Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mubi taken by Boko Haram

Report came midday (29/10/14) of an attack by BH on Mubi in Adamawa State.  It started last night with BH attacking the security at Mubi Junction in Mubi North LGA and Uba LGA.  Later it was reported that the military made a tactical withdrawal back into Mubi but BH were too strong for them.  By this afternoon BH had broken into the prisons in Mubi, bombed the military barracks and taken up residence in the Emir's Palace.  Military aircraft were expected from Yola.  Then at 9pm it was reported that BH have over run 3 LGA areas, those of Uba, Mubi North and Mubi South.  Many are reported as being killed while thousands have fled into Cameroon or to Yola the State capital (about 200km).  It was reported that many soldiers with heavy equipment also fled during the raid.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More killings by Boko Haram

On 25 Oct BH sent messages to Christians in hidehouts in the Gwoza Hills that they will massacre all non Muslims in the hideouts.  Many tried to escape into Cameroon in the night of 26 but were stopped.  Some were able to escape and get back to their hideouts.  Yesterday the news came through that the BH have burnt the area and killed many people in the Hills.
Today  news came through that three people, an elderly man, a boy and a woman were abducted, presumably by BH in the town of Beto in Adamawa (where girls were abducted from recently but then they escaped).  Most people from that area have fled into Gombe town.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Films seen in October 2014

1. Four Lions

The most unusual subject possible for a comedy but it does work. It has many hilarious moments. While The Life of Brian showed no real respect for the Christian message I did not see this as in any way disrespectful of Islam, it merely poked fun at four very stupid Muslims. I am still left wondering if this is not too serious a subject for parody. The language is over ripe with expletives.

News from friends in Jos, Nigeria

First of all the threats in Jos have died down so thanks for praying. Over 80 folks from Niger were caught and since then more have been caught. Our SS do a good job so we praise God for this.
Gwoza area, about 500 miles from Jos is in a bad way. Most of the area from just outside Maiduguri to Mubi about 200 miles away have been taken over by BH. Gwoza is about half way between Maiduguri  and Mubi. Most of the Christians have fled from these areas. The worst place is the thousands still left on the Ngoshe Glavda hills.  These people fled from the plains when their houses were looted and then burnt and thousands built shacks on the hills or lived in the caves. Now, these last 2 weeks  BH are climbing the hills, taking all the food they can get, burning their shacks and killing folks. Some are trying to escape but all roads have been blocked , although we hear a few hundred have reached Cameroon. The journey from Cameroon is complicated and needs money. The recent family of 8 to be in our house took about 2 weeks from Ngoshe Glavda to Jos. and spent a lot of money. But lots that flee have nothing. Folks are trying to help and 2 people in Federal Gov. are seeing what they can do but it is not easy. Continue to pray.
We have been able to get a big building so we wait to see if people come. It is not easy as we could never afford to transport people in great numbers. What would they do in the future if in Jos.? Pray for wisdom.
The 23 families that came to us one or two at a time are nicely settled in Jos and villages around where they can get farm land and now we are trying to pay school fees, medical care and setting some up with petty trading so hopefully by next year they will be independent of us.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24: John G. Paton

