom of God. So, we have a great responsibility where there is injustice, unrighteousness and the  dehumanisation of people who are made in the image of God.   We are also called to be welcoming people who are strangers. We are even called, if they are our enemies, to love them!

As a follower of Christ, I do not believe there is “no answer” to that 70.8 million. I am just Joe Blogs, but I can think of at least three major answers. One at least I did manage to get the UK upper house to discusses. However, talking is not action.  I also remember the invitation to the UN to talk about refugees and asylum seekers there, where I said that people of faith are the ones that must get their hands dirty, if looking after people means to be solution providers. We are trying and are currently housing around 30 and providing carers for another 20 foster children.  That to me seems a very small contribution, and I plan for us to do more.  

I am of the opinion that the UK, and the USA whilst doing something can do more and better. I think holding people who are running away from persecution and war should be treated with kindness and care and not, as in the UK, placed in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, for indefinite periods (The UK is the only European country that has no time limit on how long one can be kept in detention), or have children placed in overcrowded centres on the USA boarders.
Adrian Hawkes
Blog 11.11.19
W. 648

Friday, 6 September 2019

Fake News or Lazy Journalism?

Fake News or Lazy Journalism?

I wasn’t really looking for such an article. I was looking for something else totally unrelated. However, you know what it’s like when you search the web, all sort of things pop up, relevant, interesting and “don’t waste your time looking here,” but there it was.
The article was in a well-known newspaper, about a couple of years old now, but it was talking about an independent school’s system – a system of which I am familiar as I have set up numerous such schools in several countries across the world.
I could guess where the information came from, as I am aware that there is a lobby that is very anti this particular school system. This lobby feeds information to schools and university’s ad infinitum.  All negative. It’s funny how people can get a bee in their bonnet and then spend all their time attacking issues they don’t quite understand, even if what they are saying is quite untrue, or even if there is another side to the argument.
In my own life I have been at the receiving end of this kind of reporting a couple of times.  I remember one reporter, who I kindly gave my time to, when halfway through the interview, and photo shoot, my little grey cells clicked.  I said to her, “I know how you are writing this report, and what you are going to say is not true and does not represent the facts.  In fact, I do not want to answer any more of you biased questions because I have already sussed what you will write, and it will be detrimental to me and more importantly, quite untrue.  The well-known magazine did a three-page spread. It was totally untrue. However, it still looked like “a good story.”
Anyway! Back to my newspaper web discovery. 
The article told how the kind of school that I and many other are involved with, could not prepare students for Further Education, and particularly could not prepare them for University. My problem with the article was that in the last few years, students in the local UK school that I am involved with – that is a school that utilises the system that the lobbyists and the reporter I referred to above - sent all their “staying on” students (Those that were taking either our certification (ICCE) in either the intermediate level or the advanced level, on to various Universities of their choice. Not only did they not have the problems that the article talked about, but they found University life just right and ended up usually around the top percentile of their year.
I take the trouble to keep in touch with as many past students as possible. Perhaps one of them sums up what I am talking about better than I can express.  This young man wrote to me, in answer to my question, “How are you doing at University?” Here is a copy of what he said:“ I have to tell you that I am not the cleverest student in this place. However, I also believe that I will end up with a good degree pass. What is sad,” he went on to say, “is that many of my fellow student won’t even complete.  The thing is,” he said, “I learnt in the school I went to, how to set academic study goals, how to manage time, and how to complete and hand in work on time.  Many of my fellow students maybe brighter than me, but they won’t finish the course.” 
On his completion with a good degree, I asked, “Did any not finish?” He answered, “Sadly, a lot did not.”
I checked the stats from Channel 4. Here is a summary:  On average, one in 10 UK undergraduates will drop out of university before their second year of study. In some institutions, that figure is as high as one in four.
So;  Was it fake news? Or was it just lazy journalism?  Nobody interviewed me for another side to the rather poor information that they were giving out as factual. 
Our students do just great.
Adrian Hawkes

Wednesday, 12 June 2019


I recently watched a BBC documentary entitled, “The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England”. Fascinating stuff. Melvyn Bragg took us through the dramatic story of William Tyndale and the first English translation of the Bible.

