April 2010

Letter for May 2010

Author: 
Sue Brown

Dear Friends,

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter went out into the streets of Jerusalem and preached the first sermon ever. After hearing what he had to say, THREE THOUSAND people became Christians. Not bad for a first sermon attempt! And this is Peter; Peter the fisherman. We don’t hear of him speaking much in the Gospels, and when we do it’s often because he got things wrong. What changed? Had he taken a theology degree or a course in public speaking? No. This is what had happened; Peter and the other apostles had been filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s what made his words electrifying.

But it didn’t stop there. Peter told the three thousand new converts:

“You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children and for .... everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him”.

The promise is for all Christians, for you and me.

The Holy Spirit is God’s transforming power at work in our lives, affecting every aspect of life; our attitudes, our priorities, our actions – enabling us to serve God in new and exciting ways.

Within our own church community there is a wealth of skills and talents; but perhaps we don’t always make the most of these. At this time of Pentecost, let’s all think and pray about what God is inviting us to do – in the church and beyond. And be ready to be surprised!

If Peter the fisherman had been asked to list his talents and skills would he have said “orator and evangelist”?

Would the physically weak Paul have seen himself as a great traveller and man of action?

Would Moses, comfortably settled in the land of Midian with his Midianite wife and young family, have recognised his calling as leader and liberator of the Israelites?

The Holy Spirit inspires us to make the most of our natural God given talents AND to be ready to be used in new and unexpected ways by the God of surprises.

Sue Brown

Chocolate the bitter truth

Author: 
Leslie Brown

The BBC Panorama programme shown on the 24th March highlighted the problem of child labour on West African cocoa farms. These included some Fairtrade producers. With the use of child labour being so widespread in this area, it is not surprising that some Fairtrade suppliers were involved.

When the problem was identified by the Fairtrade auditors, the suppliers were immediately suspended from the Fairtrade system. This did not mean that the products they produce could not be sold (immediate cessation of trade could cause untold hardship to the families employed in growing the cocoa) but the producers were not allowed to enter into any new contracts and were given a very limited time in which to correct the problem.

The Fairtrade auditors then monitored the suppliers’ progress before re-instating their Fairtrade certification.

This does not mean that similar problems could not arise in future but the Fairtrade auditors will take similar action whenever a problem is found. You can purchase Fairtrade products with the confidence that the system is greatly improving the lives of all the families involved in producing the goods.

But are you prepared to pay more to help these families further?
Leslie Brown

Tools for Self Reliance

Author: 
am

For nearly 30 years, ‘Tools for Self Reliance’ has helped to relieve poverty in Africa by supporting small businesses. With the help of UK volunteers, they fund business skills and other training projects in six African countries. Each year they put tens of thousands of refurbished tools and sewing machines into the hands of people who really need them. They can’t do any of this without us!

They believe that people working and living in their own county are best placed to know about their own situation, and able to decide what is & isn’t useful to them. They don’t have any UK staff in Africa but support local partner organisations which are best placed to work effectively in their own communities. They currently have partners in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The kind of tools they send are - blacksmith, carpentry, engineering & metalworking, bicycle repair, auto-mechanics, electrical and industrial quality power tools and some kinds of sewing machines. If you can help, please see me or visit www.tfsr.org
Audrey Mann

Singing for Life

Author: 
cr

A family affairA family affair

PercussionPercussion

Everybody Sing!Everybody Sing!

Raising money for the Anthony Nolan Trust on Saturday 24th April. The final total sent to the Trust (including recovered Gift Aid) was over £1000.

News from the Knitwitters

The Group continue to meetregularly to knit squares for blankets. The following emailhas been received from the Knit a Square organiser:

The three month old baby girl lying in the corner, lay listless. I stroked her perfect, tiny hand and with the little energy she had left, a smile flickered at the corner of her mouth.

In less than a month, these babies will still sleep on this same floor, a piece of old linoleum laid on the bare African soil. But the temperatures will have dropped and will continue to do so for winter in Soweto. I took this photograph yesterday, 30 March, 2010.

Scattered throughout Soweto, and all the informal settlements, are hundreds and hundreds of small creches like this fashioned out of whatever comes to hand, old window frames with no glass, stained carpet pieces, plywood, corrugated iron.

Our work is to get to as many as we can to wrap warm blankets around these babies and children, many of who are affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and most of who have lost or are losing their parents.
The squares are arriving abundantly. But we have outgrown our limited resources. We need a manager on the ground in South Africa. Someone who will organise DAILY, the sewing groups and distributions, who is familiar with the informal settlements and can source the networks to find these thousands of children. Ronda will always be involved in knit-a-square, but this is now an organisational role beyond that of the organic spread of volunteers; our wonderful family, their friends, church groups and our truly remarkable Sowetan volunteers.
We are serious about putting blankets around these children. About bringing joy to their sad eyes. About telling the world of their plight.
We know you are serious about sending us the knitted and crocheted squares to do this. But now we must ask you to help us further.
We need to raise a minimum, to start, of $3000 a month to incorporate in South Africa, hire a part-time manager and some additional facilities outside of Ronda's home and to achieve our common purpose in South Africa.

That is $3US a month from 1,000 of our 3,500 plus members. We would like to suggest that it becomes a membership fee, because that way you own what we are doing here as much as we all do. $36 per year is a small fee to pay to know that we are ALL achieving what we set out to do.

Our hope is to find a young enthusiastic and energetic South African who will, among other things, fund-raise here to cover other organizational costs. But we must have funds to do this.

These children, and thousands like them, rely on us now to keep them warm through the glass-less windows this winter and for years to come.

SING FOR LIFE

Good title, eh? The “Life” in this case being those who need a bone marrow transplant or who suffer from leukaemia. The Anthony Nolan Trust runs the bone marrow data base and supports research into leukaemia, and we are aiming to raise money for this very worthy cause.
The idea is to sing 50 hymns and get sponsorship for doing this. It will take between two and two-and-a-half hours (allowing for time to get your breath back and have a cooling drink).

The date: Saturday 24 April at 2.00 pm onwards
The place: Fareham United Reformed Church
The hymns: Make suggestions on the list posted in church.
The sponsorship forms (most important):

Easter Celebrations at Fareham United Reformed Church

Many from the congregation joined with other Christians from local churches in a walk of witness on Good Friday. After a brief act of worship, braving the rain, in the Sensory Garden those taking part went to the shopping centre and distributed hot cross buns, each wrapped in a napkin printed with the Easter story, to shoppers.

Easter day began with a well attended communion service, led by the Revd Brenda Russell. This was follwed by a church family breakfast when 80 people enjoyed a full English meal (or a continental version for those with smaller appetites). At 10.30 there was a crowded church for an all-age worship service, led by the Revd Nigel Rogers, where the members of the Junior Church took a full part and were presented with Easter eggs at the end of the service.