Leaving Footprints in the Sands of Time

2005 09

One of my favourite sociological theories is that of 'Six Degrees of Separation'.

The premise is that between any two people in the world there is only a chain of six or less relationships / acquaintances.

This sounds preposterous at first but those who have studied and tested the idea have found it to often be but six jumps to get from one person to the other random subject of the experiment. I enjoy testing the theory when I travel, often discovering a link of but one or two people back to myself. This usually has folk nodding sagely and remarking that "it's a small world".

What it shows is how interlinked we all are and therefore how possible it might be to affect the world if only six ripples are needed on the pond to get all the water moving. It's one of those ideas which inform my choice to make ripples, believing that one person or a few can make a real difference. Eleven men did once.

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My first breath was of sweet Irish air, in the North of the island in a town called Lurgan where the local hospital was. I grew up living in nearby Portadown until I left for university, moving to York.

I studied some electronic engineering then moved to Birmingham taking the road in life I'm still travelling.

A man called David, from minding sheep and playing music once found his life take a different track. Received at the highest levels he fell from favour and went on the run, narrowly escaping capture on a number of occasons. He drew to him the distressed, indebted and discontented. They were those on the margins, disadvantaged by the status quo, hopeful for an alternative future.

These became mighty men and formed the new social order around King David when he came to power years later. This example demonstrates that in the difficult process of change it's not those who benefit most from the current situation who will brave the discomfort of progress but those with least to lose, those who have realized the failures of the present. [1 Samuel 16 - 22]

A man called Abram once set out, not knowing where he was going. He had an excellent guide though, who led him into his future and ours. Abraham's obedience to the path set before him also provided shelter and life to many gathered around him. A nation within any nation where he settled, his people were later to have their own country.[Genesis 12 onwards]

A man called Jesus pioneered a unique path and people from all walks of life followed. He spoke of hope and life and He sheltered many who found that life in Him. He said he came particularly to help the broken [Isaiah 61]. He challenged those who came after Him to live out His teachings and share the truth of them. He promised to be in the words, to endorse them and establish not just a nation but a Kingdom.

It's these footprints I'm following.

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I have spent some years speaking to other Christ followers in churches around Birmingham and beyond. I've worked with a large city centre church and run some of the early Alpha courses in the Midlands. I then was Chaplain to the Boys' Brigade in Birmingham and we worked jointly with The Girls' Brigade on some projects.

Challenged to express more effective holistic forms of shelter for the broken and marginalised, to touch and realise the timeless themes close to Eternity's heart, my path then took me to other places where Jesus is found, where He sees His Father working. For me that has meant increasing amounts of time working with some of the NOMS establishments in this area.

Engaging with some of the pioneering work done by other Christian faith communities in Canada and New Zealand I've sought to develop projects which look at justice issues from a restorative rather than retributive perspective. These have seen partnership with other charities such as Chrysalis, YFC, Worth Unlimited and The Girls' Brigade again.

Every question partially answered asks many more. As The Lord of Life pours Himself into His beloved the challenge becomes how to match His wholehearted supply with support and practical help. This has led me to focus on activity in our communities and motivating Christian faith groups to remember their heritage of social entrepreneurship and rise to meet contemporary challenges.

Parallel to these strands of existence has been my continued interest in the forward march of technology. Like minded friends have incarnated the same faith and social values through establishing businesses like the Prophet Abraham did. Chasing the limited funding from trusts to finance projects and looking for people to help employ those with changed lives reveals the need for a more joined up approach.

Rather than merely try to spur others into action, I've recently given some time to help establish a business. The vision would be to ultimately provide employment oportunities for people and benefit customers, the community and employees alike. Birmingham has a profound tradition in this, having seen many Quaker Industries established here in the past.

And so the journey continues, a narrow path which sometimes feels like it's got many levels. You can see from my diary section what's on some of them.

© cag 2005