Nobody saw it coming – a poem

Church Action on Poverty supporter Liz Delafield wrote this poem as part of one of our weekly poetry workshops.

Nobody saw it coming
It changed everything.
All those things that seemed important yesterday,
Ofsted, SATs, spreadsheets of
data, observations,
suddenly wasn’t.
We began to realise what was.
People,
keeping safe,
being happy,
little things like soap.

May we always remember
how it felt,
when the unimportant
important things came
crashing down.
Yet with them important
important things.

Like…
A child’s hand held in safety,
Laughter of a game played
together with friends.
A trip to the zoo,
Lining up for school dinners,
Story time and reading books (in
real life, not online),
Walking with you and helping
you grow,
Saying goodbye with hugs and
handshakes.

And when we emerge once
again,
Instead of going back to normal,
May we go ahead, remembering
what we missed, and what we
didn’t.

During the coronavirus pandemic, our poet in digital residence Matt Sowerby is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

New wine, new wineskins part 2: What does our faith tell us?

Reflecting together, 14 May

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Signs – a poem

Matt Sowerby shared this poem in one of his workshops as Church Action on Poverty's poet in digital residence.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Matt is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

New wine, new wineskins part 2: What does our faith tell us?

Reflecting together, 14 May

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Pinkie promise – a poem

Matt Sowerby shared this poem in one of his workshops as our poet in digital residence.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Matt is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Media for lockdown – what to read, listen to and watch

Do you have time on your hands during the lockdown? Our Communications Manager suggests some books, TV and podcasts that could keep you occupied – and help you understand UK poverty and campaigning better!

Read

Second Class Citizens: The treatment of disabled people in Austerity Britain by Stef Benstead

A powerful book by one of our trustees. Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, said it provides “the definitive verdict on government welfare reform, the UK’s shame”. 

Poverty Safari: Understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass by Darren McGarvey

A challenging, personal perspective on UK poverty and how to tackle it, drawing
on Scottish rapper Loki’s own experiences of community activism and growing up in poverty.

The Shame Game: Overturning the toxic poverty narrative by Mary O’Hara

Crucially, this book about changing the portrayal of poverty draws on the insights of people who experience it.

Mission from Below: Building a kingdom community by Janet Hodgson and Stephen Conway

How two nuns worked alongside local people to loosen poverty’s grip in a North East community. An inspirational story of church on the margins.

Listen

Frame[s] of Mind

A podcast about how language can help change people’s perceptions of issues – by the Frameworks Institute, who have helped develop innovative new frames for talking about UK poverty.

Social Power

A podcast from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation about social change and how to bring it about. 

Sound Delivery

This organisation has a wide range of audio available on Soundcloud, all sharing stories from people who have experience of poverty and other issues, and whose voices aren’t usually heard.

Watch

Broken

This 2017 BBC TV series by Jimmy McGovern is about a Catholic priest in a poor Liverpool community. It’s a powerful depiction of how the church can make a difference by sharing in people’s brokenness on the margins of society. It touches on issues Church Action on Poverty has campaigned on, such as high-cost lending. It’s available to watch on Netflix or YouTube.

Communications and Supporter Relations Manager

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

Are we in the same boat? Some creative responses

Shopping online? You can raise money to loosen the grip of poverty

Listen up! New podcast to help end poverty

Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

Solidarity and sacrifice

The prophetic imagination

Where are the margins?

Who is my neighbour?

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Voice: a poem

Penny Walters wrote this poem as part of a poetry workshop run by our poet in digital residence Matt Sowerby.

i am hidden small and dainty
issues with health and motivation
my world is crumbling around me 
my pain is hidden from all to see 
but i have one thing 
i have a voice
abused and berated downcast
shunned by government and society
unloved and forgotten 
but i have a voice 
i use my voice 
loud and clear 
shout and scream
for all to hear
more articulate more knowledge and more motivation
i am here to help to use my voice 
to speak up for those who cant 
who are hidden like me 
who feel that there is no hope 
i have a voice 
Penny has been speaking out about her experiences through our Food Power programme. Click here to read her story.

