On Maundy Thursday we remember Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in humble service before the last supper. As the disciples make sense of that profound act, he says:
‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV).
These are historic times and we are seeing many people loving their neighbours by providing food, care or even through the simple act of just staying at home. We celebrate our NHS and key workers for their skill, bravery and hard work in the most challenging of conditions. We honour our ministry partners and church leaders for continuing to offer hope to communities in new and unexpected way. And, of course, we pray for all those suffering and mourn with grieving families.
All of us are asking, what more can we do?
At Stewardship we are working with you to do three things to love our neighbours:
Provide Expert Advice: Over the last two weeks we have held two live webinars to help church and charity leaders navigate the challenges of the moment and more are planned. Over 900 leaders attended and submitted more than 300 questions to our expert panels to help their ministries navigate this crisis and continue to bring both practical help and the hope of the Gospel to our nation. We are publishing this advice and details of further webinars at: www.stewardship.org.uk/covid-19.
Lend Support: In collaboration with a group of Christian philanthropists, we completed the acquisition of Kingdom Bank this week; a project that has been almost two years in the making. The team at the bank and our own church lending team are working hard to help our borrowers deal with some very challenging and sudden falls in income.
Give Collaboratively: We have launched a collaborative giving initiative to provide rapid funding to churches and Gospel causes to respond to this crisis and prepare for the changed world ahead. We were thrilled to confirm our first grant to support the yourneighbour.org initiative this week and next week we will be identifying other Christian causes offering practical help and Gospel hope at this time – we will be sharing more about this initiative and the ways to get involved after Easter.
Before joining Stewardship I spent five years with World Vision specialising in helping smallholder farmers navigate the challenges of natural disasters to keep their livelihoods and families intact. I find myself using much of what I learnt then in my role now.
The generous Christian spirit of the poorest people on the planet to help themselves, their family and their community through typhoons, floods and droughts is my enduring memory of God’s grace and mercy expressed through love for our neighbours in the most difficult of circumstances.
I now see this happening in the Christian community in the UK as we rise to this crisis and we must praise our Lord that with his grace, mercy and love we will emerge stronger.
All of the Stewardship team are praying for the Lord’s love, protection, mercy and healing for you and your families and that, where possible, you have a restful and prayerful Easter.