Doctor on call returns to India

HER parents and grandparents were American medical missionaries in India, but Ida Scudder couldn’t wait to leave the country and head for the comforts of the US. As a young girl, she had fed children too weak to feed themselves and seen tiny corpses by the roadside. She wanted away.

More TV vicars

THE area, says the Rev Matthew Stafford, is beautiful. ‘I drive down the Corvedale from Much Wenlock towards my furthest parish at Stanton Long,’ he tells me, ‘I’m in the Shropshire Hills, and I feel blessed to be ministering in this wonderful part of God’s world.’

But as viewers who follow Matthew – and three other ministers – in BBC Two’s documentary series A Vicar’s Life can see, life as a country clergyman is no piece of escapism.

When social media is unsociable

DESPITE not being released until December, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the UK’s highest-grossing film of 2017. One of the stars of the film, Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, made headlines when she decided to quit social media. Explaining her decision, she cited the negative impact that the use of social media sites can have on the mental health of teenagers and young adults.

Missionary dressed to impress

MOTIVATED by his faith, James Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, now known as OMF International, one of the largest Christian movements in the world.

The son of a pharmacist and lay preacher, he grew up in Barnsley. Despite poor health, he believed that God wanted him to be a mis­sionary in China, and he studied medicine at a London hospital. Hudson Taylor was certain that God would never fail those who trusted him, and he believed in the power of prayer.

Jermain raises his voice

THE revolving chairs are back, with Olly Murs joining, Jennifer Hudson and Sir Tom Jones on the coaching panel of The Voice UK. Last Saturday (6 January) the first contestants to appear on the new series of the ITV competition took to the stage. Facing the backs of the chairs, they sang their audition pieces and hoped that their vocal talent would be enough to convince at least one coach to turn round and choose them. Up for grabs for the series winner is a recording contract.

Dodging the plastic bullet

AS people celebrated the start of the new year across the globe, China introduced a ban on imports of plastic waste. That ban in a country more than 4,000 miles away will have a significant impact in the United Kingdom.

About half a million tonnes of plastic waste are shipped out of the UK every year, and environmental groups and recycling organisations are warning that previously recycled products will now end up in landfill sites.

The UK Recycling Association has already said that plastic waste is building up at recycling yards.

Doctor prescribes freedom in Africa

‘BE generous with your lives,’ Jesus told his followers. ‘By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven’ (Matthew 5:16 The Message).

In this series we will look at the lives of men and women who took up that challenge and, through their actions, made a difference in other people’s lives.

Watch and learn

EMELI SANDÉ has one, Phillip Schofield has one, Pharrell Williams has one, as do many other entertainers and influential figures. But there’s a big question at the heart of this cool, charitable cause.

‘Why watches?’ I ask William Adoasi as we sit in his offices and talk about the birth of Vitae London.

New year, new potential

I AM in the process of moving to the United Kingdom and am looking forward to spending the first few months of 2018 settling into life in London. Ahead of me are a new job, a new team of people to work with, new places to visit and new friends to make. It is all very exciting and just a little overwhelming. The unknown can be daunting.