New wine, new wineskins part 2: What does our faith tell us?

Reflecting together, 14 May

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Our new urgency to be kind can stand us in good stead

We will pull through if we pull together

My sons have a lovely book at home called Kind, which we often read together. I’ve been known to pull it from the shelf pointedly when they’re at each others throats, but I prefer to read it with them in calm moments, and to talk about it together.
 
It begins, “Imagine a world where everyone is kind. How can we make that come true?, and then goes on to suggest lots of practical ways to be kind and caring in our lives, with pictures by 38 different illustrators. It then ends with the words: 

“It feels nice to be kind. And it’s a good idea, too.

Because if everyone is kind… we’ll make a better world.”

 
You can probably see where I’m going with this. In the past few weeks, these soft little life lessons have become increasingly applicable and relevant. In the midst of these uncertain times, kindness is all the more important, and all the more abundant.
 
It’s a month today since Boris Johnson’s national TV address, in which he announced the lockdown. You don’t need me to tell you how strange, difficult and bewildering the past month has been for so many people. But amid the difficulties, we can see also a groundswell of kindness.
 
In mid-March, as the severity of the situation was becoming clearer, I popped notes through some of the doors on my street, asking if anyone would like to join a street WhatsApp group. I guess I thought it would be good to have each other’s numbers just in case anyone found themselves in sudden crisis, a handy emergency contact sheet.
 
Already though, it has become a heartening hubbub of kindness, community and support. People have been collecting shopping for each other, sharing supplies, passing on spare toys and craft equipment for the kids on the street and generally being kind.
Several people have remarked that they have chatted more to their neighbours now, over the fences or via their phones, than they ever did before. One neighbour has set up a makeshift food stall on their driveway, buying and collating supplies to ensure nobody in the street goes without. There’s a team spirit worth protecting. I know many other sets of neighbours in other streets have done the same.
 
Where I live, in York, I was heartened too by the get-up-and-go of local volunteers who picked, saved and then distributed 2,400kg of potatoes to local projects, after the outbreak led to a couple of buyers cancelling their contracts with local farmers. There’s an urgent drive suddenly to look out for one another, and to be kind.
 
We should say, we are not all in the same boat here. It is becoming recognised that those already suffering from society’s injustices are suffering all the more now, less able to access food, perhaps cut off from essential online school materials, struggling to find fresh air without a garden, or unable to access community resources they cherish and need. The virus undoubtedly exacerbates, rather than removes, society’s inequalities.
 
But if we are not all in the same boat, we are all nonetheless charting the same course in the same difficult channel, and we will pull through by pulling together. And when we do reach a safe harbour at the end of this, perhaps the kindness and solidarity we are seeing in our streets will help us make a better world.
 
Because if everyone is kind…
 
  • by Gavin Aitchison, Church Action on Poverty’s media unit coordinator

New wine, new wineskins part 2: What does our faith tell us?

Reflecting together, 14 May

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Why we aren’t ‘all in this together’

Our Empowerment Programme Officer Ben Pearson shares some reflections on class and COVID-19.

I spoke to a young person in Darwen, Lancashire last week whose only way of getting online during lockdown was via their mobile phone. According to the Office for National Statistics, 12% of 12-17-year-olds don’t have access to the internet by a computer or tablet at home, and in areas of deprivation its likely this is much higher. It’s ironic that only a few months back people laughed at Jeremey Corbyns ‘radical’ promise to give all households free broadband. This comes at a time when we are more reliant on digital technology than ever before, whether that’s for staying connected to family and friends, home-schooling or ordering groceries.

It’s all very well telling people not to leave their homes, far easier for those though with houses big enough to give people space and a garden.

