2020 was an extraordinary year.

It brought unforeseen change and devastation, so much of which was out of our control. All we could control was how we responded, and while there are some things we might want to leave behind in 2020, the fierce empathy and compassion that arose in the face of a global emergency is not one of them.

Because in a year of unforeseen challenges, including economic uncertainty, our co-labourers in Christ chose not to retreat from the mandate to love the vulnerable. YOU leaned in further than ever before.

In 2020, you were more generous than you have ever been in the 60-year long history of Baptist World Aid.

From where I stand, that is a triumph of empathy and solidarity.

Until COVID-19, disasters like this had always been in the news, not our lives. Suddenly, we were facing a global pandemic, that is, the same crisis as our global neighbours.
You shared your stories about the loneliness of isolation, the challenges for churches and communities, your fear for vulnerable friends and family, the pain of missed weddings, funerals, births, and deaths. You shared all of this over the phone as you called in to give what you could to help someone else.

Yes, last year we all had to grapple with the uncomfortable truth that if this is how hard COVID is for us, imagine what it’s like for communities living in poverty. We allowed ourselves to wonder: What might this pandemic be like without social safety nets, without access to adequate healthcare or hygiene, where the loss of livelihood means that our children go without food?

It’s unjust that privilege shields some people, where poverty exposes others. All we can do with this reality is act where we can to rectify it. And when I look back on 2020, I see a story of God’s people who made the choice to do just that, who chose to be empathetic instead of insular, who chose to love in the face of fear.

I certainly hope we won’t leave that behind!

Yes, 2020 was a year unlike any other, and it was a powerful testimony as to what we can achieve together when we understand our call to be in solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable, just like Jesus. So, what if we continue the work of ending poverty and injustice with the same passion this year, and the next, and the one after?

With experts predicting that the next few years will be filled with more humanitarian crises due to COVID, we can’t afford not to continue with this momentum. We know that God is close to the poor and the marginalised – He is already at work in these communities. How can we join him in completing his restorative work?

What could we achieve if this journey was not separate to our daily life, but an important part of it? Sam reflects on this question next week.

Our capacity for empathy and solidarity seems bigger than ever now.

Imagine what we can achieve together in 2021.