by davidtmyers
Courage in the Cause of Mission
The young seminary graduate traveled with his bride to a two year foreign mission stint in Alberta, Canada. Settling in the apartment underneath the church sanctuary, the newly ordained minister on Reformation day in 1966 began his first pastorate to the small Canadian mission church. Sometime during the first few months, he discovered in a used book store the two volume set of John G Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides. That stirring mission account became the Lord's Day reading for the  young couple all during their stay and ministry in the capital city of the province.
Yet the author of this post in Presbyterian history did not have to worry about his physical safety, or that of his bride during our time there. Being eaten by cannibals was never on our minds and hearts. But to the Rev. John G. Paton and his wife, this was a constant danger in a society utterly depraved in word and deed. Indeed the lives of some earlier missionaries to those islands did end in that terrible way, while attempting to minister the Word of Grace to these same inhabitants. Yet still these Presbyterian missionaries in the mid-eighteen hundreds went courageously to these islands with a firm belief in the sovereignty of God and a loving desire to see the natives converted to Christ.
Paton believed in the power of the gospel. Yes, there were difficulties. His first wife and child both perished in childbirth. He was subject to threats of life and limb on a day by day basis. More than once, he had to flee for his life to a tree limb or to a ship which came providentially off the coast. But with the provision of a second wife, he was blessed with a quiver full of children. In God's timing, he was also blessed with a quiver full of spiritual children, as the entire island of Aniwa inhabitants came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And it was on this day October 24, 1869, that he was able to offer the Sacrament of Communion, in the Presbyterian manner, as he was apt at saying in his ministrations on that island.
He would go to be with the Lord on January 28, 1907, with his wife proceeding him by two years. Both are buried in Australia.
Words to Live By:
There is a notable quotation which was given to a Scotsman who, upon hearing of John Paton's desire to minister in the islands of the South Pacific, said to him, "Cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals." Paton replied to the old saint, "You are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer." May you and I, dear Reader, have a similar desire to go and minister for the Savior, come what may, knowing . . . knowing that our lives are sure and firm in the Savior's plan for our lives.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More about recent attacks in Nigeria

A  bomb blast 22 Oct in Azare,  Borno St in the lorry park killing 5 people.
Men in uniform (thought to be Fulani) attacked two villages near Wukari in Taraba State on Sunday morning 19th while people were in church.  4 were killed in one village and 27 in another (Sondi)  Among the dead was the CRCN pastor and his only son.
On the night of 21st/22nd Fulani terrorists attacked a village near Lafiya leaving one 20 dead, 40 houses set on fire and hundreds displaced.

It's all very distressing but we can only keep praying for those suffering and praying for an end to the terrible trouble.  Let's pray too for the terrorists who ever they are that God would have mercy on them and bring them to repentance - pray for Damascus Road encounters.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NIGERIA – Weekend attacks cast doubt on Boko Haram 'truce'

Scores of Christians were reportedly killed and several churches burned down in raids on two villages in Adamawa state yesterday.
Release partners said militants were believed to have raided Pelachiroma and Chung villages in the Gombi local government area.
There were also reports that Boko Haram extremists killed several Christians in an attack on Gava 111 village in the Gwoza local government area of Borno state on Saturday.
These reports appear to undermine the Nigerian military's announcement on Friday that it had agreed a truce and signed a ceasefire with Boko Haram.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recent events related by friends in Nigeria

The fighting and terrorism still carries on in the N.E as well as parts of Plateau State, and other areas too.  It is so sad to hear of hundreds of lives being lost, and so much property being destroyed.  All the villages and towns between Maiduguri and Limankara (over 100 miles) have been attacked, including Gwoza, and the Christians and moderate Muslims have now fled to other areas. Many went to Adamawa State, which neighbours Borno, but Boko Haram followed them there, and they had to move again. 
In the past, Boko Haram, operated hit and run tactics – they would terrorise an area, the people would flee, but then they would leave.  This has all changed now.  Following the establishment of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram have done the same in large parts of Borno State.  In Gwoza they have raised their flag, set up a government, and taken control.  They are extending from here, and have taken control of Bama (50 miles away) and are surrounding Maiduguri, a further 50 miles away.
In the past few months in the Ngoshe Glavda area over 400 were killed, many buildings burnt, and there are over 50,000 refugees.  We will never know the exact numbers, but this gives us some idea of what is happening.
The Christians initially, could only flee to the hills as the other ways out were blocked.  Some did manage to get to the Cameroon and are now in a UNICEF Camp – we hear there are about 5,000 here.  They are being fed and it is a lot safer for them but unfortunately they was a Cholera outbreak that killed up to 200 people. Others moved to farmland near Abuja (Nigeria’s capital). There are 2 camps, one with 45 families, and the other with 46. The churches and individuals have been very kind, supplying food and cash.
There are still about 5-10,000 living in caves or amongst the rocks on the Gwoza hills.  They struggle to get food, although they were able to get some animals, and we were able to send grain to them.  Sadly Boko Haram have climbed up to them, and they have had to leave the animals and food, and gone even higher into the hills.

