Sean Stillman was able to host BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday morning celebration programme on 6 Sep 2020. It is available here on iPlayer for 30 days. It features contributions from Rick Elias, Rich Mullins, Jayne Stillman, Phil James and Sammy Horner as well as reflections from Sean.
Broadcast from home via telephone this time, rather than in the studio due to the Covid-19 emergency, here’s a slightly edited version of Sean’s transcript from 25.3.20 on Eleri Sion’s Show.
Everyone’s life and routines have been turned upside down in recent days and our house is no exception. There’s skateboards sitting idle. There’s a drum kit that won’t be going in and out for gigs. There’s a school prom that won’t be happening, but to my daughter’s relief, no exams to take either. Like many others in the same boat, my wife and one of our son’s work has dried up.
Many of us are worried at the moment – and that’s understandable. But, do you know what? … even in the early stages of this crisis, I’ve seen some signs of hope.
As you know, at Zac’s Place we do lot of work in Swansea with people who are vulnerable and often live on the streets. Last week I had a call from the NHS homeless outreach team, wanting to talk. I was desperate for advice to know what to do for the best in these days, but to my surprise, they wanted our help. Ahead of the game as always, they recognised the need to see every homeless or vulnerably housed person, not just quickly accommodated but also fed.
In a matter of days, volunteers have jumped to action alongside the council and welfare agencies. Already, this week in our area, around 160 vulnerable people have been safely fed each day from a community kitchen, with food delivered to their hostel or B&B. Of course, there’s huge challenges – how do you encourage people to isolate that don’t want to be? But we can try our best.
And there are surprises too. Some individuals who usually refuse support, are seeing the seriousness of what’s happening. They’re reaching out to take the help because they trust us, as we plead with them. And they in turn are reaching out to their mates and persuading them to take refuge.
And here’s the hope. In our communities, people are already working together to make sure others aren’t forgotten. And of course, it’s not just the homeless who are vulnerable. If we ourselves are not vulnerable, then within a very short distance from us, in our street someone will be.
As a Christian, I believe that none of us escapes God’s love. With his mates alongside, Christ reached out to those who would often have been ignored. And that’s how each of us can make a difference today. Who in our street, our community is in danger of being overlooked? Have a think – who are they?
None of us knows how long this pandemic will last.
But knowing you’re not forgotten, might be one of the most precious gifts, we can bring anyone in the coming days.
Sean Stillman. This a slightly edited version of the script from his ‘Wednesday Word’ for BBC Radio Wales, 25.3.20. (Weds Word producer Lisa Hawkins). The original is on BBC Sounds at approximately 1.47 in.
From an original post written by Sean Stillman for the SPCK blog.
After having ridden, what is fast approaching, half a million miles by motorcycle, the road has become more than just a means of getting from one place to another as quickly as possible. The road has become both a friend and an enemy. It has provided the necessary space to think in isolation, uninterrupted by the demands of gadgets. It has created the lens through which to marvel at the natural world and also the challenge to battle against its elements. The heightened risks that come with riding a motorcycle are never far away though – there’s an edginess that keeps things real and keeps your focus sharp.
The road has also become a place of learning to welcome unexpected interruptions along the way. Moments that could so easily be missed, stories so easily untold if it is all about getting somewhere as quick as you can. Over the decades, I have learned to welcome the interruptions. Far from being inconveniences, they have become milestones of significant insight, often from the most surprising sources.
Sometimes I’ve literally been sat in the gutter sharing soup with a homeless friend, who pointed out something that everyone else was missing. On other occasions, it may be a chance conversation that uncovers a captivating story of marginalised indigenous people, being prepared to risk their lives to save their oppressors. It could be the easy to miss grave of a twelve-year-old girl, whose death brought peace to an entire nation of warrior tribes or, it could be the guy who grabbed the opportunity to tell his story of growing up in the shadow of Chernobyl, because he thought the world had forgotten him and his community.
