Sunday 18 April 2021 – Church at Home (Tearfund focus)

Our service today is led by Isdale Anderson.

Virtual Sunday School

For JAM young adults, please contact for more details of online events.

Baptist Union prayer livestream
The monthly prayer livestream takes place next on Sunday 2 May, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.

Call to Worship

Opening Worship

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, we come in Your name to our heavenly Father this morning with joy that You indeed hear our cries. You are the Lord over all the creation You brought into being; but only human beings were created in Your image with the ability to engage in relationships with You. We acknowledge the sense of privilege in the direct access we have to You at this time. We have the wonderful assurance that You take delight in hearing the praises and prayers of us as Your children today. 

We acknowledge that human beings have been given the responsibility of caring for this planet we call our home. We confess that as a race we have not taken this responsibility as seriously as we should. Help us to be wise in our use of the earth’s natural resources and also to think how the choices we make may affect others in less economically privileged parts of the world. We bring our praises and prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

All Age Talk – Your Neighbour is Thirsty
Graeme McMeekin

Good morning, and thank you for your warm welcome! I’m Graeme McMeekin and here on behalf of Tearfund Scotland.  Before I begin, can I also say thank you to those of you who have faithfully supported us whether it be through prayer, financial giving, or committing to a legacy. Your support is so important to us and makes such a difference to lives around the world.

Can anyone tell me what this is…..

It is in fact a tap.  Do you see the string that comes down to the ground?  That acts as a foot pedal!  You press down on the string with your foot and it tilts the container, pouring out water on to your hands.

Do you see the bottle top?  Inside this is a bar of soap on a string.  The bottle top protects the soap from the occasional heavy rains.

If you go around various rural villages in Africa, then you may see this form of tap.  These particular pictures were taken in the south of a country called Uganda in East Africa.  Tearfund have been working with Dioceses of Kigezi and North Kigezi in order to enable access to clean water for villagers as well as to teach them skills for good hygiene such as making these simple taps.

Recently we have heard a lot of focus on how we wash our hands – that we should be washing them for over 20 seconds and singing ‘happy birthday’ twice as we do so.  However for many people around the world, they don’t have access to clean water in order to wash their hands and many don’t know that they can prevent diseases by washing their hands regularly with soap.  That is why this type of training is so important.


Let’s have a quick quiz.

  1. What percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered in water?
    71% – if you look at a globe, there is more than twice as much water than land.
  2. How much water should you drink in a day?
    1.2 – 2 litres – the recommended daily amount by the NHS is a minimum of 1.2 litres however in other countries, like the USA the recommendation is closer to 2 litres.  This equates to about 8 glasses a day.
  3. What percentage of our fresh water is on the surface (e.g. rivers and lakes)
    0.3% (the vast majority is found in glaciers, icecaps or underground) – Only a small percentage (about 0.3 percent) of the earth’s water is even usable by humans. The other 99.7 percent is in the oceans, soils, icecaps, and floating in the atmosphere. However, we don’t have access to much of the 0.3 percent because it is under the ground.  Most of our water comes from rivers but the majority of fresh water is actually found underground as soil moisture and in aquifers. This groundwater can feed the streams, which is why rivers keep flowing even when there has been no rain.   
  4. How many people lack a basic drinking water service?
    785 million people (11% of the global population) – Yes, 785 million, that is almost 1 in every 8 people have no basic drinking service.  That is more than the whole population of Europe including Russia!!!

With a staggering 785 million not having access to a basic drinking service, then people are going thirsty and not getting the basic 1.2 litres of drinking water.  Jesus talks about being thirsty.

In Matthew 25 Jesus says that when the Son of Man comes, he will separate people out and will say to the righteous.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:35-40)

Whenever we quench the thirst of someone who is thirsty then it is as if we are doing this for Jesus.  This is quite a responsibility but one that Tearfund takes seriously.  For many years, Tearfund has been working with our partners to provide clean, safe and accessible drinking water to communities.