Working-class communities are being hardest hit by COVID-19, and many of those implementing measures to deal with the crisis fail to understand the grassroots reality. Take lockdown measures for a start: it’s all very well telling people not to leave their homes, far easier for those though with houses big enough to give people space and a garden. If you’re in a tower block or terrace with little or no outside space this becomes much harder. We see and hear stories of those more privileged filling their days with novel pastimes, baking, reading, exercising to Joe Wicks, knitting, learning a new instrument, and going on long country walks. The reality is many never had the disposable income, access, space or indeed the calm concentration to engage with any of these prior to lockdown, and with heightened levels of anxiety & stress, now is hardly the right time to start.

Home-schooling unfairly disadvantages those in working-class communities due to digital exclusion, lack of space and resources, and frankly more pressing issues to be worrying about, like putting food on the table.

Times are evidently difficult for all, we’ve never experienced a crisis like this in our lifetimes, and we are all learning to adjust to new ways of living, working and coping. For those with children, home-schooling is no longer an activity for the privileged liberal left with time on their hands; instead it’s become a necessity. Much like lockdown, it unfairly disadvantages those in working class communities, who face digital exclusion, lack of space and resources, and frankly more pressing issues to be worrying about, like putting food on the table. Another young person in Lancashire said how they hadn’t been able to get online to access lessons since school had closed for lockdown, creating unnecessary disadvantage. And the amount of time some schools expect young people to continue to engage in education is unrealistic and unfair; one’s health and wellbeing should be a priority. With an education system that runs like a business, with more interest in grades, it’s hardly surprising this is happening.

Buying the simplest of ingredients to bake with would be a luxury, especially for those with children eligible for free school meals, families I’ve spoken to receiving as little as £11.75 per child, per week.

Whilst baking sourdough for the first time might be an exciting activity for the privileged middle classes, far more are struggling to put meals on the table. When Boris tweeted ‘Stay Home, do some baking’ he clearly failed to understand the reality of so many, the patronising tone cringe-worthy. Buying the simplest of ingredients to bake with would be a luxury, especially for those with children eligible for free school meals, families I’ve spoken to receiving as little as £11.75 per child, per week. This allowance is emailed out as a voucher by individual schools to be used in supermarkets, either online or in store. This provides challenges for many: not having internet at home, not having a printer to print the vouchers, not being able to afford the minimum spend if ordering online, not being able to get a delivery for days or weeks, or being unable to get to one of the supermarkets the vouchers can be spent at. It’s worth noting the official government website lists M&S and Waitrose as two of these supermarkets – clearly places lots of families in receipt of free school meals regularly shop at. For others a ‘grab bag’ is provided by the school. One school in Lancashire, but possibly many more, requires students to attend in uniform to collect these. Talk about those in positions of power making rules that stigmatise the most disadvantaged – how about a sign spelling out ‘I am poor’? Chances are many of these kids won’t attend due to fear of embarrassment, therefore going hungry. Why can’t we just ensure families have enough money in their pockets in the first place, and empower them to make their own decisions on how to feed their families?

When payday came, many were already living from one paycheque to the next; having anything spare to stock up on essential items wasn’t a reality.

The rations that many shops have put on certain food items have hit working-class communities too. Whilst the middle classes panic bought, filling car boots with an endless supply of toilet paper and rice, stockpilingemergency freezers, others were waiting for payday. When payday came, many were already living from one paycheque to the next; having anything spare to stock up on essential items wasn’t a reality. Those living in working-class communities are less likely to own a car, making it difficult to do a ‘big shop’. Larger supermarkets are often not close by, and so it requires many trips to do smaller shops, often paying a premium at more expensive local stores. For larger families the one-item restriction isn’t realistic; one mum told me how a bag of chicken wouldn’t fill the plates of everyone for one mealtime. And so, whether those in working-class communities want to or not, the likelihood is they have no choice but to leave their home more often to feed their family from one day to the next, putting themselves at more risk.

Those able to work from home are more likely to have jobs that pay more; manual workers in lower-paid work have no option but to leave home, be that cleaners, bus drivers, NHS staff or those working in retail.

