Stores for Change – January 2013
I’m a Christian; three surprisingly emotive words with the ability to at once soothe or aggravate. These days, the strongest emotion I feel upon hearing these words is indifference. Too many people think that simply declaring “I’m a Christian” makes it so.
This question developed firm roots during a recent visit to Zimbabwe with Christian Aid. As one of 14 ‘OPPs’ this year, (One Programme Participants) I am employed by the Methodist Church, working within a project, aiming to make a difference to the lives of others and to those in my local community. My project is with Christian Aid, so to gain a deeper understanding of how they work in partnership, thirteen Christian Aid interns and I went to Zimbabwe.
Seeing first-hand how much of a difference Christian Aid partners were making in the lives of the communities we visited was truly inspiring. Even more inspiring however, were the people we met. These were people who lived in poverty. Who oftentimes did not have enough food with which to feed themselves for the whole year. They had lost daughters, sons, and mothers to HIV and AIDS. Yet, despite this they were selflessly committed to helping one another.
One initiative endorsed by the Institute of Rural Technology, a Christian Aid partner, was an art project. Time after time we witnessed how members of the community supported each other, giving 10% of the proceeds generated from selling the pieces they had created to helping orphans or those with HIV/AIDS. They were also dedicated tithers, giving 10% of the food they grew or the proceeds, to their church, even though it meant they may not have enough food left for themselves. It struck me how much their actions reminded me of the early church. There was a real sense of community, and they didn’t meditate on how little they had, but aimed to help those with even less.
While we speak the gospel of love, they live it. Is this not what it means to be a Christian? Should love not be seen as opposed to merely heard? They were, to steal a line from the Christian Aid Collective, ‘love in action’.
The best way for me to conclude, is to include an excerpt from the journal I kept while I was in Zimbabwe: “I had heard about the importance of the work Christian Aid does countless times before. But now I have seen it, and know it for myself. What Christian Aid does is important. It is Biblical, and most importantly, it is truly changing people’s lives for the better and making a real difference.” Let’s not live life simply declaring “I’m a Christian”. Let’s show it.
Christian Aid Collective Intern