Archives For England

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London | I went to Borough Market on a bright, sunny Friday in late September. The market, which has been in existence in one form or another for about 1,000 years, was filled with people going about their business. Vendor stalls were piled high with fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cheeses, fish, and just about anything else you might want to eat. Surrounding the market stalls, the streets were lined with cake shops, restaurants, and pubs. People were enjoying delicious food, celebrating special occasions, and simply having a good time.

I’m sure the scene was much the same that warm Saturday night in early June as people dined in the restaurants and pubs. The vendor stalls would have been closed for the evening, but there was still plenty of food to enjoy and fun to be had. At least until three terrorists plowed a van into people walking on nearby London Bridge, then jumped out of the van, running to the market area, and into the restaurants where they began stabbing people with knives intent on killing them. As they did this, eyewitnesses reported one of the terrorists cried, “This is for Allah!” The terrorists killed seven and injured 48.

London prides itself on being a multicultural city — 37% of its residents come from outside the United Kingdom and one-quarter of its population arrived within the last five years. At least 45% of the population has no religious affiliation. Many Brits view Christianity as “been there, done that.”

The June 3 attacks on London Bridge and in Borough Market, the May 23 Manchester suicide bomber, and the March 22 Westminster bridge attack highlight the need for Christ, not only in London, but the rest of England. The International Mission Board is building missional communities in London using the 280 Tube (underground subway) stops as hubs to organize these communities around.

Still others are working in immigrant communities with Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. These communities isolate themselves keeping their customs and religions. There is a very real danger for those missionaries and those who convert to Christ.

Pray for the English people, that as a nation they will turn back to Christ, reviving their strong Christian heritage. Pray also that immigrants, first, second, and third generations — will find true freedom in Christ. The deception and oppression they endured in their home countries has traveled with them and is spreading. The only way to stop it is the through the Truth of Christ.

Last fall, Lisa Misner Sergent visited London to learn about the International Mission Board’s new strategies.

The BriefingCoptic Christians pray, persevere after Egypt church bombings
As Coptic Christians bury an estimated 44 killed in terrorist bombings during Palm Sunday services in Egypt, the oldest Coptic church in the U.S. is praying for both the families of the Christian “martyrs” and the Islamic State (IS) that has claimed responsibility for the deaths. The attacks at St. George’s Church in Tanta and at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria also wounded more than 125 worshippers.

Uproar after Britain drops ‘Easter’ from egg hunt
A move in Britain to rebrand a national Easter egg hunt as simply an “egg hunt” to appeal to non-Christian children has drawn condemnation from the Church of England and Prime Minister Theresa May. “This marketing campaign … highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter,” said a statement from the Church of England sent to The Washington Post. A church spokeswoman told The Post that senior church leaders vehemently opposed the change.

Strike on Syria called ‘just,’ prayer urged
Following a U.S. missile strike against Syria, Southern Baptists pledged prayer and claimed the action was appropriate retribution for deadly chemical attacks allegedly carried out by the Syrian military. Former U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Douglas Carver said the strike “met the ‘just war’ criteria for military actions.” Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore said the Syrian regime’s “murderous terrorism … threatens to further unravel the already precarious situation in the Middle East.”

Muslim birthrate to outpace Christian by 2035
More babies were born to Christian mothers than to members of any other religion in recent years, reflecting Christianity’s continued status as the world’s largest religious group. But this is unlikely to be the case for much longer: Less than 20 years from now, the number of babies born to Muslims is expected to modestly exceed births to Christians, according to new Pew Research Center demographic estimates.

Vatican & US church officials back gay-friendly book
The Vatican’s point man on family issues and a U.S. cardinal who is close to Pope Francis have both blurbed a new book by a Jesuit priest and popular author that calls on the Catholic Church to be more respectful and compassionate toward gay people. They called it “brave, prophetic, and inspiring” and a “much-needed book.”

Sources: Baptist Press, Washington Post, Baptist Press, Pew Forum, Religion News Service

Lost in London

ib2newseditor —  November 7, 2016

london-sceneWhen you travel you have to make allowances for some of the local customs. In New Orleans, prepare for Cajun cooking and in coastal southern California enjoy the more relaxed pace of life. In foreign countries the differences can be even more pronounced. But if you’re traveling to another English speaking country it can’t be that different, right? Wrong.

A week the southwest of England shined a spotlight on some of those differences.

A crosswalk isn’t a crosswalk. It’s a Zebra (pronounced with a short “e” sound) crossing. Other types of pedestrian crossings are Pelican, Puffin, Toucan, and Pegasus (for horses and their riders.) Google them for fun.

No washcloths for you. Not all hotels provide “flannels” the English word for washcloths. They are considered too intimate an item to be washed and reused by another person, so bring your own.

Can I get ice with that? It’s true, most beverages are served lukewarm in England, except tea, which is hot of course. I was told that if you ask for a glass of ice to go with your Coke, you would get four cubes and a slice of lemon. That’s exactly what happened. It became a game to me to count the ice cubes. One nice server in London went over the apparent allotment and gave me five cubes.

We don’t have restrooms here. Don’t ask to use the public restroom or bathroom, they don’t have one. They do have a public toilet, or loo. It may cost you 20 or 30 thirty pence (about 35-50 cents), and may or may not be clean.

One word – scones. My fellow Americans, we have been lied to by bakery cafés (you know who you are). Scones are not hard triangular-shaped baked goods. No, they are soft and biscuit-like and so delicious topped with clotted cream (bad name, great taste) and jam.

Empty churches. Sorry folks, this one isn’t funny. England is filled with lovely old churches, but sadly, most have become tourist attractions. People line up for tours of Westminster Abby and St. Paul’s Cathedral and for the services, however most of those attending the services are tourists too.

The church grounds are beautifully landscaped and immaculate, and popular with the locals. They are great spots for enjoying a picnic lunch in the middle of a hectic work day.

Of course there are flourishing churches in England, but they are few and far between. England and the rest of western Europe culturally trend 5-10 years ahead of the United States. This isn’t a trend Christians in the U.S. shouldn’t follow.

Lisa Misner Sergent recently spent time in England and will be writing a series of articles about the state of Christianity and missions in that country in upcoming issues the Illinois Baptist newspapers.