Welcome to a window into our world.
We have been fortunate enought to have lived in various places around the world and have enjoyed and been challenged by the faith, education, wildlife, work, culture and people we have encountered. These experiences have also moulded us in our thinking and contemplation. Some insights we have shared below.

Wednesday

Con Men or Lobbyists?

The second musings from Hans Christian Andersen's story about the Emperor’s clothes refers to those two con artists who lobbied the leaders into thinking that what they were saying was the truth, when actually it was one big con. Perhaps today a better term for them would be political lobbyists.

Political lobbyists seek to gain favor with national, state, community, business and local leaders so they can push their agenda or ideological desires and try to get the best possible deal or laws for their own small specific interest group.

These supposed weavers were doing the same thing; they sought to gain the ear of the Emperor. Their desire was to get their agenda pushed forward. They knew the Emperor was obsessed with clothes and how he looked. They sought to leverage that obsession for their own comfort, wealth and wellbeing.

The Emperor and his counselors gave in to the sweet words and pressure.

In 2007, it was believed that there were approximately 15,000 lobbyists at the federal level of the US government and they spent about $2.85 billion pressurizing and sweet talking leaders.

In 2010 the number had dropped to about 13,000, although the spending had increased to $3.50 billion.

In Nov 2009 it was estimated that there was a total of about 40,000 registered lobbyists at the state and federal level of the US government.

Leading in the context of government is supposed to mean serving the people. However the emperor and his entourage were conned because they were hoodwinked by sweet words that fed, not public service, but their egos. When the servant gives in to wanting the best in life rather than achieving the best for others, a mindset of expectation rather than an attitude of assistance comes to the fore. Before long the leaders lose their servant attitude and must try to build their power base to achieve more power. They are prone to attach themselves to what seems the best emerging interest or pressure group, just to keep or gather power. Power that can give them the edge and help them achieve their own or their power base’s agenda. This gives the opportunity for people to inflate the leaders’ ego for their own self-interest rather than give counsel for the community’s benefit. Just like the weavers who couldn’t weave with cloth but could weave with words of deceit.

The people who seek self worth often have to make a show of their influence and wealth by parading it for all to see.

However, in the Hans Christian Anderson's story we read that as this affluence and power is paraded, the simple truth, spoken by a child, “He’s naked”! is heard. The cry of the innocent rises up and people are encouraged to listen. The best advice anyone can give.

When leaders turn away from the cry of the innocent society breaks down.

Today the innocent cry comes from all walks of life. The poor and the wealthy; the sick and the whole; the young and the old

The poor who have limited and dwindling access to the resources that would help protect them from abuse, oppression, slavery and that would assist them in journeying through their poverty.

The wealthy who are badgered and persecuted by illegal practices and preyed upon.

The sick and the dying who can not get adequate care because they are a burden on corporate profit.

The young whose educational opportunities mean they are burdened with debt. Or the 12 & 13 year old’s that are being trafficked and sold within our communities.

And the old who give much to society and are then set aside as if somehow redundant and no longer able to be part of the community.

I am reminded that at one point Jesus was hemmed in and enclosed by people who were vying for his attention and wanting things from him. Yet in that moment he heard the cry of the innocent.

A women who had been bleeding for many years and who had once been financially affluent but had lost it in her quest for health.
She had not been able to get any help from her health care providers and was living on the margins of society.
She desperately needed healing and believed Jesus was the one who could provide it and came in secret and touched his cloak.
Jesus felt her, heard her and listened to the cry of the innocent.
The transformative touch from Jesus helped bring this woman from the margins and back into a whole relationship with the community she belonged to. Many women, men and children, who are enslaved in our communities today desire that same transformation.

Today lobbying goes on in London, Washington, New York, Paris, Belgium and various other capitals of the world, by people and organizations who are seeking their own and/or their special interest or corporate sponsors’ well being.
The challenge for leaders is:-
Are they going to be confused and misguided like the emperor? Led astray by smooth talking counselors who want only power, wealth and their own ideological desires? Or will they listen to the cry of the innocent and those that represent them? Will they act in a manner that will restore and transform lives, that will bring freedom and give hope for the future and enrich and enhance community life?

The Empire’s New Clothes

Today I was contemplating the Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Emperor’s New Clothes and I couldn’t help but to see it in a new light. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it tells of two weavers who give an emperor an empty box, telling him that it contains a set of clothes that cannot be seen by foolish or incompetent people. Refusing to admit that he himself cannot see them, he puts them on, as a mime artist might, and “wears” them with pride, marching down the street completely naked. It isn’t until an audacious young boy exclaims, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”, that the town realizes the truth.

When I think of this story, I think of today’s society.
We’ve come to believe that we are the most advanced and civilized society in history. We have been told that our country is a place of justice, equality, and compassion and our pride is more than happy to cultivate this illusion. We and most other people are pulled into this fantasy, but the reality of our present state is there for everyone to see.

North America and Europe owes a debt of over 32 trillion dollars. America and Great Britain alone owe 14 and 10 trillion dollars respectively.

Whilst the average age of a girl bought and sold into slavery is 13.
Many corporations and shareholders are doing anything and everything they can to maximize their own profits, and their blind, insatiable greed has destroyed communities and the lives of their own employees. This mindset has often led to the company’s own demise and further community turmoil.
To call something so controlled and manipulated a “Free Market” seems like a cruel joke.

