Love changes everything!

Mass wedding
Afghan mass wedding (Photo: Comfort Aid International)

“Love Changes everything”1 is the title of a well-known song from Aspects of Love, the 1989 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it’s also a profound truth. Romantic love can make you feel alive, as though your life has a purpose; each day becomes an adventure, each night a chance to dream, but it’s the love that we show to our fellow human beings that really changes everything.

In a Valentine’s Day report from Afghanistan, NBC News correspondent Mandy Clark reported on the impact that love can make, and is making, on the war against the Taliban. Valentine’s day was banned in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power, but now love and marriage are being seen as a way of strengthening society and a means of depriving the Taliban of new fighters.

Afghan newlyweds Suliman and Farzana believe that if everyone understood the proper meaning of Valentine’s Day, “there would be no more weapons.” This is not just wishful thinking. Afghan young men have been joining the Taliban for money because they are single and poor. Young, married men, however, have a wife and responsibilities at home.

To improve Afghan society a Muslim charity, Comfort Aid International, have been sponsoring mass weddings in the poorer parts of the country. Thirty-eight couples took part in the latest event. Eighteen year-old Sayeed Hussaini and his bride Fatima could not have got married without the charity’s help. “I’m jobless, but I will not join them,” said Sayeed, determined to avoid the Taliban for the sake of his new wife Fatima.

As Farzana aptly put it, “So when love comes even Taliban cannot stop anybody … Love can change everything!”

Or as Michael Ball sang, “Love, love changes everything: how you live and how you die … Nothing in the world will ever be the same … Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever … Love will never, never let you be the same.”

Or as Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus obviously knew that … love changes everything!

NOTE:

1 Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics written by Charles Hart and Don Black and sung by Michael Ball.

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Why, oh why?

a Christmas wreath

It’s with hearts tinged with sadness that we draw closer to Christmas. We were all shocked by yesterday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut when, after killing his mother, a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 26 people dead, including 20 children. Our sympathies go out very much to the bereaved families. Dannel Malloy, the state governor, said yesterday, “We’ll do whatever we can to overcome this event.” But how can something like this be overcome, how can good come out of something so evil?

Darrell Scott’s 17 year-old daughter Rachel was the first student to be killed at the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Speaking yesterday to Fox News Darrell said, “We made a choice not to be angry or bitter, but to celebrate Rachel’s life.” In memory of Rachel he set-up a foundation called “Rachel’s Challenge”. It has seen seven school shootings and over 500 suicides prevented through its work. It’s website describes it as “a series of student empowering programs and strategies … to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion. The programs are based on the writings and life of Rachel Scott. … Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Shortly before her death she wrote, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.””

Rachel’s father Darrell went on to say, “The answers are long term. They’re not just a knee-jerk reaction on gun control or more laws, … but we have got to be a kinder nation. We have got to take time to listen to one another, to love one another, to be role models to these kids.”

As Peter, a follower of Jesus, once wrote: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

This is not just true for American society, but for us all. For the sake of our children, our world needs to wake up and look at the society that we have created. For instance, there is a movie currently being promoted in the UK about a serial killer. How can this be entertainment? We need to question what motivates us as a society; but most of all we need to show love, acceptance and encouragement to our young people, that they might grow up as a loving and integrated community, from which no one will feel excluded. Who knows the difference we personally can make this Christmas? As Rachel wrote: No one knows “how far a little kindness can go.”

To read one Sandy Hook mum’s story click here.

Unsinkable!

Icy waters

Today, 15th April 2012, is the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by the tragic loss of over 1,500 lives; a loss still keenly felt by the families and descendants of those who were lost.

The Titanic was a great ship, a pinnacle of human endeavour. At the time she was the largest man-made, moveable object in the world. She was built by a dedicated team of engineers for the White Star Line at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, and was said to be unsinkable. Yet human fallibility and the power of nature were overlooked in the pride of human achievement. One survivor, Eva Hart, a 7-year-old girl from England, had been travelling in second class with her parents. Her mother Esther was troubled by the claims that were being made about the ship. Eva later recalled her mother’s comments: “I don’t like this ship, because a vessel called unsinkable was flying in the face of God.”

Although designed to hold thirty-two lifeboats, only twenty were on board. The White Star management had been concerned that too many boats would spoil the beauty of the ship. Those twenty boats could only hold 1,178 people. That day the Titanic was carrying 2,200 passengers and crew. So even if her lifeboats had been fully loaded, many were destined to drown.

On the evening of 14th, Titanic’s two wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride received ice warnings from ships in the area, which tragically went unheeded. However, once the ship had been holed Jack Phillips bravely stayed at his post sending distress signals and requesting help almost until the ship finally went down.

The story of the Titanic closely mirrors our present society. We think our way of life is unsinkable. We feel we can live as we please, and in one sense we should all be allowed free will, but we must never forget that our decisions and actions have consequences, good and bad. So how good of our Creator, having a deep love for us His creation, to have given us guidelines for how to make the right decisions and how to get the best out of life, and warnings so that we might avoid disaster. Not only that but He came to teach us in person, living amongst us for over thirty years before paying the penalty for my rebellion, and yours! As the scriptures tell us, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1v2)

Sea travel is now guided by an international agreement, the Safety of Life at Sea, which, had it been around in 1912, may have averted the Titanic disaster. Today’s society has the Bible, a fascinating book of history, prophecy, poetry and most of all divine instruction for a happy life, but has our society learnt to heed its warnings and live accordingly, or do we still say, “It will never happen!”

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For … how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2v1,3)