From the Rector - May 2018

Dear Friends,

As I write this letter, we have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Malta. We were blessed with glorious weather and enjoyed much of what the country has to offer.

We stayed in St Paul’s Bay and prior to our holiday. I was unaware that St Paul has an additional feast day on February 10th: ”The Feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul"! I think this gives Paul an edge over Peter in the feast day stakes.They share one feast day, as co-founders of the Church in Rome. Peter also has the Chair of St Peter. Paul has the feast of his conversion and the feast of his Maltese shipwreck!

According to the sources (that is, the Acts of the Apostles), in the year 59, after two years in a Caesarean prison, St Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to “appeal unto Caesar." But Paul's voyage to Rome was prolonged by a shipwreck off the coast of Malta, just off St Paul's Bay which probably went by a different name back then! While the ship was mended, Paul worked many miracles and effectively founded the Church in Malta.

We attended the church of St Paul‘s Shipwreck in St Paul's Bay on our first weekend. The church was packed; so much so, that we - along with at least a dozen others - were stood on the steps outside for the service. As you’ll (probably) be aware, the state religion in Malta is Roman Catholic, with 98% of the population adhering to Roman Catholicism. l attended the service wearing my clerical shirt - but imagine my joy when I was invited into the sanctuary - despite highlighting to them that l was an Anglican Priest.

This links me to Christian Aid Week - 13th to 19th May 2018 - which, this year urges you to #StandTogether. Everyone is equal in the sight of God. Yet we live in a world where poverty persists.

This year the organisation is highlighting the plight of the millions of people displaced around the world, but who remain within their own countries.Today, more than 40 million people are internally displaced by conflict, accounting for approximately two thirds of those who find themselves forced from their homes. A further 24 million were displaced by disasters in 2016 alone.Yet, because they haven't crossed a border. the public rarely hear about them.

Despite the huge number of people affected. situations of internal displacement receive almost no political attention, funding or support. In Haiti, thousands of people regularly experience some of the worst natural disasters on earth. The country is one of the poorest in the world,and a high number of its inhabitants live in precarious houses or have been uprooted from their homes entirely, making them especially vulnerable when another disaster strikes. More than seven years on from the devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010, an estimated 38,000 people are still displaced.

In November 2016, Hurricane Matthew wreaked yet more havoc across the southern coast of the country, killing 546 people and destroying homes, businesses and infrastructure. Up to 90% of some areas were destroyed. Vilia was left homeless by the earthquake in 20|0 and her mother was killed. Bereaved and homeless, for Vilia, her husband and their seven children, life became a struggle. They didn’t even have a safe place to sleep. Christian Aid’s local partner, KORAL, helps local people prepare for disasters. In the aftermath of the earthquake, it reached out to Vilia and built her and her family a new home, that was safe, stable and strong enough to stand up to natural disasters.

Ahead of Hurricane Matthew, KORAL was able to warn local communities, helping to evacuate around 5,000 families and saving many lives. In the immediate aftermath Christian Aid and KORAL distributed urgently-needed shelter materials, hygiene products such as soap, food seeds and cash, so people could buy other items that they really needed. Disaster-resistant homes were built, giving people safe, secure places to live. Of the dozens
built before the hurricane hit, only one lost its roof in the disaster, and Vilia's home was able to shelter 54 people over several days following the hurricane.

Christian Aid Week unites thousands of churches every year to raise money to support our global neighbours in need, who are often suffering through no fault of their own. Just £25 could buy a hygiene kit to prevent disease after a disaster; £5 could buy a jar of seeds so someone like Vilia can grow beans to feed her family; and £210 could pay to train a local builder in Haiti to build safe, secure hurricane-resistant homes.

This Christian Aid Week, people can help to change the lives of people displaced due to disasters or conflict by donating online at www.caweek.org or calling 08080 006 006.

Please do support Christian Aid this month and let us #StandTogether as a united Christian family.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as l have loved you, you also should love one another" - John 13: 34

Yours,

Richard