Kairos Palestine Statement

On April 30th, 2020, Kairos Palestine issued the following statement on  The Dire Consequences of Israel’s “Coalition Government”

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:23-24)

The board of Kairos Palestine raises an alarm regarding the consequences of the third failed Israeli election in less than a year.  The resulting coalition entered on April 20, 2020, combines two of the most right-wing parties—Bennie Gantz’s Blue and White and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud—in a deal that directly threatens Palestinians’ freedom, health and human rights.

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Feeding the Poorest in Cyangugu

Cyangugu is a small strategic frontier town in the south west of Rwanda on the border with The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the southern tip of Lake Kivu, contiguous with the Congolese town of Bukavu which is accessed by two bridges across the Ruzizi river.

Rik Mager is the director of the school. His wife, Caroline, coordinates the feeding programs in the Diocese because of malnutrition in this part of Rwanda. I asked Rik for an update on the program in the light of Covid-19.

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Renew our World

Renew our World calls for a rethink in our relationship with nature. Peacemaker Trust is pleased to share in and promote this call.

As Christian organisations working in the fields of development, justice and creation care, we call for a fundamental rethink regarding humanity’s relationship with nature in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that God has created an interdependent world within which humans have a responsibility to use the gifts and resources contained in the natural world wisely, cautiously and sustainably. We acknowledge that this has rarely been the case, and mourn both the rapid loss of biodiversity worldwide, and the consequent problems for human health and livelihoods. We endorse and echo the words of Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: “The continuing loss of biodiversity on a global scale represents both direct and indirect threats to our health and wellbeing. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem change, including through land use change, habitat fragmentation and loss, and climate change, can increase the risk of disease emergence and spread among people, animals and other living species.”

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Ecology and Pandemics

“At a new biobank in the Amazon, scientists are working to identify the risks of a new infectious diseases. It’s part of a growing field of science looking at the interactions between human health and environmental change.”

Veterinarian Prof Alessandra Nava is part of a team trying to build up a library of viruses circulating in the Amazon in a bid to forestall a similar outbreak here. Prof Nava said. “We saw it coming. We expected a pandemic like this.”

Across the world a web of scientists – epidemiologists, ecologists, biologists, geneticists, vets – are working on the intersection between human and animal health. “The clearance of forests for crops and livestock . .  can negatively impact the environment, creating a cascade of factors that facilitates the emergence and spread of diseases.”  Land use change is the most important driver in the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases, which are often triggered by human destruction and exploitation of wildlife-rich habitats. 

This fascinating article looks at a number of factors enabling the expansion of disease into new areas. The conclusion is that “We are completely dependent on nature and have made our future vulnerable”.  Previously we thought that the consequences of this unfettered development were way in the future.  Now we know this is immediate and urgent – and we are all vulnerable. “It’s in moments like this that real change can happen.”

Read the full article Breaking down the Amazon: how deforestation could drive the next pandemic on Unearthed

Bethlehem Bible College Covid-19 Appeal

Bethlehem Bible College has made a request for emergency assistance due to the impact of Covid-19 on Bethlehem.

“Bethlehem Bible College is the only institution of its kind in the Holy Land that trains Palestinians in Arabic for a BA in Biblical Studies and Christian Education, and MA in Christian Leadership and Ministry, Mass Media, Tour Guiding, and Hebrew Language. These programs enable students in this distressed area to have rigorous theological training within the Holy Land, helping to decrease “brain drain,” which diminishes future Christian leadership in the church and broader society.”

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Surfers Not Street Children

Twenty years ago in 2000, Christ Church, Virginia Water funded Tom Hewitt to enable him to launch the street child charity, Umthombo in Durban, South Africa. Now twenty years on, Peacemaker Trust is pleased to promote his continuing work with Surfers not Street Children. In the light of the devastating impact of Covid-19, Tom has written,

“I could never have imagined that within the space of a few weeks our programmes would completely change and a number of our longstanding donors around the world would be struggling financially. It is heart-breaking.” Tom Hewitt MBE

Surfers Not Street Children has faced many challenges to ensure that street-connected children have access to safe play and development through surfing, mentorship & care in South Africa & Mozambique. 

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News from Shadrach Lukwago in Uganda

Shadrach Lukwago is the founder and director of Goshen School in Luweero, Uganda with whom we have had a long association. He is also a pastor, coordinator for Christianity Explored in Uganda and Kiwoko Hospital pharmacist. He and his wife Nora also care for numerous orphans. I asked Shadrach how they are coping with the pandemic at Goshen School where they have over 800 children, 300 of whom are boarders.

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Peacemaker Spring Update

If you are anything at all like me, you are not finding this lockdown easy to live with. I am an activist raised on Bible verses such as  “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

Through this time of confinement, the Lord is teaching me to depend on him in new ways, knowing “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). What is God teaching you through this time of isolation? I would love to hear from you.

Having to put on hold projects we had planned with partners in Ireland, East Africa and the Middle East, as well as locally in Southampton supporting asylum seekers, has been very frustrating. More so, since the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated already unbearable levels of suffering and injustices in many of the world’s trouble spots.

For a summary of recent projects and initiatives, please read the latest Peacemaker News. To receive the occasional Peacemaker News directly, please sign up here.