I am sure that many of you will share my delight in knowing that the money collected in the villages in Christian Aid Week this year has exceeded last year's record amount – over £3,600! And if we add in the tax reclaim for the amounts Gift Aided, the total goes past £4,000. So we say "well done and thank you" to our team of collectors and fund-raisers, and "thank you" to everyone who supported the appeal so generously.
Perhaps the lead-up to the G8 Summit at the start of this month has helped to focus our minds on the desperate plight of so many people in the world. We all hope and pray that a real programme of debt relief will enable Third World countries to devote their limited resources to improving the lives of their citizens rather than increasing the profits of the world's major financial institutions.
But it must not stop there. The "Make poverty history" campaign is highlighting the way all our political and economic structures are skewed to increase the wealth of the wealthy at the cost of the poor. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have given a courageous lead in this issue, and they are to be congratulated on bringing their Christian convictions into the political arena in this way. Poverty on the global scale is a moral question, not just a matter of politics and economics. How can we enjoy so much – and waste so much – when others are dying of hunger and easily treatable disease?
What can I do? we often ask. It is an enormous question, but our gifts to Christian Aid are a start, as is our support for fair trade activities, which seek to put the profit where it belongs with the producers of our food and raw materials. Do we always look for fair trade products in the shops? And ask shop-owners and –managers why they don't stock them? Could you write to your M.P., to the appropriate government minister, or to the heads of foreign governments (especially the President of the U.S.A. and the Prime Minister of Japan) to urge them to do more to help the world's poorest people? Recent campaigns have shown how public pressure can change politicians' minds, so why not add your voice?
In the long run, we will all have to face changes in our life-style. The price the world's poor pay for our life of luxury is far too high, and while we are waiting for the changes in the economic order, our own generosity must help to bridge the gulf between their desperate need and our plenty.
"God bless Africa – guard her children, guide her leaders and give her peace" is a well-known prayer, which we could use, and add in the names of other desperately poor parts of the world as well. MALCOLM
- February 2005
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- August/September 2005
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- December 2005
About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.