Hope and faith for the new year

As 2023 begins, our CEO Peter Waddup reflects on the past year and the challenges ahead of us:

New Year is time for rebirth and optimism. A time to set aside what doesn’t work and look to new ways of living and being. With the first days of 2023 bringing crisp winter sunshine, it’s been a welcome prompt to look above the day to day to limitless blue sky thinking! Ring out the old, ring in the new!

There’s little doubt that 2022 showed us what a broken world we live in. Just as we experienced the freedom to really start living again after the pandemic, came the shackles of war and rising poverty for so many. It’s been almost a year since Russia’s war in Ukraine began, causing the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. 2022 saw the lives of millions of people we serve across Asia and Africa blighted by political unrest, famine and climatic disasters. From the worst famine in Ethiopia since the days of Live Aid to brutal conflict in Myanmar and Sudan, there remains little freedom for so many.

No society is immune from pain. The aftermath of the pandemic and soaring energy costs have caused indescribable hardship here in the UK. Who would have thought that thousands of families would face a 'choice' between heating or eating? Or that our NHS nurses, who selflessly cared for us throughout the pandemic, would be relying on foodbanks for their next meal.

Leaving no-one behind

The impact of the pandemic on the UK economy means that restoring the overseas aid budget to its rightful 0.7 per cent of GDI is unlikely to happen for many years. The shrinking pot is being taken away from the world's poorest with British interests overseas an increased priority. As a result, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, which pledge to end global poverty by 2030, are increasingly looking like a pipedream. As ever, it is the world's poorest and those living on the fringes of society, that will undoubtedly be left behind.

Speaking to my colleagues around the world and just turning on the TV news reduced me to tears too many times in 2022. But, as is so often the case, it is during the hardest times of our lives that we experience breathtaking kindness and the beauty lying in the brokenness.

Giving to people living on the fringes of society in the developing world is a ministry. It changes lives and enables us to play a part in bringing about God's purposes for the world. Giving is in fact the highest form of love as it allows us to mirror God's unique and selfless love to us! I have been humbled, overwhelmed and amazed by God moving hearts so many times.

Sometimes it can be a timely donation needed to plug a shortfall in a project budget in Africa, often almost to the penny. Or members of a charitable trust being moved to take over funding a life-changing project in Nepal following UK Aid cuts. Witnessing such a passion for lives in Nepal to flourish is an overwhelming privilege, as is relaying to a supporter the fruit of their heart for people distanced and marginalised from society. They are unlikely to ever meet one another but, through them, God has joined the dots!

Faith and kindness

It takes faith too! We hear on the news that there are times of uncertainty ahead, further rising costs and job insecurity. It would be easy to justify squirreling away any spare pounds. But it is testament to the human heart that so many of our incredible supporters continue to give. At a risk to their own security they steadily continue to overturn some the many injustices of this fractured world. This is truly humbling.

There is good and kindness all around us and it is my promise to do all we can in 2023 to nurture this passion to bring about God's purposes on earth. It is so heartening to see the impact of kindness multiply. I have so many stories of people who have suffered the worst hardships and discrimination. Forever changed by the kindness of a stranger they will never meet, they have then gone on to set up orphanages, schools and change countless lives. Kindness is never wasted!