When you see an issue or problem in your community, it can be hard to think of how you can help fix it – especially alone. But, by working together, all kinds of possibilities open up.
Umoja means ‘togetherness’ in Swahili. It is one of Tearfund’s initiatives that brings church leaders and communities together to equip local people to determine their own future. And it is how one group in Bangladesh are changing their community for good.
Faith into action
The group of 15 meet together weekly to study the Bible and pray. They have also been taking steps together to improve the area where they live. Some of the things they have been inspired to set up to help their community are: coaching for primary school children, opening a Sunday school and visiting families in the area regularly to build friendships.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The group have been learning about God’s creation and the importance of caring for it. Starting with reading about how in Genesis, God looks at what he has made and declares it good, and then commands man to look after it.
Bangladesh is low-lying and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including more frequent flooding. This leads to widespread damage to homes and crops, and the high risk of deadly waterborne diseases. It puts people in danger and can push communities further into poverty.
Caring about issues such as inequality and damage to the environment is part of following God’s call to love him and our neighbour, and helps us flourish in our own lives too. Reflecting on this, the group began to think about how, once again, they could put their faith into action.
Seeds of change
Understanding the importance of planting trees, the group came up with a plan. They decided to pool their resources together to buy saplings and to distribute them to families in their church and community. Some members of the group worked extra days in the fields to make this possible.
Fifty families received three saplings each to plant in their backyard and to care for. ‘We are very happy to have distributed the saplings successfully… We hope this initiative will inspire others to plant more trees,’ says group facilitator, Sojoni Murmu. Trees limit the amount of stormwater runoff, which may reduce the effects of flooding.
Robin Muru, the village leader is full of praise for the group: ‘We are very happy for this Bible study group. They are not only studying the Bible, but taking different initiatives for church and community development. We would like to continue to assist their goods works, and wish for their success.’
Thank you, God, that churches around the world are being inspired through your word to care for each other and for creation. We pray that you will continue to bless groups like this one in Bangladesh, that are making a positive difference in their community and transforming the lives of people in need. And continue to speak to us Lord about how we can make a difference.