The Easter story continues to unfold.
Easter is the time of resurrection--when Christians around the world celebrate the triumph of life over death and celebrate God's love for the world.
Even as we proclaim Christ's resurrection, we remember that there remains a lot of brokenness and pain in the world. There are many who are struggling to see and experience the light of that love, and the light of the resurrection.
Easter is the perfect opportunity to remember the stories of Jesus' ministry, and be reminded that we are called to do likewise. Just as we pray that God meets all people in their need, we are called to meet people in their pain and brokenness, just like Jesus did. We may not be able to take it away, but we can offer respite and relief in significant ways. Aid and relief work are tangible ways that our ministry is made real, and alive. Relief work overseas is done with and for people who are struggling from the effects of natural disasters, human conflict and disease. In the past decade or so, we have witnessed the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the civil war in Syria and conflict in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name but a few. These catastrophes have meant that people lost homes, livelihoods and the ability to care for themselves and their families. All too often, those who are most affected by these events are the poorest and most vulnerable.
The governments in countries where these events take place are often already struggling to provide for the basic needs of their citizens. A crisis can cause everything to break down. The resulting loss of life, injury and damage lead to disease, malnutrition and despair, and further loss of life. This can be a vicious cycle that is hard to break. People flee the effects of these events, becoming displaced within their own countries or refugees in neighbouring countries, or even resettling far across the world, including in Canada.
Relief is needed to help restore life--to bring a population back from disaster. Basic needs must be met; the infrastructure that allows for safe drinking water and easy access to food and shelter must be rebuilt.
The Easter story is continuously unfolding--wherever relief work is happening, where refugees are being cared for--because life is being restored.
We are presented with challenges and problems that we can see right here in Canada, and sometimes the thought of taking on the issues of the world are daunting. But the Easter story is one of hope, resurrection, of life rising up in spite of death. That is what relief work does--it feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, gives water to the thirsty, visits those who are alone and brings hope and good news.
By Scott McLeod
The Rev. Scott McLeod is associate priest at St. George's Anglican Church, St. Catharines, Ont. He is also the diocesan refugee sponsorship co-ordinator for the diocese of Niagara.