The government did listen to people who said Universal Credit wasn’t enough to live on. It’s just a shame it wasn’t to those communities who’ve said this since its introduction. Of course not – it was now that ‘hard-working’ people with more middle-class jobs might actually need welfare support. People with more power like themselves, whose voices they were prepared to listen to. And so from 6 April, the weekly allowance went up by £20 per week. Then there are the workers. Those able to work from home are more likely to have jobs that pay more; manual workers in lower-paid work have no option but to leave home, be that cleaners, bus drivers, NHS staff or those working in retail.

Weakened safeguards and lower care standards will impact those already at risk, such as disabled people and those with mental health issues.

Those in working-class communities & from marginalised groups are also more likely to be victims of newly introduced police powers. The police are now able to arrest anyone ‘who is or may be infectious’ and take them to a ‘suitable place for assessment’, and this is likely to impact communities that are already over-policed. Weakened safeguards and lower care standards will impact those already at risk, such as disabled people and those with mental health issues. Powers to restrict events and gatherings may silence those who want to speak out in protest, and with these new powers being introduced at such a pace, it’s difficult for people to understand how to comply or challenge them. It’s far easier to rush things through in a crisis when people are distracted on the immediate issues, but these state powers risk drastically reshaping our civil liberties for years to come.

This is ironic, and further shows the class divide when we hear of privileged individuals breaking or bending the ‘rules’ – with the prime minister’s father Stanley Johnson saying early on he would ignore government advice and go to the pub if needed, and more recently Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer (who has since resigned) traveling to her second home twice during lockdown.

Providing emergency food parcels or vouchers to school children isn’t the answer, families should have enough money in their pockets to respond without the need for charity.

Finally, the idea that we are all ‘in this together’ is difficult to comprehend. We are made to believe that people coming out of retirement and vast numbers volunteering is something to be celebrated. Instead we should be angry that austerity measures that have drastically underfunded the NHS and  other vital services have left us in this position. Providing emergency food parcels or vouchers to schoolchildren isn’t the answer, families should have enough money in their pockets to respond without the need for charity. If everyone had an adequate income, charities could better respond to those deep in crisis, rather than filling the vast gaps in provision that should be provided by the state. This isn’t only a public health crisis but a social crisis, one that shines a light on the deeply entrenched inequality in our society, not only nationally but on a global level.

It’s easy for many to think this isn’t a time for politics as they try to stay positive during the most challenging of times. Communities have come together across the country to support their friends & neighbours; tremendous generosity has been shown, and its important for us all to stay hopeful and resilient. It is, though, a time that we should challenge, scrutinise and speak out more than ever before, an opportunity to come together in solidarity and change things for the better, for generations to come.

Where are the margins?

Who is my neighbour?

Gathering on the Margins – 5 May

Are we all in the same boat? Share your thoughts for our video

Church on the Margins: video reflections

Yellow sticker – a poem

Gathering on the Margins – 28th April

Kindness, community and rhubarb: my memories of tough times 80 years apart

Universal Credit – a poem

Nobody saw it coming – a poem

Signs – a poem

Pinkie promise – a poem

Poet in digital residence

Media for lockdown – what to read, listen to and watch

Voice: a poem

Gathering on the Margins – 21 April

Our new urgency to be kind can stand us in good stead

SPARK newsletter summer 2020 – online edition

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Reflections on living in lockdown: isolation

Church Action on Poverty trustee Stef Benstead shares reflections on how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting her life, as someone with disabilities who is used to being on a low income. In the fifth post of the series, she talks about isolation.

I first became ill in 2011, had brief remission in 2014, and then got steadily worse until the end of 2015. That second deterioration was worse than the first, as I lost again everything I had so recently regained. It took me a year to gradually give up all the activities that had become too much for me. I stopped doing youth work at church, tried to become church treasurer (I was still picking up new things when I should have been putting things down!), stopped going to church at all for three months, reduced my visits to my gran from three times to once a week, stopped running and cycling and returned to using a mobility scooter, and stopped any attempts at housework. At the very last, I stopped what I should probably have dropped first: my half-day a week of paid work.

