‘Gazing out of the window of the minivan and sharing moments from our day, we watched Tanzanian life unfold: children on their long walks home, having collected water for their families and women cooking on open fires. We passed houses that had collapsed during the recent rainy season and thought about the families that used to live in them, now sheltering in crowded makeshift buildings which were unlikely to withstand the next downpour.
Watching life pass by us on this particular journey, my mind began to teem with questions: why does God allow such suffering to happen? How can my loving God allow this pain? What can I do? As I spent time in prayer, read my Bible and listened to God, I realised that he was not absent. God cares deeply about the suffering of those in Tanzania and all over the world.’
For Tearfund Go volunteer, Beth Saunders, seeing the reality of poverty and injustice in Tanzania was something she couldn’t ignore. She had experienced God’s heart for justice, and it spurred her into action. In October of last
year, Beth ran the Cardiff marathon for Tearfund, raising money to support those living in poverty. But she didn’t stop there. She decided to set up a justice group at her church, to engage her congregation in thinking about their role in tackling injustice.
"Our hearts are stirred to ask ‘what can I do?’"
Spending time with her global neighbours on placement had changed the way she
interacted with her local community. When Tearfund Go volunteers leave their hometowns and their comfort zones to visit communities and churches
across the world, they see firsthand how their lives in the UK have a global impact.
It’s easy to read about our rising carbon emissions which are having devastating effects on the world's poorest, or underpaid and exploited workers who carry the cost of our cheap purchases. But when we meet those who are directly affected by these actions and choices, our outlook changes.
In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus is asked by one of the religious leaders what the most important commandment is. In his reply we are given a summary of what God asks of us when we choose to follow him.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
God’s desire is that we would know his deep love for us, and from this place we would then share his love with both our local and global neighbours. When we spend time walking alongside others, seeing their struggles as well as their joy we are changed. Like Beth, our hearts are stirred to ask ‘what can I do?’ In response, we can daily choose to love our neighbours - through our words, our purchases, our actions and our choices - whether they live next door or oceans away.
We Are Tearfund is a community that believes that a better world is possible. Where everyone can thrive and where an end to extreme poverty gets ever closer as we pursue justice.
How are you using your summer? What are your plans after graduation? To find out more about living alongside communities addressing poverty visit the Tearfund website.