Last week I was at a talk given by Rev Jono Ryan who works half time with the mission work of Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor. This is a kiwi movement with New Monastic movement approaches. They have 5 principles (incarnation, community, wholism, servanthood, simplicity) and 5 values (grace, celebration, beauty, creativity, rest).

We heard the story of Mark and Cathy Delaney who have lived for the last 15 years in the shanty towns of the Indian capital, Delhi, raising their children and sharing their lives with the locals. Mark is a lawyer. They have no running water, no TV and no fridge – and they share a squat toilet with their neighbours. They are not there to convert the predominantly Muslim slum. They are strongly motivated by their faith, believing that life is more about caring for others than about comfort and success in the world’s eyes. For them, living in a slum has been deeply enriching.

This approach reminds me of the brothers and sisters who follow Charles de Foucauld. And also communities of Taize monks living amongst the poor.

This month is Ramadan. Each day on the front page of the Servants website is a reflection for Christians to help understand Muslims and Ramadan better.

Yesterday, when I was snowed in with the rest of the South Island of NZ, I finally had (made) the time to watch the DVD Of Gods and Men. [All the cinemas in Christchurch that show this sort of film have been destroyed in the earthquakes]. It tells the well-known story of the Cistercians who lived in Algeria serving amongst the Muslims there. It cost their lives. So often “religious” films are pious twaddle poorly acted – here, for once, is a top quality film showing real men portrayed by good actors. It reminded me of Into Great Silence in the way it brought monasticism to the screen. It is also a good reflection on Islam in the month of Ramadan.

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