Because I need a lot of rest, it took me all day to complete that half-day of work. I got a lift to and from work from colleagues, which also constrained me to fitting in with their driving times. I loved the work that I was doing, but my body couldn’t take the physical toll, and putting myself into that physical harm was mentally harmful. I ended up with severe reactive depression and took an overdose. I should have resigned about a year before I actually did, but I thought I couldn’t bear the mental loss.

In reality, the mental loss of giving up work was much better for me than the mental strain of slave-driving myself into work. I cried for about two weeks in the run-up to resigning, but once I had resigned I felt much better. I was free to live within my health constraints.

It was a year of great loss and I had to learn what it meant to be a Christian and yet not serve God through serving others.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This is something that each one of us can do in complete isolation from anyone else. It feels futile, but actually it works wonders. Even if we were to never leave our isolation, our closeness to God and our time spent talking with him would impact the world. But for most people, a period of isolation is temporary. It is then a time for getting ready, a time more precious than any other, a time when you have unprecedented hours to spend talking to God, singing and making music, doing gardening or art or hobbies with him, studying and meditating on his word, and generally getting to know him and be more like him.

My three-month break from church felt almost like being on retreat. My faith was just me and God. Without a weekly church service to kid me that I’d done enough on my relationship, the time I spent with God during the week suddenly felt a lot more important and worthwhile. I had to read his word for myself, and pray to him myself, and listen to him myself, rather than do all these things filtered through another person. As I was also cutting out social activity, my friendship with God also became more important. I needed God to be my best friend, which meant talking to him that way. 

My prayer is that for each of us for whom this is a time of isolation, it becomes a time of closeness to God that is sweeter than any we have ever known.


Stef Benstead’s book Second Class Citizens: The treatment of disabled people in austerity Britain is available from the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

Are we in the same boat? Some creative responses

Shopping online? You can raise money to loosen the grip of poverty

Listen up! New podcast to help end poverty

Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

Solidarity and sacrifice

The prophetic imagination

Where are the margins?

Who is my neighbour?

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

Reflections on living in lockdown: sustainability

Church Action on Poverty trustee Stef Benstead shares reflections on how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting her life, as someone with disabilities who is used to being on a low income. In the fourth post of the series, she talks about sustainability.

When I became ill, for several years I battled with simultaneous loss and overwork. The loss was every time I chose to care for my physical health by not doing something that I really wanted to do. The overwork was every time I chose to do something that I wanted to do, but wasn’t physically capable of doing. The challenge was balancing the loss with the overwork; balancing the pain of loss and social isolation with the pain of being your own slave-driver and torturer.

Consistently making yourself do something that is bad for you is very difficult and very bad for you. It’s like being your own slave-driver or torturer, and that’s worse than having an external slave driver. When I finally learned not to strive to do things beyond my body’s capability, my physical health stabilised and my mental health returned.

You never come out of overwork by continuing to overwork. That way lies physical collapse and deep despair.

Ultimately, what I learned was that you can go through grief in a way that you can’t go through overwork. You never come out of overwork by continuing to overwork. That way lies physical collapse and deep despair. You only come out of grief by experiencing it, mourning your loss as it happens. You come out of grief by grieving; you can only come out of overwork by stopping.

We are very good at justifying our activity. I told myself I couldn’t give up this or that or the other because so-and-so needed me. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. Actually, what happened was either that more practical ways of doing something were found, or it turned out to be a whole lot less important than I thought. But I couldn’t see that in the midst of the activity; I had to stop doing it first.

