1968 was an important year. A human being orbited the moon for the first time. The civil rights activist and pastor Martin Luther King was assassinated. France was rocked by student demonstrations and strikes.
It was also the year that Tearfund was founded. Moved by the suffering of people caught up in the civil strife in Biafra, Nigeria, Christians across the UK sent financial gifts to the Evangelical Alliance asking them to pass them on to those in need. Out of this crisis The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund was born, later becoming Tearfund. 50 years later we are celebrating all that God has done through our partners to transform communities since those early days.
In the Bible, the 50th year had special significance to the Jewish people because it was the Year of Jubilee. In the book of Leviticus, chapter 25, God calls them to a sabbath year where slaves are freed, property returns to its original owners and work is stopped. Where there has been inequality or injustice, this year sets things right. For some there is a cost, losing what they have built up for themselves. Others are freed from years of bonded labour. For everyone, it is a chance to remember their equality before God and their dependence on him. It is this spirit of restoration and freedom that we want to carry into the next 50 years.
On the 6th May the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a service at Coventry Cathedral to give thanks for the past five decades and to pray for the many situations where there is still so much suffering and need. He wrote a special prayer for the occasion which we wanted to share with you:
Gracious and generous God,
you became poor so that we might be enriched by your love, and you gave the world’s wealth and resources as a common inheritance of all human beings.
We pray you will strengthen your church to be a beacon of hospitality for the poor.
We pray that, seeing the light of Christ’s love, the nations and peoples of the world may fight not to kill, but to outdo one another in care for the poor, and in actions of gracious generosity.
Through him who for our sakes did not grasp the wealth of heaven, but instead gave all to live for us as a slave, and die for us in pain, Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Saviour.
If you are someone who prays, please join us this week in praying for the church across the world to respond to God’s Jubilee call to be ‘beacons of hospitality for the poor’ and to ‘outdo one another in actions of gracious generosity’.