An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I am not Miss World but...

I do believe in the concept of 'world peace' much as the contestants of the bygone televised Miss World contests used to wish for when asked what their ambition was. 'I wish for world peace', they would breathe heavily into the microphone. The whole idea of world peace then became synonymous with the trappings of superficiality. This need not be so.

I have been pondering on what specifically I wish to pray for that will make the world a better place in 2011 and onwards. Now, world peace isn't going to happen overnight but I believe that one powerful engine for generating world peace lies in micro finance for the following reasons. The link between wealth and peace is a strong one. World peace cannot be secured while we have people living in squalid conditions. Peace has become a luxurious commodity and can only be attained if people's living standards are raised. Too many people have dropped out of the global economy through no fault of their own. Economic revitalization and peace building is recognised by the UN as a two-headed joint initaitve.

Money has become the root of all evil. Witness the decades of corruption that has resulted in a global divide of stupendous proportions between the rich and the poor mainly in Asia and Africa. Money that should have gone into infrastructure, education, health and housing has, instead, been used to build mansions for those in power and financed their wives' shopping expeditions. The poor have become aspirational and resort to crime to get what they want. Stripped of all dignity and hope they live a lawless lifestyle that sticks two fingers up at the concept of civil and structured society. Because governments cannot be relied on in many parts of the world to lift the poor out of their appalling living conditions it falls to the third sector organisations to fill in the gap.
Micro finance means offering small loans (below £100)to low-income people to help them set up a small business or engage in some activity that will make their lives better in a sustainable way. It is similar (but not the same) to the familiar concept of buying a goat for a family in Asia or donating enough money so a fruit tree can be grown in somenone's backyard in Africa thereby enabling them to sell the fruit and to make a living. Helping someone to help themselves in a sustainable long term manner.
The concept of microfinance originated in the mid-1970s in Bangladesh through a pioneering experiment by Dr Muhammad Yunus, then a Professor of Economics. His aim was to offer poor people:
financial services, entrepreneurship opportunities, an end to mistreatment by money lenders and a system where they could produce, manage and maintain their own finances. Microfinancing ensures that the money goes straight to the needy, bypasses corrupt bureaucrats and is seen to make an almost immediate difference to the recipient's lifestyle. 
By no means am I advocating that microfinancing will bring about world peace single handedly. What I am saying is that world poverty will not be solved at macro level by corrupt governments and while these corrupt regimes leave people powerless and penniless there will be a large amount of lawlessness that breaks out at micro level. Third sector organisations and civil societies have a massive role to play in operating at micro level to help the poor earn a living and to restore their dignity. When the link between peace and economic development is strengthened a significant source of tension is removed thus paving the way for world peace at some future date.
 Please pray for micro financing to work. for more information.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Victims of domestic abuse turn to God

A survey undertaken in America has found that female Christian victims of domestic violence rely on the power of prayer as a coping mechanism. The victims found prayer to be a means of venting their emotions withour fear of further violence or reprisal from their abusers. The women, apparently, perceived God as a loving parental or friendly figure who was non judgmental and forgiving thus allowing them to express their anger through prayer.
The survey was conducted by Shane Sharp, a graduate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said that prayer helped these women see themselves in  a positive light and helped raise their sense of self-worth which was destroyed by their abusers.
Pleased as I am that these women turn to God I do hope that they find the strength, equally, through prayer to get out of these relationships. So many women put up with abuse so as not to fracture the sanctity of marriage. Alarmingly, some women felt strengthened enough after praying to carry on with their relationships. I pray that these women will realise that their marriages are no more than pieces of paper which ought to be torn up. Violence has no place in marriage and is not part of the marriage vows.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Have you piled on the calories?

People are so worried about what they eat
between Christmas and the New Year,
but they really should be worried about
what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.
Author Unknown

Friday, 24 December 2010

Ongoing revision of my Christian faith

I have been in Malaysia for the last two weeks and was mugged. I was with my 11 year old daughter when it happened. Two men on a motorbike came along and snatched my handbag. I lost my holiday money, credit cards, camera with photos of relatives in Malaysia whom I hadn't seen for 12 years and my mobile phone. Fortunately, we weren't hurt but my poor daughter was hysterical with fear and sobbed for 3 hours. Just hours before I had thanked God for the lovely time that we were having. My faith was shaken after the incident. Was I right to feel that way?
In an ongoing revision of my faith I have been questioning my initial reaction. God had not protected me, is how I felt. The physical difficulty of continuing with a holiday after losing my money and cards was depressing. I have always prided myself on being able to overcome my disappointments rather swiftly. I wasn't able to do that when the mugging happened. This, in itself, makes me feel guilty about being angry with God.
Only a fundamental revision of the world that we live in will help me make sense of what happened. Academically I am aware of the Christian argument that man has free will and free choice as to how he exerts this will even if it's against God's will.
Now I need to translate this awareness into a worldly reality. I am going to spend Christmas eve in contemplative prayer about how I make this leap. I need to understand that eventhough Christ was born to save us from our sins and to teach us that our humanity is linked to one another's well being not everyone wishes to follow this teaching and that it is not God's fault if they don't.
Merry Christmas to all my Christian blogger friends.