My friend, Chris Schorah, sent me this information well worth sharing ~
Premier News. Dec 16 2016
Three pieces of research – all released today – prove that Christians are an
undeniable force for good in UK society. Danny Webster reports.
This Christmas, followers of Jesus will be out in force on our streets providing care and compassion, and in the process saving the NHS millions of pounds. Conservative estimates from Premier show that Street Pastors helping people in towns and cities will save £13 million. This is assuming that each team helps just one person on each Friday and Saturday in December from needing to go to A&E.
It sounds extraordinary, but it’s also normal, it happens not just in December but on evenings throughout the year as teams provide support and help for people who have had too much drink. It’s just one example of the many things that Christians do in communities to demonstrate compassion and care. It’s not just doing nice things because we feel we ought to, it’s reflecting the compassionate heart of God.
New research released by the Evangelical Alliance shows that nine out of ten evangelicals surveyed will either volunteer or give money this Christmas. The findings demonstrate that nearly every one of the 800 people surveyed will give to charity this Christmas. Almost a third intend on increasing their generosity and seven out of ten give consistently throughout the year.
When it comes to actions to serve people in their communities, 39 per cent of evangelicals will either provide food parcels for people in the community or meals for homeless or vulnerable people. Premier’s ‘Christmas Alone’ campaign is ensuring everyone has somewhere to go this Christmas Day. Christians are doing so much social good this Christmas, I haven’t space to tell you about all of it!
Today seems to be the day for releasing information and reports about the role of Christianity in working for the social good in society! Theos also have a new report out today, Doing Good, which quotes independent money saving expert Martin Lewis talking about Christians Against Poverty: “What CAP UK do is they come to the house, give you many more hours and they also do emotional counselling along with the debt counselling… I think you could do with someone who comes around, makes you a cup of tea, holds your hands, talks through this and gets the money sorted out at the same time…I hear wonderful things about people who’ve been to them.”
Commenting on this advice the author of the report, Nick Spencer, notes: “In that instance it was a debt advice agency that understands the indebted (and their loved ones) as persons, recognising the need for fully human service – meaning not only providing expert advice but also coming along side and ‘being with’ the person as a fellow, fallible human – and providing it inclusively without ever hiding the fact that the motivation for doing so is the love of Christ.”
The Evangelical Alliance survey also showed that most (84%) thought Christmas in the UK was too much about money and consumerism. I wonder if we’re living in a paradox, where we are generous with our time and money, compassionate toward those in need, but also caught up in a culture that places what we buy as the key to an enjoyable Christmas. That’s a lie, but a lie that we’ve bought into even as we disagree with it.
Adding to the barrage of information out today is a poll from the British Humanist Association which lists “spending time with family” as the most popular reason among the general public (picked by 76%) for Christmas being an important time of the year. We don’t want Christmas to be about money or receiving presents (just 39% picked that), but we end up feeling we ought to keep up appearances.
Giving our time at Christmas is a way of resetting the consumerism clock. It’s a way of giving something more than gifts wrapped in paper and tied with bows. We may never again see the people who are helped into a taxi to get home safely, or given a meal, but we might, and where we can that makes even more of a difference.
As the Evangelical Alliance conducted its survey our questions were rightly critiqued for the unintended assumption portrayed that everyone had friends and family to spend Christmas with. For many this is a lonely time of year, a time when the expectation is that we’re all enjoying ourselves with friends and family but for those who are not this is even harder. I recognise just a tiny echo of this struggle myself, this is the first time I’ll not see my family on Christmas Day, the reasons are good ones, and I’ll see them soon after, but
there’s a tiny bit of sadness that I will not be with them.
Christmas is about incarnation, about God who took on human flesh and stepped into the messiness of creation and was love. Who walked with his creation, who loved and cared, who was moved to tears, who gave the greatest gift. If we can be people who provide friendship, more than just services, but hands, faces and words of kindness to people near and far for whom the hand passing them a cup of tea is more valuable than the advice they’re hearing, then that’s an echo of the incarnation as we give ourselves and not just gifts.
Danny Webster is advocacy and media manager at the Evangelical Alliance