The main work of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is identifying and publicising cases of persecution wherever they occur around the world. ACN is also heavily involved in supporting persecuted people and communities.
There is another, albeit smaller, aspect of ACNs work. ACN also supports projects aimed at encouraging inter-faith dialogue, community and, where appropriate, reconciliation. For example:
The Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian relations run courses for teachers, the military and other opinion formers with the aim of dispelling misconceptions about the Christian faith.
The Good Shepherd Sisters in Lebanon help Syrian refugees of any – or no – faith with food parcels, blankets and medical care.
Fr. Iyad Twal, parish priest of Beit Sahour in Bethlehem, organises annual summer camps for 500 Catholic and Orthodox youngsters. Activities include sports, catechesis and helping the elderly, but the key aim is to build and strengthen the relationship between the faiths.
In the Philippines Fr. Sebastion Mindanao needs a body guard. He needs the body guard because his work of promoting dialogue and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims is dangerous. However, it is producing dividends: one senior Muslim took part in one of Fr. Sebastion’s courses and now supports the initiative which has grown to become the largest forum in the entire region.
This month forgive those who have harmed you and then pray that those injured by persecution will forgive their persecutors rather than taking revenge and so break the cycle of never ending violence.
Tim Stapenhurst (ACN representative)