The sum raised for our two Lenten projects has totalled £5,744.90, with a small amount still to come through gift aid. Although not as good an amount as we customarily raise, in the circumstances, this is excellent! A huge thank you to all who contributed towards these two worthy causes.
BeSpace is a small Oxfordshire based charity that works to provide reflective, interactive prayer spaces in all primary and secondary schools in Oxfordshire. They are passionate about giving young people the opportunity and space to engage with Christian Prayer.
Over 42% of schools in Oxfordshire have already had prayer and reflection spaces. Over 100 000 children and young people have encountered a space at their school. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every school child in Oxfordshire could have the experience of a prayer and reflection space?
Evidence of the impact BeSpace can make to a school:
It leaves a lasting impression on children - from year to year they can remember previous prayer spaces and remember aspects of prayer (saying sorry, thank you, prayer for others and themselves).
Children can reveal what they’re really feeling in a ‘safe’ space which can help staff to monitor and mentor them.
It has inspired staff to create prayer and reflection spaces in their own classroom or an area in the school to enable children to take time out during their day or week to pray or reflect.
Feedback, taken from children at the end of sessions, has shown an awareness of a loving God who listens to them.
What will the funds support?
The funds will help us to continue to bring awareness of, and opportunities for, prayer into schools in Oxfordshire, reaching out to those schools that have not yet had a prayer and reflection space in their schools, providing awareness of God, Jesus, prayer and the Christian faith to children who have no awareness of a living and loving God and providing ongoing advice, support and equipment to those running prayer and reflection spaces in local schools or setting up a permanent prayer space in their school.
5th Gospel Christians
5th Gospel Christians is a Catholic charity which provides ongoing support for the Christians of the Middle East. They are particularly concerned to address the needs of the Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan. These refugees are currently in limbo, with their lives on hold. They fled from the military invasion by ISIS in June 2014 and the taking of the city of Mosul. In the following two months the surrounding Christian villages were attacked and the Christians forced to convert to Islam and pay a tax or be killed, or leave immediately. They refused to convert to Islam and in order to save their lives left everything except what they could carry. We are looking after 480 of the 987 in Madaba.
The refugees they look after are mostly Catholic or Syrian Orthodox Christians. It was not safe for them to be in the camps occupied 100% by Muslims, many of whom were (and are) themselves ISIS supporters or at least sympathetic. The Church in Iraq and in Jordan recognised this and took them in - at first housing them on church floors, then in porta-cabins in the car parks, but now all are in simple and cramped accommodation: flats and houses shared by several families.
The difficulties they have include living on top of each other and the lack of privacy and the effect on the children of overhearing their parents and grandparents problems, day in and day out. The children have nowhere to play or even parks to be taken to. School is great, but there is little emphasis on games and sports in the curriculum.
Their focus is on teaching English and IT to the adults and activities projects for the children. They also have special workshops on mental health and parenting (which they requested), and we assist on serious medical emergencies or hospital consultations where Caritas or other agencies cannot help. The Catholic Church (with overseas funds from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and the Vatican) pays the children’s school fees but they help fund the annual registration for schooling, books and uniforms – for 108 children this academic year.