A moment of compassion on a battlefield during the Christmas Truce of 1914

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It was 1914. The British Army and the German Army were involved in hand to hand combat near Ypres during Wold War I.  It was brutal. Troops on both side were killed or injured in huge numbers. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Over 40 million military personnel and civilians perished in World War I.  In the month of December 1914, the thoughts of the soldiers went back to their loved ones as it was getting nearer to Christmas, the soldiers frequently sang Christmas Carols in the trenches. Sir Edward Hamilton Westrow Hulse, 7th Baronet and a British Army Officer with the Scots Guards wrote detailed accounts of life in the trenches during World War I. Describing what happened in December, Sir Edward wrote that he was organising a concert party on Christmas Day which would “give the enemy every conceivable form of song in harmony” in response to frequent choruses of  German soldiers singing Deutschland Uber Alles. 

Soldiers on both sides were celebrating the birth of a Saviour, Jesus Christ. What an irony that they were celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace and here they were at war fighting each other on the Western Front. There were ‘unofficial cessations’ of hostilities, particularly during Christmas. Both sides had Christmas trees in the trenches, lit candles and sang Carols.

Then came moments of unimaginable compassion – sadly they were only moments. Captain Robert Patrick Miles who was with the Royal Irish Rifles recalled that moment of compassion in a letter: ” Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting ‘Merry Christmas, Englishmen’ to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man’s land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternising in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night. “

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Writing about the German soldiers Captain Miles noted: “They are distinctly bored with the war. In fact, one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them.”

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Then came the football matches on Christmas Day. Football and Compassion on a field of war! Gerard deGroot of the Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom wrote: “What a sight; little groups of Germans and British extending along the length of our front,” wrote Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders. “We were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill. Fraternisation led inevitably to football. Men who could not otherwise communicate shared a common language in the game. “After a short while somebody punted across a football,” one subaltern recalled. “The ball landed amongst the Germans and they immediately kicked it back at our men … it was a melêe. It wasn’t a question of 10-a-side, it was a question of 70 Germans against 50 Englishmen.” That scenario was repeated all along the line. The locations of these matches remain obscure, in part because few soldiers subsequently admitted taking part.

On January 1 1915, an anonymous major wrote to The Times that an English regiment “had a football match with the Saxons, who beat them 3-2”. That score echoes through the accounts. Yet since the stories originate from various parts of the front, this suggests either incredible consistency in the results, or a remarkable willingness to remember the event in exactly the same way. Equally possible, all recollections might relate to a single mythical encounter that never actually took place. In truth, it matters not if a match ending 3-2 actually occurred, since myths are often more powerful than facts. The “match” is universally celebrated, even by the English who might otherwise prefer to forget another defeat to the Germans. At least it did not end in penalties.

Playing football rudely exposed the contrived nature of wartime animosity. For that reason, it was quickly quashed. Gustav Riebensahm, an officer in the 2nd Westphalian regiment, immediately complained to his commanders that “the whole thing has become ridiculous and must be stopped”. Near Ypres, a corporal named Adolf Hitler voiced the view that fraternisation “should not be allowed”. General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien echoed that sentiment, reminding his subordinate commanders that “Friendly intercourse with the enemy … [is] absolutely prohibited.” An even sterner directive was issued by the 1st Army commander, General Douglas Haig, who warned that soldiers caught fraternising could face a firing squad.

In truth, there was never any danger that goodwill would endure. Everyone accepted that the moment of compassion was just that – a moment. At 8:30 on Boxing Day morning, Stockwell fired three shots in the air, then hoisted a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it. The German captain appeared on the parapet, bowed and fired two shots in reply. “The War was on again,” wrote Stockwell. The guns resumed their murderous cacophony; slaughter resumed. The footballs were put away, ” said Gerard deGroot.

It was a sad moment of humanity and compassion on a battlefield. A brief lull in the fighting and they then resumed hostilities after Boxing Day. Many who met on the field of war to exchange gifts and play football, perished afterwards in a hail of bullets and gunfire.

