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Christian Aid week

May 13, 2018

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Preached by David Pain, Director of Supporter and Community Partnerships at Christian Aid, using John 17 .18 at Sung Eucharist on Sunday 13th May 2018, the Seventh of Easter.

John 17 .18 ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’

This afternoon volunteers from 20 000 churches will deliver an invitation to their neighbours in the form of a red Christian Aid Week envelope.  Our aim is to raise £10m to make a difference in the lives of some of the poorest people in 37 countries. This invitation is a sign and a symbol of our sending out into the world.

In our reading from John’s gospel we hear how Jesus prayed for his disciples- V 18 ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’

This morning I would like to suggest 3 characteristics of our sending into the world at the start of Christian Aid Week.

1          As followers of Jesus our sending is based on our identity, created equal by God. 

The envelope this year tells the story of Marcellin and his 3 daughters in Haiti. They lost everything when Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016.

Christian Aid’s country manager in Haiti told me that as a child growing up in Haiti they expected a hurricane every 7 years, with climate change this is now every other year.

Hurricanes leave complete devastation: houses, animals and the things people rely on to earn a living, are swept away.

Marcellin was forced to live in a temporary concrete shelter-there are no windows and the only furniture is a single bed. It’s a tiny space which he shares with his 3 daughters in constant, sweltering heat.

Marcelin’s wife left over ten years ago. He can’t afford to send his daughters to school, and he struggles to provide enough food.  A new home would give them a place of dignity, a safe place to weather the storms.

Because of our identity, created and loved by God, we are invited to stand together with the poorest people in the world for dignity.

2          We are sent into the world because of our God-given relationship with one another. 

We are called to love our neighbours.

On the Road to Emmaus, the first disciples recognised Jesus in the breaking of bread. The Eucharist is a sign and symbol to us today of the life we are called to; a sign of the relationship we have with one another.

When a massive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 Vilia’s home was destroyed, and her mother was killed. Vilia went back to her hometown in the south of Haiti with her seven children. They had nowhere safe to stay.

Christian Aid’s local partner orgnanisation KORAL reached out to help her.

Christian Aid works with local organisations because they are known and trusted in their community, they are there before disasters strike and they are there long after international aid workers and the TV cameras have left.  Our relationships are long term.

With your support we built Vilia a new home- one of 700 Christian Aid built in Haiti after the earthquake-  one stronger than the storms.

On that terrifying night in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti and Marcellin’s house was destroyed, Vilia’s house was the only one in her area sturdy enough to survive.

One by one, her neighbours fled to her house and she welcomed them in. Fifty-four people sheltered safely from the hurricane in Vilia’s house. She says: ‘I formed a chain of solidarity so that we could eat together, share with each other until they found shelter,’

For six years I led Christian Aid’s Africa programme, meeting people across that continent facing big challenges in very diverse situations. They all had one thing in common.

They are all people who are taking action.  I never met anyone waiting passively for a hand out.  Through CAs programmes, with your support, their actions are being strengthened with money and shared ideas.

We are sent out to live in a way that honours our relationship with one another.  We are invited into a relationship through which we become part of the ‘chain of solidarity’ with Vilia.

3          We are sent into the world full of hope that things can change. 

As we heard in that beautiful Psalm-

‘Happy are those who delight in the Law of the Lord.. they are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.’ Psalm 1.

The coming of Christ heralds what Isaiah describes as the ‘New Heaven and the New Earth’.

The ministry of Jesus is marked by surprises- water into wine, a crowd fed with a couple of loaves and a few fish.

Things do change!

Inspired by hope, the invitation of Christian Aid is to raise our voices to address the root causes of poverty. Thank you if you have previously supported the campaigns for the cancellation of unrepayable debt, for trade justice, for climate justice.

We all want to get beyond aid.  Taxation is the best means for governments to raise the funds they need to provide education and healthcare, to build homes and to be able to respond locally to disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.

The UN and the IMF have estimated that developing countries lose between $100billion and $300billion every year to tax dodging by businesses. This is made possible by a lack of transparency.

Last week the government unexpectedly conceded an amendment in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill to force British overseas-territories (UK tax havens) to publish full and transparent public registers of who owns what businesses registered there. This is a huge victory for tax justice campaigners- thank you if you raised your voice in that campaign with us.

IN Christian Aid week, we stand together with the poorest people in the world for justice.

‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’

We are sent into the world because of who we are, created equal by God, we are sent in relationship, we are sent in hope.

In CAW we are invited to stand together with Marcellin, to join the chain of solidarity with Vilia, to work for long term and lasting change with people who live in poverty.

We stand together for dignity, for equality, for justice.


Vilia’s story: