Jenny’s letter 26 May

Dear Friends,

In a recent survey (findings reported in November 2023) one in five young people (11-25 year olds) reported experiencing significant mental health issues. 

What this report and a similar survey conducted by the mental health organisation, Mind, also shows is that many of these people do not feel listened to, or have not had appropriate access to mental health support. This is difficult reading.

Equally disturbing is the fact that there are 944,000 people with dementia living in the UK. It is expected to go over 1 million by the end of 2025. These numbers are part of the global estimate of 55 million people suffering with this dreadful disease in the world. Many of these people and their families do not have adequate help or support. 

What is an appropriate Christian response to these findings? I am aware that some of you may not even read beyond the first paragraph. I am guilty of contributing to yet more ‘doom and gloom’ but, please do read on.  

As Christians, we are called not just to live in the hope that Jesus brings into our lives, but to be ‘hope bringers’. (A wonderful phrase I learned from Malcolm.) How can we do that? 

First, we can be the means of support and encouragement and comfort to the young people we know. That might include family members, neighbours, the four teenagers who worship with us, or even the parents of young people.

Let them know they are cared for. Listen to them too, even if you struggle to understand. Let them know they are prayed for and don’t be afraid to say that. In my experience even the most cynical teenager accepts prayers. 

Second, those who have family members with dementia can feel very alone. I would say that from experience it is harder than death to deal with (though for others that may not be so). We watch those we love disappear before our eyes and we live daily with the grief.

Those around us are often incredibly supportive when a loved one dies but are we able to offer that level of support when our friend’s parent, partner, friend is ill? I think as a church there is so much that we can offer here.

I would love us to have a group that met regularly in the café for bingo, singing (great for those with dementia), or chat. There are several churches that run CAMEO groups. The name stands for Come and Meet Each Other. In some places it is just for carers, in others it is for the carers and the cared for. On Friday the Centre is often very quiet. Could we make something happen then? It needs a few leaders to help organise but tea and coffee would be easy to do. I would be willing to help get it going. It would not just be for those who have dementia but for all who want to get out and about.

Anyone willing to make it happen? 

Another thing we can do, as Christians, is to gift our funds appropriately to aid action and research and alongside that, think and act politically. Do you engage with your local counsellors about provision for the young and the old in South Wirral? Or indeed any other issues? What are the questions you might want to raise with your local MP? Saying ‘there’s no point’ should not be an option as a Christian.

We believe that God gave us creation to watch over. We believe we are called to share the ‘Good News’ of God’s kingdom. It is so easy to throw political literature into the bin. It is easy to say, ‘they’re all the same’ but when we disengage, we silence the Christian voice in a very important area.

I am not here to tell you how to vote. I am not even here to weigh for you who is telling the truth and who is not. I’m afraid you must consider that for yourselves. What I am saying, from the perspective of a Christian leader, is that we have an opportunity to know what the scriptures say and to engage with political issues as far as we are able in the light of that Bible knowledge and understanding. We carry social responsibility and, with prayer and good conscience, we should exercise our democratic right and vote according to our beliefs.

You will find in all political parties some evidence of those things that the Bible teaches. It is reading and listening and then deciding who would Jesus want you to vote for in Bromborough and for our nation

Who is best placed now to govern with stability? Who will help those in need? Which party can work to bring the ‘unity of peace and concord’, to borrow from one of the collects. The Christian faith is not a call to inaction but to be active, outward looking and engaged. And there is no retirement from it I am afraid. 

We are a church that has become practically more active in our community. We need to think about how we can engage at the next level – to bring wider change to significant issues in the world. To be hope bringers and world changers.

Prayers for you in the week ahead,

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