Ivan Corea

Sainsburys actually produced a film for Christmas recalling the story of the Christmas Truce of December 2014 and the football match between the British and German armies.

Here are some amazing photographs from 1914 of British and German solders meeting together during the Christmas Truce.

 

Photographs courtesy of Wikipedia and Pixaby

Excerpt from an article by Gerard deGroot in the Telegraph newspaper in London titled: ‘The Truth about the Christmas Day Match.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/11310353/The-truth-about-the-Christmas-Day-football-match.html

Youtube clips from the Sainsbury’s advertisement on the Christmas Truce and the football match and genuine photographs from 1914 from Yesterday Today.

Showing compassion to your enemies

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The quote attributed to Sir Winston Churchill is an interesting one. They say he may not have said it, however it does provoke discussion about having enemies. If you take a stand on an issue, there will be those who will try to bring you down. Churchill had many enemies on the battlefield, in the British parliament and even in his own cabinet. Winston Churchill had a bulldog spirit he did have low moments in his life but he refused to give up and give in – he famously said ‘never, never, never give up,’ and another quote attributed to Britain’s war time Prime Minister: ‘If you are going through hell, keep going!’ He always took the fight to the enemy. Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom noted:

“Churchill led from the front in his willingness to take real risks to implement an aggressive policy, he was prepared to denude Britain of armour, and to transport it by the quicker, but more hazardous, Mediterranean route. Where he differed from those around him was in the intensity of his desire to engage the enemy. For him it was never just about defence. Victory depended on taking the fight to the enemy on the ground.  “

We come across people who try to bring us down, make us stumble and fall – sometimes even through entrapment. An enemy might violate your fundamental human rights, bring pain and distress to your friends and family, even involve your own children, smear you behind your back, go to great lengths to bring you down, some brazenly use bribery and corruption. There are those who say the only way to stop your enemy is take the fight to them, meet fire with fire, hire lawyers and sue them for compensation. The media is awash with indictments before grand juries, court injunctions, in the United States – in the United Kingdom a few years ago, a huge phone hacking, email and voice mail hacking scandal even brought down a British newspaper who were forced to close down, with millions given out in compensation to people who had been illegally and unlawfully hacked. There are times whenever people resort to evil, it has a ‘boomerang effect,’ however much you try to do things behind your victims back and think you can get away with it – what goes around, comes around. No one is above the law.

The Scriptures talk about a Day of Reckoning – Judgement Day – Ecclesiastes 12:14 says: “for God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. ” Romans Chapter 2 verse 16 talks about that final day: This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” Your enemy would do well to digest Romans Chapter 2!

Psalm 23 reveals that ‘he prepares a table in the presence of my enemies.’ It doesn’t say ‘he prepares a table in the absence of my enemies.’ This is the ultimate rebuke to your enemies – they will have to stand and watch from the very edges of society as you eat in the King’s presence, you will enjoy the favour of the Lord and your enemies will not be able to do one thing about it.

So why did Jesus have to take on so much suffering at the hands of his enemies? Here’s a view from the gotquestions.org website: “Jesus suffered severely throughout His trials, torture, and crucifixion (Matthew 27Mark 15Luke 23John 19). His suffering was physicalIsaiah 52:14 declares, “There were many who were appalled at Him—His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” His suffering was emotional: “All the disciples deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). His suffering was spiritual: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had the weight of the sins of the entire world on Him (1 John 2:2). It was sin that caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus’ brutal physical suffering was augmented by His having to bear the guilt of our sins and die to pay our penalty (Romans 5:8).

Isaiah predicted Jesus’ suffering: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:35). This passage specifies the reason for Jesus’ suffering: “for our transgressions,” for our healing, and to bring us peace.

