With Advent now underway, Christian Aid is inviting churches across Britain and Ireland to help bring ‘peace on Earth’ by supporting its Christmas fundraising appeal for families caught up in conflict overseas.
The international development charity has launched its first-ever ‘Christmas Aid Appeal’, which this year centres on the call to ‘Be A Peacemaker’. The appeal highlights ongoing efforts to assist children and adults whose lives have been blighted by the destructive effects of war and violence.
Christian Aid’s Head of London Region, Mark Sturge, who is leading the appeal, said: “As we enter the season of Advent, it is a time to reflect on Jesus’ mission to bring everlasting peace. Our thoughts naturally turn to how we can experience that peace in our own lives, in our families and our communities. But for millions of people living in violent, frightening places, ‘peace on Earth’ is an all-too distant prospect.
“Today, one child in every six will wake up in a conflict zone around the world. And if current trends persist, then by 2030 more than half of the world’s poorest people will live in countries affected by high levels of violence. This has tragic consequences for human development and wellbeing, children especially.
“Conflict traps people in poverty and robs them of their chance to fulfil their God-given potential. Where there is violence and war, people do not have a safe place to call home or reliable access to food, quality healthcare, an education and an income. War tears families apart and leaves children fearful, anxious and haunted by trauma. In short, it takes away any hope of them experiencing dignity, equality and justice.”
Mr Sturge continued: “Jesus said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’, but when we see the state of the world, we might well wonder: ‘Where are they?’ However, at Christian Aid we know that while peace is broken every day, it is also being built every day, by ordinary women and men working to bring hope to seemingly hopeless situations.
“These brave, dedicated peacemakers – with whom we partner – put their own lives at risk day in, day out, to protect vulnerable individuals, reduce acts of violence and care for those suffering from the traumatic experiences of war. We want to stand together with them during this season, to transform conflict into lasting justice and security.
“However, if we truly want to make ‘peace on Earth’ more than just a vague concept, then we need to invest more funds in this work. That’s why I hope churchgoers up and down the country will respond to our call to ‘be a peacemaker’ by supporting our Christmas Aid Appeal.”
Christian Aid is currently investing in peacebuilding initiatives run by its local partners in countries such as Lebanon, South Sudan and Colombia.
Its Christmas appeal highlights different ways peace can be built in these diverse contexts.
For instance, for a girl or boy who has fled war in Syria, peace may mean having an opportunity to play and heal from trauma in a children’s centre run by Christian Aid’s partner Association Najdeh, in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
For civilians displaced by armed conflict in Colombia, peace may mean living in a weapons-free ‘humanitarian zone’, where Christian Aid’s partner the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace is helping them to stay safe and find non-violent ways to secure their rights.
For communities in South Sudan – a country about to mark the fifth anniversary of a deadly conflict – peace may mean coming together to talk, build understanding and find reconciliation, with the support of the South Sudan Council of Churches, another Christian Aid partner.
Christian Aid is encouraging people of faiths and none to be ‘peacemakers’ by supporting the Christmas appeal:
- A donation of £10 could pay for materials for arts therapy sessions to child refugees from Syria, who have fled to Lebanon with their families.
- A donation of £20 could help towards the cost of a lawyer to support rural communities in Colombia to secure their right to live in peace and safety.
- A donation of £50 could pay for 15 women and girls to learn how to protect themselves from violence and harm in South Sudan.
For more on Christian Aid’s ‘Be a Peacemaker’ appeal, and for church resources, visit: www.christianaid.org.uk/christmas.
For more updates, follow @christian_aid on Twitter or search for #WeAreThePeacemakers