In this video, and in the letter below, Paul Thaxter, a member of our congregation, makes a personal appeal:
Dear all at St James by the Park,
Thank you all for your support to CMS in 2020.
I have decided to take the unusual step of asking if you want to join Helen and I in making a one-off love gift to local partners working for CMS-Africa. Whilst CMS is the main funding partner for CMS-Africa this is not a CMS appeal but a personal appeal borne out of my recent experiences. I am grateful that St James leadership has allowed me to make it.
Over the last 3 months I have been in contact with many people around the world who are facing challenges due to the CV19 pandemic and the actions of government resulting usually in strict lockdown. In many parts of the world and particularly amongst the very poor it is a desperate time summed up in 6 words – “No work. No food. No rent”. On top of this is the lack of health provision for the poor and the difficulty in self-isolating from others as well as rising prices of food.
Within Africa though there are even more challenges – such as locusts in Northern Uganda and South Sudan, floods in many parts of East Africa, the breakout of other diseases and war and domestic tensions. International agencies seem to have less of a presence at this time. I have heard that even refugee camps for the South Sudanese in Northern Uganda are providing reduced rations at this time.
In the midst of these challenges I have been really impressed by the resilience and commitment of the 17 CMS-Africa local partners who, though often in need themselves, have been providing relational relief to many of the poorest in different communities. CMS-Africa have received some grants from organisations in the UK and elsewhere that they have been able to disburse quickly and responsibly through their local partners.
Let me tell you of a few of these 17 people:-
Bisoke Balikenga runs a peace centre in Bunia in DR Congo where there are about 400 displaced people looking to him for leadership. His wife Furaha has large growth behind one of her eyes and yet still runs a school for 100s of children, some of whom who cannot afford any fees. They work in the context of conflict and violence from rebel groups and have recently had to cope with a kidnapping and the murder of a long-term friend and evangelist. Bisoke currently has typhoid and their daughter Grace is ill in hospital. Yet he remains committed to serving others as much as he can. He is also the Provincial Youth Officer for the Anglican Church there.
Jeff Sikabwe is living in Kinshasa DR Congo, one of the largest cities in Africa, and has been an invaluable trainer for CMS-Africa enabling communities and individuals to develop their skills and assets for sustainable futures. Many of his family are in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, an area which has faced floods in April with consequent loss of life and destruction of houses. He is wanting to lend assistance there too.
Rachel Karanja is one of the most amazing people I know who is part of the relational relief effort of CMS-Africa. Over the years she has helped so many create small agricultural or micro -businesses. I heard that the floods in Kenya have swept away her garden and damaged her house yet she is still asking people “kindly pray as we give a meal to one or two families and God will bless you”
Judith Murungi is a dynamic energetic leader in Uganda and has been visiting the vulnerable families in a very poor part of Kampala. She came across one lady who used to collect empty plastic bottles across the city and sell them to a depot for a few Ugandan shillings to feed her children but now in lock down she cannot do it. Judith gave her own money just to help this lady out.
So I thought why not give CMS-Africa a love gift that they can distribute to their 17 local partners just to help them out at this time. The money would be simply to bless them and allow them to use it for their own personal needs. I think it would mean a lot to them at this time and encourage them in their ministry. So let us be inspired by them and also encourage them at this time of great difficulty. As Ephesian 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
Please do not feel you have to give to this personal appeal I know that some of you are already facing challenging financial circumstances yourselves. I really just wanted to offer you the opportunity to bless some remarkable Christian workers elsewhere in the world at this time.
Please make any donations clear to the church office, so we can reclaim gift aid on them and send the money as a love gift to CMS-Africa. Cash or cheques (payable to “PCC of Shirley”) can be dropped into the church office, clearly marked for “CMS Africa appeal”. Online donations can be made to the church bank account (sort code 55 50 23; account number 69481377). Please indicate in the reference and by a separate email to email@example.com that they are for the CMS Africa appeal. Please make any gifts by Sunday 7th June.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Paul & Helen Thaxter