You might have noticed that something was missing in the life of the church during Lent this year (and I don’t mean some of the chairs). It has become common practice in many churches in recent years to have a special Lenten appeal for a charitable cause or project. Such appeals are a natural development of the idea of giving up something for Lent to giving up something so that others can gain something. In recent years we have supported:
- Christian Aid’s ‘Count your Blessings’ plan, daily bite-size reflections to inspire us to give, act and pray to bring justice to our world and change the lives of people living in poverty across the globe.
- Water Aid’s ‘Jars of Change’ appeal, turning loose change into clean water.
- Practical Action’s ‘Human Waste’ campaign, tackling problems faced by toilet-pit cleaners in Bangladesh.
- And some have followed the ‘40Acts’ programme, encouraging people to give back, do good and live generously.
This year, as there were several other things happening in the church, we did not have any organised Lenten appeal. However, that does not mean we don’t want to have a special appeal this year. The question is when? Having an appeal during Lent introduces a sense of sacrifice in our donation, but in some ways thanksgiving is a better reason for giving that sacrifice. The Sundays following Easter are a time of celebration and thanksgiving, so it occurred to me that this is as good a time as Lent to have a special appeal. So, subject to the agreement of the Members’ Meeting on 3rd April we will launch a special appeal to raise money for a marula fruit nut cracker.
The marula tree is able to survive in drought-affected areas and its fruit can be used to make cosmetics and beer as well as being a source of food, oil and vitamin C. However, the nut containing the fruit is hard to crack. Traditionally this has been done by hand, but this is slow and leads to accidents. Engineers at Practical Action have designed a machine to crack the nuts safely and at greater speed. The machine can transform the lives of women in rural Zimbabwe.
The nut-cracker can lead to people having a new life, which, incidentally, is the theme for the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost this year.
You can find out more about the ‘Nut Cracker’ project in Zimbabwe n the Practical Action website http://practicalaction.org/support/thaba
This article was first published in the April 2016 issue of Look-In, our monthly church magazine. To download the full issue, please click here: Look-In Apr-16