The story was not new to me. I remember some of the fun things when I studied the history of Tyndale at college. There were such moments as when the Bishop of London asked who was paying for the printing of the Bibles that were being distributed through the country. This bishop was buying as many copies of Tyndale’s translation of the Bible as he could and then held large bonfires and burning them outside St Paul’s Cathedral.  The reply made me laugh. “You are paying for them sir!” said the people. It seems he was paying twice what it cost to print one Bible, so everyone he burnt bought two more. As they say on text: “LOL.”

The thing that struck me though was the fact of Tyndale’s use of the word, “Church,” or rather his non-use of the word. I was sort of irritated with myself as I knew the real translation of the word in the Greek (Εκκλησία, Ekklisía, or ekklesia had an original meaning of "assembly, congregation, council". Being strictly literal it means "convocation" or “gathering.” This is important because it tells us that “church” is not actually a building or organisation, but rather “those called to assemble” – i.e. the people that gather to worship.

Of Course, Tyndale was following Luther, and had a problem with the Church of Rome and its hierarchical orientated system of buildings and positional authority and hence, as he was translating from the original Greek rather than from the Latin as did Wycliffe, he does not use the word “church,” but rather translates  Εκκλησία (Ekklesia) as “congregation.”

Funnily enough, just to emphasise the point, Tyndale does use the word church once. He uses it in Acts Chapter 14 Verse 13. Here it is in a modern English spelling form: "Then Jupiter’s Priest which dwelt before their city gate brought ox and garlands into the church porch and would have done sacrifice with the people."  This of course was in the front part of the temple; the amplified Bible puts it thus “whose [temple] was at the entrance of the town.” 

My Google search for the definition of “church” threw up the following definition:
(Entry 1 of 4)      1 : a building for public and especially Christian worship.
    2 : the clergy or officialdom of a religious body.

So, what am I getting at here?  The good old King James Bible, which was translated in 1611 was very keen to keep the control factor, hence the word church was entered often.

King James also, of course, also wanted to emphasise “the Divine Right of Kings and place his Bishops in a good place of authority. These were all the things that people like Luther and then Tyndale were finding not a good position to hold.

No wonder King James wanted a new translation! And no wonder Tyndale presented such a problem to the Tudor’s England and especially the King.

So, I wonder why we are not challenging this hierarchical view of “Church” and maybe getting back to being “followers of the Way”.

So often I am asked, “where do you go to church?” My answer is, “ I cannot go to church at all. I can only be church!  i.e. a follower of ‘the way.’”

I am also often asked, “Are you a Christian?” Again of course, the word was originally  an insult - it meant “little Christ’s,” but it is  so misused in modern understanding. My usual answer is “I am a follower of Jesus. Will that do?”

Do I think followers of the way should “congregate,” as Tyndale put it?  Of course I do! We need one another. That’s what the body is like. It needs its different parts. 

Adrian Hawkes
4th March 2019

Thursday, 14 March 2019



During my time in college studying theology, I concluded that many of the people whose opinions I had to study knew the Bible Scriptures much better than me.  However, I also concluded that they did not know the God who inspired it all.

I am concerned and have been for a long time about Religious Education in schools. It does seem to me that there is the possibility that what RE does is inoculate young people against the real thing, much like a flu jab is supposed to do. And I say that as one who has set up many “Christian” schools. I still believe in them, because I am sure that they are good educationally, and also put principle into the student’s character and good values that usually ensure that they do well in the journey of life.  However, I still hold that knowing about “Christianity” and having good values and character, is still not as good as knowing the “God who is there”.  Knowing God personally tops everything.

And of course, one can know God, and not be able to read and write!

