What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17 NIVUK)
I'm sure like me many of you have been been following the events in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. The full extent of the destruction still isn't known, but what is clear is that thousands of people have lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands are in urgent need of food and shelter.
Often at moments like this we can feel overwhelmed by the scale of the suffering, and our apparent inability to make any sort of difference. However, I want to suggest two very real ways in which we can make a difference.
First of all we can pray. We believe that prayer changes situations, so let's ask for that. Let's pray for Lindsey Reece-Smith, one of our community, who works for Tearfund and is now in the Philippines helping coordinate the relief effort. Let's pray for all the people who have lost friends and family, that God will comfort them in their mourning. Let's pray for those without food and shelter, that God will provide for them and that they will get aid quickly. And let's pray for those involved in the relief effort - there seem to be so many armchair experts happy to criticise the relief effort but let's pray for those on the ground trying to bring order and hope in the middle of chaos. We'll also be praying as a church at all four meetings today.
Then we can give. Tearfund reckon that £60 is enough to provide two families with food and essential supplies for a month. I'm going to encourage us to give directly rather than taking up a Kerith offering and having the delay of collecting the money and the gift aid and then transferring it all across. You can give to Tearfund here, or to the Disasters Emergency Committee (of which Tearfund is a member) here. Why not consider giving £60 as your commitment to showing your faith by your deeds.
Both of those websites will also give you really helpful reports and updates on the relief effort, and to help you as you continue to pray.