This is only a snapshot of what we are hiding underneath our new clothes.
The global industrial revolution enjoyed massive expansion in the early 1900’s, although now we see that it was only on the back of child labor and cheated immigrants. We now call this era The Gilded Age, because while it looked like a Golden Age from the outside, a glimpse beneath the layers revealed a dark and tragic time in our history. Perhaps we always have been in a gilded age, only now, much like the emperor’s clothes, people are beginning to see straight through our facade.

So where then do we find hope for ourselves?

For our country?

For our world?

Our God has offered an incredible opportunity - the chance to partner with Him to work against injustice and apathy, and in doing so, build up the Kingdom of God on Earth. We need to stop thinking about our own well-being, the wealth we can accrue or even the Heaven we’ll go to after we die, and start thinking about the Heaven that could be right here, right now. This is our calling: to hear the cry of the weak and oppressed and to act within the community we are part of.

To not sit still.

To refuse passivity.

To be people of faith.

To live out acts of faith.

To step outside of the illusion that we are constantly being drip fed.

Of course before any of this can happen, we must face the truth. The beautiful, colorful clothes we have wrapped ourselves in do not exist, it is they that are the illusion and everybody knows it. It will not be an easy pill for us to swallow; nor was it for the emperor. Even as the town calls out to him, trying to warn him of his nakedness, the leader marches on more proudly than ever. It is my hope that we might be wiser than the naked emperor. That we might listen to the voices of those who try to warn us of the road we are on and where it will lead.

It will take humility to let go of our perceptions. It will mean listening to those we traditionally disagree with and accepting that perhaps their ideas may have some merit. It will mean working for the abused, poor and marginalized and not for the ideological or personal reputation. In short, it will not be easy. But it is more than possible. After all, this is not our plan we are fulfilling, it is God’s, and God has the capacity to do more than we can ask or imagine.

K.Potter & D.Tozier

Tuesday

Potter Prayer updates

The following was one of the final comments from our last prayer email and it certainly proved true.
"Lastly, the next several months look like they are going to be intense and full and we would all appreciate your prayers for strength and peace."
Thank you for those prayers and support.

Linsey definitely had an intense last quarter although she has recently enjoyed a week's rest(!) from her studies and now starts back with a vengeance. After this section she gets to have the summer off and just concentrate on being a mum again. One brilliant blessing is that Fuller has given Linsey a scholarship for this quarter that covers all tuition fees. It's been superb to see how God has used people, situations and the miraculous to help Linsey journey through her time at Fuller.

Charys has battled well through the early part of the year but now has a heavy last few weeks as she looks to finish middle school and give herself to her end of year music/drama events. She is taking part in a major school music presentation on "Evita" and has separate singing presentations with the Blair IB Singing ensemble and her final year exams. She is also doing a great job of organizing and chasing some personal dreams and we would appreciate your prayers as she tests the waters as to their viability.

Josh is in the run up to his IB finals and would enthusiastically appreciate all the prayer he can get as he focuses towards this major intersection in his life. There's been a little bit of a change in direction for his GAP year. He is now looking to spend most of the time in Uganda, hopefully with Oasis Uganda and, if appropriate, Cherish Uganda. He has also been accepted for NY University to study Civil Engineering, although this is just one of a couple of places that he is looking at. All of which will need a significant move of God to implement.

The Musicians Institute, where Ben would like to study begins its next semester this Wednesday, when Ben should be registering to start in April. He and we would appreciate your prayers for provision and wisdom regarding the decisions that need to be made over the next couple of days. Ben has enjoyed working at Jameson Brown and at his various other jobs, singularly saving with but one focus in mind. During these last several months interesting musical contacts and networks have also opened up to him, which he hopes will develop further and he wants to thank you for your prayers. These last six months have encompassed much of what he had hoped and envisioned for last fall.

So! Those comments at the start of this email definitely represent the last few months for us and OasisUSA. Oasis has travailed through finding stability, whilst at the same time working at developing resources and avenues of intervention to meet the rising crisis of people who are being trafficked around the country and being bought and sold.
At a recent Oasis TFC (Traffic Free Community) gathering in Pasadena, Kevin was talking with an LA County Director of Probation and she passionately expressed how in her 30 years of working, this current situation is the worst she has seen it. Young people are being branded by gangs/pimps and she said "you can track the gangs by the brands that the girls carry".
Our communities are impacted by drugs and by guns - the first and third most profitable industry for criminals. We would be remiss to think that the second most profitable criminal industry is not also surreptitiously infecting our societies and people's lives. Praise God that Jesus and was given a mandate to set the captives free. Please pray with us for an overflowing of a whole range of resources so that the Kingdom of God may actively overcome and impact the challenges ahead. Pray for the OasisUSA board as it develops an appropriate longterm strategy for the rising challenges and looks for a new Executive Director. Also for Kevin and his colleague as they juggle a multiplicity of organizational issues that affect the local and international dimensions of the work and seek to keep things moving forward. Kevin is also liaising with the USA board and the Oasis global office trying bring stability to a very fluid, complex and critical situation.

Last thought -
Jesus came with the very nature of a servant. We would like to pray for all of us, so that, in these tough days, our lives may boldly illustrate something of that servant nature and be reflected into the various places we are situated. Looking at our times our family is challenged, perhaps more than ever before, that what we do and don't do, what we buy, how we interrelate, care and respect people and our surrounding society has a continuous unfolding impact.
We hope and pray that God gives us all strength so that your and our impact brings hope, love and freedom.

Thanks again for your prayers and support.
Loads of love from the Potter