Jesus told His disciples that His suffering was certain: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Luke 9:22; cf. 17:25). Note the word must—He must suffer, and He must be killed. The suffering of Christ was God’s plan for the salvation of the world. “

So what did Jesus do when he was faced with an onslaught from enemies all around him? He forgave. That was the simple message – forgive. Did he have lawyers at his trial, were there character witnesses to vouch for him – absolutely none. The enemies of Jesus targeted the weakest link in his inner circle. Who was the weakest link? Judas. The keeper of the purse. What was his weakness? The love of money. He is called a thief in John Chapter 12 verse 6:  “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. ” How did they persuade him to betray Jesus? They bribed him, used corruption, gave him 30 pieces of silver. Give us a sign, kiss him on the cheek they said. Peter denied him three times before the cock crowed thrice. The disciples fled. Jesus was tortured, his face disfigured, a crown of thorns placed brutally on his head, he was physically and verbally abused, spat upon, whipped, battered, bruised, dehydrated, exhausted. And yet he forgave. Great leaders show mercy.

Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew: Chapter 18, verses 21-22). In that chapter Jesus teaches us that we are to forgive our brother from our heart. Now learning to forgive can be very hard. How can you forgive someone who has been trying to destroy you and your family – out of sheer spite, hatred, anger, jealousy and has, say, tried to harm your children? Jesus on the cross forgave the robber, forgave all those who had committed those terrible crimes against him – even though it did not excuse their actions.  Jesus taught, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew: Chapter 6:14). Even after the Resurrection, Jesus told his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” (John Chapter 20: verses 22, 23). Jesus had  a such a deep forgiveness ministry. 

The life, the death, the resurrection, the teachings and the forgiveness ministry of Jesus has resonated with so many down the centuries. The Guardian newspaper of Great Britain noted:” If you think religion belongs to the past and we live in a new age of reason, you need to check out the facts: 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. Members of this demographic are generally younger and produce more children than those who have no religious affiliation, so the world is getting more religious, not less – although there are significant geographical variations. According to 2015 figures, Christians form the biggest religious group by some margin, with 2.3 billion adherents or 31.2% of the total world population of 7.3 billion.”

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Martin Luther King famously said: ‘We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.’

Richard Branson recently shared on social media the words of a lady from Igniting Change who said: ‘People who are inflicting the most pain (on others) are in the most pain themselves.’ These people who do you wrong could be in terrible torment within themselves. Pray for your enemies, forgive them and bless them, their children and their children’s children.

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Even from a personal perspective, there was a time in my life when I had serious disagreements with my father. It caused so much bitterness inside me. I just didn’t want to talk to him. Then came the realisation that life was too short, God was asking me to forgive him and I needed to seek forgiveness too. So I went and met him, I told him how much I loved him and said: ‘Father, forgive me.’ There was a radical transformation in that precious moment, between a Father and a Son.

My father was 75 years old at the time. After that incredible breakthrough in our relationship, whenever I telephoned him to say I coming to visit him, he would walk up the road and stay near some bollards, waiting for me. The passage of time had mellowed him. When he saw me, he put his arms around me and hugged me, tears rolling down our faces. This was unconditional love. Later that year, my father passed away and I was glad there had been a breakthrough – I was able to celebrate his life at a service of thanksgiving and thank God for that act of forgiveness. When I think of him now I think of him with so much love – the bitterness, the anger has melted away.

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He said love your enemies – here is a clip from Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.”  When you forgive you don’t keep any bitterness, hatred, anger inside of you. It doesn’t eat into your soul,  crippling your mind and your heart. Forgiveness brings release, freedom. You let go of the angst, that heavy burden will be lifted from you. It will set you free from the shackles of a bitter heart. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool and it releases God’s favour and blessings.

Ivan Corea

 

Quotations from the Bible from the New International Version.

Reference to Christ’s suffering courtesy of  gotquestions.org

Reference from the Guardian article:”Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular.” Published in August 2018.

Clips from YouTube courtesy of the Passion of the Christ film.

Photograph of Winston Churchill taken from a portrait at his residence in Chartwell, Kent in the United Kingdom.
Photographs courtesy of Pexels and Pixabay.

