Thought for the weekend: A servant to our fellow man
My thought to you this weekend, and in this general harvest thanksgiving season, is that we have been blessed by God with food, clothing, shelter, support and encouragement of family and the friendship of others.
In every instance, there is cause to give thanks to God for his many gifts to us, reflecting his abundant love and kindness. Besides, 'we who have' should care for 'those who have not' by contributing to emergency aid and development, so that dependence can be transformed into self-reliance and human dignity.
Here in the UK a large amount of the national budget - 0.07% a year - is given to overseas aid and development. Recently, David Cameron pointed out that the UK is the largest charitable aid and development donor after the US.
In this regard, in light of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Africa, the UK government will resource development projects which will help people to remain in their homelands, or as close as possible to their places of origin.
Development as well as aid sounds very ambitious since there are 19.5 million refugees worldwide, many in the Middle East. Recent television reports indicate that aid agencies are struggling to meet basic demands for shelter, not to mention initiate projects for development.
However, aid and development need to be seen as the two sides of the same coin.
Many missionary societies and groups in the Irish churches have, for some years, been pursuing a two-track strategy of bringing aid where there are emergencies, followed by development support to build up the local economies and create jobs. This is happening in Africa, South America and South Asia. The maxim is 'give a person a fish, she will have food for a day. Teach a person to fish, she will have food for life'.
A few weeks ago, I spoke about the sort of people God wants each of us to be. He does not want us to be haughty and overbearing. He does not want us to lord it over others. In our families, among our work colleagues, with our friends, and even with those from whom we are estranged, he wants us to do something which runs against the grain. He wants us to be servants of others.
In our world today, many suffer great need. You and I are called to be their servants - to help them and restore them to dignity.