Disastrous decisions bring misery

EARTHQUAKES. Hurricanes. Tsunamis. Famine. The destruction of places and their populations by weapons of war.

When disasters happen, whether natural or manmade, it is easy to play the blame game. Whose fault is it?

God is often top of the list, prompting the age-old question: Why does a God of love allow so much suffering to happen?

It is a question that has baffled people for years, particularly as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are natural occurrences that have been around for millennia.

Revolution road

IAN PAISLEY and Martin McGuinness may or may not have had them when they agreed to share power in Northern Ireland. Dave Myers was said to have had one when, begging fellow Hairy Biker Si King for a blood pressure pill, he realised he needed to lose weight. Big Sam Allardyce was described as having had one when, for a successful run of games at West Ham United, he adopted an attacking style of play.

When someone seems to undergo a dramatic change of heart, observers often talk about a ‘road to Damascus experience’ or a ‘Damascene conversion’.

To have and to hold

WEDDING bells are ringing. Today (Saturday 19 May), Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

In the weeks leading up to the royal wedding, the Royal Mint created a five-pound coin bearing the couple’s faces, Legoland’s Miniland built a brick version of the wedding and Madame Tussauds unveiled a wax model of Meghan, complete with engagement ring. Local councils received hundreds of street party applications, and the BBC waived the TV licence fee for those showing the wedding on a large screen.

National Doughnut Day

Friday 1 June 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of National Doughnut Day that honours The Salvation Army Lassies who served doughnuts on the front line during WW1.

Show off your baking skills and make your own doughnuts or purchase doughnuts from local suppliers and sell these for a suggested donation at a coffee morning. To add to the celebration you can hold a decorating or taste testing competition. It doesn't matter whether it's at a school, an office or a church - join us in the celebration by hosting your own Doughnut Day - and raise dough for The Salvation Army!

Education, education, education

WE may not remember much about our school days, but favourite teachers are easy to recall. Perhaps they made learning a pleasure, rather than a pain­ful experience. Or perhaps they took an interest in our progress and encouraged us to do well.

When Jesus began his preaching min­istry, he quickly became many people’s favourite teacher. He talked about God in a way so unlike the other Jewish teachers that it caught people’s imagination and deepened their religious understanding. He used everyday illustrations to teach about love, forgiveness and the fatherhood of God.

Finding life in the face of death

‘ONE moment, I was a regular person with regular problems. And the next, I was someone with cancer,’ says Kate Bowler, a wife, mother and theology professor at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina. ‘I just couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It felt impossible.’

In 2015, after months of seeing doctors for an unexplained jabbing pain in her stomach, Kate was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. Almost immediately, she underwent surgery. Fearing the worst, she didn’t expect to live.

Deadly serious

ONE piece of tongue-in-cheek advice a church minister gave to grooms before he conducted their wedding was this: ‘There are only two occasions when it is acceptable to wake your wife in the morning. One is if it has snowed. The other is when someone famous has died.’

This year, with the deaths of well-known individuals such as Ken Dodd, Stephen Hawking, Eric Bristow and Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, there have been plenty of opportunities for such advice to be put into practice.

Hear, hear!

HAVE you ever been having a con­versation with someone and suddenly realised that you have stopped really listening to them? It dawns on you that you no longer have a clue what they’re talking about.

Or perhaps you’ve experienced the situation from the other side, and you’ve been frustrated because the person you’re speaking to just doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

The art of listening is a skill that can take time and effort to develop. But if we are able to master it, it can make life so much better – and often easier.

They're all special deliveries

JOAN GIBSON was just 22 years old when she left her home in Scotland and travelled to Zambia to work as a nurse and midwife at a Salvation Army hospital.

‘I’d only been on a plane once before,’ she recalls. ‘And yet off I went to Africa on my own, not really knowing what lay ahead of me. Working at the Chikankata Hospital was a steep learning curve for a relatively new midwife like me.’