What do I mean by “knowing God?”  Well, just that. You see, the whole of scripture is really about the restoration of relationships both with people and with God. We all know that making relationships with other people can be difficult, and sometimes they are not always smooth, and if they get Broken, very many are never repaired.  Good relationships.  Are they not the stuff of life? Are they not more valuable than money, success, fame or fortune?

Of course, scripture uses many forms to describe that bridge between a non-relations ship, and the knowing of the God who is there. Jesus talked to the Pharisee/lawyer and told him that he “must be born again”, he was duly puzzled.  Sometimes scripture talks about repentance, or a turning around and going in another direction, i.e. from walking away from the God who is there to walking towards him.  Sometimes scripture talks about salvation. Again, many of us get a bit puzzled with that one, as we think to ourselves, “I am not drowning. Why do I need saving?”  What we fail to grasp is that the whole purpose of life is relationship and the highest form of that is the relationship between humans and the God who is there.

When I was a young man living in Birmingham, and occasionally saw a person going down the street talking, and gesticulating, as a youngster I assumed, probably correctly, that they were slightly deranged.  Nowadays, walking down Tottenham High Street I see nearly everyone doing the same things, some angry, some joking, some in deep conversation, and all by themselves.  They do seem to have little things in their ears.

 Many years ago, I was in one of those meeting type things where people were being invited to know God.  There was one of those very intellectual young people from a local university studying I know not what. He seemed to me to be the kind of genuine person who wanted to know God but had some serious sensible questions he wanted answered. He moved around the crowd that I was with and one could see his questions were of the kind that most of us would find hard to give a good answer to.
Finally, some bright spark sent him, along with his intellectual questions to me.  It only took about two questions for me to know I was not going to be able to satisfy this clever young man with my feeble answers. That was a shame as I could see he really wanted to know things like: “Is there a God?” “Is He there?” “Can I know?” “Is He interested in me?” “Can I know Him?” Questions like the ones some of you lot are asking.

I confessed to him and said, “Your questions are too hard for me. I don’t know good enough answers to satisfy you. However, I do know that God is there, and is willing to know, communicate, meet with and talk to you and to  enter into a long-term stable relationship with you. Maybe He will even answer some of your complicated questions. I don’t know if He will, but He might.”

Jesus said, and its reported in the Gospel of Mathew and Luke, “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So, don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”  Or put more simply in Authorised version of the Bible, “Seek and you will find”.

So, I said to my new-found friend, “Although I cannot answer your questions, I do Know that ‘God is there’ and if you are serious about seeking Him, I am sure, I know, you will find him.”  He was very polite and asked, “So how do I seek Him?”  I said, “I would find somewhere, and talk to God and ask Him, “Are you there?” But if you are going to do that, your seeking should also include the element of - if He is there, what does He want of me?”  This young man surprised me. He said, “Thank you,” and, “I will test your hypothesis.”  He turned on his heel and walked to the other side of the room we were in and sank to his knees by a chair, I must admit I was taken aback, I had not expected that.
From the other side of the room I watched him as he seemed to be in deep conversation.  After about twenty minutes he stood up and came towards me.  He put out his hand to shake mine and said, “Thank you”.  I asked, “What for? I still don’t have the answers to your many questions”.  He laughed and said, “Oh! Those? I don’t need the answers any more, I now know God is there, and I am going to get to know Him better, but He is there alright. Thank you again and good night”.

Do I have something in my ear? Or am I hearing from someone who is not there? Are all his answers to me just the coincidence of time, neurons and chance? Or maybe I am Mad. Or perhaps really seeking does equal finding!

So; is God there? Can He be talked to? Can He talk to me? Is it possible to seek and find Him?

W. 1131

Friday, 4 January 2019

Trying to Answer my Critics. (some who are my friends) …

Trying to Answer my Critics. (some who are my friends) …

This is something that I think needs to be said.  My hope is that it will be understood.
There was a great article recently about the fact that it is not Politicians, whoever they are and whatever their ilk, who have the responsibility to bring about change in the world.  Change in the world is down to the church. When we try to pass that responsibility on to Politicians we are going to come unstuck, for it is our responsibility, not theirs.