Earlier some did manage to escape, and there are 2000 families in Maiduguri, and others to towns in the next State.  The Christians are struggling to feed them – thanks to gifts from the UK we have been able to help with this.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No cease fire in Nigeria

On saturday 17th around mid-day 6 civilians on the Biu/ Garkida road of Borno State were held, hands bound and then all slaughtered. It was the same spot where the late Emir of Gwoza was killed several months ago.  The terrorists prevented relatives from removing the bodies.  One young man, the son of one of those killed, was shot and is in hospital in Biu.

On Sunday 18 the BH attacked and killed people at Abadam near Lake Chad and are now in full control of the village.  Later on Sunday it was reported that BH were attacking a village in Gwoza LGA and many villagers were slaughtered.

Today, Monday 19 news came in of an ongoing attack on villages in the Garkida area.  Several churches have been burnt and scores of Christians killed.  (This is an area where the majority of people are indigenous Christians, mainly of the EYN/CBM Church).

Nigerians are now demanding the total eradication of the BH, not a cease fire, as the only way out.  (with what appears to be support from key people in Government and society in Northern Nig. this is unlikely to happen.  We can only continue to pray and hope).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recent news from Nigeria

You will have heard on BBC or other sources that the Nigerian govt have reached a cease fire agreement with the BH and that plans are underway to release the 200 + girls from Chibok.  We can only hope and pray that this becomes reality.  Naturally people are very sceptical.

People are wondering how this can be a cease fire and not a total surrender.  Only then can the 9 million displaced people return to their homes in the north.  Much more is needed to end the violence, including that caused by Fulani terrorism and city bombings.  He adds that many law abiding Nigerians, victims of Islamic violence are bleeding over the denial of justice shown by the negotiations going on.  Whose are the faces representing this evil and deadly group that appear to be above the law and how can people overlook such violence and live with such people in the future?

On Wednesday 15th there was panic at Jos Teaching Hospital when gunmen in trying to force their way in, shot and killed the security guard when he discovered arms in the boot of their car.  The gunmen all escaped.  Security has been on red alert in Jos following a wake of violence and the arrest of foreign terrorists.

News also came in that BH abducted a 10 yr old girl and a 7 year old from Beto and 7 other girls from Krio near Mubi in Adamawa State.  All were taken to a hideout in the hills.  As the terrorists went to carry out a second attack one of the girls, a 14 yr old, took courage and led all of the girls to freedom. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nigeria 8 to 11 October 2014

Oct 8 The Special Task Force arrested 80 people in Rikkos area of Jos.  They were suspected to be mercenaries from Niger and confessed that they were hired to do violence in the State.  That was some welcome good news.
Two days before that gunmen gunned down 2 policemen on guard at the gate of the University of Jo Permanent site in Plateau.
On the 7 STF reported that Boko Haram fired a rocket from Banki town on the border with Cameroon.  the rocket hit the town of Amchide inside Cameroon killing 8 people.  That could be a very serious development.
Oct 10 six people were way-layed between villages in Riyom LGA  (that's less than 40 miles from Jos) Plateau St and all killed.  these same villages were attacked only a week ago when 17 were killed.
11th BH attacked refugees in the settlement near Kirawa in Borno when 17 were killed but one report said many were massacred .

