Christian Aid Sunday. This week’s pointers are taken from the Christian Aid Week sermon pack
- When Tabitha/Dorcas became ill and died, her body was washed in the customary way. This practice is also part of death rituals in Sierra Leone. During the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016, it was very difficult for communities to stop ritual washing in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
- It was thanks to ministers such as the Rev Christiana Sutton-Koroma, who partnered with Christian Aid during the Ebola crisis, that the message to prevent the spread of disease by stopping ritual washing was heard. She was instrumental in leading safe and dignified burials for people who were killed by Ebola without the need for the ritual washing.
- When the Rev Christiana was asked to share a message of inspiration with the churches of Britain and Ireland this Christian Aid Week, she turned to the book of Acts and repeated the words of Paul’s dream from Acts 16: ‘come to Macedonia and help us’. We too draw inspiration from Acts as we respond to her invitation to participate in the mission of God this Christian Aid Week in our communities and in Sierra Leone.
- There is much grief in this story from the book of Acts, grief for the loss of the generous and skillful Dorcas. The grief of a life cut short is all too resonant with the stories being shared from Sierra Leone this Christian Aid Week, the death of mothers in childbirth and babies in infancy.
- Dorcas had clearly touched the lives of those gathered around her at the time of her death. The stories of her good works, her generosity and her skills gushed from those who mourned her. Hers was a life that had already left a legacy in the lives of those around her, we can only imagine how generously and abundantly she lived after being raised from death!
- When we encounter our own vulnerability, maybe through sickness, life-altering or even near-death experiences, we often resolve to live in a more intentional or generous way. Beryl Margaret Hadwin is one such inspiration. Beryl was a midwife, a nurse, a matron – healthcare was something that was important to her.
- When Beryl awoke from an operation in later life, a nurse was there for her, holding her hand. In that moment Beryl resolved to leave a gift in her Will to make a difference to healthcare across the world through the work of Christian Aid. Her healthcare gift is now helping make a difference to the lives of mums in Sierra Leone.
- Through her gift, Beryl is able to extend her hand to touch the lives of others so they too will know the comfort of a hand holding theirs when they need it. Whether it’s collecting this Christian Aid Week, taking the campaign action to drop Sierra Leone’s Ebola debt, joining us in prayer for transformation in Sierra Leone, leaving us a gift in your Will – it all allows us to reach out into the world, be there for others and make a difference.
This Christian Aid Week, we are all invited to participate in the legacy of Dorcas and of Beryl as we get to give generously to the work of partners such as RADA who are working to improve the healthcare in Sierra Leone. They are building health centres so mothers no longer have to walk long distances to give birth, and are training healthcare professionals.
- Share Jebbeh’s story (see page 2 of the sermon pack). With you by their side, pregnant mums like Jebbeh can now hope to deliver safely, with the gift of a better health clinic. Hopefully she will not suffer the same tragic fate of her sister who died giving birth on the way to a health centre that was a three-hour walk away.
- And thanks to healthcare professionals such as nurse Judith, supported by RADA, mums like Jebbeh and Tenneh have someone they can rely on. Nurse Judith has helped Tenneh give birth to a healthy baby boy and recover from the traumatic birth and sad death of her first baby.
- May Dorcas and Beryl inspire us all to consider what legacy we might give in our time, talent and resources this Christian Aid Week.
God our Mother and Father, we praise you
for the blessings you shower upon us.
Bless the lives of our sisters and brothers and their precious children.
In life’s saddest moments,
may we feel your love most, O Jesus.
Continue to dwell in our hearts, Lord.
May your love keep us strong.
Pray for all speaking, collecting and fundraising for the work of Christian Aid this week. Pray all who are involved will have a joyful time and that more and more people would be drawn to participate in the work of bringing God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.
Published on 06 May 2019