Having said that, where leaders take society in a wrong direction, whether they be Kings, Presidents, Dictators, Prime Minister or whatever else, it is the prophetic responsibility of Jesus followers to say so as loud as possible, even though that might get us into trouble.  One only has to look at how many prophets in the Old Testament ended up in very sticky situations for challenging the establishment.

When we start to talk about abortion, it is not that I am in favour, very much the opposite. However, I am also aware of the difficulty.  The difficulties of one-line agendas, or sound bite answers is too often missed in our instant re equipment culture. 

My question is: Do we only care about the unborn? Or: Do we care about the child dying in the sea running away from a terrible war?  Or do we care about the child starving, usually, again, from some war? Or do we care for the refugee Mother and child fleeing because they do not have the wherewithal to feed the child never mind give it medicine that it so desperately needs and is abundantly available elsewhere?

I also have a another question. I hear constantly the phrase, “This is God’s man”, in terms of a certain president. Well, wasn’t Obama God’s man?  And what about all the others before him? Was Hitler God’s man? what about Pol Pot and Stalin? Were they also Gods men? I see too that when people dare to criticise leaders, very “spiritual” people tell me, “You need to pray for them”.  and then they remind me that that biblical injunction was given when there was a terrible Roman Emperor that was burning Jesus’s followers of the Way using them as candles to light his gardens.  Well! Yes! I know I need to pray for leaders - but what do I pray? 

Am I to pray, “Lord, silence all the critics”? I wonder what those early Christians prayed. Was it, “Lord, bless this Emperor”? or was it, “Lord, move him out of the way”? I note that Paul said we were to pray for a quite life when we pray for rulers. Here is his Prayer: “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:2I)

I am also aware that when we use words to dehumanise people it is very dangerous. In Northern Ireland during the troubles they were not people on the other side. If you were a catholic the other side were “Prods”.  If you were a Northern Irish Protestant the other side were not people, they were “Papists”. So; when one killed a person from “the other side”, one was not killing a person but a sort of inanimate, inhuman you a …  -fill in the missing word. It could be a liberal, a snowflake, or vermin - but not a human being. I note that when bombs are dropped, they don’t kill “people” (which of course they do - civilians mostly). What they do is cause collateral damage. “Collateral damage” or, “dead people whom we killed.” Which do you think sounds better?

Another question: Why are liberals/socialists so evil? Again, maybe you should have a look at this if you think they are:

Now, perhaps I should tell you what is wrong with the liberals.  In my opinion, what is wrong with the liberals is that they have ceased to be liberal.  What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is that you can only become a liberal if you think, speak, and believe exactly the right things.  If you waver, think and speak something different to the current perceived PC correctness then woe betide you. In other words; you are not allowed to disagree.  That is what is wrong with the liberals.

Thankfully some get it and much as I would often disagree with Peter Tatchell Britians top Gay campaigner, I am delighted when he became an advocate for a real liberal position. He said, on the cake issue, that when a Christian couple refused do take an order advocating a gay lifestyle and were taken to court, and then, at first, lost the case, Peter said, “Much as I want to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience expression and religion.”  Good on you Peter! However, sadly, that enlightened view is often missing.

I do think we should really shout when we think things are wrong, unrighteous and bad for society. The church is called to be salt and light, and that means we should be affecting for the good every part of our culture, Education, Politics, Business, Entertainment etc.,

I guess when it comes down to it, I would have to be with Jim Wallis who wrote a book on these issues called, “Gods Politics. Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It”. He also said, “We should note that a budget is a moral document.” Maybe governments in the UK and around the world should really take note of that statement.

As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek said recently; “Why is it we can believe in sending a man to the moon or even mars, but we could not believe in putting 1% on tax to aid those who cannot afford proper health services?”  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

alh 040119