10th September 2013
Samaritan’s Purse is calling on churches across the UK to model the early church, as described in the books of Acts, who held everything in common and who pooled their resources to reap hope for some of the world’s neediest families this Harvest time
Just as the first century church ensured there wasn’t a needy person among them by sharing all that they had, Samaritan’s Purse has launched a unique way for today’s UK churches to do the same through their Raising Families Harvest resource packs.
“What we’ve seen happening in local churches right across Africa and Central Asia is them pooling their resources to look after the most vulnerable families in their communities,” explains Simon Barrington, Samaritan’s Purse UK Executive Director.
On a recent visit to Rwanda, Simon asked Pastor Celestine in the Kamweru Parish what was different about their ministry programme, and the pastor responded — ‘We’re going back to the church in the book of Acts by bringing all our resources together, even though we have very little, and we’re sharing it. In the past most families in our village could only afford one meal a day. But today people who once felt doomed to a life of poverty are working in groups – planting and growing crops, raising livestock and joining savings groups.
“Those who once had nothing are now making a living and helping out their needy neighbours too. Because of this generosity countless lives have been turned around and many people have regained their faith in God.”
Simon added: “We wanted to do something in the UK that models what’s happening in places like Rwanda and this Harvest is the perfect time to do it!”
Each Raising Families Harvest resource pack contains a variety of resources and creative ideas to help churches put on a My Promise event to engage and enthuse both their church and their community in giving hope to needy families in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.
The pack includes an inspiring DVD that can be shown in churches in the run up to their Harvest services, telling the story of how churches in Rwanda have responded to the issue of poverty in their communities by pooling their resources to address the needs of families.
One of those stories is that of grandmother Cecile who had to take on responsibility for her five young grandchildren when her son and his wife tragically died.
The local church trained by Samaritan’s Purse, introduced Cecile to other vulnerable families in her community. They prayed together, encouraged each other, shared their knowledge and pooled their money and other resources.
Cecile said: “When I look back and see all that I have been able to do, it’s all due to the encouragement I received from the group at church…the group also helped me in cultivating crops which helped me earn money in the harvest to pay for school fees and healthcare. “I want my grandchildren to know God, to pray to Him and to understand that He is able to meet all their needs.”
Individuals taking part in My Promise will be asked to make a promise, either something practical like babysitting, shopping or providing lifts, or more substantial gifts, such as the use of a holiday home or caravan. These promises will then be put up for auction. Everyone can play a part, even those simply promising to support a family in need for just £10 a month.
Many churches around the UK are already grasping this concept. Phil Smith Worship and Prayer Vision Team Co-ordinator at Fleet Methodist Church commented: “Linking a project such as this to Harvest is both a natural and challenging concept. Most Christians in the UK have little connection with a farmer harvesting a crop, yet we all ‘give’ at harvest. Samaritan’s Purse has put in place a realistic project that allows Christians throughout the UK and wider to give a little of what we do have to make a life-changing difference to others.”
Simon Barrington concluded: “I hope that churches will grasp the fact that when they come together and pool their resources that they can have an impact on vulnerable children and families. In doing that they’ll understand who we are as the body of Christ that we are one family globally and we can do things together, which makes a world of difference.”
Samaritan’s Purse UK is an international relief and development organisation that works through local churches to proclaim and demonstrate the love of God amongst communities in need in 18 countries across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
To request a media interview with Samaritan’s Purse UK Executive Director, Simon Barrington contact Peter Wooding at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 07500 903067 / 01244 549167.
To find out more go to: www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/raising-families-harvest