Friday, July 11, 2008

Going Dark

The wedding was fabulous. I can't tell you how much I LOVED performing the wedding for two very good friends - possibly the most compatible couple we've ever met. It's going to be a great marriage.

After the ceremony which was a very simple and elegant affair, in the St John's church building, the reception was held on their appartment building rooftop, which has a pool and fantastic views over Cairo. As the sun set we ate and drank and the dancing was just getting going as we left the scene to come home for our final preparations for Italy.

So we've just got maybe another half hour of work to do and then we'll hit the sack for maybe three hours before we get up at 2am to catch our 4:30am flight to Rome. Here's the place we'll call home for the next week. We'll be living in this house...

Which is in this castle...

Pray for us as we suffer.

So jafferblog will be going dark for a week, and I'll see you on the other side when we get to the UK. Pork and Beer are calling me.

A Cairo Wedding

Today, my media guy, Gordon, is getting married to Liz, and I am performing the wedding. It's the first time I've done a wedding and so I am praying it won't be like the Rowan Atkinson character in "four Weddings and a Funeral" who is so nervous he confuses everyone's names and keeps muddling up the order of service.

So today has been full steam ahead with running round (our car is also the wedding car for the day) and chauffeuring the bride, mothers and bridesmaid to and from hair appointments and to the church. Oh yes, and we also had a regular full morning of church services where I led worship on the piano for the first time ever.

We are also packing and preparing for our summer trip as we are leaving for Italy straight after the wedding reception tonight. There are suitcases and piles of clothes everywhere and we're trying to squeeze everything in!

So it's really quite a busy day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Toma's Bar becomes Toma's Cookhouse

(This is my post for the 40 day fast. Team-blogging with Kat)

We first came across Toma when Julia showed Felicity (my wife) the bite marks all over her shoulder and neck that her own husband had given her one night after he had rolled home incoherently and violently drunk from spending the evening at Toma's bar.

Julia and Toma are both Sudanese. Julia has no upper lip. She fled from Sudan during the civil war where she had been tortured and brutalised along with millions more of her people. Many of the refugees from Sudan who escaped war and came here to Egypt are Christians just like Julia and Toma.

Egypt has been a gracious host to them in many ways for allowing them to stay all these years. However, Egypt itself has a huge challenge in dealing with the poverty of its own people (55 million Egyptians qualify for subsidised food) and cannot offer the African refugees any welfare. In the middle of the daily Egyptian struggle for survival, the Africans always come off worse - they pay higher prices, higher rents, are consistently discriminated against and from time to time they are shockingly abused.

(picture taken from

There is no welfare, no employment and most of them are forced by their lack of status to live in slum housing. This is where we come in. Felicity goes up to one of these areas, Arba Wi Nus, every week, visits some Christian families, sits with them, prays with them and distributes food and clothing. A food sack contains enough lentils, flour, beans, oil and milk to last a family for two weeks. Oh, and a bar of soap too.

Anyway, lets get back to the story. One day Felicity went to see Toma at her bar. Toma had heard that we pray for people and wanted us to pray for the return of her lost six-year-old child. He had been gone a month. Toma's bar is just a single tiny, dark, bare concrete room where she distills dates into alcohol and sells it to support her family. Men come and drink all night in the same room where her small children are sleeping. So Felicity walked into a room full of demons and a haze of alcoholic fumes, feeling utterly useless and not knowing how to pray for this child to be found. If it had been our six-year-old, Hannah, there would have been a huge media story, the whole world would know she was missing and thousands of people would be praying. So Felicity did what she could and asked God to help find the child.

He came back within the week.

Toma has six children and no husband. Four of the children (the baby, the four-year-old twins and the twelve-year-old) live with her in that dark stinking cell. the eight-year-old who was lost and is now found has since been taken as a slave by another family and the fourteen-year-old is running with a gang.

Over the last two years as Felicity has spent time with her, bringing her food and talking and praying, Toma has become more and more interested in wanting to clean up her life and get closer to God. She is embracing the hope and peace that Jesus gives her. The only problem is that her date distillery is the only way that she can earn a living. So we raised the $50 needed to set her up in a new business, cooking food and selling it. She is still in the hospitality business, but instead of Toma's Bar, she now has Toma's Cookhouse.

That $50 purchased a stove, some fuel and the first round of basics and ingredients to kick start her enterprise. Felicity's team are helping her with basic book-keeping and the initial business plan was costed down to the last "piaster", including the "Goat Instincts"!

So how can you help?