Thursday, October 09, 2014

October 9: Death of David Brainerd

by davidtmyers
brainerd02We have more than once made reference to the diary of David Brainerd in this historical devotional guide. Often times these entries filled a date in which no other Presbyterian person, place, or event could readily be found, so this writer was thankful for that. But it also set forth the true example of an individual who by his own statement wanted to wear out his life in God’s service and for His glory. How scarce are they found today in Christ’s church!
Talk about a Christian who, by all reports, was skinny and sickly. No modern missionary agency, whether for overseas or in our own country, would even approve of one like this for missionary service. So the very fact that he was a missionary in the first place to native Americans had to be of God. There simply was no other reason for it. God was in the whole plan as well as the details of the plan.
From the time of his ordination until his death was but about three years. As the inscription on his tombstone reads, “Sacred to the memory of the Rev. David Brainerd, a faithful and laborious missionary to the Stockbridge, Delaware, and Susquehanna Tribes of Indians.” And yet his influence upon them doesn’t really tell the whole story. His diary has caused countless in every century since that time to open themselves up to the call of God upon their lives. His life and ministry have stood the test of time, and a stream of workers for the kingdom of God have been sent forth to the nations of the world with the gospel of Christ, at least in part because of his example.
His closing days were precious in more than one way. After discovering that he had tuberculosis, he spent his months in the home of America’s greatest philosopher, Dr. Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Connecticut. While there, Dr. Edwards youngest daughter, Jerusha, a mere teenager, took care for him in an atmosphere of spiritual love. Whether they were engaged has never been proved, but there was a loveliness in that relationship which brought words like “we will spend a happy eternity together,” on the day he died, which was October 9, 1747. That eternity came sooner than later, as Jerusha contracted the same dread disease, and died a year later. They are buried side by side in the cemetery in Northampton.
Words to live by: If you have never, dear reader, read the Diary of David Brainerd, it remains available in either book form or on  the web in digital format. Open your heart to the words of this young man who died at age 29. Not only will it convict you of your need for more holiness, but it will give you a sense of urgency to take the gospel to unsaved loved ones, to friends, and to strangers, as David Brainerd did in his day. And who knows? Maybe it will send you to far off shores as a missionary, as it has so many since that time now long ago in colonial America.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nigeria Sunday 5 Oct 2014

Sadly there has been a cholera outbreak in the UN camp in Cameroon where most of the Pulka/Gwoza and Hill people fled to.  News today is that over 200 have died and also another 70 in a camp in Taraba State.  Others have been hospitalised, and some have fled back into Nigeria - but where do they go?  
There have been more attacks on the few people in the villages behind the Hills and those hiding in the Hills.  On Friday 3rd BH came in numbers on motor cycles and on foot, looting and killing.  Military jets flew over head but did not do anything.  BH are humiliating, torturing and forcefully Islamising those they capture.  44 women have been abducted

In Plateau State Fulani terrorist attacked villages in the Bachit District on Friday in the middle of the night.  12 villagers were killed and one soldier and 2 other soldiers missing.

Today Sunday 5th 50 BH terrorists attacked several villages in Buni Yardi area in Yobe State killing 10 and burning over 100 houses.  Attacking several villages at the same time totally overwhelms the few local police.

Government forces have re-taken Michika today and want to advance on Gwoza.  

Wednesday, October 01, 2014



Continue to pray for Christians in Nigeria who are suffering at the hands of Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Boko Haram recently attacked the Christian-majority communities of Shaffa and Shindiffu in Borno state, killing at least 20 people. A pastor was among those killed, and ten churches were burned down.
This attack followed the capture by Boko Haram of a mainly Christian town in Adamawa state, which the group seized in an attempt to increase the territory it holds in the country’s North. It is unclear how many people were killed when the militants raided Michika, and nearby Bazza, on 8 September.
A month earlier, at least 100 Christians were slaughtered, and two churches destroyed, by Boko Haram in an attack on the predominantly Christian city of Gwoza in Borno state. After Gwoza was seized on 6 August, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared that it was now “part of the Islamic caliphate”.
Other towns in the north-east of the state have also been seized. Men over the age of 18 in the territory are being shot, and Christian women have been forced to convert on pain of death. Sharia law has been imposed on the seized territory.
The black, Islamist flag was raised over Gwoza in an act mirroring that of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Intelligence agencies are concerned that ISIS has offered Boko Haram advice on strategy and tactics.
Islamist violence in border areas is also spilling over into Cameroon, where Nigerian Christian refugees and others are being affected.
Pray for those Christians in Nigeria who are living under the oppression of Boko Haram; that the God of all comfort will give them peace in this time of affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3). Ask that He will protect His people and provide for the material needs of those who have been forced to flee their homes.

Barnabas Fund.

