Back in the 1970s the then Pope famously said ‘Charity begins at home, but home today is all the world’. Long gone are the days when a British Prime Minister could describe Czechoslovakia as ‘a far-away country with a people of whom we know nothing’ (Neville Chamberlain in 1938).
Today we are well supplied with news from very far away, usually bad news, although we often find it hard to see it as relevant. But the global effect of climate change will leave none of us unaffected. Hence the ‘flood barriers’ along Exmouth sea-front. This Sunday (June 26) we shall be reflecting in our service at Glenorchy the plight of the people of Bangladesh, whom we seek to support through the URC Commitment for Life programme for world development.
Commitment for Life does recommend changing the focus of a local supporting church every few years. So we shall no longer be concentrating on work in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (though they must stay in our prayers) but thinking about Bangladesh and a whole different set of serious issues, not least the impact of climate change.
In the news just this week are new images of flash floods displacing thousands of Bangladeshi families, a sadly frequent reminder of their ongoing situation. Commitment for Life funds have contributed to development programmes and projects run by various local agencies for over twenty years. I recall seeing the first pictures of ‘homes on stilts’ a long time ago, when the waters began to rise. Another good idea is to tackle saltiness in what is meant to be fresh water for drinking and cooking; this too is exacerbated by climate change and the erosion of river banks and simple dams.
Our local flood barriers will protect us against as much as one metre rise in sea level – a rise which would threaten 15 million people over 6.55 square miles of land along the coast and inland in Bangladesh! Remember that when you enjoy a stroll along the sea-front.
These are our neighbours, deserving our love and support.
Revd Peter Brain