PRAYER

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Colossians 4:3

Each month, we have identified a theme for our prayer as a town. This month, January, we pray for the work of ShareWord.

DECEMBER: DISPLACED PEOPLE

Christmas is a time focussed upon home, family and neighbours and we are devoting the CCP December prayer theme to all those who are displaced and separated from home and broader family support. In particular, we are focussing on the work of the Orthodox Maria Skobtsova House in Calais where volunteers from different denominations and backgrounds work to feed, clothe and minister to the destitute in the refugee/immigration camps around that hard pressed area of northern France. We should also pray for all those in authority who have to manage this very challenging and ongoing problem.

 

See the story below of St Mary of Paris and her dedication to a ministry of ‘help thy neighbour ’and offering of hospitality, which ultimately cost her, her life ..................

 

 

Maria Skobtsova (20 December 1891 – 31 March 1945), known as Mother Maria Saint Mary (or Mother Maria) of Paris, was a Russian noblewoman, poet, nun, and member of the French Resistance during World War II. She has been canonised a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. After the Fall of France in 1940, Jews began approaching the convent house asking for baptismal certificates, which Father Dimitri would provide them. Many Jews came to stay with them. They provided shelter and helped many to flee the country. Eventually the house was closed down. Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitri, Yuri and Sophia were all arrested by the Gestapo. Fr. Dimitri and Yuri both died at the Dora concentration camp. Mother Maria was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. On Holy Saturday, 1945, she was sent to the gas chamber reputedly taking the place of another.

 

Lord of the Lost, Calmer of the Waves, a Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief,

We pray for all refugees in Calais over Christmas as they seek new life from desperation,

As they seek a place to call home,

As they seek protection from danger, hostility and violence,

As they confront barrier after barrier to simple freedom,

As they are haunted by uncertainty and fear for their loved ones.

 

Lord in Your Mercy may they see and feel You reaching out to them,

Lord in Your Mercy protect them,

Lord in Your Mercy uplift and empower those who lovingly minister to them,

Lord in Your Mercy show us a way to help.

 

Bless the work of Maria Skobtsova House as they bring love, warmth and sustenance

To the displaced in your Holy Name, sharing the gift of the Christ-child.

 

Lord Jesus, in Your Mercy, Hear Our Prayer

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Past Themes

NOVEMBER: THE CLIMATE CRISIS

The COP26 climate talks gives us an amazing opportunity to pray directly into the heart of the issue – to pray for world leaders to come together in unity and work towards a common goal. The world must act and Christians must urgently pray over the coming weeks and months: first for those people around the world already impacted by the crisis, then for the talks themselves and for the action that countries need to take. Prayer is crucial if we’re to see a breakthrough in this crisis, and God is powerful beyond anything we can imagine.

So please join me in praying today and every day over the COP talks. Let’s approach our God with hope, with expectancy, and with the knowledge that he ‘is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’ (Ephesians 3:20)

We use the reminder PRAY to help us to pray for COP 26. 

PAUSE: Consider the incredible wonders of creation.

Spend time outside, marvelling at the incredible intricacies of God's marvellous creation. Thank God for the capacity of creation to regenerate, to heal, and to restore. 

REFLECT: 

“The climate crisis is today - at best - being treated by people in power only as a business opportunity to create green new jobs, new green businesses and technologies… We will not be able to solve a crisis we do not treat as a crisis and that we do not understand the magnitude of…. The audience has grown weary. The show is over” says Greta Thunberg. We pray indeed that as time runs out – all present in COP26 will treat this crisis as a crisis.

Seek God's forgiveness for where we have taken his resources for granted, or dismissed the urgency and importance of the climate crisis. Pray that the World's Leaders will also be able to acknowledge their responsibility and culpabilty. 

ASK: Pray for the 4 Goals of COP26

1. GLOBAL NET ZERO

This goal is to secure global net zero by 2050 and keep a limit of 1.5 degrees of warming within reach. All countries need to put forward really ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. In order to deliver these challenging targets, countries will need to phase out the use of fossil fuels, encourage investment in clean energy, decarbonise a range of activities, drastically reduce deforestation, and increase carbon sinks. We pray urgently for a genuine increase of ambition from every country – especially the major emitters. This is going to require a huge change of heart – and potentially quite a bit of negotiation. We pray that all leaders will make genuine and tangible commitments rather than vague promises of future action.