Books read in October 2014

1.  C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath 

This is a detailed account of Lewis's life and his writings. His life was one with many ups and downs. Hard were the loss of his mother when a child, his unhappy public schooling in England, WW1 service, estrangement from his father, the demands and dementia of his friend Mrs Moore, his brother's alcoholism, the death of his wife and the petty politics of Oxford and academics who resented his popular acclaim. Lewis did not have an easy life but it was one transformed by a reluctant conversion to Christian faith. Lewis as popular apologist and clear defender of the faith as well as the masterful author of Narnia are well related. The theory as to the literary background to Narnia is fascinating and convincing.

2.  Charles H. Robinson, Author Of "Hausaland", "Studies In The Character Of Christ" Etc; A Record Of Travel And Work by Florence. Robinson

I found this gem in The Evangelical Library. It is the biography of an outstanding Anglican clergyman who devoted his life to Christian mission. His first journey was to present day Turket to see if the Church of England could aid the struggling Armenian church there. It was a difficult and dangerous journey but it paled in comparison with his epic journey into unexplored Hausaland going to Kano from the south. His elder brother had eariier died in what is present day Nigeria, but he had translated Matthew's gospel into Hausa. Robinson continues studies in Hausa producing a dictionary then a grammar and more gospel translation. The difficulty of travel in those regions, both from robbers and sickness are horrific. But even worse is the thriving slave raiding and trade witnessed by Robinson and only ended with the colonisation of Northern  Nigeria in 1900. For those who think colonialism a wholly bad affair, read this book and see how Africa was before colonisation. Robinson returned to England and wrote many works on mission. He was a man 100% committed to spreading the gospel.

3. The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

This thriller starts well as a mystery as to the identity of The Preacher who is encouraging Muslims to be suicide murderers. There is much detail as to how The Tracker finds who he is and where, then a very clinical finish in killing him with the help of an autistic genius teenage hacker and the use of high tech surveillance drones. All very thrilling but lacking in surpasses, twists and turns. Nowadays it is Gerald Seymour who gets my prize for thrillers. Forsyth's work is well researched but he has lost his edge.


There are not many books I have deemed worthy of a second read. I first borrowed this from The Evangelical Library 31 years ago. It is a classic of missionary autobiography written by Miller on his retirement from the Church Missionary Society after 36 years in the north of Nigeria. He eventually returned to Nigeria, dying there after 55 years of missionary work. He is unique in planting a church from Hausa Muslims, the Isawa people who were waiting for someone to tell them more of the prophet Isa than what they knew from the Koran. Miller met a people prepared by God to receive the gospel. He went on to be the premier translator among those who translated the Hausa Bible. What comes across very strongly in this book is the way in which Miller really loved the Hausa and Fulani and how confident he was in the transforming power of the gospel. Reading this after Robinson's account of Kano before 1900 one again reads of the horror of slavery. Miller had very good relations with the colonial government but is not backward in putting into print what he believed to be the way forward for civil government. Miller had good personal relations with many Muslim emirs but is not sparing in his criticism of the effects of Islam in Nigeria. A classic work that can bring tears to one's eyes.

5.  Out of the Storm: Questions and Consolations from the Book of Job by Christopher Ash

Concise and helpful overview of Job. Job is seen as a book not primarily about suffering but about God, how he deals with his followers. Well written and with practical insight. It is particularly helpful in showing how this book speaks of Christ and his suffering. God is good. He is sovereign. Facing suffering the believer may well be perplexed but this book gives practical pastoral counsel.

6.  Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger 

Junger was a junior infantry officer who served throughout WWI and despite no less than 14 injuries survived to tell this epic account of front line battle. The descriptions of being under artillery barrages left one wondering how anyone could survive without chronic shell shock. The German officers seemed to have plentiful supplies of drink and tobacco but poor rations. I was surprised too at seeming friendly relations with the French and Belgian civilians near the front. There is no criticism of his commending officers nor any questioning of the ability and bravery of his enemies. The carnage is horrific. Junger was much decorated, deservedly so. The one thing sorely absent is maps to show us where the battles raged.

