If you are reading this today, Sunday 14 May 2017, you are at the start of this year’s Christian Aid week, which ends on 20 May. How’s your knowledge of Christian Aid? Perhaps it’s just a red and white envelope dropping through your letterbox or the annual market at the Catholic Church in Chorleywood. Whether it is or not, read on!
In 1945 in the aftermath of World War II, church leaders in Britain and Ireland met with a determination to do everything possible to help European refugees, who had lost everything. They named themselves Christian Reconstruction in Europe (CRE). CRE then became absorbed into The British Council of Churches and was later renamed The Department of Interchurch Aid and Refugee Service – not much in keeping with the slick bylines of the 21st century! However, in 1957 the first Christian Aid Week was held and with the success of the week in 1964, the name of the organization was then changed to Christian Aid.
Christian Aid seeks to support and help refugees of all religions or none worldwide. Its overarching vision to see an end to pOVERty (note the red capital letters) by working to educate its supporters in the causes of pOVERty and consulting and working with governments to change aid, debt and trade policies. It has 600 overseas partners in 45 countries and was also involved in setting up the Fairtrade Foundation. There is more to the story than I can include here, so to find out in greater detail about its history and the challenges today, go to christianaid.org.uk.
A STARK REMINDER from this year’s Christian Aid leaflet – There are 65 million people across the globe fleeing their homes because of war, conflict and disaster, and making dangerous journeys in search of safety. Few of us in the church family have had the privilege of bringing Christian love and support directly to the refugees and working alongside them as they seek to come to terms with life in the camps (sometimes for many years) and/or establish themselves in countries so very different from their own, BUT we cannot turn our backs on them!
Elsewhere in this noticesheet you will indeed see details of the delivery and collection of those red and white envelopes and the local Christian Aid market, but let’s turn now to our loving Father’s teaching. The Bible tells us of others who held refugee status including Abraham and Sarah fleeing from famine, Moses and the Israelites fleeing slavery in Egypt and our Saviour Jesus with Mary and Joseph fleeing into Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod.
In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of the Son of Man coming in glory and in verse 40 he says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. As his much loved and chosen people (1 Peter 2:9) can we too respond during this Christian Aid Week in Christian love to those who hunger and thirst, to the stranger, to those who are destitute, to the sick and those in the direst of situations?
Our response might be that what we are able to give will have little impact. – a drop in the ocean! However, I once heard a Christian Aid worker say, “But, if you happen to be standing where that drop falls it can bring the greatest blessing and make a miraculous difference!”
In Christ’s love, Sylvia Mann (Churchwarden)