2. MOBILISE FINANCE

Developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020 to enable poorer countries to fund adaptation and mitigation programmes. International financial institutions must also play their part – with everyone focused on unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero, and ensuring that less wealthy countries, many of which are least responsible for the climate crisis, don’t go into debt in order to respond to it. We pray for a breakthrough to emerge during COP26 from richer countries. The economic difficulties caused by COVID are going to make such a breakthrough hard – and yet without it, all our futures, and in particular the futures of all those living in poorer countries, are precarious.

3. ADAPTATION - LOSS AND DAMAGE

This goal is for adaptation to protect communities and natural habitats. The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. We pray that nations can work effectively together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore their ecosystems and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid future loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives. We pray, too, that where people and communities face impacts against which it is impossible to adapt, the UN structures will be able to create a ‘loss and damage’ mechanism that offers adequate support

4. ACCOUNTABILITY

At COP26 countries must finalise the Paris Rulebook in order to provide an agreed process of accountability for pledges made. They must also agree how to accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society. We pray for the building of trust and relationships that must be forged in order to enable this massive and essential goal to be achieved in Glasgow.

YIELD

Lord, would you help us in the UK to host with humility, compassion, and generosity.

You are a God for whom nothing is impossible or too late.
In the face of this climate crisis, we hold on to the hope found in you.
Hear the cries of your people, O God.

Adapted from Tearfund and Pray and Fast for the Climate.

October: Modern Day Slavery: it happens here

There are an estimated 136,000 slaves in the UK and thousands are rescued each year. The greatest proportion of these people come within the category of labour exploitation. Many are UK citizens but many others are from Eastern Europe.

Recently we have learnt a great deal about how vulnerable homeless men are picked up, brought to England and offered employment and accommodation which turns out to be modern day slavery. We have learnt how rigorous is the process of determining whether someone has been taken into slavery or just exploited. We have learned how these people live before they are exploited and how what is on offer actually seems at first to be an attractive alternative. We have learned how hard it is to communicate with them, how afraid they are of being taken back into slavery, how wary of authority they are, and how difficult it is for them to resettle once brought to safety.

We can’t give details of the circumstances under which we learnt this from one person’s firsthand experience but we can tell you about another man rescued not far away in Greater Manchester. He wants his story told as widely as possible so that others might know what happens to those impacted by slavery, how it affected him and how people can help prevent it happening again.

His name is Marek. Marek is happy to talk to groups but he has written his story down. Because of a brain dysfunction he has difficulty speaking and sometimes leaves it to someone else to finish the story for him. This is Marek’s story rewritten in the third person.

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Marek originally came from a small town in Poland. He grew up, fit and healthy enjoying a good childhood with his mother and brother.

Over a number of years he has developed Cerebellar Ataxia, which affects mobility, balance and speech. The condition is sometimes caused by head injury but this hasn’t, and may never be, confirmed in Marek’s case.

He came to the UK to live with a relative and ended up working in his uncle’s scrap yard. The intention was to improve his education to enable him to become an architect. However he was told that it would cost around £10,000 per year which he learned later wasn’t true.

He ended up working 12 hours a day stripping scrap cars for parts. He wasn’t receiving a wage but assumed that his earnings were being saved for his college education. Over a time his uncle became abusive and violent and Marek was denied the opportunity to mix socially.

On one occasion he was knocked unconscious and woke up in a pool of blood with a large gash in the back of his head. He was told to sleep it off in the office. On another occasion a large Stihl saw

went into his hand and exposed the bone. His uncle wouldn’t take him to hospital. Marek wrapped the hand himself and worked for the rest of the day. Another time he was hit across the face with a slate tile exposing gum and teeth. An abscess in his mouth was so painful he waited until he got the chance to leave and attended the hospital during the night. On arrival the abscess burst resulting in the removal of three teeth and a 2 day stay in hospital.

In constant pain from the work and persistent violence he still felt obliged to continue in the hope that the promise of college would materialise. He was engaged in dangerous work, recycling old fridges piercing gas canisters and cutting them up this included handling hazardous waste.

When asked, he told people he got his injuries from tripping or banging himself at work. He was instructed not to speak customers or anyone in authority who came into the scrap yard and to pretend that he couldn’t speak English.