7.  The Imam's Daughter by Hannah Shah 

As an autobiography this is an horrific book. It shows that it can take many years for an abused child to tell what has happened. The book shows how a culture can turn Islam into an abusive misogynist patriarchy. Hannah's father was probably a psychopathic pervert but his religion did not restrain him. She rightly says that Islam means submission, not peace, and the submission required of a Muslim girl can be absolute, domestic drudgery and forced marriage. For Hannah it involved child rape too. But when she was able to study Islam at university and read the Koran in English commentary she realised that much of what she has been taught as Koranic orthodoxy was in fact Pakistani custom. She also learned how ignorant most Muslims are concerning the meaning of the Koran for what learning they have is by rote in incomprehensible classical Arabic. They do not know that Jesus is mentioned far more often than Mohammed
   Though Hannah does not make the point one can read this book as a discourse on the futility and failure of multiculturalism. Older Pakistanis may be skilled in exploiting the benefits system while despising and hating the host culture. Any integration is discouraged. Their community is dominated by shame, the ultimate being apostasy. Hannah becomes a Christian so deserves to die. She is condemned to hide from her family and community.
   The book also shows how unhelpful is a failed political correctness which would send a British male Pakistani social worker to help a girl who is accusing her respected Imam father of domestic violence. What is heartwarming is the story of how teachers and lecturers helped Hannah. This led to her interest in Christianity with its portrayal of God as a loving father. Hannah finds love and hope among Christians who in no way seem pushy evangelists. Hannah becomes an outspoken advocate for abused Asian women and girls, offering counsel and help.

8. No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth

Forsyth is a masterful storyteller. Each of these tales has a delightful twist, usually a surprising one. The tales are usually quite moral. Evil does not iin out. Greed usually does mot pay. Only Archer seems to be in the same league of modern masters.

9.  Silent Witnesses: Lessons on Theology, Life and the Church from Christians of the Past by Garry J. Williams

This is a unique book. It draws biographical sketches of nine christians and two historical episodes, examines their theological import and gives application for the present. It concludes with a chapter showing there is no neutral history, it either looks for God's work or denies its reality. The target reader is the thinking Christian as well as those in Christian leadership. Some chapters will stretch the understanding, particularly on religious affections. Some will surprise you, such as the happy defence of Mary as mother of God and Luther's insistence that preachers be conversant with the biblical languages. The is much to inform, warm the heart and challenge the reader to devotion, obedience and thoughtful application. I hope this will not stay unique. I hope the author gives us more and perhaps he may lead to others writing in the same most helpful way.

10.  Lewis: A History of the Island by Donald MacDonald 

This is a comprehensive history of Lewis from the prehistoric and the Norse invasions up to the present time. Different aspects of life on the island are related in a comprehensive social history. The most fascinating chapters for me were on famine, smuggling, the armed forces, evictions, emigration and land agitation.

11. Scottish Presbyterian Pulpit Ministry by Wayne Pearce 

The people of Skye and Harris are blessed to have such a pulpit ministry. The addresses here are biblical in the reformed tradition, clear and passionate. There are some chapters addressing controversial matters. The charismatic movement is firmly critiqued but in a gracious spirit. A good case is put forward for exclusive unaccompanied psalmody in worship though this reviewer remains unconvinced. I was a little surprised by the chapter on the Lord's Supper which while saying this is a means of grace did not seem to be giving more than a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice.  I do not read here of feasting on Christ by faith, of the soul being really strengthened as the body is by bread and wine. But this is a valuable book which will challenge, inform and edify. May Scotland have more of like ministry.

12. A Children's Treasury of Milligan: Classic Stories and Poems by Spike Milligan  

Milligan was a comic genius and this book attests to that. The title says 'A Children's Treasury' but this is for children of all ages, especially those who love The Goons. This is anarchic humour at its finest. Read and laugh. Read it to children and I am sure they will identify too though some of the jokes will not dawn on them until they are older.