So often the perfect journey, is thought to be the one without interruptions, wrong turns and side-tracks. As I reflect back over the years and miles, some of the most valuable experiences of my life have been exactly at these moments. Ambushed by disaster, frustrated by delays and disappointed in my own stupidity. Often my own broader journey has been far from perfect – yet somehow amid the chaos, the questions and the heartache, it has become a beautiful adventure.
We live in a climate when the perfect selfie is sought and with an obsession for filters to enhance the image, we strive for perfection. We are fearful of our own imperfections, blemishes, fractures and flaws amid the brokenness of our lives. There’s a tendency to fall apart when we realise we cannot place a sunny warm-up filter over every blemish, every stain, every missed opportunity or every mistake. I am reminded of U2’s lyric concerning grace making beauty out of ugly things and this concept has become a significant part of my own story. I have come to discover that moment of liberating surrender; letting go of putting on a perfect performance, and finding, and embracing beauty in broken places.
Next time someone asks, ‘How was your journey?’ – wouldn’t it be great to say, ‘You wouldn’t believe what happened on the way!’
Originally written for and published by SPCK here.
We are pleased to announce that Sean Stillman’s book ‘God’s Biker: Motorcycles and Misfits’ is being published by SPCK and due for release on 20 Sep, 2018. It is now available for pre-order in local bookshops or via all the usual online book stores internationally.
‘Sean has shown me constantly what lies at the heart of the Christian community.’
– Lord Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Foreword.
For more information please go HERE.
We are so pleased to be able to write with news that our wonderful Beatitudes exhibition opened at Swansea Grand Theatre on 21 November 2016 and will remain on view until 4 Feb 2017.
These eight pieces of work from seven different artists cover a wide variety of art mediums and pack a real punch as each artist poured their heart and soul into their work, drawing on Jesus’ words know as ‘The Beatitudes’ in Matthew’s Gospel chapter five.
For the last ten years this work has been based at Zac’s Place and now is available to a wider audience. You can view that work for free on Level two of the exhibition area of the theatre whenever the threat is open, which is usually daily from 9.30am and until the end of the evening performances in the main house or the depot theatre.
Please find below a few pictures from our opening night – hopefully they’ll serve as enough of a taster to get you along! It was great to have a couple of the artists there too!
We are delighted to announce that our in house art commission inspired by The Beatitudes of Jesus, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, will be exhibited on Level 2 at Swansea Grand Theatre from 21 Nov 2016 until 4 Feb 2017.
Feel free to get the word out and encourage conversation around these stunning pieces of work.
You can hear some anecdotes from Zac’s Place and personal reflections from Sean, during the Valentine’s Day edition of BBC Radio Wales’ programme ‘All Things Considered’.
Listen to the BBC IPlayer link here
A Unique Evening With Martyn Joseph and Bob Harris OBE in support of Zac’s Place.
Saturday 4th July, 7.30pm
Zac’s Place, George Street,Swansea, SA1 4HH
Tickets £15 plus booking fee.
Martyn Joseph is pleased to announce what promises to be a very memorable and unique evening with his special guest Bob Harris OBE, in aid of Zac’s Place in Swansea.
Martyn’s Let Yourself Trust has been promoting and raising funds for Zac’s Place over the last 6 months on both sides of the Atlantic. Zac’s Place supports homeless people in crisis and provides them with new opportunities. For some it is the only safe haven in their lives, offering love, support and acceptance. The charity is the third project Let Yourself has been working with after a Children’s Theatre in Palestine and an orphanage in Guatemala, and this evening will be a beautiful culmination of their partnership and fund raising during this time as well as shining a light on the amazing work done at Zac’s Place.
The show will feature MJ doing what he does best, bringing his “stunning heartfelt music” to an intimate audience at Zac’s Place, along with Q and A time with both Martyn and Bob and also Sean Stillman, Zac’s founder, will talk about the inspiring work they do.
