The Bishop of Ramsbury, the Rt Rev Ed Condry, spent a night in a shepherd’s hut on the Wiltshire Downs yesterday to raise the profile of those around the world fleeing conflict and living in poverty and fear.
Taking just a few personal possessions with him the bishop had left his Warminster home on foot heading to the basic hut in a remote spot south of Kingston Deverill high on the Downs.
He spent the night in prayer and reflection before walking into Mere this morning for a special service at St Michael’s Church.
The walk came one month ahead of Christian Aid Week 2014 - May 11 to 17 - which will highlight the plight of the world’s 45 million people displaced by conflict and the work of Christian Aid partner organisations to help families live lives free from fear.
In March, Bishop Ed met Sarjon Toma from Christian Aid partner organisation REACH which works in war torn northern Iraq to tackle violence and build peace and heard his account of the far-reaching impacts of conflict.
Bishop Ed said: “It was appropriate in many ways that I spent the night in a shepherd’s hut.
"Bishops are called to be shepherds, serving and caring for the flock of God’s people and hearing Sarjon’s tales underlined my duty to do just that.
“High up on the Downs I was reminded of our vulnerability and the need for us to stand by our fellow men and women.
“It was deeply humbling to hear of what Sarjon and his community have lived through – chemical warfare, bombings, siege and violence.
"There is also a pain which our television cameras cannot show – of splintered communities, of domestic violence, of female genital mutilation.
“Despite this backdrop Sarjon was inspired from an early age to care for others in need and he and his organisation is living out that vision in challenging circumstances.
“The challenge to us here in Wiltshire is to not feel it is too distant from that vulnerability of others and to make a difference. We can, and indeed I feel we must.”
As well as providing life-saving emergency supplies such as food, water, medical care and shelter to those who are caught up in, or displaced by fighting, Christian Aid partners also offer longer-term support to rebuild shattered lives; providing counselling to those affected by trauma, helping people who have lost everything to earn a living again and enabling communities to build homes that will allow families to feel safe.
Bishop Ed said: “My hope and prayers as I undertake the walk will be for peace and reconciliation in those countries wracked by war and for people such as those in Sarjon’s community to receive support so that they are no longer powerless but have the tools to look to the future with hope.
"My prayer too is that people across Wiltshire will walk alongside these communities and support Christian Aid Week this year.”
For more information on Christian Aid Week visit www.caweek.org