13. Loving Amy: A Mother's Story by Janis Winehouse 

This is a terribly tragic story. Amy was to popular music what George Best was to football - a talent sadly lost to alcohol. The overwhelming feeling I had from this brutally honest account was that of a loving, grieving mother helpless seeing her beloved daughter self destruct. Why, with the music world at her feet did Amy drink herself to death? Why did she effuse professional help?  The book offers no answers. The reader might wonder what if her father had not abandoned the family when Amy was young but understandably her mother does not go there. Unless an alcoholic is prepared to admit their need of help there is nothing family and friends can do. This was the tragedy of Amy and her family. The one happiness at the end is the good work now being done by the foundation set up in Amy's name. One thing I did not put on the Amazon review is that I knew the author professionally when she did locums for me at the pharmacy I managed in Finchley. I remember she kindly brought my staff autographed programmes from the BRIT awards.

14.  Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War:  by John Lewis-Stempel

Those most likely to die in WWI were the young junior officers leading the men in the trenches, a life expectancy of six weeks. They were on the whole young public school boys trained in their schools' Officer Training Corps. Their background was upper and upper middle class. Taught to be loyal, patriotic and Christian they quickly learned how to command and lead men who were usually older. They established bonds that transcended class divides. They above all showed courage under fire and proved to be men that others would gladly follow. This book paints the grim reality of life in the trenches, shells and shrapnel, mud and vermin, cold and wet. These officers would lead night patrols to enemy lines, some delighted in being snipers. All were ready to go over the top often nonchalantly smoking pipe or cigarette. The horrors and the bravery are here with wounds and death aplenty. Many excepts from letters home and last letters to be open-end in the event of death. There is a lot of poetry. I think this book gives you a real feel of the war in the trenches.

15. Great Britain's Great War by Jeremy Paxman

A well written concise history of the war, not only on the battle field but also the home front. Why the war happened, how so many volunteered and the political currents are well documented. The rumour mongering, spite against Germans and the attempts to keep the reality of the conflict from the people are often shocking. Paxman produces very readable history.

16. One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

Once again Bryson proves to be a most readable author of non-fiction. Lindbergh is the central hero of 1927 with his remarkable achievement of solo crossing of the Atlantic at a time when many died in the attempt and those who succeeded could not navigate like Lindberg. He landed where he intended. Others crossed the ocean only not to know where they landed. The other great hero of the year was the incomparable Babe Ruth. A glossary of baseball terms would help non-americans to understand his achievements. The folly of prohibition is exposed and the awful popularity of eugenics and endemic racism. Lindbergh was the all American hero until his anti-semitism was evidenced. I found the account of anarchist bombings to be a surprise. There was much to like and loathe in 1927 America. This is a great book of social and political history.

17. Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror by Craig Murray

Once again where a factual book is stranger than fiction. This is a terrible indictment of New Labour spin, of Blair the tail wagged by the Bush dog. When Murray was sent on his first ambassadorial posting, Uzbekistan was no longer pa`rt of the USSR but is was still a communist style corrupt oligarchy. But because it was providing a large US air base and helping in the war on terror, Murray's reports of government torture rendered him a target of accusations from his Foreign Office employers (FCO) under Jack Straw. Murray was depicted as an irresponsible philandering alcoholic and prevented from contacting witnesses to help defend himself. He refused to resign and was eventually relieved of his post with no accusations proved except disobeying the order which prevented him marshalling witnesses in his defence. Murray comes across as a hard working, dedicated, popular, fearless and unorthodox. The evidence points to Straw dismissing him on orders from Number 10. An amazing roller coaster, a thrilling story. If Murray is to believe Blair's regime turned a bond eye to torture in order to keep the special relationship of intelligence sharing with the USA, this despite the House of Lords ruling against any complicity in torture. Though Murray the public figure is to be commended, he does not cover himself with glory in private. He refused to give up a young Uzbek mistress, not his first extra-marital affair. His wife had enough and rightly divorced him. A pity his public integrity did not extend to his private file.

