Posted on September 29th, 2014 at 11:42AM
I was at a Church Urban Fund conference in York earlier this month. Lord Maurice Glasman spoke about how politics has changed over recent decades and how ‘place’ and ‘relationships’ have been lost: the notion of people living in a certain place amongst others in relationship with them (family, friends, neighbours) is simply not taken into account by the state anymore, and certainly not by the markets. And yet, we know that people do find their identification in precisely these things – the city/village/town they live in and the people they relate to.
The lack of relationships and the lack of identity or feeling of isolation is a fundamental cause of UK poverty today. This is often evident in the Acts 435 success stories and thank you messages that go out to donors. Here is one thank-you message that went out recently to donors who gave to a request for help with gas, electric and money to repair a washing machine. His thanks also encompass the local church.
“Words can never express my thanks for the help you gave me. I worked for over 30 years. I swept floors at first, and made it to manager then owned my own Opticians business. I had a wonderful life, Mercedes, holidays, you name it. Then circumstances beyond my control took over. I lost everything apart from my dog and the will to live. We lived in the woods over Christmas and New Year, it was hard. I was eventually housed, but I had no money and no food. Then you gave me not just the food and money to start again, you gave me hope. Me and my dog will be fine now.”
Sometimes we can wonder how much difference a bit of help towards someone’s gas and electric can make – stories like this confirm that a small amount can make a big difference.
Meanwhile, the story I want to highlight this month speaks of God’s provision. The church advocate writes:
Tracy came in to us full of despair, stressed to the hilt and had no money for food. Her partner had a work injury and is waiting for an operation on his knee. So at the moment, he cannot work. She could not work either due to her high blood pressure over the years and was suffering from depression.
Her son had just finished college which meant that the child benefit and child tax credit stopped. Overnight, the family had lost just over £300 worth of income. They tried with all the cutbacks and still could not make ends meet. She could not pay her rent which meant she will end up in arrears and this will lead to eviction. They came to us asking for some food.
We applied to ACTS 435 to help tide them over plus got some funds for her gas and electric, gave her food and prayed with her many times.
When the money came in from Acts 435 donors, Tracy was dumbfounded, near to tears. She was so overwhelmed she could not speak. But what she said afterwards was absolutely amazing.
She told me that she was just queuing at Tesco and she did what she does all the time; ask for any vacancies and normally it is a no, however, this time, to her surprise, her details were taken down and within days she was offered work! Plus, she had just been to see her GP and for the first time in years, her blood pressure had come down drastically.
What a blessing and what provision!
Relationships matter and churches and local charities are in the right place to reach out to the isolated and fragile and connect them back into the community.