Home Mission pics

Home Mission pics

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Paradise Now

Jari Moate is a member at St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Bristol. In 2011, he was the main organizer of Bristol’s first ever Festival of Literature, and he’s also an author; his novel Paradise Now brings together x-factor culture, Islamic Terrorism, and an unexpected experience of the Holy Spirit, all set in a version of urban Bristol just one beat away from reality.

Writing fiction like this is a very different form of mission to the activities usually described on this blog, so when I’d read the book I wanted to ask Jari a few questions.

In the story, video artist Elektra pays the rent by working in a call centre for The Company who produce The One Game  and the Be Somebody makeover range. While her face is picked to represent The Company, far away in the war torn Middle East trainee terrorist Tariq finds a blood stained copy of the Gospels in a dead soldier’s pocket. As you read, you assume their paths will eventually, and dramatically, collide.

What made Jari think of drawing  together the themes of reality gameshow culture and the religious extremism that leads to acts of terrorism?

“It’s all about the brand name: Be Somebody. The core of that ambition that drives someone to get their 15 minutes of fame, it’s the same drive that motivates the terrorist. We try to create ourselves into something that stands out. If 9:11 did nothing else it dominated the TV networks, and that was its aim. 9:11 won the x-factor already.”

There are characters in Paradise Now who are perhaps immune from the drive to Be Somebody – one is the boy preacher Smith Whistledown, who the main character, Elektra, hears preaching in a small corrugated iron chapel when the Holy Spirit floods in and changes her life. Jari sees him as being driven by the message rather than his own desire to prove himself.

The other is a character imported from the 18th Century – in this story, the poet and engraver William Blake is an eccentric art college technician who’s into lots of new age practices, but also has a prophetic role. I suggested to Jari that this character, and that of Blake’s wife, Kitty, have a rather ambiguous role in the story. Kitty is loving, generous character who is a substitute mother for Elektra, but who eventually, surprisingly, betrays her.

“I’ve met people in the New Age World who are quite evangelical and invasive” says Jari. “Kitty Blake actually wants a bit of power. She doesn’t want her protégée experiencing things in a Christian church, so she does something she wouldn’t normally do.”

Jari warns, however, against reading a sermon into this story. “Fiction is not about positing an argument, it’s about the characters. Sometimes Christian readers miss this and that’s why Christian Fiction doesn’t exist in powerful form in this country.”

Jari Moate
“I want to ask the WEBA audience to stand by writers, and work with artists” he goes on. “We want to truly express how we are in the world. Hold fire on the judgement.”

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas Present, Paradise Now is a vivid and gripping story that will appeal to many readers across the belief spectrum. If you have a relative with an art college or visual arts background, I’d suggest it might be the perfect gift.
Paradise Now is available on the general fiction shelves, and can be found in Waterstones, Foyles, and at www.amazon.co.uk.

Jari is now working on a book about an AWOL solder, and making plans for next year’s Bristol Festival of Literature.

Season's Greetings from Grange

Grange Baptist church would like to say a huge thank you everyone at WEBA for their help and support over what has been another exciting and very busy year. We would also like to wish all our friends and fellow churches in the association a very Happy Christmas and hope 2012 will bring new life transforming opportunities for us all as we seek to proclaim (and live out) the gospel of Jesus Christ in his service.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Evangelism is Simple, Really

Trevor Purnell
Rob Redding
 Here's another story from the WEBA Baptist Times Supplement which is now available from your church secretary or administrator!
Thanks to Trevor and Rob from Milton Baptist Church who were willing to share their story with the rest of us.

Trevor Purnell and Rob Redding have helped each other through a number of life’s ups and downs.

They met when Trevor lost his job and took on work as a security officer. Rob showed him the ropes and they became close friends. Trevor and his partner Jenny looked after Rob when he was recovering from a mild heart attack; then he was there for them when Jenny was diagnosed with cancer and later died.

“It broke him, he was in a terrible state” said Rob. “I decided I had to be there for him.” One day near Christmas, Trevor phoned and asked if they could meet for a coffee. Rob explained that he was about to go to a Carol Service. “I’d like to come” said Trevor.

Although Rob is far from shy about explaining his Christian faith (you can see his baptismal testimony on youtube -www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoECc_NPig8) he’d always avoided going on about it to his good friend. What he didn’t know was that when Trevor was round at his house, and he went out of the room for a minute, Trevor was in the habit of sneaking a look at his daily Bible notes, which he’d left on the coffee table. Trevor went to the carol service at Milton Baptist Church, Weston-super-Mare, and enjoyed it. He went back again on Christmas Day.

“It was like something spoke to me inside” he says. “I knew I had to keep going to church.”

By the new year, Trevor was driving the church minibus, and soon he said he wanted to be baptized. “Since that day I have never looked back, and God truly helps me through both the highs and the lows of my life” he says.

Many of us, like Rob, will have friends who are struggling with life, and the last thing we feel like doing is telling them what to believe. What does Rob suggest we do?

“Be aware of what God is doing around you…Evangelism is simple, really. It’s not preaching the gospel, and shoving it in their faces, it’s living it in front of them.”