18. The Admiral's Secret Weapon: Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare by Charles Stephenson

This is the story of how, a hundred years before WWI, a British admiral developed the concept of chemical warfare, burning sulphur to produce sulphur dioxide to incapacitate the enemy. Plans were submitted to the Admiralty but rejected as of doubtful practicality and not being civilised. Detailed plans were submitted for use in the Crimean War both in the Baltic and at Sebastopol. If they has been used many lives might have been saved. But the plans were left as a family secret with the admiral's descendants. In 1914 they were again offered and rejected. Then in 1915 the Germans were the first to use a gas attack, chlorine at Ypres. The question remains unanswered as to whether the German attack was based on the century old plan of the British admiral. A fascinating study in the history of warfare.

19. The Antipope (Brentford Trilogy) by Robert Rankin 

I am not usually a reader of fantasy but made an exception for this besause of its setting in my locality. The author is a skilful, imaginative and above all a humorous writer. He has interested me enough to tempt me to read more of this Brentford novels.

October 1: Parliament evicts 400 Presbyterian pastors from Scotland (1662)

by davidtmyers
Suppose . . . just suppose now  . . . the government, whether national, regional, or local, would arrive one Sunday to your congregational worship, your Presbyterian church, to check  up on the church attendance that morning, or evening  After the sermon, an individual would have a listing of all the members of your  church, and proceed to read the names of the family members. Those missing from the attendance that day would be marked at absent. The absentees would then have a fine given to the head of the home to pay within a certain time. If any were not able to pay that fine, then a company of  soldiers would take up their quarters at that home, proceeding to devastate the food supplies, clothes supplies, and anything else of value in the home. After a time, what they had not used in their possession time in the home, they would leave, but not before they destroyed all that which was left. Surely, such a practice would not be tolerated in any civilized nation, but this is exactly what was the case in the land of Scotland in 1662. It began with the great ejection of Presbyterian ministers, some 400 pastors in all, from their pulpits and manses and parishes.
It was called the Act of Glasgow on October 1, 1662. The Privy Council met to deal with what they believed was a gross disrespect of Anglicanism. No funds were being collected and given for the upkeep of the Anglican bishops. So this proclamation was passed to banish from their churches and parishes all Presbyterian ministers who had been ordained since 1649. The Act was published on October 4, 1662, ordering all Presbyterian ministers to withdraw themselves and their families from their manses and parishes by November 1, forbidding them to reside within the bounds of their respective presbyteries. Part of  their reasoning  came because they were incapable of reasoning rightly in their minds. Why? Because there was only one sober delegate at the meeting. All the rest were drunk. For this reason, it was known in history as the Drunken Act of Glasgow.
The Anglican authorities were astonished at their commitment to their faith. I mean, it was right before the onset of winter. Surely, there would be an immediate support of the Anglican order in the cities and towns and country. But four hundred clergy immediately left their pulpits, manses, parishes, and went out into the wilderness . . . despite the winter upon them. Two hundred churches immediately closed their doors for lack of both preachers and people.
There was unmitigated shock in the established Anglican church. To attempt to keep open the doors, hundreds of what was called "raw untaught young men" were brought in to succeed the ejected clergy. Even a bishop complained that "they were ignorant to a reproach, with many of them as incapable as they were welcome." In some cases, their arrival were met by a shower of stones, and with the church door being barricaded on the Lord's Day.
At first, the masses of Scottish Presbyterians left their parishes to attend the older pastors who were ordained before 1649. But love for their own pastors who were forced to preach in the fields and the moors began to garner their presence in worship. Fines, imprisonment, and even death did not prevent their attendance. Some were branded on the cheek and sent as slaves to . . . the American colonies. It was a terrible time to be a Scottish Presbyterian.
Words to Live By:
John M'Main best summarizes our feelings in relations to the Covenanters.  How can we read such a post like this,  "without blushing for our low attainments and small proficiency in the school of Christ!  How unlike we are to them!  How zealous were they for the honor of Christ! How lukewarm are we, of whatever profession or denomination! How burning were their love to Him, His truths, ordinances, and people! How cold is ours! How selfish and worldly are we!"  May a post from church history, from This Day in Presbyterian History, be used by the Holy Spirit to cause us to examine ourselves, to confess our sins of commission and omission, to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit once again, to rededicate our lives to King Jesus again, to be the salt and light of the world once again, in that place where we are, by God's grace.