Events and News

Up for the challenge of cycling 1000 miles, Alan notes, ‘I’m 67 now, so I want to do it while I can.’

Out to Disrupt

Even in his youth, Alan Hodgkinson enjoyed cycling to cause disruption. Motorbikes empowered him. On a Sunday morning, together with friends, he would race around the outside of a church to interfere with the service inside.

Now, Alan is still cycling to cause disruption. This time it’s to help break the oppressive entrapment of poverty which puts Vietnamese children at risk. But a lot has happened to change Alan’s tendency to cause havoc…

Motorbikes and gorgeous girls

In the early 1970’s, young Alan pursued his happy life which centred on motorbikes and cars. His family lived in Northwich,Cheshire. When his father took exception to a minister whom he felt was not helpful to local business, it gave Alan another outlet. That’s when he and his friends had fun motoring around the church at high speed just to be troublesome.

One day, a minister from a different church, the Revd. C. David Le-Seeleur ofBarntonMethodistChurchcame into the garage where Alan worked. He invited Alan to a youth meeting. Staunchly convinced that there was no God, he turned down the invitation. According to Alan, some ministers don’t know when to give up because this was repeated. ‘He came back a third time, saying that someone could give me a lift to his home for the youth meeting. I finally said yes just to get the guy off my back!’

Instead, Alan was taken aback when he heard what others had to say. ‘Someone talked about how Jesus came first in his life. He insisted that he would give up everybody and everything, if he had to, for Jesus. Yet he had the most incredibly gorgeous girlfriend. And I thought, “You must be joking, mate.”

‘But I realised, “They’ve got something I haven’t got…I need to give this a try.”’ Within a few months, Alan acknowledged God and his own need to follow Jesus.

Building relationships 

As a new believer, Alan built lasting relationships, which included a young teacher trainee named Sue who became his wife. Over the years, Alan’s father longed to have the experience which he saw in his son. Toward the end of his life, he too was able to enjoy peace and fulfilment when he accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour.

Another youthful relationship was to lead Alan and Sue halfway around the world 40 years later. It began when Olive Palin, a friend of David Le-Seeleur who was often in his home, joined in the youth meetings. Olive and the Hodgkinsons continued their friendship throughout the years and when they moved on to other areas.

But Olive, an enthusiastic lady now in her 90’s, moved on in other ways too. In 2006, she decided to sponsor a girl inVietnamthroughSiloamChristianMinistries. This one step opened up a relationship with Thao Tho, her sponsored girl, and also her entire family. ‘Tho is a wonderful girl,’ says Olive. ‘I’m so thrilled that her parents look upon me as their second mother.’

Influenced by Olive’s decision, Alan and Sue also started to sponsor a Vietnamese girl, Nhan. Last year in March, they travelled from their home in Corwen,Wales, toVietnamand were able to spend quality time with Tho and Nhan and their families. Their trip proved life changing in many ways as they recall the Vietnamese people with whom they bonded.

They cite Nhan’s parents as typical of hardworking but poverty stricken people, determined to do the best for their children. ‘Nhan’s father mends fishing nets and her mother has to ride a bike all over Danang to deliver the nets. Yet their earnings are so meagre that keeping children in school presents a daunting hardship.’ The Hodgkinsons’ commitment to help these children and their families continues – even when it comes to 1000 miles of cycling.

Seriously scenic cycling 

‘Actually, I was just up for a challenge,’ admits Alan when talking about his sponsored bike ride. ‘After all, I’m 67 now, so I want to do it while I can.’ Then Sue, who considers it ‘a bit mad,’ suggested, ‘Why don’t you use your cycling to raise money for Siloam’s child sponsorship inVietnam?’

On the 1st of September, Alan is facing up to the challenge of cycling 1000 miles which he describes as ‘the scenic route’ from Lands End to John-O-Groats. Scheduled to finish on the 21st of September, he will have only one day of rest, averaging 50 miles of cycling a day.  His objective is to raise £1000 forSiloamChristianMinistries’ child sponsorship inVietnam.

This is a strikingly different approach from the raucous motorbike racing of his youth. Instead, Alan chooses to be inside church as he and Sue are active members of Ruthin Christian Fellowship, affiliated to the Baptist Union of Wales, where he serves as an Elder/Trustee. Now, Alan and Sue’s heart for the suffering of Vietnamese children and their families leads them to try disrupting oppressive economic constraints. It’s a serious challenge – with a positive objective in view.

For more information, please contact Siloam at www.siloam.org.uk or Tel. 01926 335037.    

 

 

 

Partnering together, the international team are committed to helping this vulnerable family.  

Change in the Face of Disadvantages

Familiar with suffering, UK Siloam Director Richard Norton works to help the most disadvantaged people in the world. Yet a recent medical camp inIndiarevealed one family’s plight which no one had anticipated.

Richard was there with Dr. Max Lange of Childcare Worldwide (CCW). They partner together with others and this medical camp aided very poor people requiring medical help. There was one small family that especially had desperate needs: a father and mother with their daughter, Amulu.

Their affliction has a great deal to do with their disadvantaged background. Born into poverty, Mani and his wifeGangawere always at risk. Lacking food, adequate housing and clean water, they were subject to health hazards which weakened their immune systems. WhenGangabecame pregnant and gave birth, she contracted leprosy. AsGangabreast-fed and cared for their baby daughter Amulu she too developed leprosy.

Both mother and daughter suffer greatly from this devastating affliction. Their anguish became even more horrific when, together with Mani, they became victims of a modern form of slavery which is unknown to many westerners. It is called bonded labour but victims are actually tricked into enforced labour from which they cannot escape. This family was forced to work at hard labour, making bricks.

