Well now, Christmas has been and gone, but for many of us, indulgence continues, as we strive to get through the last of the Christmas cake, biscuits and endless chocolate. Not to mention working our way through the freezer and all those little extras we might have bought ‘just in case’ that are still lurking at the back of the cupboard. It is almost a challenge to have to consume all that is left over, and by now most of us are sick of the sight of rich food and have made New year’s resolutions to cut down, get fit, loose weight and have a healthier lifestyle. Some have even combined this with being kinder to the planet and going vegan for January!
I am acutely aware that not everyone is able to share in such ongoing indulgence. Just before Christmas I was emotionally torn at seeing the Food Bank putting so many food hampers together to sustain local families over the Christmas period. Gladdened at people’s generosity and kindness but deeply troubled at the need for it in the first place! I am all too aware that there are people on our doorsteps who are hungry and struggling to feed their families and we must continue to support them and to address the root causes of such deprivation as MP’s call for a Minister of Hunger to be appointed.
There is such a deep irony, that, whilst some of us struggle to shed the extra pounds gained over Christmas, as the NHS seeks to combat long term obesity, as gyms see an increase in subscription for weight loss programmes, others loose weight perilously, effortlessly, inescapably! Both on our doorstep and on the other side of the world there are those who are desperately hungry, indeed there are many in the world many who face starvation! Here people have begun to stockpile tinned food in case of a no-deal Brexit, panicking that there won’t be enough of our favourite things lining the supermarket shelves, whilst in the Yemen the supermarket shelves have been empty for years, there is hardly any food getting through as the ports are blocked and mothers watch in desperation as their children weaken each day because there was nothing to eat yesterday, little or nothing today, and tomorrow is a whole world of uncertainty and fear.
Aid agencies like UNHCR, Save the Children and Mercy Corps report that the situation in Yemen is dire. Four years of brutal conflict has left millions of people without a home and on the brink of starvation. Some have resorted to eating leaves just to stay alive. Since March 2015, a Saudi and Emirati-led coalition has been fighting anti-government Ansar Allah forces, resulting in widespread destruction, bombing and gun battles. Children are paying the heaviest price. They are facing a deadly triple threat - bombs, disease and hunger - they are at risk of dying from entirely preventable causes - hunger, or treatable illnesses and diseases.
With fighting escalating in the port city of Hodeidah - the country's main gateway for food, fuel and humanitarian supplies, little is getting through with Aid Agencies struggling with all the complexities of bringing humanitarian aid in by land. Economic collapse has left many families unable to afford food and water. And millions of children don't know when or if their next meal will come. Yemen is on the brink of the worst famine in 100 years. The UN warned last month that up to 14m Yemenis are on the brink of famine.
Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children under the age of five may have died from acute malnutrition in three years of war in Yemen. The number is equivalent to the entire under-five population in the UK's second largest city of Birmingham,
With a fragile truce in place and peace talks that began in Sweden at the close of 2018, there may be a glimmer of hope of better things to come for the Yemen, but resources are desperately needed on the ground now.
So, perhaps when we reach for that last chocolate bar or box of biscuits, we might also reach for our purse and donate to the aid agencies working in the Yemen, knowing that if we all did so, we could make a difference. We might also reach for our bibles and remember what St. Paul commended us to do -
‘When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to
practice hospitality.’ ( Romans 12: 13)
And the writer to the Hebrews: -
‘and don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.’ ( Hebrews 13:16)
And in doing so we may just find that we are blessed with far greater riches -
‘The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor’. (Proverbs 22:90
And we can all lift our hearts and voices to God in prayer, for prayer never goes unheard or unanswered.
Peace and blessings
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.