Christian Aid Week 2016: The week we love every neighbour

Christian Aid week will take place from 15th – 21st May this year. Laura Mead, Surrey’s Regional Co-ordinator for Christian Aid, highlights the plight of people in Bangladesh, like Feroza, who will benefit from the funds raised.

We believe Jesus calls us to love others as our neighbours; and not just the ones next door or at the end of the street.  We’re all made in God’s image, which means the whole world is our neighbourhood, and every person in it is precious.

Every May, over 20,000 churches across the UK and Ireland come together in a remarkable way to raise money and help transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Volunteers from the churches in the Bourne Parish will be part of this huge effort in collecting donations. Through the funds raised during Christian Aid Week, people in developing countries can be given a safe place to call home and big strides made towards a world where everyone has enough food to eat.

This year, Christian Aid Week tells the inspiring story of families living on the low-lying islands on the Brahmaputra River, Bangladesh, who have a daily battle against the devastating and catastrophic effects of climate change. Bangladesh’s geography, with large rivers and monsoon climate, make it incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods and cyclones. Bangladesh is home to 160 million people, (four fifths of whom live on less than £1.30 a day), making it one of the most densely populated countries on earth.

Every year, when the snow melts on the Himalayas, the Brahmaputra River swells and sends water into homes, spoiling crops and ruining families’ possessions.  Homes can be destroyed, children swept away in rapid water and the land on which poor communities’ lives are built, washed away.  The people living beside this precarious river live in constant fear, and never feel safe with a place to call home. Christian Aid believes that the most vulnerable do not have to be engulfed by the tide of poverty; however vast these problems may be, there are solutions.

Christian Aid partner, GUK, works with these poor rural communities.

Feroza’s story

GUK is supporting families suffering from the consequences of annual floods, by providing them with earth plinths to raise their homes 6 – 8ft above water. This creates a safe place for them to rebuild their home and keep livestock.  They are being given new seeds, so they can grow essential crops.

Feroza, a mother of three, has seen her home swept away seven times. She now has a flood-proof house and the chance of creating a safe future for her family.  A Christian Aid Home Safety Package (£250) has provided her with a goat, seeds and a wormery, all of which will give her a long-term income. For the first time in her life she is free from fear and her family are thriving. She said: “I had a dream but I did not have the ability to fulfil that dream. Now I can think about how to go further. Before it was just a daydream.”                (use for pull-out quote)

You can help transform the lives of our global neighbours in Christian Aid Week by donating in the envelope dropped through your door, or online at www.caweek.org, calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘SAFE’ to 70040 to give £5. 

Have you visited St John’s this week?

“a wave of prayer …”

In our parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, in Surrey, we decided to answer the call to prayer with an art installation, featuring work from artists based in our parish or with a very strong connection to the parish.

From this initial thought, the idea took hold.  “I’ll make scones, it will give a real English summer’s day feel.”  “And jam, we must have lots of jam.”
“What sort of music do you want?  I’m sure the choir would like to sing …”

And so it continued until suddenly we had a full parish event!  We called upon artists aged between 6 and 92 to give their own interpretation of a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer and we have a wonderful, eclectic response.

After some nervous moments … would the art be ready?  Would anyone come?  Finally we opened our doors on Sunday 8 May.  And people came, viewed the exhibition, ate scones and listened to the music.
Here are some of their comments:
“Beautiful installation, thank you for all the work that has gone into this.  Inspiring”
“Great idea, great show – could they stay here?”
“It’s good to be reminded of the Lord’s Prayer at work in our lives.”

St John’s can seem quite a deserted place, but that day, I thought the church itself really came to life, got up and danced for joy.  The power of the Lord’s Prayer at work within our community.

And we are going to do it all again this weekend.

Lesley Shatwell
LLM (in training)