……… this time for the annual Christian Aid Church Leaders Consultation incorporating the Annual General Meeting of Sponsoring Churches. Emerging from Westminster Tube Station I had to find my way through the hordes of tourists with their cameras, maps and somewhat bemused expressions on their faces as they orientated themselves in this historic and famous bit of the capital. Walking on, I passed Church House with the gathering media, and members of the Anglican Synod – I confess to offering up a prayer for their meeting as they faced the issue of women bishops – no prizes for guessing where my vote would have gone!
My reason for being in this part ofLondonwas to go to a meeting where I knew I would hear challenging information but also no doubt have an opportunity to celebrate the work being done or supported by many thousands of people here and around the world. The theme for the day was Partnership for Change a theme with which Christian Aid has been working for some time.
The first challenge of the day came from Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge. Reflecting on the church at Antioch as recorded in Acts chapter 11 he reminded us how working in partnership required us to go outside our comfort zone, how we must be prepared to be challenged by people with a different perspective and of the difficulty of forming meaningful partnerships when financial resources were clearly unequal – the question was how to ensure economic viability and sustainability.
The second challenge came from Christian Aid Director Loretta Minghella. She spoke about some of the visits she had made during the past 12 months. No-one could possibly have failed to be moved by her story of the Brazilian family living in accommodation which cost them $450 dollars a month but which had live wires hanging down into the rooms, water running down the walls and a bathroom shared with eight other families. This is a country with a GDP which is bigger than that of theUK. Or her picture ofBangladeshwhere, due to climate change, there is always water where it is not wanted and rarely where it is.
But as you will know Christian Aid is not an organisation to wring its hands and despair and there are many good stories of ongoing support and development which we also heard. There was time to think a bit about new work in which the churches need to become involved. The first campaign will be launched in January and will be focussing on food and hunger. We live in a world where 1 in 8 of the global population go to bed hungry every night – that cannot be right and we are all being called on to join in making this figure history. Watch out for more information about this in January.
There is so much more which could be said from the day but I will end with a quotation from Julius Nyere, the first President of Tanzania who said many years ago “Poverty is not the real problem of the modern world. For we have the knowledge and resources which could enable us to overcome poverty. The real problem – the thing which creates misery, wars and hatred … is the division of mankind into rich and poor”
How to end that situation is the challenge for us all – it is God’s call to each and every one of us.