Having worked in charities for over 15 years, last year was a year like never before.
Of course some poor practice came to light. But the vitriol in the media (and subsequently in Government) against charities as a whole, seems to me to be a long way off of reasonable and balanced reporting.
Newspapers are in it to make money – so they write what sells. And from the summer of 2015 the public bought (some would say, lapped up) the stories, the critique of charity, mistrust and cynicism, and rejection of the traditional love we have had for the only civic organisations set up and run solely to help those in need.
In a few months everything changed.
As a Christian, I cannot ignore the spiritual world. And I believe that this world impacts massively on our day to day lives in ways we cannot see, and often are completely unaware of.
In the Bible we are told that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but …against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
And the ‘armour’ we are told to wear as Christians is not physical armour – but spiritual:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Charities – both secular and faith-based – do some amazing work. They stand up for people and causes that without them have no voice, they draw us out of our (relatively) comfortable lives to see the need of another, they tap into the God-created compassion of our hearts and remind us that we can make a difference, they create a bridge between those who need help and those who want to help – who without charities would be separate from one another, unable to connect.
Through people giving and receiving, love happens.
Not the fluffy, idealised, hearts and flowers type love of Valentine’s Day. But the love that says “I will not look away from your need”, “I see your pain”, “I will play my part in reaching out to you”, “you are my sister/brother – no matter how many miles or extreme differences in circumstance are between us”.
An attack on charities is an attack on love in action. No – we don’t always get it right, yes – we sometimes are our own worst enemies. But this all started with a false accusation against charities stemming from the tragic death of a lady who loved charities and what they stand for.
I have heard in recent weeks of people who work for charities being ashamed to admit it, and others who say they and their charities have become ‘public enemy number 1’! In a world where corporate giants avoid paying the tax they should, we must question how we have got to the point where a charity worker would rather say he works for one of these profit-greedy companies, than ‘admit’ he works for a not-for-profit charity.
I believe that Christians working in charities need to come together in prayer.
We must pray for charities that they will press on, and have courage and wisdom. We must pray for our Boards of Trustees and CEO’s that that will stand up for fundraising, for donors and for beneficiaries. We must pray for Government, for the new regulator. And we must pray for the people who reach out with love – charity donors. Let’s pray that they will see and feel the impact of their giving, and realise that what they give is much more than just money. Finally let’s pray for one another – as we are instructed in Ephesians 6:18.
You may want to use the prayer below:
Loving, heavenly Father
We lift before you every charity in the UK, and their mission of love
We ask your forgiveness where we have got it wrong, and have not acted as we should have
Please give us wisdom and discernment to make changes and to operate with integrity
Father, we ask for your protection over the work we do and most especially over those we serve – our beneficiaries
We ask your protection over the people who give – often sacrificially and in a spirit of compassion
We ask that you would richly bless them as they bless others
We ask that as charities, our organisations might be beautiful bridges that link together the people who want to help, and those who need their help
Father we pray for courage and boldness for our trustees and our senior managers, for the umbrella groups, and those who are speaking out for beneficiaries and donors. We pray Father for protection over fundraising
We pray for Rob Wilson – Minister for Civil Society, Michael Grade and Stephen Dunmore – Chair and CEO of the new fundraising regulator, and all others developing the new regulator, and processes and procedures that will impact on charities
We pray for our brothers and sisters who work in charities across this land. Give them bravery and strength to carry on, and discernment about what to say, and what to do, and when
Father God, please protect charities so that they can continue to help people and causes in great need. May charities be light in the darkness of our world, spreading hope and giving people strength and courage to face the future