He lived in a cold and damp caravan with damaged furniture. He made a bed from wheel hubs and an iron gate covered in a foam sheet. He only had access to cold water and a kettle to get hot water for washing. A cold shower was available in an unheated outbuilding behind the scrap cars. Using a single camping gas stove he lived mainly on soup, beans and bread.

He was eventually rescued by staff from St. Antony’s Centre, Trafford Park, Manchester and the police when they were alerted to the situation by a local priest. Police broke into the yard following which he spent 9 months in hospital and rehabilitation when his condition, Ataxia, was diagnosed, potentially caused by a trauma to the head. Today with a flat and working 4 days a week for St Antony’s Centre he experiences independence and the freedom to live with dignity. With an identity and recognition by the UK authorities he is helping others via active membership of a trade union and fund raising for the ataxia foundation. He also works with the Centre and the Police in highlighting the truth of modern slavery.

PRAYER

We pray for the victims of human trafficking and all those in any kind of slavery.

We pray for those rescued from slavery that they may heal from years of abuse.

We pray for retail managers that they may rid their supply chains of enforced labour.

We pray for the men and women who care for and restore those who have been rescued from slavery.

We pray that that the church will rise up and lead the fight against modern slavery.

We pray that we may become aware of modern day slavery and learn the signs that help the Police identify potential victims.

SEPTEMBER: Remember the people fleeing Afghanistan and those left behind

Militants with the Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, seized control of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul on Aug. 15. The group’s rapid advance came as many Afghan civilians and U.S. citizens sought to leave the country before the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other forces. Amid the chaos, 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghans have been killed in two suicide bombings carried out by ISIS outside Kabul’s airport.  The death toll of the bombings is at least 170 people according to one source. 

From the Manchester Mill (23 August)

The Manchester Mill has given us permission to use their material below which can be found in full here

More than 1,000 people fleeing Afghanistan have been accommodated n Manchester hotels as the government scrambles to evacuate people from the crisis-torn country. It is understood that at present, capacity in the three hotels being used in Manchester is therefore full and the government is seeking to place people in other parts of the country.  Many refugees are spending a quarantine period at Radisson Blu Airport Hotel near Manchester Airport, and a charity worker told The Mill that five hotels in total in Greater Manchester are accommodating Afghan refugees.

The Home Office announced a programme to resettle 20,000 refugees in the long term and 5,000 are expected by the end of the year, suggesting Greater Manchester is taking a larger share than other areas.

Andy Burnham said last week: “We’ve now hit a point where we think all local authorities should step forward or be required to step forward so that we can make this a manageable situation.”

Clare Moseley, the founder of Care 4 Calais, put out an appeal on social media and within hours, donation points were overflowing. Charitable donations from locals now fill five storage units. She says: “It’s not just a case of collecting them and chucking them at refugees, they need to be really carefully quality-checked and sorted.”  Clare also stressed cash donations are important as some things like underwear have to be bought new. “We do really need cash to make things happen,” she says.

Amir Raki from Caritas Salford is taking donations and asking for children’s toys, pushchairs, and personal hygiene products. But the thing they need most is people, he says: “I think the main thing that we need is people volunteering their time and their experience and expertise, and spending time with these individuals, for personal development, learning the new language, the new culture, having that sense of confidence and being part of a community.”

 

A Message from Pope Francis

Pope Francis has urged Christians to intensify their prayer, penance, and fasting for the situation in Afghanistan. 

“In historical moments like this we cannot remain indifferent. As Christians, this situation commits us.  I entrust the dead to the mercy of Almighty God and I thank those who are working to help that people so tested, especially the women and children.  I ask everyone to continue to assist the needy and to pray that dialogue and solidarity will lead to the establishment of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence and offer hope for the future of the country.

An Afhgan’s Prayer         

‘Great God On High I know you are there, somewhere, but I need to see you now, right by my side, to hold and guide me and wipe away my desolation.

 

Ï have lost everything but You and those that ï love, and some can only be a memory now. So many hearts ceased to beat, so many hearts torn apart! So many with terror hanging over them!

 

No home, no possessions, no job, no money, no future, entrapped without hope.    Many have escaped but it doesn’t feel like freedom, we are shocked and broken with our children looking at us for food, shelter and happiness we can’t provide, we are so very far from home in body mind and spirit.

