Tuesday, 4 March 2014

I sometimes sit in the wilderness on the hills overlooking the Dead Sea and the River Jordan. A wondrous, beautiful and peaceful place, where, at the right time of year flowers bloom and birds circle above quite silently. Jerusalem behind me and Bethlehem a little further south. I sit alone and sometimes weep and cry out for all that I see and witness. How little has changed! The violence, the greed, the constant scramble for power and money. Why can we as a people not listen, why can we not learn? I am and we are no different to those crying out in that very place over the centuries.

Some years ago whilst on a Prison Chaplaincy retreat in Italy I visited a Reuters photography exhibition. I saw there a life sized photograph of a young boy from the Holy Land. I looked at his face so full of anger, pain and misery – a whole gamut of emotions. It could have been an image of a child from many parts of this damaged world but it was this image that moved me so dramatically, especially after reading the circumstances surrounding it. It moved me so much so that for the past six years I have been working with a U.K. charity to try and lift such children out of the misery in which they find themselves. Being in the places where Christ ministered, the towns, villages, mountains and desert has shown me just how little has changed. The stunning beauty and peace of the wilderness around the Dead Sea, the green valleys full of Olive and fruit trees, the sometimes bloody violence within the towns and cities. Children in despicable and preventable poverty and for some, the prospect of decent educational and medical care being absolutely unattainable. Lack of opportunity is endemic in parts of this land, few places to play, to stretch legs. It has been a wonderful, exciting, miserable, happy and frustrating time working with some of the most resilient, generous, smiling and kind people and also having to circumnavigate some of the modern day Sadducees and Pharisees who are sometimes manifested in the leadership of the Christian Church. Having given a great deal of thought as to how best care for these children of the Holy Land I have decided to start a charity called ‘Abraham’s Children in Crisis’. It’s aim is to be apolitical and to care solely for the welfare, medicine and education of children who find themselves in crisis. Why Abraham’s children? - this is just shorthand for any child of any faith, the only prerequisite being that the child is in need. There are NGO’s and other charities doing absolutely wonderful work in the area but many either do not visit at all or only make short visits. The result of this is, that although many children do receive much needed help, many are overlooked. It is these ‘overlooked’ children that we seek to help. With the guidance of trusted local professionals and qualified advisors in the U.K., we will address the educational, medical and welfare needs of some of these children who find themselves in crisis. This will not be an imposition of one culture on another, but rather just being alongside our brothers and sisters in need.

Four of us have come together to form a board of Trustees, two teachers a Priest and myself. We have also three local advisors in the Holy Land, two teachers and a social worker and three advisors in the U.K., a Doctor and two nurses all working together to try and lift these children from their crises. The children with whom I have been working and with whom I will continue to work, are just very normal children with aspirations the same as those from this country or any country in the world – to learn, to have a good, productive life and above all to live in freedom and peace.

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