That we are living through an unprecedented world situation has sadly already become a cliché. But that need not distract us from the truth that people are suffering in our own communities additionally to their usual experience and in new ways, hence the Bishop’s Harvest Appeal.
Nevertheless we remain privileged both medically by NHS provision for all and socially through the welfare state, whatever their shortcomings and regardless of politics; nothing is perfect! However from a Christian perspective we must recognise that this is a global medical, social and economic pandemic and these cascading events affect many societies in far greater ways than has been or will be felt within our experience in the UK. Very many will have their lives profoundly threatened and be forced to endure much more than their usual deprivation. Others are threatened by those who would take advantage of this time to increase exploitation thus intensifying misery. These are not mere theoretical possibilities but, sadly, are already present realities.
If we in our democratic and advanced economy were not prepared for this emergency imagine what has happened in communities whose traditional way of life has already been hit by economic globalisation compounded by climate changes. Anti-Slavery.org describes how already vulnerable people are put in jeopardy. For example over a million garment workers have been laid off in Bangladesh with little or no government safety net and similar crises are unfolding in Cambodia, India and Myanmar. Such situations present huge risks, in addition to Covid-19 itself, in terms of debt bondage and people trafficking.
A further obvious example, highlighted in the latest edition of ‘Tear Times’, is the 1.5 million Syrian refugees sheltering in Lebanon, facing the pandemic and now severely affected by the crisis caused by the massive explosion disrupting life in its capital, Beirut, on the 4th of August and fire on the 10th.
This is indeed a global crisis which could be overwhelming but for Christians it should not, because we love one another and care about all who suffer, not only ‘our own’. So what should we do? A practical way to express that love might be to pray and contribute to Archbishop Welby’s recently launched ‘Together in Unity’ Covid-19 appeal for vulnerable communities across the Anglican Communion under the Anglican Alliance relief and development agency. This will support the work that Provinces are facilitating amongst some of the most deprived and vulnerable within their nations in conjunction with UNICEF, Red Cross and Mothers’ Union and many of the agencies whose logos appear below.
Investigate, pray and be generous; that will also boost your mental health and accrue many other beneficial outcomes as well!
Our slogan 'World Mission Matters!' implies the importance of our collective and personal ministries to the world-wide Christian family as the visible Body of Christ at work amongst the most vulnerable and neediest of groups. That ministry demands prayer, which in turn requires information (available BELOW by clicking on the symbols of the various agencies) and leads to individual and collective action as we are able.
With regard to Mission Action Planning consider explicit mention of support for a mission agency or development organisation (preferably both!) because they are attempting to counter on our behalf and in the name of Christ, the greatest needs (see below).
Mission and Development agencies can be readily accessed by clicking on each logo below.
As parishes develop the second round of Mission Action Plans, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s remark (from Letters and Papers from Prison) rings true: “Our being Christian today will be limited to two things, prayer and doing justice among men”. That statement is surely as pertinent for us today, with all our uncertainties, as it was in Nazi Germany of 1944. So as we look at our immediate communities and their needs we will be drawn to examine the relationships we and they have with the wider world.
As part of the MAP process some Parishes have looked at the places of work of their population and possible international links which employers have. The countries from which raw materials are imported and perhaps even the manufacturing processes of these businesses might be considered together with their target markets. It may be appropriate to look at their environmental impacts (mindful of climate change and pollution) and also whether there may be effects upon marginalised or deprived communities in less developed societies with which businesses are involved.
In this way prayers for our own people and the communities we care about can be linked to those situations about which we know less and those communities which suffer injustice and poverty beyond our immediate horizon. Our prayers should then be better informed and purposeful as we discover what God is already doing and engage with it so that Christ’s Kingdom of Peace and Justice may be extended.
To do that it is worth remembering the “Five Marks of Mission” which Christians of many countries and cultures have affirmed as a way of finding a common focus as they share in God’s mission in the world are:
- To Proclaim, the good news of the kingdom
- To Teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To Respond, to human need by loving service
- To Seek, to transform the unjust structures of society
- To Strive, to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The Anglican Communion - for which the development agency is the Anglican Alliance: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/mission/anglican-alliance.aspx
The Church of North India - www.northindia-derbyshirechurches-partnership.org.uk