Fifty years ago, Christians were shocked at the images of the unfolding tragedy in Biafra (part of Nigeria but at that time seeking to become an independent state) and many contacted The Evangelical Alliance. Their response was to set up a fund to channel the giving and so The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund was born. During that time, levels of extreme poverty have been significantly reduced but the work is not yet completed. Tearfund has designated this year as a Jubilee year and various special events are planned or have already taken place. You may have seen the “Songs of Praise” edition celebrating the work.
Recently, I was able to attend a meeting where we learned more about Tearfund’s work. We heard descriptions of ‘extreme poverty’ – such as the mother who has to choose which child she can feed, knowing she also will go hungry.
Yet the work is not only about immediate relief in times of crisis but in the long term rebuilding and restoration of lives. We heard from Rosa who works with women in Colombia who have been subjected to sexual abuse. During the protracted civil war, this abuse was used as a weapon of war and has had long-lasting consequences. However, we also heard of one woman who has been supported in her fight to overcome and is rebuilding her self-esteem. Rosa showed us a picture of a flowering shrub planted by the woman’s husband. His frustration at being unable to protect his wife had led him to alcohol abuse but through patient work, Tearfund partners have helped them both to rebuild their lives. He told Rosa he is so proud of his wife and her achievement that he wishes he could buy her roses every day but as they are too poor for that, he planted the shrub and each day they can pick a flower in celebration.
Jubilee is about celebrating release and restoration.
To find out more about the work of Tearfund please visit: https://www.tearfund.org/