We asked a couple members of the We Are Tearfund community to share their thoughts and hopes for 2021. Find out what Jem and Chris are looking forward to the most this year.
What’s one lesson from 2020 that you’ll bring into 2021?
Jem: At the start of the first lockdown, how long ago that feels, I read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. I was deeply challenged about how I live my life, always putting too much on my plate and quite regularly getting to the end of the checklist feeling exhausted. I have spent the past 8 months trying to work from rest instead of resting from work, a lesson I hope to carry for the rest of my life.
Chris: I think lockdown in particular did away with the general business of life that’s easy to get distracted by. That’s not to say I didn’t spend a lot of time watching Netflix and playing Smash! But I found that last year gave me more opportunity to pause and reflect in every area of my life. I’m more aware of where I’m at in my relationships, my faith, my work, my dreams, and what direction I want to head towards in each. I’ll definitely take that pause and reflection forward into 2021.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution?
Jem: I think I must have lost my youth recently because I honestly can’t remember the last New Year’s resolution I made. I have recently begun to think about Time. Reading John Swinton’s Becoming Friends With Time I have been forced to reevaluate how much time I spend thinking about time. I hope for this year that I don’t get lost in the hoping for what is to come. Instead, I want to recognise the value of every minute of every day.
Chris: Last year my resolution was to say ‘no’ more. I was inspired by a friend who listened to a podcast called Sacred Pace, which was about finding a balance between complacency and burnout. I started off well, but probably found myself taking on too much again. I’m going to bring it back for 2021 and this time take a monthly audit of all that I’m up to. Hopefully that way I can keep to it this time!
As the vaccine rolls out and we aim to head towards semi-normality, what are you most looking forward to doing again in 2021?
Jem: Worshipping as a community is a cornerstone of my faith and my greatest hope for this year. I have missed the casual conversations on Sunday mornings, average coffee and Sainsbury’s doughnuts. In many ways, Zoom has helped construct a form of community, but it will never replace the feel of standing in the church and worshipping with my friends and Church family.
Chris: Ooh that’s a tough one… so many things to look forward to, but I guess a really simple one is just seeing friends again. Generally, I can’t wait for the ‘you’ll never know what happens next’ rollercoaster to end! Some sort of week to week consistency would be amazing.
How do you hope the world will be a more just place in 2021?
Jem: ‘The NHS is the closest thing British people have to a religion.’ This quote by Nigel Lawson is often cited when we look toward the efforts made by the health service in our country. My hope is that the British people vote to support what we all know to be an essential part of British society. There is an obvious elephant in the room for what I think the religion of this country might be. However, I believe it to be equally apparent that the NHS needs greater support.
Chris: I hope everyone realises that we’re all linked to each other as part of a global community, and that our daily choices have wider implications. The pandemic shows that what we do as individuals can have far reaching consequences, and I think the same goes for living sustainably and loving our neighbour.
What spark of change did you see last year that you hope continues to grow in 2021?
Jem: Over 2020 I have followed the remarkable progress of a charity called ExodusCry, who have been protesting and lobbying Canada, USA and the UK governments. They have named their campaign ‘Traffickinghub’, exposing Pornhub, and the largest pornography conglomerate MindGeek, for profiting off exploitation of women and children. ExodusCry’s Instagram feed is full of hope. This is one of many ways that justice has begun to roll like a river in this world, and I pray that it continues.
Chris: There was definitely a shift in consciousness in regards to Black Lives Matter. While I could be pessimistic and see it as just people doing performative activism while bored in lockdown, I think a lot of it was genuine. I had so many deep and honest conversations about it last year and I think people and organisations are being held more accountable, which is great. I’m hoping that continues in 2021 and we move close to true equality, not only ideologically, but also practically.
How do you hope to see the global church respond to poverty and injustice in 2021?
Jem: Having completed the Emerging Influencers course in mid-2020, I was inspired by the efforts of the people around me. A big group of young people all working to support those working with communities suffering from poverty. I hope for an increase in blessing in this ministry. I hope that more churches get involved. We begin to see the Church not only care for the liberation of spiritual oppression, but we also see the Church growing in its care for the liberation of material oppression.
Chris: I think in 2020 the church was faced with a crisis – we’ve made Sunday mornings the pinnacle of living out our faith for so long, that when it went, many didn’t know what to do. And while I do miss the face-to-face community of church, I think this is an opportunity for the church to look more outward. How can we be Jesus’ hands and feet during a pandemic? What if the church didn’t just invite people in, but went out to meet people’s needs instead? (while following social distancing rules, of course!)
What would be your message to world leaders for 2021?
Jem: First, work from rest, don’t rest from work. Second, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Open Doors regularly compile a list of the top 50 most dangerous countries for Christians to exercise their faith. Please consider reading through the list that shows how and why this persecution takes place. Finally, some biblical teaching is held by some, that leaders of countries are appointed by God. If there is a chance that this is possible, how are you honouring your appointment to your position?
Chris: This generation is watching. While I’m sure it’s not been easy for any leader to navigate the complexities of a pandemic, I’ve been disappointed by many who failed to meet the urgency of the situation or consider the most vulnerable. Our generation is one which won’t turn a blind eye to that anymore. We are raising voices against poverty and injustice, and if you want to be a leader who people follow, you’ll have to listen to those voices first.