A Christian-muslim Coalition Of Compassion

During my fourth week among the multi-faith city of Birmingham calls by Donald Trump and Franklyn Graham to treat Muslims as if we are on a war footing highlight our need to step up to the challenge to further develop God-given peace strategies.

I spend a day with Al Barrett, church leader at Hodge Hill, one of Britain's most deprived areas. He helps to intelligently channel large charitable grants to lift this dead end place with sink housing, few jobs and pleasures. At the Hub centre and caf a team of volunteers accompany unemployment benefit claimants on their computers as they learn to correctly make job applications and inform the benefits office of their unsuccessful attempts. A man enters who has no heat or bathroom water. They accompany him as he learns how to talk to a council official. An appraiser from the Cadbury's Charity that funds this seems assured that this project brings empowerment, not dependency. I accompany Al to the local school where he is a governor. With a Lotteries grant they are creating an eco area, with a pool, poly tunnel and tree house, to which residents have safe access outside school hours. In the evening I share food and thoughts with the weekly meeting of the church's two Community Houses - a Fresh Expression of church. Sally and Paul Nash are part of this. These are the salt of the earth.

I spend personal times with several of the pioneers of Newbigin House for Urban Hope at Winson Green, who face major initial challenges. We attend Sanctuary, which styles itself as a place of Christian worship where East meets West. There are Indian drapes, chants and foods. We attend a joint Christingle Service at the St. John's Sparkhill School when Christians and some Muslims donate food or money to charity and take nothing for the church. The first official Syrian refugees arrive. Next day Anne, the new Bishop of Aston, chooses the Sparkhill school and Narthex charity enterprises as the focus for her first televised engagement.

I have not been well. I have my first experience of a walk-in surgery at a city centre pharmacist. They prescribe anti-biotics and ulcerated throat reducers. The world is not well. We need prescriptions for a Christian-Muslim coalition of compassion.

Posted at 01:07am on 15th December 2015
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