 

 

 

Jesus and the Compassionate Good Samaritan

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Great leaders are also great storytellers. They have the ability to use the power and the skills of storytelling to inspire and motivate people – whether it is in a family setting, a company, an organisation, or in their community. My mind goes back to my salad days when I was in secondary school in Colombo, in what was known as Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka). We had this charismatic Art teacher – he had a gifting for great story telling, quite apart from teaching us art. He would stride into the classroom, perch himself on the teacher’s desk and he would start his stories – many of them from history and folk tales – we were spellbound. He had our undivided attention. As students we were so eager, waiting in anticipation of his yarns. “Tell us a story Sir!” we would cry out as we engaged in art and creativity. Art is a form of storytelling – it seemed to go well with each other, in the context of the classroom. It was stretching our imagination. It is the hallmark of a gifted and inspirational teacher that you remember their stories and discussions, decades after you have left school.

The New York Times observed: “Storytelling is one of the oldest devices of communicating. Its hand-me-down perpetuation suffered somewhat during the age of writing (which allowed you to look it up if you forgot it) and has been more severely threatened with the advent of the electronic era, which relieves you of the effort of transmitting anything to newer generations.”

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Jesus was a master storyteller. He was an effective, compassionate, leader, an expert in the art of communication. He crafted engaging stories – breaking down what could have been complex theology into bite size gems that made people understand the meaning behind the story. Companies in today’s corporate world also use storytelling. Nike’s senior executives are also designated corporate storytellers – using storytelling to their advantage. Their advertisements feature such stories to engage the audience – with a powerful message behind it.

Jesus used parables to teach important lessons – they say a parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy. The word ‘parable’ means a placing side by side for the sake of comparison. It was used by Jesus to convey spiritual truth. His parables always had a clear cut spiritual message.

I can just imagine Jesus walking on a beach or striding into the very heart of the community,  sitting on a chair or a rock or by the village well, stretching out his hands and saying: ‘I want to tell you a story.’ Crowds came to listen to him. He explained the stories in a way that people understood them.

Jesus wanted to teach people about love, mercy and compassion. He chose the main character in the parable of the Good Samaritan as someone of another race and culture who was detested by the Jewish community. They sometimes threw stones at these people. The Samaritans lived in Northern Israel. Samaria was located between Galilee in the north and Judea in the south. They were racially mixed, however they were despised by the Jews who did not see them as part of mainstream Judaism. The Samaritans only accepted the first 5 books of the Bible as canonical and they did not go to the temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem but went to the temple on Mount Gerazim. Jewish people did not want to contaminate themselves, so they did not travel through Samaria if they wanted to get to Galilee from Judea – they took an even longer route, crossing the river Jordan, totally by passing Samaria. On the other side of the coin the Samaritans destested the Jews. The feelings were mutual.

Jesus just broke through the racism, the hate, anger, bitterness, jealousy and all the barriers placed before him. He actually passed through Samaria instead of avoiding all contact with Samaritans. He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well – something unheard of in his day. When Jesus was asked ‘who is my neighbour,’ he shared with the crowds one of the most compassionate stories ever told.

The principle character of the parable was a Samaritan. Jesus wanted to show a new and living way, of loving your neighbour as yourself. Your neighbour might be of another race, colour or creed. Jesus preached equality under God. Samaritans and Jews were absolutely equal in His sight. They were not second class citizens. All are precious in His sight.

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So here is the parable from Luke Chapter 10: verses 25-37:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’a]”>[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’b]”>[b]

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

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In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This was compassion in action. The content and the message behind the ‘Parable of the Good Samaritan,’ is as relevant today, within the context of today’s society, as it was back then, in the time of Jesus.

Our son who is on the autism spectrum, still loves to watch the superb cartoon from ‘Miracle Maker,’ the film released in the year 2000.’ Quite often he would watch it several times in a month – he just loves this film – seen through the eyes of Tamar, the terminally ill daughter of Jairus, a priest in Capernaum.

