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May 2019

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This month many people in up and down the country will hear a knock on the front door or the bell ring, and on the doorstep will be someone collecting for Christian Aid. It’s a call that is not always met with a favourable response especially when everyone have to watch how they spend their money; some may say why we should bother to give to yet another charity. So, let me share with you through the words of those involved why it is important to bother.

Jebbeh is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She has a warm smile and motherly touch. But her life has been incredibly tough. Recently, Jebbeh’s sister, Fatmata, was pregnant in a village nearby. When she went into labour there were so few ambulances that Fatmata had no choice but to walk for three hours, under the baking sun, to the nearest hospital. The road was long, and she struggled to keep walking. With every step, Fatmata feared for her life and the life of her baby. Jebbeh told us: ‘My sister was crying out with hunger. She died on the side of the road. She never gave birth.’  No woman should die in childbirth. But for Jebbeh, this wasn’t just any woman. This was her sister – her strength, her comfort, her own. Jebbeh herself is heavily pregnant. As her baby grows, it’s not joy that fills her heart, but fear. Pregnancy should be a time of joy, not a time of fear. But instead of buying new baby clothes, Jebbeh has gone to her sister’s burial. Instead of excitement and joy, she feels pain and sorrow. A situation that is hard for most us to imagine but one that should encourage us to do just that, to put ourselves into Jebbeh’s story. As Jebbeh waits for her child to be born all she can do is wonder what will happen when her time comes. And yet it need not be like this because for the sum of just £300 and the support of those from Christian Aid who work within communities like Jebbah’s the story could have a different reality in providing a delivery bed and mattress for a new health centre.

A reality that each one of us can be part of when we choose to give our time, money and energy during Christian Aid Week, either by putting money in the familiar Christian Aid envelops that come through the letter box or in Roydon with the Parish Magazine, or you could support the various churches in the area who come together at the plant sale that takes place outside of the United Reform Church in Mere Street in Diss on May 11th between 9am to 1pm with the plants being donated by a local nursery and others. There are several ways that you might consider, even coming to one of the Sunday services at St Marys in Diss on May 12th where you will find an opportunity to offer a donation. You may well have already contributed by joining one of the various church lunches held in our local churches on Fridays during Lent and participating in an enjoyable social occasion and offering a contributed to Christian Aid.  For some there is also the chance to reflect upon how we might help in future by offering practical support. However we choose to give what we can, the gift we offer is important because in doing so we are looking beyond ourselves and enabling others to do what seems impossible and transforming not just individual but the lives of whole communities, becoming part of the picture that Jesus sets before us in the gospels through his life and ministry, where life is more than just survival and  can be abundant, full of hope and promise,  where we stop living for ourselves and start living for others, a world where we don’t put limits on love and justice, a world where the concept of our neighbour is  redefined. Christian Aid Week is a time to celebrate transformation, and an opportunity to put ourselves in the the place of someone from a different community and to consider what it means to share in the   opportunity to bring a child into the world safely, to watch that child flourish and grow adding to the life of the community and the wider world. Let’s not miss the opportunity to be part of something so worthwhile.

Revd Sandy Dutton


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