Churchlink October 2015
Winter is now well and truly upon as and putting the clocks back marks the start of a busy time of year for our work with the homeless, as life on the streets becomes even more hazardous. Our life saving work helps to support people like Peter;
"My home was repossessed just after Christmas, on the 27th December, and I was homeless. I presented myself to the local authority where a Support Worker then referred me to Alabaré. They interviewed me and offered me accommodation in one of the shared houses in Gosport."
This month’s ENews has all the latest goings-on at Alabaré as we gear up for a busy winter ahead. Of course we welcome your views and comments, do please get in touch on email@example.com
Andrew Lord, CEO
Miracle As and Miracle Bs
Why do I still hurt?
In last month’s Church Link, Wendy Cooper describes how in Luke 4:18-21 Jesus applies the verses of Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself.
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
She then asks if this is Jesus’ promise then why do I still hurt? If he is for real then when will I be free? If he really means this why is my life still in ashes? When I am this broken how could I ever be whole? She points out that in the present day culture, we expect a quick fix to our problems when actually endurance, perseverance and commitment are required.
Now consider Psalm 22 written by David; considered to be God’s chosen servant and a man after God’s own heart and having words used by Jesus at his crucifixion.
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. . . . My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (vv. 1-2, 15)”.
This is described as the anguished prayer of David as a godly sufferer victimised by the vicious and prolonged attacks of enemies whom he has not provoked. It was possibly written while running from Saul, when Saul was trying to kill him, or when he was running from Absalom because of his unwillingness to fight against Absalom's forces. Nevertheless, it was a time of tragic heartache for David. He was without a helper (verse 11). He was stripped (verse 17). He was pierced (verse 16). He was made a gazing-stock (verse 17). His garments were parted (verse 18). All of the treatment that Jesus himself also received at the hands of his captors; he too had been deserted by his friends, stripped, pierced, made a gazing-stock and had his clothes divided. Note that this is not a cry of despair as David does not give up on God, and verses subsequent verses 22-26 portray a change in tone from suffering and pain to praise and thanksgiving.
Through this psalm, we somehow see that transformation take place through suffering. As Christians we recognise this further in the transformation that takes place through the suffering of Christ, who broke the power of sin and death over our lives – setting us free from our affliction, by his death and resurrection.
My own personal understanding of transformation through suffering was developed further through a talk I heard by Ash Barker. Ash is a Christian missionary who lived and worked amongst those suffering from extreme poverty for 12 years in Klong Toey (Bangkok). In one of his talks, Ash spoke of two different transformations that can take place as we show compassion – and suffer together (compassion literally means ‘to suffer together’) with those that are experiencing poverty, homelessness, illness or addiction. He spoke of ‘Miracle As and Miracle Bs’. Both are transformational miracles as follows.
Miracle A occurs when people in our community are set free from their suffering in a truly dramatic way. They are healed from sickness, are lifted out of poverty, are set free from addiction; lives are turned around and renewal takes place. Miracle B occurs when as we share the suffering of others in our community and lament on their behalf to God, we ourselves become better channels of God’s grace. In other words, we ourselves are transformed as we exercise the compassion and love that we ourselves have received from Jesus. Jean Vanier of L’Arche states that whilst we ourselves are not the solution to the suffering of others, Christians can be a sign of hope. Even if the psalmist in Psalm 22 does not experience God’s closeness, he believes that God does care and is always within shouting distance. Lamenting is not a failure of faith but an act of faith.
In conclusion therefore, if we offer ourselves in prayer (and sometimes lament), offer our support and friendship to those who are struggling with physical, emotional and sometimes spiritual traumas, and in a true spirit of compassion, walk with those who are suffering; not only can we witness Miracle As from time to time, but also experience transformation ourselves through Miracle Bs into his likeness (see 2Cor3:18).
Like David and Jesus, have you ever cried out to God and said ‘Lord, where are you?’ in response to suffering that you have experienced or witnessed?
Update on Syria Crisis
We were overwhelmed by the positive response we received from our supporters following our call to help the refugees of Syria. We are awaiting Wiltshire County's response but we continue to be ready for action, mainly through the generosity and support of the extended Alabaré family. Once we have a firmer understanding of how Wiltshire will be responding to this crisis, we will be in touch with all of you to take up your kind offers of help.
While Syrian refugees continue to be in the national news, Alabaré continues to help vulnerable people every day who are homeless and in crisis and do not make the headlines. As such we are extremely grateful for your ongoing support that makes this possible.
Alabaré's Tale of Retail
It’s been a busy month for our Retail Teams across the organisation!
October saw the opening of our 9th charity shop in the South West; our first specialist Mother and Baby Shop. The shop, located on the High Street in Andover’s town centre, was officially opened by Councillor Iris Anderson, The Mayor of Test Valley, and on its first day, took a brilliant £290, resulting in many of the shelves being stripped bare! Needless to say, the shop are always on the look out for items, so if you have anything you would like to donate, please get in touch directly with the store (01264 359 447).
We also took a bold step into the world of online shopping by launching our very own ebay store. Already we have had some fascinating items put up for auction, including two vintage Paddington Bear cuddly toys, which were a big hit at Riverside House!
Finally – do you know anyone in the Southampton area who might like to volunteer in our shops? We have two wonderfully well stocked shops in Totton that are in need of some passionate volunteers to help us re-launch the stores. If you know anyone with a desire to help out in their local community, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates for Your Diary
21st November 2015
Join our team at Barford (Dairy Road, Barford St Martin, SP3 4AT) for their annual Christmas Fair (12-3 pm) where they will be selling delicious home made cakes and light lunches. Also for sale will be pottery and woodwork handmade by our clients as well as craft stalls from the village.
28th November 2015
Why not get into the festive spirit and join us at Alabare HQ (Riverside House) for our Christmas Fair between 10am and 2pm. We’d love to see you and begin the festive celebrations in style!
10th December 2015
Join us at Riverside House for our Christmas Carol service. We’ll be kicking off the singing at midday and refreshments will be provided.
4th March 2016
Help us to celebrate 10 years of our flagship event “The Sleep Out’ by taking part in our BIG Sleep. Our annual event in the breath-taking grounds of Salisbury Cathedral will be taking place on March 4th and we're hoping for a record breaking number of participants in 2016.
If you can’t make our Salisbury event, why not see if you can take part in a number of other BIG Sleep’s that will be taking place across the South West. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not organise your own event?