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!