24 April 2013
On my first trip for Christian Aid, I sat in a tiny hut in a Nairobi slum next to a man fighting cancer and clearly in his final days.
His course of treatment had become unaffordable. His daughter, Evelyn, told me she wanted to 'preserve herself' but was contemplating trading her virginity so they could afford to bury him when the time came.
Her two young nephews, not quite teenagers, were not at school. Evelyn explained they were too hungry to walk there and needed to be where they could be fed immediately if food became available later in the day.
‘The Lord’s Prayer talks of daily bread. Not what we need for the future, but what we need for the moment.'
When I asked her how she kept going, she said: 'My faith keeps me going. Every day I thank God that he has seen us through another night and given us another day.'
It’s striking to me that the Lord’s Prayer talks of 'daily' bread. Not what we need for the future, but what we need for the moment.
And I was struck that Evelyn, who lacked so many material things, could draw so much strength from God's daily provision, the opportunity to experience life for a few more hours.
It was also obvious that conversation with God was a crucial part of the rhythm of her life, a life that might reasonably have been dominated by so many pressing, more worldly concerns.
And whereas we might generally be tempted to use prayer as a way of asking God for solutions, the main point of Evelyn's prayer life appeared to be about thanking God for what she already had.
Live in the moment
How good are we at living in the moment, experiencing the wonder of each day, the blessings of what we already have?
When I visited Christian Aid's work in Sierra Leone, I stayed in a hostel called 'The Promised Land' - the best place in the area apparently, but without sheets on the mattresses, without running water, without fuel for the generator.
You could ask for water to be brought to the room to wash with in the morning and so I gave over my enormous en-suite bucket for this purpose.
The following day, a young man came to my door with the bucket. There were only a few inches of water inside.
As I peered into the bottom of the bucket, and registered the sincerity of the young man’s smile as he handed it over, I felt hugely humbled by the mismatch between his expectations and mine.
Here was what he clearly thought was a magnificent offering. And indeed it was. He did me a great service in that moment - he showed me how much I still have to change.
How hard do we challenge our own concepts of 'enough'? How much do we make of the opportunity that each day presents us to use the gifts we are given and be who we are called to be?
We are called to be good news to the poor, to go to the margins as Jesus did, to bring relief to those who suffer and to hunger and thirst after justice.
Every day we have a chance to use the amazing gift almost every one of us has – the gift of voice. To call on those in authority to collaborate to ensure that the needs of every person to live in dignity are met, to challenge our own desires to have more than we need, and to challenge the received wisdom of what constitutes ‘enough’.
Lord, give us each day our daily bread. And let it be enough to sustain us as we seek to do your will - to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you, our God.
Loretta Minghella, Director of Christian Aid.
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ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF: join the campaign
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