On the BBC World Service

October 30, 2006

It started with a short e-mail that I sent to the producers of a BBC programme. I’d heard an interview with David Blunket, the Labour Party MP and former minister, who is also blind. So I rote to the producers, telling them that I could relate to a lot of the things he’d spoken about, and that I was impressed that he wanted to spend sometime working to increase awareness about visual impairment in developing countries.

That was the end of the matter, until I got a call from the producer of the programme. After asking me a few questions, she said she’d like to interview me for the programme. So, I paced my living room on Friday afternoon, holding the telephone and answering questions. I’ve heard the programme this morning, and I hear there are a few more repeats today.

It was a four and a half minute interview, but it felt like two minutes. There was so much to say. Maybe next time, there’ll be even more time to talk about how we work, live, travel, make friends, … and do so much more, despite visual impairment. Maybe next time!

October 28, 2006

Just a quick note to wish Kui and family God’s blessings and comfort at this time. I’m praying for you

Bigger picture or Smaller Picture

October 20, 2006


This morning I was listening to Outlook on the BBC World Service. One item was about this Iranian telecoms multimillionaire who became the first woman space tourist. It cost her 20 million, and she loved it so much, she wants to go back soon. She was even a space blogger, and has a description on her blog of the smell of space. I haven’t checked it out yet, because I don’t know the site.

I can’t remember if the world’s first female tourist (I don’t remember her name) took pictures, but she describes her joy at seeing Iran from space. It looked so peaceful. Ironic that in the news that very hour, the BBC reported a statement by the Iranian president that was sure to upset the West and Israel. And there’s the whole nuclear weapons issue that has been rumbling now for a few years.

Is that what we mean when we talk about the bigger picture? Surely, she’d have seen the whole earth, and everything would look so peaceful from her vantage position. So, if she’d been looking at Gaza, would she have seen the fighting in the main hospital, and the 12 year old boy who was selling tea and coffee to staff and patients, right in the middle of it? That report preceded her interview on the same programme .

I ask because whenever things don’t go as I like, someone is bound to say I shouldn’t worry, because God sees the bigger picture. Now, I’m no authority on pictures, but the idea of God looking at the bigger picture seems inadequate to me. If He only saw the bigger picture, then I’d be a speck, … even smaller than that, … and my own worries and hopes would be totally Lost when compared to everything else. The whole world would look so peaceful because the size of the picture couldn’t permit the viewer the sight of specks moving about and carrying on with their daily business.

I haven’t been blogging for a while; actually, I’ve been wrapped up in myself quite a bit. Maybe I’ve been looking at the smaller picture, … and maybe I’ve been looking too hard. But all around me, things were happening. A very dear friend lost her mum. Another 26 year old is desperatly fighting various cancers. I remember walking the streets of Lancaster after my mum died, wondering why every stranger was carrying on as though their world hadn’t just been shattered. At least I’ve learned since then that everything doesn’t revolve around me. And to tell the truth, some good things have happened too.

So, if I can see the bigger picture outside of my own existence, then maybe God can see even more. But I think God also sees the small picture too; after all it says in the Bible, not to despise the day of small things. It’s interesting that it costs a tourist 20 million dollars to go to space. It cost Jesus His life to come down to earth and experience my world. Which is more valuable, 20 million dollars or a life. Well I don’t have 20 million, and I have a life. If, whatever else we have, everyone has a life, then it must be reasonable to say that 20 million dollars is more valuable. So, why is that not the case?

I think the answer is in the Bible, where God says “My ways are not your ways … My ways are higher than yours”. The recognition that what we don’t have access to is actually less valuable than what we have is the beginning of understanding that God’s design is beyond our natural logic.

I think God sees the smaller pieces too. One day, when I was still struggling with my faith, I came to the recognition that what I really needed was to read the Bible more. I had a few books of the Bible then, what I needed for my O level in Christian Religious studies. Frankly, reading four or five books of the Bible had become boring, and I’d stopped reading, … then stopped going to church … then gone further down that slippery slope. I remember thinking that night, just before going to bed that it would be good if I could read the Bible a little more. I also remember that I didn’t pray, I just thought about it, like you’d think of ringing a friend, when you knew you’d never get round to it. The next morning, at precisely 7 AM, I was checking my priorities, looking for the BBC World Service. On the way, I came across a station which broadcast Bible readings at that time exactly. I’d never come across it before, but that morning, after the thought of the night before, there it was.

So, maybe I’m not so insignificant after all. Maybe God’s looking out for me, even when I’m not praying, and maybe the first thing He wanted was that I know that, and know Him more. Since then, I’ve found this to be true, that whatever is happening, wherever I am, however things are going, His word that He’ll never leave nor forsake me is true. He never said things will always go swimmingly, but that when I pass through the waters, they will not overwhelm me. When He told Moses to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go, it didn’t mean that Moses wouldn’t encounter difficulties. But God was there with victory, each time.

He sees the bigger picture. When I only see the present, He sees the future too. When I only see myself, He sees all those around. When I only see the natural, He sees what’s going on in the Spiritual realm. But even in all that, He sees little, insignificant me, and He thinks I’m so important that when I need to read His word more, He points me to the right place. When I’m lonely, or need someone to help, He sends a friend my way. Actually, it once happened that a friend said she’d been praying for someone to talk to. We met at someone’s party. I travelled about three hours on the train to get there, she travelled about two hours by car, from a different direction.

God cares because He loves me, because He sees me, but also because He’s promised. He holds His promise dearly, the Bible says that His name is so honourable to Him, that whatever He promises, He will do, for the Glory of His name.

How does God manage to see such detail in a bigger picture. It must be like looking through a digital camera with a trillion megapixels!

Public persona, private worries

October 9, 2006

I haven’t been here in a long time, there’s so much to say. Maybe later. I promised to be in bed soon.

It’s been a busy week, with Lancaster University resuming for a new term. The Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians runs a student welcome programme that’s taken up most of my time this week. On Sunday 8 October, we had a party to welcome as many new students as we could find. It was informal, it was even held in my house. By the end of the month, when we have a proper meeting, we’d probably have met more students.

I’m sure I was a good host. They couldn’t have known what turmoil my mind was in. One of my favourite psalms is psalm 18. There’s a passage in that psalm. Picture the scene: David is surrounded by enemies, he’s tired, confused and overwhelmed. Then, suddenly, God shows up, all guns blazing. There’s lightning, thunder, great noise and light, and very gently, God lifts him out of his misery.

The thing is that if it was possible, David could have just walked away from the situation. I too can do the possible; I can turn off this computer and go to bed … actually, I should, it’s quite late. I can even say hello to people at a party and make sure they’re comfortable. But what if I wanted to walk on water … you know what I mean, reconcile to irreconcileable things, look at an impossible situation and make it possible.

That’s when I cling to my faith, that’s when I trust only God. So, one day, a shaft of light will illuminate the jungle that my mind’s in now, a clap of thunder will clear the space, a strong wind will blow all the confusion away, and God’s gentle hands will lift me up to firmer higher ground.

I bet you think I’m joking don’t you? I haven’t forgotten, I still have to write more about the week I spent in the States. I still remember it all, … but I won’t write it just yet. I have to catch up on some sleep now.