Here is a modern version of the parable:

Here are 7 lessons we can learn from the compassionate Good Samaritan:

  1. Compassion comes from the heart. It’s not something that is an abstract idea. It is an action that comes from within your heart.
  2. Do not pass by on the other side – when you see a need, try to respond with your heart. I remember the time our son had a meltdown in the cinema because the place was absolutely full and the seat that he normally sits on had been taken. He was distraught. There was a kind lady who came up to my wife and I and asked us: “Is there anything I can do to help?” She did not walk by on the other side. It turned out that she knew exactly what we were going through because she was working with children with autism. We were so grateful for that act of kindness.
  3. Compassion is a specific action. Let your heart be right. Reach out to those who are in real need.
  4. Be a neighbour. In this parable, the Samaritan was the neighbour. He loved his neighbour as himself.
  5. Compassion is what you see. When the Samaritan came across the Jewish person mugged and left for dead he saw and he acted.
  6. Stop and think – does this person need help? I am as guilty as anyone else when I have seen homeless people and looked straight ahead and carried on regardless.
  7. Do. Compassion is something that you do and how you do it. The Good Samaritan not only saw the man lying there on the road, he was galvanised into action. He took a risk to stop and help this man.

Jesus always acted with compassion, with loving kindness – he told the expert in the law ‘go and do likewise.’ The teaching here is very clear – we should be showing compassion to others.

Ivan Corea

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The Parable of the Good Samaritan is from the New International Version.

The cartoon is courtesy of the Miracle Maker film and the modern version of the parable is courtesy of modernparable.com

The pictures are courtesy of http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/good-samaritan/ and Pixabay.

Excerpt, courtesy of  The New York Times article on  ‘Storytelling as an art form,’ (3rd February 1988).

 

 

Compassionate Leadership according to Richard Branson

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Now here’s a quote from Richard Branson which fits in so well with Compassionate Leadership. Richard Branson is one of Great Britain’s most successful businessmen.

Image courtesy of Virgin Active Singapore.

7 inspiring traits of Compassionate Leadership

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“The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most important, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micromanagement. These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.

To be great, leaders must have the necessary empathy to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members. Empathy is key. Empathy begins with taking an understanding of life from the experience and perception of another. When empathy is present, defensiveness decreases and something positive replaces it. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion. It softens the minds and hearts of others. When people are open, this is exactly when the compassionate leader can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success,” notes author Sherrie Campbell.

To follow are seven traits of compassionate leadership shared by Sherrie Campbell on Entrepreneur. com:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310391

The unconditional love of a mother

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The unconditional love of a mother is so very precious. Mothers go through so much, on a daily basis. It is always focus on the family, 24/7. They look after their children with love, devotion, commitment, loyalty, compassion.

Here is a moving story of compassion from a war zone. Fergal Keane is a a BBC TV News Correspondent. He traveled to the front line and met people living in the village of Pisky, in Eastern Ukraine. While others fled, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, had nowhere to go. He visited the home of Sonya and her severely disabled son for the first time in 2015 and he revisited the village in 2016.

You cannot help but be moved by his report. Sonya in 2018 would be 80 years old. (She was 77 years of age when Fergal Keane first visited her home in Pisky). Her work is not done. It brought tears to my eyes to see the love and the compassion of Sonya in his powerful report. She had made a conscious decision not to leave her village. Why? She did not want anyone to take her son away. She was going to care for him 24/7, for the rest of her days. She loved him with all of her heart, with every breath she takes, with every move she makes. She will always watch over him. Despite living in poverty with not much income, Sonya has refused to let it define her. She is a very brave and courageous woman. Mothers who have children with disabilities deserve medals for their devoted service, all in the cause of their loved ones.

If you go to 3:01 minutes of Fergal Keane’s BBC News report on the youtube link you will see the power of love in action. Sonya weeps out of compassion for her disabled son. She lovingly strokes his head and says she will not allow anyone to take him away. He is loved. He is cared for. She will not leave his side.

I so pray that a church or a charity will reach out and help Sonya and her beloved son.

 

Photographs of Sonya and her son courtesy of the BBC.