Pray. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Egypt that have no way of getting resettled in the West and are scared for their lives of returning home, so they are stuck in Egypt living a destitute life with no way out and no hope. Pray that God will hear their desperate prayers and deliver them.

Our church, Maadi Community Church, has planted six daughter churches in these refugee communities in the last two years, between them serving about 3,500 people. Please pray for these churches, that they will be a light in the darkness of those places and that many would be saved through their ministry.

Give. If you would like to send a donation please send your cheques, payable to MCC, to MCC Association, Box 704, 14781 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079. Please designate your gift clearly in the 'memo' field of your cheque to "Embrace The Needy". 100% of this money will go directly to providing food or emergency medical care for our refugee community.

If you are interested in supporting individual projects like Toma's then please email me: mark "at" jaffrey "dot" co "dot" uk

Come. Come and see what God is doing in Cairo. We'll find a home you can stay in and take you around to meet the people and see the projects you are most interested in. You can roll up your sleeves and get involved - it's a great place to see God at work, and there's the added bonus of having the Pyramids, Tutankhamun's tomb, Mount Sinai and the coral reefs of the Red Sea on your doorstep.

Oh yes, and Toma is looking forward to serving you some good hearty goat's instincts.

Monday, July 07, 2008

40 Day Fast

My slot on the fast is fast approaching :-)

I hope you are taking the time to check out the fasters, both teams, so that's two fasters for each day of the forty, making eighty fasters fasting total. Confused yet? It's actually very simple.

Read the two posts each day.


That's all. God handles the rest.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Preachin' it

Well, even if I do say so myself, things seemed to go really well this weekend. Dave C. led the worship, overseeing the international debut of our first ever girl drummer from the Arctic Circle, Erika (ha! it's not every church that can claim they have a girl drummer from the Arctic Circle).

I actually quite enjoyed preaching, and using the old mindmap as my preaching notes worked really well. As expected, each of the three services was a bit different, with different parts of the sermon being emphasised for each of the three crowds, and the flexibility of using a mindmap instead of a manuscript really helped in this area.

So, despite this summer season being the Cairo version of "Day Before Vacation Sunday (DBVS)", I didn't preach a controversial sermon, we didn't have any snake handling in church, no sumo wrestling either, but I did throw sweets at the crowd. I admit that it would have been most satisfying to throw Skittles, but the floor at church is so dirty that we decided we had better use wrapped sweets and toffees. Although we've kicked footballs in to the congregation before, I don't think they've ever had the preacher throw stuff at them, and to give them their due, they seemed to take it very well. It was, of course, a marvelous illustration of God's generosity. At least, that's my excuse when Steve comes back...

We had no triangles or cow bells in the worship band, though we did have a clarinet (very mellow, thanks Petra.), and David didn't throw in any unicorn songs (you missed your chance there, mate, I was waiting for you to kick off an early 80's Vineyard Worship Music revival), so it was quite a tame DBVS by SCL standards.

What was really cool, was celebrating communion at a service where the theme was "giving and serving" - the whole image of Jesus giving himself up as a sacrifice for us, and Jesus serving his disciples at the last supper was a wonderful way of illustrating how we should respond to God's' amazing generosity by practicing the discipline of giving.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mindmap your sermon

Following on from this post, the latest news is that not only have they all gone and left me in charge, but that I am also down to preach this weekend. Fools. Anyway, in my usual style as a right-brained musician day-dreamer, I have decided to mindmap my sermon as a tool both for preparing the message and for delivering it. And I have to say it's working out quite nicely.

Here's the first draft.

This is the brainstorming, planning, throwing-everything-out-there phase. If I preached about everything on this plan then we'd be there all day. It's a sermon series in itself. It even goes over on to a second page, look...

So I have refined it down to a second draft...

(sorry for the poor quality - I'm holding the picture up to the iMac's built in camera - not designed for scanning images!)

I will be using this mindmap as my preaching notes, supplemented with a list of Bible verses, and this is exactly what we are handing out this evening as the sermon notes for the congregation, and for the two services tomorrow morning. Yes, handwritten sermon notes that we are photocopying; no computers have been used in the production of these notes - it's so 1980's!

So we thought we'd stay with the mindmap theme for the graphics, and here's what we're putting up on the screen tonight...

Oh yes, and there'll be one or two other surprises in store too - I've been doing my research.

So, what do you think?

And that's my Creative Chaos this week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My blog, wordled

Go and Wordle something.

It's Watercooler Wednesday over at Ethos.