The rest Jesus gives us is literal, physical rest and therefore also peace-of-mind rest: that he genuinely allows us to put down things that we, or others, think are essential, and to not be bothered or feel guilty or a failure about it.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the Sabbath and Jesus’ phrase that we could come to him for rest. I have come to the conclusion that the rest Jesus gives us is literal, physical rest and therefore also peace-of-mind rest: that he genuinely allows us to put down things that we, or others, think are essential, and to not be bothered or feel guilty or a failure about it. And really, what else could he mean? He tells us to put down the world’s yoke: all the demands that the world places on us about what we should do and achieve. And he tells us to pick up his yoke: a yoke which he describes as easy; a yoke which sees listening to Jesus as better than feeding your household.

The point of the Sabbath is not to have a single day where we let go of the burdens and demands and standards of the world, but to bring that principle into every day of the week. Every single day, you can stop when you’ve done all you can handle. Every single day, you are not the creator, sustainer and redeemer of the universe. Every single day, you are just a frail, created being with limited powers.

I don’t know what that will look like for you. I wonder if, like me, it means doing less paid work and living on a smaller income, so that you have more time. Time to be with God. Time to be with family. Time to fit crises, whether your own or someone else’s, into your life. Time to live, love and serve.


Stef Benstead’s book Second Class Citizens: The treatment of disabled people in austerity Britain is available from the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

Are we in the same boat? Some creative responses

Shopping online? You can raise money to loosen the grip of poverty

Listen up! New podcast to help end poverty

Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

Solidarity and sacrifice

The prophetic imagination

Where are the margins?

Who is my neighbour?

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

The churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus (part 3)

What is the gospel imperative for churches in this challenging time? Church Action on Poverty trustee Stef Benstead has been reflecting on what she's seen. In this last post, she thinks about what we can learn from the Old Testament.

Jesus told us that all the Law and the Prophets – everything God has told us about what to do and his commentary on his people’s adherence to it – hangs on the two commands, “Love God” and “love your neighbour”. The Old Testament law made special provision for an economy and way of life that, followed faithfully, would eradicate poverty. The prophets are full of challenge to both the Israelites and pagan nations that they are subject to God’s wrath because of their oppression of others and their failure to provide for, defend and uphold the poor, sick and needy. Indeed, it is by far the most common judgment of God against pagan nations, and ranks alongside idolatry in God’s judgment of the Hebrews.[1]

The Law also contains a key commandment on blasphemy. The third of the Ten Commandments tells us not to misuse the name of God. There are many ways we can do this beyond just our language. One key way in which we can either honour or dishonour God’s name is through our actions. In Ezekiel, God challenges the Israelites that their unrighteous, uncaring lives are causing the nations to profane God’s name. They make it look as though God isn’t worth following; or that he is as selfish, capricious and unjust as his people; or (when he eventually sends his people into exile) that he can’t defend his people against the pagan nations.

God expects his people to better than the rest of the world, not at best just the same and often even worse. He expects us to step in where the rest of the world steps back. The current situation, where it is the secular groups in our country who are filling the need for affordable food and access to food, is a terrible dishonour to God and an indictment upon his people. The very last thing that Christians should be doing is stepping back and closing our doors. We should continue to be open to serve our communities and meet their practical needs, and striving to do more as the need deepens. We should not be waiting to see what new regulations come out or how the course of the virus goes, but getting ready now to serve the need that is present now. Let tomorrow worry about itself, so long as we are faithful today.

So this is my challenge to all denominations, congregations and Christians: open your doors, open your hearts, open your pockets and serve.

 

[1] The most common indictment against the Hebrews is their general rejection of God, with over 200 verses dedicated to this. Oppression and idolatry each occur around 145 times, with the next highest being harlotry and lying leaders, at a little under 100 verses each (by my count).
God condemns the pagan nations for oppression over 80 times, for pride 45 times, and all other charges fewer than 25 times.


At Church Action on Poverty, we know that some churches are struggling to keep services open because their volunteers are themselves vulnerable and need to self-isolate. But many others are finding creative ways to serve and keep people connected.

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

Are we in the same boat? Some creative responses

Shopping online? You can raise money to loosen the grip of poverty

Listen up! New podcast to help end poverty

Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?