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Hope as wide as an ocean

Meet the grandfather who is rowing across the Atlantic to raise money for Tearfund and help tackle the climate crisis.

Written by Gideon Heugh

Reaching your sixties and becoming a grandparent is usually when people might think to start taking it easy. Not so for Professor Graham Stuart. He’s decided it would be a good time to row across an ocean.
Graham is a 62-year-old consultant cardiologist at Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Bristol Heart Institute. He is also Professor of Sports and Exercise Cardiology at the University of Bristol. Last summer, he decided that he was going to join a team of twelve people rowing across the Atlantic – 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. 

‘The reaction of my families and colleagues has largely been supportive,’ Graham tells us. ‘[But] some think I'm completely mad’.

‘We have to do something’

To attempt such an enormous feat requires extraordinary motivation. For Graham, rowing the Atlantic is a way of taking on a far greater challenge.

‘I think climate change is probably the biggest problem facing humanity at the moment,’ Graham says. ‘And we really have to do something about it. I've got three children, I've got four grandchildren, and I want my grandchildren to live in this beautiful world. And at the moment, we're making a bit of a mess of it. So I think we have to do something now.’

Graham and his wife have supported Tearfund since they were teenagers. The money that Graham raises from sponsorship will go towards our work to empower vulnerable communities to adapt to the climate crisis and lift themselves out of poverty.

Faith in action

As Graham and the crew battle exhaustion, the elements, and eating enough powdered food to keep up with the huge energy demand, he says that it’s his faith that will keep him going.

‘I've been a Christian as long as I can remember,’ Graham shares. ‘And one of the main things about being a Christian is we're given several things that we're meant to do in life, one of which is to love our neighbours as ourselves. And I think climate change is an example of where we really have to show love to our neighbours in a very practical sense. 

‘We are meant to be good stewards of what we've been given, and we've been given a lovely world, but we're seeing it being destroyed by global warming and man undoubtedly is contributing towards that. We also see that it affects the poor of the world disproportionately… And I think that it's a matter of justice as well as being mindful of poverty. And so that's why I think it's really important Christians are involved.’

Pray with us

Graham’s expedition gets under way in early December. Please join us in praying for him and his crew.

‘I will be really grateful for all my friends who will be praying for me,’ says Graham. ‘Pray for health, because on a small boat with eleven other people. If you're unwell that's a real difficult problem. 

‘Pray for weather that's not too stormy. They expect it to be stormy at times but not too stormy. Maybe pray that the Marlins (large, spear-billed fish) that strike the boat miss where we're lying asleep... But just pray for spiritual support really.’

Written by

Written by  Gideon Heugh

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