It’s always encouraging to find the church making itself useful in places of conflict and violence – doing what we should, in my book.
After the Libyan uprising, a Christian NGO called ACT provided 20,000 meals a day to refugees on the Tunisian border, then sensibly trained local volunteers so they could take over. No point in doing something if you are only going to take it away when you go.
The Anglican church in Egypt sprang into action when the economy ground to a halt, with its 7 community development centres each of which cares for around 2,500 families. It also started a micro-enterprise scheme, and there’s a nice story here: a man who could not find work in the construction industry asked for a loan to buy a donkey and cart to sell vegetables. He and his wife worked together in this and made enough for their family needs. Now he’s dreaming of starting a small shop … good for them, not sitting down and feeling sorry for themselves and expecting handouts, but beavering away to provide for themselves. These micro-finance schemes are excellent, not only in Egypt but in many other places too.
The church is also organising workshops to teach people about democracy. How else are they going to find out what it is? Further, the Anglican Bishop, Mouneer Hanna Anis, is working away with others to try and ensure peace between Muslims and Christians.
It reminds me of something I read earlier: ‘We set prayer against the evil forces, and do not give up hope‘. (David Scott, from ‘An Anglo-Saxon Passion’) Not prayer only, but common sense and practical help.
More power to their elbows, say I.