I am honoured to host this guest post from Matthew Currey of Tearfund.
Matt Currey is a disciple seeking to follow Jesus. He works for the charity Tearfund as part of the IMPACT UK team, seeking to play a part in bringing hope and transformation to those living in poverty in the UK.
He lives in West London, and loves music, food, film, reading, writing, volunteering, good coffee, local parks, exploring life and playing with his amazing family.
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“Jesus’ existence made it undeniably clear that changing the human heart and changing human society are not separate tasks” Henri Nouwen
I was inspired, heartened and challenged by Anita’s post and subsequent discussions last week to Remember the Poor. As someone who works for the charity Tearfund and who has a passion for issues of poverty and injustice it’s encouraging to see people really engaging, exploring and taking action in this area. For me, beyond any professional/work capacity, as a Christian the issue of Justice and God’s heart for the poor, the broken, the marginalised is something that in my view should be at the heartbeat and forefront of the outworking of our discipleship. It is integral to our whole life and an expression of our worship.
The writer Brian Draper this week helpfully reminded me of a poem called A Future not our own.
33 years ago this week, on the 24th March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down by a government-backed death squad, while he was saying Mass in San Salvador. As Simon Barrow, director of the think-tank Ekklesia, writes, “Romero was a remarkable and brave champion of the poor. But his background was not in the least radical. Far from it. It was exposure to the reality and human cost of injustice that converted him to an understanding of the Gospel that has peace and justice at his core. He has inspired millions of people – Catholic and otherwise, religious and non-religious, across the world.”
Poverty is not a statistic or an issue. Poverty is personal. Poverty has a name, the names of people who live in poverty are real people and not statistics. People who have a story, who have hopes, dreams and fears just like you and me. I am thankful and mindful of how important it is to keep being reminded of this. Because I know that it is possible that we ‘Remember the Poor’ but do we really know the poor and get really involved in the lives and stories of the poor?
I am very mindful of the times I have had the privilege of travelling overseas with Tearfund and each time the opportunity to encounter and live with others who materially may have much less than I do but who have a richness of hospitality and community that I often lack. These experiences can be overwhelming. I am thankful for the people, stories and lives of hope that I have connected with on these trips. They are humbling and inspiring.
In an age of hyper individualism and hyper communication it can be easy to be both overwhelmed or conversely overly cynical or overly able to hibernate from the horrors all around us. I’ve done both and keep repeating that pattern. I wish I didn’t but I do. Learning can take time, for I am slow and also if I am honest I crave my comforts and my safety.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
Last year I embarked upon a series of 9 themed journeys throughout 2012, with each one lasting for 40 days. It was a really great experience and I am glad that I did it. However my reflection was that in being intentional we also have to be full of grace. In being passionate and compassionate we need to be shaped by Love, Mercy and Humility, not false humility, but characteristics that keep our service and our journey fresh, real and honest. I came to the conclusion, with thanks for the help from the brilliant book by Mark Powley called Consumer Detox, that less really is more.
It’s amazing what can be achieved when we focus on one thing and do it well. I love this film that is based on a modern day outworking of The Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14: 15-24). In it the two people who are set the challenge have to focus and do the one thing well.
What is the one thing that we might be being stirred or encouraged to do? How could we use our gifts to practice generosity, hospitality, creativity or something else entirely?