 

Blessed Lord we have been taught by those that have suffered for you before us over so many generations and  shown us so much of You. Help us to grasp their vision and feel You closer as we strive to rebuild and make new neighbours, new friends.

 

We pray for the mercy of those in power over us, for all councils and all people to give of themselves in our plight that we might recover and repay a society that cares. We believe in good things and worked against tyranny in our own ways, please Lord, grant us a welcome, a safe home and a peace that lasts.’

JULY: We pray for all those who have been affected by the Covid virus in our community:

 

• Those suffering with COVID infection

• Those helping to restore COVID sufferers to health

• Those working on the frontline maintaining essential services

• Those whose education has been severely disrupted over the past year

• Those caring for the vulnerable.

 

Loving Lord, as we fight this new strain of Covid,

give us the strength to face whatever happens

and the sense to do what is right to keep us safe.

Help the young people see the right way that with patience we will win over this nasty dis-ease.

Enfold us in Your loving arms Lord,

for we know that with you by side we can face anything.

AMEN

 

A Psalm of lament and praise in a time of coronavirus

 

How shall we praise you, Lord, our God?

When we are locked down,

how shall we praise you?

When the doors to your house are barred,

and your people cannot assem-ble?

When those desperately in need of money and work

cannot even wait in the market-place?

When we have to circle round people in the street,

and to queue for shops maintain-ing safe distance?

When we can only communicate

by hearing on the phone,

or seeing on the screen;

or digitally messaging,

or even just waving through a win-dow?

When we cannot meet our parents and children,

grandparents and grandchildren,

or other family members and friends?

When we cannot touch them in their flesh and blood,

to know they are really alive?

How shall we praise you?

How, like Thomas, shall we not see yet believe

that your son is raised among us?

How shall we praise you?

 

How can I praise you, Lord?

Are you plaguing us with this virus

to punish us because we have all done wrong,

or thought wrongly,

or felt wrongly,

or just been wrong?

If so, why do only some die,

and those, apparently, the ones who are the least worst or most caring amongst us?

Or are you trying to teach us a lesson?

If so, why is it so hard to learn?

And how are we to find the answer

when we do not even know the question?

Or are you still the same loving God,

coming to us in our sufferings

and opening up the way to new life in Jesus?

 

Lord, I will try to praise you.

Through gritted teeth,

I will try to praise you.

I will try to keep myself and others safe.

I will work to pray for them

and seek to help in whatever way I can.

Lord, when I cannot pray or worship

help me be aware of all your people

and your saints and angels

hovering around me,

lifting me up.

When I feel alone,

let me feel you near me,

even if only for a moment that enables me to go on.

Let me hear you say

“Peace be with you”.

 

Lord, I will praise you.

Let all the peoples praise you.

 

Reproduced from The Methodist Church Website with kind permission from Revd Kenneth Howcroft.

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Many of us are familiar with the HOPE magazine which is currently being given out in our community. This magazine has been translated into several languages and is also being distributed internationally.

 

The Spark discipleship programme was introduced to young people in a Middle Eastern nation a few months ago and the programme has already been completed by 250 churches there. The HOPE magazine has been distributed by Share Word Global as part of this programme.

 

A youth leader from this country recently spoke about the positive impact of the magazine on the lives of young people:

• There are changes in how they approach the Bible and in their relationships with others.

• There has been more commitment from them towards their personal daily devotions and in participating at youth meetings.

• The young people are encouraging each other!

 

This is so important in a nation where almost every second person is a teenager.

 

In November ShareWord visited five other Middle Eastern nations and, through a partner ministry, has introduced the gospel magazine to even more marginalised areas where Scripture resources are scarce. In these areas there may be many refugees who are struggling to survive and the threat of civil unrest is an everyday norm.

 

Meanwhile church leaders are planning the next steps. 60,000 more Spark magazines are being printed. As a result, children—mainly refugee children—will be given an opportunity to find an everlasting home in Christ.

 

Here are some ways you can pray:

 

(1) Pray for the men and women making strategic ministry decisions for future evangelism in Middle-Eastern nations.

 

(2) Pray for the future youth leaders ’hearts, that they will be fully in tune with Christ as they share His message.

 

(3) Pray for the work of ShareWord Global as they seek to supply many more Scripture magazines.

 

(4) That those who receive the magazines will read them and encounter Jesus Christ as they read.

 

(5) That the Holy Spirit will bring many to joy and peace in believing.

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