Eat, Act, Pray - July
There’s a river in Bangladesh that’s feared.
At different points in the year the Brahmaputra River has always risen but over the last few years it’s been rising more frequently and aggressively than ever; getting more turbulent and less predictable.
In the middle of this river there are these islands. They’re known as chars and people live on them in small huts, isolated from the infrastructure of the mainland. When the river rises it can be devastating for those that live on the islands. It can rise so high that homes can be completely swept away.
Morsheda lives on one of these river islands. She is 25 and has 4 children with her husband whom she married when she was a child. He recently left her, making life for Morsheda all the harder. She takes whatever work she can, when she can, like picking chilli’s in the hot sun. It’s common for her to have to travel long distances in order to get work like this, just to earn what little money she needs to put food on her children’s table. She would grow her own but the river water which floods the soil makes it difficult to grow any food on her island so she can’t rely on her limited crops to feed her family all year round.
And then there’s the flood waters themselves. Morsheda once had to make a raft to float her children to safety, floating her youngest child alongside the others in a rice bowl because the storm and swelling waters had become so dangerous.
Life is hard for Morsheda. She’s only 25 but looks so much older. Every time the river rises she has to reset her life – going back to square one when she already has very little.
Climate change isn’t just a theory for Morsheda. She’s living it.
And that’s where you come in. Christian Aid funds a small organisation called Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK). Their field workers travel 4 hour round trips every day to reach the char communities. Among other things they work to raise vulnerable houses onto higher plinths, lifting the buildings out of harm’s way. It’s not going to stop the river rising but it is meeting the immediate needs of people who live there.
Talk it over
- Grab a Bible and turn to Mark 12:31. Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these words mean. Who is your neighbour? What does this kind of love Mark was talking about mean to you?
- Jesus said that no other commandment is greater than ‘Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’ (Mark 12:29-30). What’s your response to the weight Jesus puts on these commands?
- Climate change can seem a bit of a faraway phenomenon. In Morsheda’s story we see the reality of what it means for one of our neighbours. Share your stories with one another of where you have heard or seen the impact of changing weather.
We need you to lead your church towards a greener future! We’ve just launched the Big Church Switch campaign in the hope that every church in the UK will switch their energy providers from fossil fuels to green alternatives. It’s much easier than it sounds and we’ve done all the leg work for you. But it starts with you. It starts with someone taking the lead. All the deets can be found here.
When we don’t feel the impact of our decisions, help us to hear (really hear) the stories of our brothers and sisters - people like Morsheda.
Help us to see that we are all connected, that how we act has consequences beyond what we can see. Then help us to make better decisions! We pray that our church (and all churches) would own this vision to be greener and have a more positive impact on the world. That they would make the #bigchurchswitch.
And, of course, we pray for Morsheda and her island community. For hope, for strength and that they would be made more resilient, rising above the rising river.