Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Allenby: From Felixstowe to Armageddon

If Felixstowe and Armageddon aren't two words you would automatically associate together, then you've probably never heard of Edmund Allenby - well at least not until now.  For Edmund was the First Viscount Allenby of Megiddo (Armageddon) and Felixstowe.

The video explores how that came about.   Allenby was most famous for his victories in Palestine, particularly taking Jerusalem from the Turks in 1917.  His finest hour though was his victory at Megiddo in August 1918 which let to the total rout of the Turkish army.

If you want to know more about Allenby, then there is quite a lot of information on the internet.  His Wikipedia entry gives some good introductory information, but there are also some more authoritative articles on him if you do a search.

Allenby was very much a child of his time, both as someone brought up in Victorian England and as a soldier during a period when warfare was changing and involving killing on a scale never seen before.

There is evidence that Allenby struggled with the carnage of the Western Front, when he lost his only son.  The posting to Palestine was much more his forte, both in  terms of the nature of the warfare involved and as an opportunity to reflect on his Christian faith.  On the other hand he was a tough soldier and as his nickname "The Bull" suggests, was a bullish character.  When the final offensive in Palestine came, he did not hesitate to ensure his enemy was totally crushed.

The aim of Allenby's Palestine Campaign was to reduce the Turkish threat to British interests in Egypt as well as preventing any expansion towards India.  Turkey had sided with Germany in the First World War and even in 1917, there was still the threat of losing the war.  After the War was won, the British policy in the Middle East was not really thought through - shades of the Iraq war 90 years later perhaps?   The ending of 600 years of Ottoman Turkish rule left a vacuum into which pressures both from Zionist Jews and local Palestinian Arabs started to come into play.   The  Balfour Declaration seems to have been a product of political expediency at the time rather than anything that might have had a religious connotation.

Despite the Balfour Declaration, the British were not in a hurry to establish a Jewish state while they held the British Mandate.  The establishment of Israel in 1947-48 was very much reflective of the horrors of World War 2 rather than British policy which was very cool towards Jewish settlers in Palestine by the end of the mandate because of the tension between Jewish settlers and Arab residents.

As I said in the video, up until Allenby's Palestine campaign, the notion of a Jewish homeland in what had been for 600 years part of the Ottoman Empire, was not seriously considered.  In fact Zionism itself only really started in the early 19th Century.  Until that point, Jews had been persecuted extensively for centuries - no-one entertained thought of establishing a Jewish state - it was inconceivable.

Yet in Bible prophecies of end times in the Bible, a Jewish state is an integral part.   An independent Jewish state had not really existed since 586BC although Jewish people had been allowed to have various levels of self-government in other empires until eventually the Romans took all that away from them in 70AD by tearing down the city walls and destroying The Temple.  That marked the end of Jewish self-government.

But now Israel is back.  A restored Israel takes centre-stage in prophecies in the Old and New Testaments.   And of course there's the prophecy about the end battle where Jesus returns : Armageddon.

One of the things we do know about Allenby is that he had a great understanding of the Bible and of Palestine.   He is said to have always carried a Bible and Sir George Adam Smith's Geography of the Holy Land.   In his capture of Jerusalem and his victory of Megiddo, he had a sense that he was making more than history.  He also knew the significance of Megiddo, even though he knew his battle wasn't Armageddon.

For Christians in this generation, the existence of a state of Israel is a sign of the times - a pointer to the end times that prophesied in the Bible, with the end being the bodily return of Jesus Christ.  It has been anticipated by Christians down the centuries and there are over 300 references to it in the Bible - around about the same number that predicted his first coming.

As I said in the video, we may not know when Jesus will come but we can be prepared.  In fact we can know his presence in our lives right now, through trusting and following Jesus.  There's no need to wait.  

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hope Trust Bereavement Support Group is back.

Boost Official Academy Partnership Launch

Boost has officially launched its Academy Partnership. Here's a video that Josh has made for it and the official Press Release.

The Trustee Board of Boost Felixstowe Ltd are delighted to announce the launch of 'Academy Chaplaincy', a brand new partnership between Boost and Felixstowe Academy.

This partnership sees Boost employ Josh, our youth worker, to be present full-time at the academy, in the role of Academy Chaplain, with the aim of unconditional support, advice and guidance to students. This role officially begins from September 2014.

The term 'Chaplaincy' may conjure up certain images in your mind. Today, chaplaincies and chaplains are found in hospitals, schools, airports, the armed forces, and large companies. Chaplaincies work differently in each context and are adapted to the communities in which they find themselves.

Academy Chaplaincy at Felixstowe Academy has three clear aims:
  • to support students: to offer pastoral support, advice and guidance unconditionally to all students, regardless of background, academic achievement or faith.
  • to explore faith: to encourage young people to explore faith for themselves and to develop the tools they need to confidently engage with spirituality.
  • to build community: to encourage activities and projects which promote interconnected communities proven to support young people and their families.
This partnership has been in the planning for 14 months as we've worked together to support Felixstowe's young people in the best way possible. This is a partnership both Boost and Felixstowe Academy are proud of and we look forward to working more closely together as we seek for all young people to 'live their lives to the full' and 'make their best better'.