When St. Paul’s Cathedral opened their doors to people with autism with compassion

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The year was 2002, we campaigned long and hard on autism and there was a huge need to raise awareness of autism. It was such a struggle to access public services. We did it for love and not for the money after our precious son was diagnosed with autism. Parents, carers and people with autism were finding life very difficult without public services – so my wife and I set about persuading partners to come on board with a small acorn of an idea hatched in our front room in Essex, in the United Kingdom. It grew into something big – we initiated 2002 as Autism Awareness Year – this was the first ever occasion of partnership working on autism in the UK, on such a large scale – all of it was for the good of parents, carers and people with autism in the United Kingdom – the idea was freely given in order to help others. Over 800 UK organisations came on board as partners of the year. The inspiration behind all of this was our precious son, we thank God for his life and we know that Jesus loves him.

Parliamentary debates were held in the Scottish Parliament, in the House of Commons and in the House of Lord in the Palace of Westminster in 2002 Autism Awareness Year.

The British Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair became the first ever Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom to mention the word autism. in the House of Commons in the British Parliament and to back and support the year. Prime Minister Tony Blair personally answered a question on Autism Awareness Year at Prime Minister’s Questions, in the chamber of the House of Commons, on the 9th of January 2002.

Photo of Ms Linda PerhamMs Linda Perham  Labour, Ilford North

“Will the Prime Minister acknowledge the success of the British Institute for Brain Injured Children, the Disabilities Trust and my constituents, Ivan and Charika Corea, in getting 2002 declared as autism awareness year? Will he ensure that the national and local bodies that are responsible for health, social services and education co-operate in the joined-up provision of services that autistic people and their families desperately need? “

Photo of Tony BlairTony Blair  Prime Minister

“Yes, I certainly congratulate my hon. Friend’s constituents and the organisations concerned. Autism awareness year should give us the opportunity to raise the awareness of this condition, which is very debilitating and is distressing for families; in addition, it should ensure that we can learn more about what causes autism. She will be pleased to know that, in addition to the measures being taken by the voluntary sector, the Government are putting more resources and research into exactly how autism occurs and how we should deal with it. “

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We also felt there was a need for the faith community to engage with parents, carers and the autism community, to reach out in love in the name of Jesus. We launched the International Day of Prayer for Autism also known as Autism Sunday in 2002 during Autism Awareness Year. This was the first ever international event on autism. It was amazing, God opened unexpected doors and showed favour as this was for ‘the least of these’ in His name. I remember walking into a restaurant with work colleagues a few months before and saw the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres having lunch with the famed BBC TV Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Paxman. That prompted us to write to the Bishop of London. He wrote back personally supporting the whole idea of Autism Sunday and we asked if there could be an event at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It turned out that the Bishop of London, Rt.Rev.Richard Chartres had been involved with a charity dealing with autism – what a divine connection!

The Cathedral administrators got in touch with us and it was on. God just opened door after door of favour, the British press, radio and television heralded Autism Sunday, giving it wide coverage with television crews outside the Cathedral and televising clips for the evening news, across the nation. Bill Turnbull of BBC TV News had a special news item  giving an opportunity for us to invite people to the service. The ‘Thunderer,’ the London Times published the news on their Royal & Court Page.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral showed tremendous compassion to the vulnerable, by opening the Cathedral doors for the first time, to parents, carers and people with autism – 600 people turned up for the service. The Canon who took the service made a special reference to Autism Sunday and welcomed everyone. It was a beautiful moment ,celebrating the lives of all people with autism, their parents and carers. There was total freedom inside the Cathedral  – children with autism were walking up and down – that’s what Jesus would have done. As the choristers walked down in procession a little boy with autism shouted out:  ‘thank you.’ People were moved by the service and the compassion extended to the vulnerable by St. Paul’s Cathedral.

This acorn of an idea spread purely by word of mouth, without a penny being spent on expensive public relations and marketing campaigns and it is now a global event -the oldest global event, celebrating the lives of people with autism. Every life is precious and has worth and value in the sight of God. This was a celebration of life and rightly so.

