• Small beginnings and the strength of standing up for what you believe 16 June 2017 | View comments

  • 11th June 2017 | By David Jolley

    For many people this has been a reassuring week as we have seen the bravery of Jeremy Corbyn rewarded by votes of support for him as an individual and the policies he stands for. He has had to resist criticism and mockery from members of the Labour Party who are representatives in Parliament, but has been resolutely applauded by many ordinary people, especially young people.

    At base his polices are those of unselfishness and concern for the greater good.

    I was listening today to a man who talked of the power that goes with total commitment. He started with the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12: 41-44, Luke 21: 1-4) – a poor woman giving what money she could to be used at the discretion of others for the benefit of people in need. Her total commitment and trust is held up as an example to be followed. The contrast is with the difficulty a rich man faces: Matthew 19:24.

    We are rich and protective of our own.

    It is so tempting to be carried by fashions of the day and the flattering words of advisors.

    My friend went on to point to Gladys Aylward as an example of a woman who had very little money, no claims to academic excellence and who was initially rejected when she asked to be allowed to work as a missionary in China: www.tlogical.net/bioaylward.htm.

    But she was convinced that she had a job to do. She saved her own money to pay for travel to China by the cheapest and most hazardous route – and she succeeded wonderfully.

    This is the week that we celebrate Methodist Homes for the Aged – MHA. Founded during the last months of the Second World War, it took vision and determination to persuade people to invest in a project to care for older people, when every penny was need to fight the enemy. Those pounds which were set aside have borne good fruit. MHA is a byword for excellent care at home, in sheltered accommodation and in residential homes www.mha.org.uk/. This is important for the 30,000 families directly benefitting from MHA care, but also through demonstrating that standards can be set and achieved for the welfare and happiness of residents – setting an example and encouraging others to do the same.

    On a much smaller scale we look forward to our meeting of Dementia Conversations this week. There will be much to talk about and it is good just to be together for a while. We are hardly so brave and fierce at Jeremy Corbyn or Gladys Aylward. We are not so totally focussed and committed as the widow who gave her all. Maybe this is weakness in me. The aim is to remain part of everyone’s ordinary life and not to become zealots or extremists, blind to the needs and arguments of others. We see the dangers which can follow from these. We see the hazards of devotion to a corporate image by choice or on demand. I hope we can continue to be ourselves, with strengths and weaknesses, with smiles as well as sadness. It does not mean we should not be brave. Standing against what we are supposed to believe, when our eyes and ears tell us it is not true, requires a degree of steel, clear thinking and trust in others of like mind.

    What I’d take from Mr Corbyn, Gladys Aylward and their like – is that to speak one’s view of truth is right. It will have its own reward.

    We do want to see conversations spreading.

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