Our God is relational. Everything in your life revolves around your relationship with others, with yourself, with your environment and with God. This is the basic framework that Tearfund works off and from this ethos comes the organisation’s main objective; to restore these relationships in their fullness. In collaboration with International Citizenship Service (or ICS), both work together to fully fund and equip young people to work on genuine development projects that have a lasting impact. In doing this, relationships can be formed, strengthened and restored just as God intended them to be.
This September, a strong team of 21 UK volunteers including myself will travel to the small predominately Muslim country of Bangladesh (only x10 the size of Northern Ireland)m we will be in the Netrakonia region to live with the Garo people. We will be sharing our lives with our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as living together and working intensely with the Bangladeshi volunteers our age in-country. With their cultural expertise and with the support of the Garo Baptist Convention (the focal church of the region), we are aiming towards achieving an incredible goal; to make their surrounding communities resilient to flooding, typhoons and other natural disasters that have taken and destroyed many lives.
The monsoon season plagues Bangladesh with sporadic, flash floods which can ruin their agricultural livelihoods and leave many stuck in the cycle of poverty for generations. However, “Through working with women, church leaders, teachers and young people, Garo Baptist are helping communities to understand and assess the risks in their area, and to develop ways of coping and being prepared for any natural disaster that can strike. From health, education and practical building projects…” the collective goal is to sustainably develop this community and have Jesus at the centre of it. As Christians, we belong to the same family and have the same sovereign God regardless of culture, demographics or wealth. God calls us in His Word to “encourage one another and build one another up,” and that is what we aim to do in the Garo community; to help the current generations grow in faith and adapt to their changing world so that their children can live better and safer lives.
Three months is a relatively small time period when considered in light of life and eternity, but within our given time please pray that we as a team of wealthy westerners encourage and build up our fellow volunteers, each other and members of the Garo community. Pray for wisdom in knowing the greatest needs of God’s people there, for a lasting local change to be made, for understanding when we teach life essentials and for the 210,000 Garo people and 171,700,000 Bangladeshi people who have to tackle global issues which we westerners constantly fuelled. Specifically for my team, pray we keep hydrated and that our work would not be hindered by any illness which we will probably contract. And finally please pray that in all things, every action and every interaction that God may be glorified. That we as a team and I as a person, may “honour all people, love the brotherhood [of believers], fear God, honour the king” as Peter told us to do in 1 Peter 2:17. This mission is an incredible opportunity and many of you can go on projects such as this through ICS and Tearfund, so if you are seriously considering a gap year or career break check this out.
If you are a Christian in Northern Ireland you have probably heard the phrase “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called” and to that, I can testify. With my stomach (that is intolerant to curry and anything spicy), I am mostly likely not equipped to eat the mounds of spicy curry dishes which we will be fed morning, noon and night. Yet I know and trust that God will equip me for it in a mysterious and wonderful way. So I encourage you to go for opportunities both small and big when they arise and trust in God’s Will even if you have no idea what it is. In the timeless words of Mother T:
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”