This morning I read this paragraph in my Quiet Time booklet: "If the pain of the world breaks our hearts, surely it has broken God's heart first. Ask him to help you remember his faithfulness in the midst of brokenness." (From Daily Bread, Scripture Union).
Yes, indeed, our hearts are broken by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower this week. I know some of you have wept tears. I know others are numbed and cannot speak about it but thump your chest. Others are angry. Others speak of the issues surrounding such an avoidable disaster. But every one of us shakes our head in disbelief and sadness.
Graham Miller, chief servant of the London City Mission, writes: “We don’t understand why these things happen, and we cry out for a people who are devastated and whose homes have been destroyed." Indeed we do.
And praying is the best way to show love and support and care for those in great need.
But it is not the only thing we can do. We can give in practical ways so as to help try and relieve the pain of sufferers just a little. The public response has been amazing and wonderful. It has also been so creative; like the person who took loads of phone chargers along so that people could recharge their devices to contact others; like the delivery of dozens of mattresses for people to sleep on; like the opening up of community centres and churches to take people in for as long as necessary.
We can help in a practical way too. The initial response is overwhelming. But these poor people are going to be in need for months and months to come. Some have lost everything. There is a Christian Community Church very near Grenfell House, which has been there for years getting involved in the community with the gospel in creative ways. It will be there when the press and media have left and the nation's attention turns elsewhere, whilst the people of Grenfell Tower continue to try and rebuild their broken lives. This church needs resources to help sustain their ongoing work amongst those people. The London City Mission are recommending that we give to the dedicated charity account that this church has set up to help meet the ongoing needs of the local community, victims and young people of the Grenfell Tower fire. For info see the following links:
- London City Mission: https://www.lcm.org.uk/blog/2017/06/14/we-cry-out-for-our-city
- Latymer Community Church: http://www.latymer.org.uk/grenfelltowerrelieffund.htm
If you would like to give to this cause then please come prepared next Sunday (25th June) when our whole offering will be given to them.
One other thing that penetrates deep into my heart. It is the kind of people who lived in that Tower Block. I worked and ministered for 13 years in a church that was surrounded by Tower blocks of a similar height. We used to have a Bible Study on the 23rd floor of one such block. These places can be intimidating and yet friendly. A strange mix, but it does depend on who lives on your floor. The blocks can be like a village. Around 600 residents lived in Grenfell Tower. Six Hundred. They were from all over the world: Syria, Egypt, Italy, The Philippines, Iran, Eritrea, The United Kingdom, and many other places. The nations came and settled in Grenfell Tower. The nations came to us. Pray for London City Missionaries, and inner city churches who minister amongst such places and share the love of Jesus and seek to save the lost. Pray for them as they have been doing this for years past and for years to come. Pray for their enduring love and witness.
I write as I look out of my open cabin window onto my sunny garden in Surbiton. And somehow feel guilty.
And yet, as I reread that Quiet time opener I know that with God there is purpose and meaning and love to be shared and souls to be won: "Ask him to help you remember his faithfulness in the midst of brokenness." God is working to this day; and we must too.
Micah 6v8. "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
In the love of Jesus, the love that can rebuild broken lives and people.