Monday, October 20, 2008

Heart in mouth

The report about a Christian aid worker being shot dead in Kabul was very sad news, and a sobering reminder about the real crises in the world which are unconnected to the 'credit crunch' (or recession, as we should really call it). It should drive us to prayer for the family of Gayle Williams, and for the country of Afghanistan which is slipping back into the hands of the Taliban, despite the military and political intervention of the West.

My heart was in my mouth for a while this morning between the initial story being published and Gayle's name being put on the story. A friend from university has just moved to Kabul to work for a similar organisation. She is the least likely person you'd imagine to do such tough missionary work but is committed to serving God wherever that means - even in Afghanistan. She is fine, but it's time to start praying for her...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Equality and inclusion

I went on a full-day course yesterday called "Valuing People through Fairness and Inclusion", which every employee here goes to. Other than an interesting use of 140,000 taxpayer-funded man-hours, it was a good insight into the world of 'personal correctness' (political correctness is very passé).

In the course of the day we looked at a number of case-studies of non-inclusive behaviour, and were asked how we would deal with each. This one caused a particular stir! It was a real event, but obviously names have been changed...

James is an employee who often covers the customer services desk, reception and
telephones. He is a devout Christian and reads from the Bible during quiet times. He often engages staff in discussions about biblical texts.

James has a very fixed and disapproving view of homosexuality and regularly quotes from the bible the passages to demonstrate that such activity is against the
will of God.

There are several gay men on the team and they have learned to avoid such discussions with James. One of the team has suggested to him that he finds these discussions unwelcome and is concerned at the impact on any client who might overhear. He has asked James to stop.

James has said that though he doesn't wish to cause offence at work he cannot deny the will and guidance of God.
I found myself agreeing with both the employee's colleagues, and my colleagues on this course. I am on the lookout for chances to share the gospel at work; but giving the impression to gay people that they are worse sinners than the rest of us is not a great way to go about it. Our witness should be characterised by flawless conduct, love and genuine concern and friendship. That's the way to win an audience.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Time machine

It's Google's 10th birthday this month. Who remembers searching the internet using Yahoo! and Altavista before Google became hegemonic?

Google have found a complete web index from January 2001 and you can search it here. Stare down the telescope of history and read this webpage on Al Qaeda, which was written in a very different age.