Martyn Joseph is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. With a career spanning 30 years, 32 albums, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances, the versatility of his music touches genres of folk, rock, soul, folk-funk and Americana, yet somehow all these labels cannot define the spirit of his music
Bob Harris is a legend, pure and simple.
Described by ‘Radio Times’ as ‘one of the greats of British contemporary music broadcasting and an independent champion of great music’ and by the ‘Mail On Sunday’ as ‘a national treasure’, Bob has been at the centre of the British music industry for nearly forty years.
Don’t miss this opportunity to share in what will be an unforgettable up close and personal event.
As politicians and the media argue about who should take part in a TV debate, I find myself wondering what matters I’d like to put across if any of them roll up at my front door looking for a vote…
I want to vote for a politician that with tell the truth, be humble enough to admit mistakes and who loves people more than power.
I want to vote for a party and believes in a system that looks beyond four year terms and sees its responsibility extending to future generations.
I want to see the young, the old and the vulnerable given priority when it comes to a duty of care.
How can I trust in a government and a plethora of tax payer funded institutions, that have routinely been found to withhold and manipulate the truth, whilst turning a blind eye to outrageous behaviour that heaps coals on the fires of the suffering of vulnerable people.
I want to vote for a politician that holds to virtues of truth, of grace, of mercy, of justice, of integrity, of kindness, of self control, of self sacrifice and dare I say, of love.
Is it too much to ask? Are there any such people left with a hunger for what is right, rather than what they will get out of it?
I’m not interested in your empty promises, your policies that shift around like the sand on the shore. I’m not interested in your spin, your posturing, your temporary allegiances nor the cut of your suit or your persuasive words on a TV debate. I want to know what I see of your soul when I look in your eyes, what motivates you to play with the freedoms of people, to make choices that can cause immense good or immense pain & loss.
When you ask me what I would like to see, let it begin with a sense of deep sorrow from the seat of power itself, for the selfishness, greed, selective blindness and manipulation of the truth at the expense of those most vulnerable in our community. Then let it continue with a renewed commitment to do what is right and just, to love people more than the pursuit of wealth, to look to the needs of others, to govern from a heart of service not privilege and power.
Have you ever thought of leading by example? Just a thought, before you post your propaganda through my door.
After the success of the initial crowd funding campaign to see the start of John Smith documentary film made, a second phase is currently running to see its completion. If you didn’t get chance to support it before – then please do read on…..Sean
Video Excerpt on YouTube
There’s no doubt in my mind about it, this is a film that must be made. If evidence were needed as proof of this man and the associated movement’s influence, you’ll not find it in glass cathedrals and huge congregations of mega churches in fancy suburbs. You’ll find in the countless numbers of individuals who were blown apart by Smithy’s exposition of the scriptures that called us to the margins.
You’ll find the evidence, yes in the likes of many musicians and artists, but also in the lives of pioneers in quiet mission projects all around the world; in slums and in the gutter, in jails, among addicts and among fleeing refugees. You’ll find it in the evidence of people who were challenged to take the words of Jesus seriously and put them into practice believing that you can change the world. Many of them will have been afforded time to talk with John, at festivals and in bars, well into the night long after other speakers had retired to bed.
He’s a peace loving tree hugging hippy and a nightmare to travel with, but also a man who has sought to live by what he preaches and take an uncompromising risk of faith for the cause of the Gospel. I count myself privileged to call him a travelling companion and tribal elder of 25 years. I know there will be many others, who’s stories you won’t read in the media, will say exactly the same.
I think this film needs doing – not just because I want to support a mate – but because I deeply believe the story will resonate with and challenge another generation to come. It will remind this current one of what our responsibility is and why we should not let the fire go out.
Of course, the reality is most of Smithy’s mates have listened to what he said and therefore haven’t got any money! So, it’s just going to mean that we’re all going to have to chip in as best we can! Feel free to join in and just a reminder that if this crowd funding support hits the target, it will help secure the bulk of the grant to make it happen. Read all the blurb on the Pozible Site for more info.