When Mani,Gangaand Amulu came to the medical camp, caring Christian workers were determined to alleviate their plight. The team treat all those in need and also share God’s love by explaining the good news of Jesus. Partnering together, they gave this family initial medical help.

Then the next major event took place. Dr, Max Lange of CCW was able to provide funds sufficient to release the entire family from their bondage.

Yet, medical needs remain great. Richard Norton of Siloam sent out a special appeal and generousUKdonors contributed money to help the family go to a residential medical centre. It will take time to give the help so desperately needed and to ensure rehabilitation.

However, there is now hope as Richard Norton explains, ‘With medical help, this mother and daughter will not die. The treatment will arrest the progress of this disease

‘Also, other aspects of their plight can be alleviated.  For example, leprosy patients often experience the torment of permanently shortened and deformed fingers and toes. Sadly,Gangahas already undergone this loss. However, treatment can prevent further deterioration.

‘Many people mistakenly think that leprosy was eradicated long ago. However, Hansen’s disease, as it is actually called, still exists with its devastating effects as we see in the suffering of this family.’

Experts point out that people remain indifferent to those most at risk from leprosy and other devastating afflictions. Relieving poverty should be the greatest priority. Then too, there is the overwhelming need to remove the stigma associated with leprosy. Finally, prejudice against women leaves them more vulnerable as their health is often neglected. In the face of such disadvantages, looking with compassion on faces marred by suffering can lead to positive change.

 

 
* Raising awareness * Equipping and mobilising others

FREEDOM FESTIVAL

Britain’s got talent and we want to tap into that, including you and your family – for a purpose. With 13 million people suffering the cruelty of slavery worldwide and a child sold every two minutes, CAST (Christian Anti-Slavery Today) already has a deserving cause. Then too, we’ve got talent, ranging from X Factor Finalist Raquel Thomas to more local performing artists, with a brilliant programme lined up. That’s just part of the Freedom Festival celebration, Saturday the 22nd of September, at the Birchwood Centre, Muswell Hill, London N10 3BG.

It’s a community thing so while youth may participate in a dance presentation or quiz, parents can be involved with our interactive showcase for computer use. Opportunities to take part include music, drama, puppetry, teens & 20’s fair fashion show, IT use, chocolate tasting, arts and crafts – all within the context of working toward freedom. Hands-on participation is encouraged. Our inclusiveness means we welcome everyone from the young to the old and those with special needs to join in. With free craft workshops, a community corner and gifts sales, there should be something on offer for every one.

But we need you to make it happen! In order to engage with the wider community for this vital cause, we need individuals like you to take part. Now is the time when we need to ensure that all ages who want to participate can look forward to the Freedom Festival. But we need a team of volunteers, ranging from people who can bake and bring cup cakes to those who can help move furniture – or make a good cuppa. More importantly, bring yourself along on the day to join in the celebration, a fun day out with a very positive aim.

You can make a difference! Please be in touch now. Take part to help change lives. Your positive impact can give this community fun day a meaningful purpose.

Please note that admission and activities are free but you are welcome to make a donation.

Performing artists contributed their outstanding talents

Community Vibrancy at Concert

This concert proved that audience participation can be as enjoyable as listening to great music. Saturday, the 7th of July, saw Children are the Future organising a fundraising concert for CAST (Christian Anti-Slavery Today). Performing artists contributed a variety of Gospel, rap and other popular music at theMuswellHillBaptistChurch inLondon. Yet the lively audience participation added tremendously to the vibrancy of the evening.

Humour was part of the programme as presenters engaged with all ages, and drew response and laughter. Stars and hosts encouraged members of the audience to clap, join in singing at times, and, above all, get involved with the dynamic atmosphere. Children also took part with dancing, a presentation and the Chocolate Challenge.

Yet the purpose of this effort was kept in mind as different speakers focussed on ways to combat the shocking reality of slavery today. ‘Most people think that slavery is largely a thing of the past. But we need to help them realise that we must do something about it now,’ explained Ola Omiteru who, together with his wife Bisi, is a founding member of CAST. He also thanked performing artists who had travelled and contributed to the evening as well as local residents. ‘The team of volunteers have worked hard. Also, churches have been supportive. We know that slaves may live without hope – but together we can bring them hope.’

 

Chocolate Challenge

Yes, we take chocolate seriously. That’s because most chocolate is produced by slave labour – including children.

CAST mobilises people to oppose this abuse of human rights and request ‘chocolate without slavery’. Also, we celebrate the victory of the industry agreeing to produce more ethically sourced (slavery-free) chocolate.

You can enjoy your chocolate and oppose slavery! That’s why we encourage everyone from youth to the elderly to get involved with a Chocolate Challenge. It means you can exchange and try recipes, getting together or preparing at home. Then, at the Chocolate Challenge itself, tasting and judging the scrumptious results adds to the fun. Proceeds can be used to continue the work of helping to free enslaved victims.

At the Children are the Future fundraising concert on the 7th of July in London, the Chocolate Challenge proved a highlight. People had prepared and brought chocolate goods so that proceeds could benefit CAST. The children/youth who contributed were especially appreciated by all. Sister and brother, Ruth and James, scooped the prize awards for their chocolate confections. Their prizes were tokens for a supermarket which they were assured would enable them to buy more ethically sourced chocolate.

 

One comment

  1. I Feel article, “Events 2012 | Christian Anti-Slavery Today” was in fact spot on!
    Icannot see eye to eye with u more! Finally seems like Idiscovered a website very well worth reading.

    Thanks a lot, Ruben

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>