So, I make this the (counts on fingers) the third general election/referendum in just over two years. I know it’s tempting to roll your eyes and declare ‘not another one!’ Please don’t…
As a Christian each and every election is a fantastic opportunity to remind yourself – and the politicians – of some of the issues that really matter to you.
Take a look at the special Tearfund Election Guide. You’ll find everything you need to bring your priorities as a Christian into sharp focus this election-time. At Tearfund we’ve been encouraging Christians to ask crucial questions of the people in government (and the others hoping to join them) for several decades now – bringing up issues like overseas aid and climate change that don’t always make the pre-election headlines.
I think you’ll find this guide really thought (and prayer) provoking; there’s a series of Bible reflections and a guide to ‘disagreeing well’ in an age where political disagreement can turn very nasty, very fast!
Finally, when it’s all over, you’ve got the chance to join hundreds of Tearfund supporters making your voice heard on climate change to your new, or old, MP. It would be great to see you at the Speak Up Week of Action in July.
I know, yet another election. However it’s also another chance to tell the politicians what matters to you most as a Christian – for your nation and for the whole world.
Web Editor, Tearfund
To access Tearfund’s election guide go to:
THE MEANING OF FAMILY
Families come in many different shapes and sizes, yet we’re all united by the desire to protect and look after one another. For Lamin, a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone, the need to care for his family came much sooner than he expected.
Lamin’s childhood was interrupted by tragedy. He lost both his parents to the Ebola outbreak of 2014, leaving him solely responsible his three younger siblings. This alone is more than any child should have to bear, but Lamin also had to do this whilst living in a community stuck in the grip of poverty.
‘Children suffer the most’ Lamin and his family are part of the Mayaya Community, where more than 3,000 people rely on just one well for all their water needs. Unsurprisingly, the well is dry by 10am. Lamin would have to wake up before dawn every day to fetch water for himself and his three younger siblings. He would repeat this at least three times every morning.
‘Water is a big challenge for us,’ Lamin tells us. ‘Children suffer the most as it affects our health and schooling, as we the children have to go in search of water for the rest of the family. This affects our attendance and concentration in class as we are always late and very tired in school.’
Tearfund partner Scripture Union built a new well in Lamin’s community, and trained pastors to provide counselling for those who had lost loved ones to Ebola. Lamin was delighted when he heard about the project: ‘When I learnt that a well would be constructed in the community I couldn’t sleep that night, imagining in my mind how much help it would bring.’
‘With God all things are possible’ Now, Lamin has his childhood back. ‘I feel relieved of this great burden of waking up early to fetch water,’ he says. ‘Now I can go to school early, ready to start the day with the others. I am trusting God that I can complete my education through the support given to us.’ Lamin is confident that with an education he will be able to provide more for his family.
‘I feel God hears my prayers even though I am a child and poor,’ Lamin says. ‘Praying and hoping for water within my community was a daily thing, and God answered me – that is why he sent Scripture Union and Tearfund to help us out of this water crisis.’
It may have appeared that circumstances had torn Lamin’s family apart, but the bonds of love that family creates are not easily broken. Lamin’s family may look different to others, but now it’s stronger than ever. ‘With God all things are possible. I thank God, Scripture Union and Tearfund for bringing relief and joy to the people of Mayaya.’
- PLEASE PRAY
- Thank God for families – in whatever form they may come in.
- Pray for Lamin and his family. Pray that Lamin will be able to complete his education and that he and his younger siblings will grow up free from poverty.
- Thank God for the work of our partner Scripture Union, and pray that they will be able to bring transformation to more communities.
TEAMING UP FOR PEACE
The sun is beating down on the red soil, which is kicked up in clouds as the ball lands and feet scramble for a last chance. The whistle blows. The match is over. A massive cheer goes up from the stand and Lazaro and Abdou* – hot and tired – shake hands.
This may not be a national final and there may be no media coverage, but it is a match of great significance – a match with the power to bring broken communities together.
Restoring unity Nelson Mandela once said: ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.’ And so it is with this football match, organised by Tearfund in Boda, Central African Republic (CAR).
A previously peaceful community, Boda has been shattered by conflict over the last four years – ripped apart by rival armed groups demolishing houses and killing civilians.
Stability is slowly returning to Boda. However, relationships within the community remain strained; fear and mistrust pollute the atmosphere. But Tearfund is still here, bringing hope of restored relationships and peaceful communities.
A sporting chance
The two players, Lazaro and Abdou, are from rival communities. Since the conflict, they have been separated and taught to fear the other group. But they find common ground in their passion for the game.
‘Through sport we can come to understand each other more and have a common goal – to win the match,’ says Lazaro, a player in his twenties. ‘We all meet up between matches to train together and plan our tactics.’
During half time a drama group, employed by Tearfund, share an amusing sketch focusing on peace building and community relations. While the crowd and the players laugh, they are able to reflect on the deeper meaning of the performance.
Abdou still feels traumatised by the recent conflict and worries about his family, yet he enjoys playing with his new team and feels less rejected as a result.
‘We want to heal and we want to live in peace,’ he says. Through activities like football, Abdou and Lazaro and others like them are beginning to build relationships. They can break down suspicion and mistrust and bring about a better future for themselves and their communities.
*Names changed to protect identity
- PLEASE PRAY
- Praise God for bridges like football and drama that give common ground, bring people together and help open up challenging conversations.
- Pray for the Tearfund team in Boda, and for Lazaro and Abdou and their teammates to build strong relationships, understand one another and find healing for themselves and their communities.
- Bitter conflict has left thousands dead and driven nearly half a million people from their homes in CAR. Pray for peace in the nation and for reconciliation between different communities.
John Gravett – Tearfund Representative