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REVERED RACHEL ROSBOROUGH

What difference does it make? Reverend Rachel Rosborough on the huge changes small acts can bring – from a tiny donation to a single vote. You may have noticed (unless you were briefly in a very remote part of the world) that we had a general election at the beginning of May. I was intrigued, during the campaign and the days that followed, by the campaigning, by the commentary and by the media reporting – much of it encouraged us to think about how the election result would affect us as individuals. Would we be better off, would we pay less tax, see more improved services? And of course, we all pondered this and it probably contributed to helping us decide how to vote. We, of course, want to know how a change of government will affect us, how it will impact our own lives. But, at the same time we are reminded, and there was a fair degree of comment on this too, that we live in a society where we all contribute through taxation etc. to ensure that certain things are provided for everyone – the NHS, education and so on. And, in addition, we ensure that there is a safety net of welfare for those who need it. Alongside the election coverage, we saw, via our TV sets, the scenes of devastation in Nepal caused by two earthquakes along with images of people desperately trying to cross the Mediterranean, fleeing their home countries for a chance of a new life. I guess most of us have pondered what our response should be to these world events, to the needs of people who we will never meet but who, through disaster or poverty of war or something else, have been left in desperate need. I believe our response must be to act. Christian faith tells us to love God with everything we have, but it also tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves and Jesus made it very clear that our neighbour is not necessarily the person close to us, or like us, but the person in need. Unfortunately, the world’s problems can feel so great we can be left feeling helpless, like we cannot possibly make a difference. 80

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For less than 60p a day, a child in the Philippines, Uganda or Rwanda can go to school. For the past twenty years, I have been involved with a charity that works with some of the poorest people in the world. One of the things they do is run child sponsorship programmes. For less than 60p a day, a child in the Philippines, Uganda or Rwanda can go to school. In addition, some of that amount is put into community projects. I recently had a letter from the charity to tell me that things are so improved in the Filipino village where my sponsor child lives, that they no longer need the support of the charity and would I be happy for my sponsorship to go to a child in a neighbouring village. Ten years ago the village had no running water or electricity and people’s wooden houses were built on bamboo stilts over the estuary. Now the village has water, metered electricity and concrete paths between the houses, children are in school and the village is thriving. In ten years, thanks to the small amounts people have given each month, a whole community has been transformed, and it is now in a position of self-sufficiency. Just as in an election, where one or two votes can

make a difference, so too a small act of kindness can transform a person or even a community - be it a note to a neighbour in your street, a meal for someone on their own, or £18 a month to sponsor a child. I heard a story many years ago that reminds us that seemingly small actions of mercy can yield lifechanging results. A boy was walking along a beach after a great storm. The storm had washed thousands upon thousands of starfish onto the beach.The boy began to pick up the starfish and one by one he would throw them back into the sea and save their lives. An old man watched the boy as he came towards him. When the boy was close enough the old man said, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I am putting the starfish back,’ he replied. ‘Why bother?’ asked the old man. ‘After all, there are so many you can’t possibly make a difference.’ The boy looked quizzically at the old man. He stooped down, picked up a large starfish, and threw it in the sea. ‘Well it sure made a difference to that one!’ he said.

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