Our Men’s Group breakfast meeting in Frome
Once every couple of months or so I go along to the nearest men’s group I can find. We meet either for breakfast, curry evenings or Zoom meetings. About a dozen of us met this morning in Holy Trinity Church braving the semi-darkness, the frost and the fog. We had a splendid fried breakfast cooked by a very obliging volunteer which included my favourite fried bread, I know it’s not the healthiest food in the world but I love the crunch and the flavour.
It is very nice meeting with a group of people who are on the same wavelength, more specifically those with the same faith. I much prefer meeting with those who recognize the need to give to society as a reflection of the example of Jesus Christ who lived over 2,000 years ago in physical form as a messenger from God so to speak.
Today’s talk was from Mike Adams, who from his accent I gathered that he is from the USA. He and his wife have worked as missionaries with Far East Broadcasting Company for 36 years and for the last 20 years specialised in setting up portable radio stations in times of dire need, where all electricity-based communications have failed. He was able to serve for example in the great storm ‘Haiyan’ of 2013 that almost leveled the Philippines with flooding up to the second floor of buildings.
Almost 10,000 people were killed. The good thing is that they can be there on the ground with their equipment within days and the benefit of being a small organization is that they can move quickly. In this case they arrived five days after the event.
Radio stations create a community within a community and play an invaluable part even after the catastrophic event has passed. It must be difficult to imagine for some life without this once temporary facility. This type of local radio station is different from a read broadcasting of national news which lacks the local micro examination of what is happening. True local radio is broadcast by the community for the community. After the immediate shock of the community, it is important for victims to find and attach themselves points of reliability and reasons to hope.
For a local radio station to appear within five days would be seen by the locals at something of a miracle. It is a service not only for information about physical things, such as the supply of food, but for mental distress. Such activities as playing music, giving encouragement, giving reassurance, is of inestimable value.
A Different Way of Doing Radio
A First Response Radio Team has a different role from the traditional media/reporting role. The aim is not to relay information about the disaster to the rest of the world, but to meet the information and recovery needs of the affected community. This is a new role for radio and it is often confused with traditional media reporting.
Local teams are trained and established in disaster prone countries, to respond within 72 hours to a disaster in their local area or country. Once trained, they can set up a radio station within an hour of arriving even in areas with no infrastructure remaining. They provide critical information to the affected community, and give the affected community a local voice. The aim is to stay on the air through to the end of the Acute Emergency Phase (around 30 days).
Faith and working things through
He was talking to us today particularly about the coincidences or so-called coincidences that have enabled him to be where he needed to be for example setting up an organization for another purpose which just happened to be situated near a disaster that was about to happen for example the Philippines typhoon.
He talked about the need for balance between work and play and said in a very moving comment – for me anyway – that “you should do things that give you joy”.
I can resonate to that because I’m so busy working most of the time for the good of mankind but at the same time tended to neglect my own physical and mental welfare. This last week was an example of me taking time off away from the computer, not needing to take part in the cooking or washing up process, just having fun with a group of similarly minded people and going to new places.
He has often wondered what he should be doing next and he says that if you take one step forward, God will provide the inspiration and you will then know that He is with you. I liken it to my GPS on my car where – if you stand still – it will not know which direction you are going and cannot perform as a GPS, but if you move forward it will then trigger you to going the right direction. I believe that stepping forward in faith fires up the powers above and we if we wish can be continually guided.
Mike finds that his wife often gets the first intimation that they should be ‘on the move’ geographically. This is the challenge of faith in an organization which by its nature must expect the unexpected. Nature does not play by the rule book, not our rule book anyway, so we need a special type of faith driven resonance.
This reminds me of the group Médecins Sans Frontières where medical teams go wherever they are needed in times of emergency where lives are at risk
He spoke of in times of need that ‘the wind blew’ in response to prayer, equipment turned up just when it was needed. He gave an example of cables that they had been waiting for for six years and on that very day of need they received a phone call saying that ‘funding has been received so we are sending off the equipment today’.
Mike spoke of the possibility of retiring in two to three years time but I retorted that I have never seen a person who is more unlikely to retire. He said that he would be free of the restrictions placed on him by an organization and would be free to use his skill sets in other ways.
Again, I can relate to that because although I am officially retired, I’ve got so many projects on the go I’m more busy than when I did what I call normal work, whatever the word ‘normal’ means.
Where are the younger people?
It is a pity that more local men were there to hear this excellent address. I am refreshed by listening to people who have walked their talk and speak from first-hand experience. They have the power to encourage everyone including myself who was inspired to write this article. The average age of our group is probably about retiring age, 65 or so and I wonder what it takes to get younger people involved.
As my acupuncturist once remarked, people don’t start to think about the important factors of life such as health until they retire. This certainly in my observation includes matters of faith. I suppose unless you’ve been bought up by Godly parents you would not have much interest in spirituality and religion because you are still in the world of consumerism and living life on this physical plain.
In our prayer after the talk I prayed for people who needed help but did not know how to ask or whom to ask. It is a big topic but briefly we can fall into the trap of thinking that we are the only person suffering from a particular condition. This can paralyze us. People can also hesitate to ask for help because of pride, or shame. It’s easy to say ‘there is nothing to be ashamed of’ but if the roots of this shame go back to perhaps being helpless as a child and having had your request for help ignored, it is not so easy just to brush off the past.
As our speaker said today, you do not so easily forget certain scenes of violence or death, it’s just that they go to further back in the queue.
I repeat: with regard to people’s general interest in spirituality, I reckon unless something catastrophic happens such as a serious accident or a disease such as cancer, they’re probably isn’t enough reason to tempt you away from this three-dimensional world towards another level of reality. I suppose people might have previously asked themselves ‘what’s in it for me then?’
In my own case, I believe in the power of example and showing people perhaps subliminally, that there is more to life than self-interest and it is the benefit of the greater good that we should all be focused on if only as a means of survival.
As the Good Book says, ‘we are members one of another’. You could write a good few books on the wisdom contained in that one verse.