Ivan Corea

Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords in 2002 Autism Awareness Year:

Prime Minister Tony Blair supports 2002 Autism Awareness Year at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on 9th January 2002:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2002-01-09.534.2

The Scottish Parliament debate heralding Autism Awareness Year on 6th December 2001:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2001-12-06.4678.0&s

Photographs of St.Paul’s Cathedral courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Compassionate Billionaires?

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Oxfam, the British humanitarian charity released a report in 2017 stating that the global economy created a record number of billionaires in that year, exacerbating inequality amid a weakening of workers’ rights and a corporate push to maximize shareholder returns.

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According to Oxfam: the world now has 2,043 billionaires, after a new one emerged every two days in the past year, the nonprofit organization said in a report published in 2018. The group of mostly men saw its wealth surge by $762 billion, which is enough money to end extreme poverty seven times over.

Bloomberg compiled research suggesting that the top 500 billionaires’ net worth grew 24% to $5.38 trillion in 2017, while the world’s richest person, Amazon Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, saw a gain of $33.7 billion.

(http://time.com/money/5112462/billionaires-made-so-much-money-last-year-they-could-end-extreme-poverty-seven-times/)

So would we find compassionate billionaires who would be prepared to say give 3/4s of their wealth away to feed to starving, help eradicate disease, fund wells for water and schools to lift up the poorest of the poor?

You do find billionaires who have had hearts of compassion and given it all away. Here are 10 stories of wealthy people who gave their fortunes away in order to help others:

https://listverse.com/2013/12/24/10-refreshing-stories-rich-people-who-gave-their-fortunes-away/

chuck Feeney

Among them is the Irish billionaire, Chuck Feeney. According to the Irish Times:

“Chuck Feeney today is a man of no property. He and his wife Helga live in a modest rented apartment in San Francisco. He has no car or luxuries of any kind. Actually, come to think of it, he has a very nice watch. It is plastic and cost about $15. There are no trophies or vanity photographs in the apartment to show that he has devoted his $8 billion fortune to making the world a better place.”

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/chuck-feeney-the-billionaire-who-gave-it-all-away-1.3413084

Photograph of Chuck Feeny courtesy of the Irish Times.

 

 

 

 

Feeding Hungry Homes in Sri Lanka at Christmas

” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:35-40

David1

This is David. He leads GOD TV on the island of Sri Lanka. His heart beats for those who are suffering. He cannot and will not walk by on the other side. During Christmas David is ‘feeding hungry homes,’ in the name of Jesus. This involves over 27 Assemblies across Sri Lanka. Each of these food packs will last a Sri Lankan family of four for an entire month.

david2

There are those who are struggling to exist at Christmas, David and God TV are reaching out to their Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in compassion, with so much love. In Isaiah Chapter 58: verse 10 where we are called to: ” Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. ” This is compassion in action.

FOOD

Ivan Corea

Here’s what compassion looks like – the man from 2 D

2D

Here’s what compassion looks like. Kelsey Zwick from the United States has asked for this story to be shared about the man from 2D who was travelling on American Airlines from Orlando, Florida to Philadelphia just a few days ago. She posted this on Facebook:

6th December 2018:

“To the man in 2D. Today you were traveling from Orlando to Philly. I don’t know you, but I imagine you saw us somewhere. I was pushing a stroller, had a diaper bag on my arm and also lugging an oxygen machine for my daughter. We had smiles on our faces as we were headed to see her “friends” at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). We pre- boarded the plane, got cozy in our window seat and made jokes to those around us about having to sit by my yelling-but-happy baby. The flight attendant came over and told me you were waiting to switch seats. You were giving up your comfortable, first class seat to us.

Not able to hold back tears, I cried my way up the aisle while my daughter Lucy laughed! She felt it in her bones too… real, pure, goodness. I smiled and thanked you as we switched but didn’t get to thank you properly.

Sooo… thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy. For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime… we will pay it forward. AA 588 passenger in seat 2D, we truly feel inspired by your generosity.

Please share so we can say thanks!”

#pleasesharepayitforward
#americanairlines #ifyoufindhimtellhimthanks 
#overwhelmedbykindness
#kindnessalwayswins