One of the ways we do this is by helping people to access some of the water that is underground.  In Uganda, near where we saw the picture of the tap, you can find these small fields. Each of these small fields in the boundaries of the hedges, contains a spring where water naturally emerges from the ground.  Tearfund has worked with our partner to put drainage into these areas that capture the water and enables it to go into pipes that flow into the tank in the upper right hand side of this picture.

This water then flows down pipes to help people like Scovia and her children who are able to access water from the taps further down the hills.

Whilst we can get water from the ground, another way can be from catching the water that falls.  In Rwanda, rain can be unpredictable and when it does fall, it falls very quickly causing floods.  Tearfund have been able to work with our partner AE (African Enterprise) on a project funded by the Scottish Government in order to help families capture some of this water.

When it rains, the rain water is caught in these gutters and instead of flowing into a drain, like we would normally do in this country, the water flows into this large 10,000 litre tank.  This water is then filtered in the tank and can be used as drinking water or for the animals or irrigation so that they can grow crops.  We call this Rainwater harvesting and can be a real lifeline to communities.

Later in our service, I’ll be talking to the adults a bit more about water and particularly about the situation in Ethiopia.  For now we just want to pause for a moment and thank God for the water that he has provided and pray for those who don’t have as easy access to it as we do.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus,

We thank you for water.  We thank you that it is so useful in growing crops and refreshing us on a warm summer’s day.  We thank you for the work of Tearfund’s partners working with communities around the world to enable them to access clean, fresh water.

Lord, we pray for those people who have too much water that it floods their land making it difficult to farm and grow crops for their everyday needs.  We ask that you will strengthen them, comfort them and give them wisdom in how to use this abundance of water.  Likewise we pray for those that  don’t have access to the water that they so desperately need.  We also ask that you strengthen them, comfort them and draw people around them that will help them to access this much needed water. Amen

Song: ‘Give thanks to the Lord our God and King’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

Once more we acknowledge with gratitude the contribution to the life of our country of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the loyal and faithful husband of our Queen Elizabeth II. We thank You for giving the strength needed to his family yesterday for his funeral. We continue to remember them in our prayers asking for Your comfort for them at this time.

We are thankful, but also relieved to see the further easing of lockdown measures in our country. We deeply appreciate all those whose dedicated service to our country has enabled us to navigate safely to this point in time, and pray that further progress in the journey towards a restoration of a more familiar way of life can be our experience in the coming days.

We pray today for those managing rural estates and other popular tourist destinations who may face challenges managing large numbers of people visiting their areas in the coming weeks. We hope and pray that all of us as citizens can be trusted to care for and respect the natural environment and that the dreadful scenes of littering of the countryside last year will not be repeated this summer.   

As this week sees school pupils return full-time and many more shops and leisure facilities begin to reopen we pray for wisdom for those managing these times of change. We pray too for churches as leaders and congregations plan and prepare for restarting more in-person services and ministries in the coming weeks. 

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Al Nicoll (RAF Chaplain) – We pray for Al as he support chaplains from all three armed services who deploy on military operations across the world, particularly with the added complications caused by periods of quarantine before and after long periods away from loved ones.

CBC Community Church – We give thanks for CBC Community Church in Crookston, Glasgow and ask You to bless them as they meet as a fellowship, whether online or in-person and as they continue to be Your witnesses to their local community.

Crown Terrace BC, Aberdeen – We thank God that they have been able to establish a regular online presence with services and groups which support people within and out with the fellowship. We pray for God’s guidance for the future and where they should concentrate their resources to have the greatest impact for the Kingdom.

Culduthel Christian Centre – We give thanks that the church remains united despite the pressures of lockdown and that they have had opportunities to be creative in pastoral care, discipleship, worship and mission. We give thanks that they have seen new believers added and have many asking when they can be baptised. We ask in our prayers for them in rebuilding their youth and children’s ministry which has suffered from a lack of face to face ministry during lockdown

We also continue to pray for a restoration of health for other members of our congregation or members of their families…

We pray too for anyone else with ongoing health conditions and bring them before You now…

We pray for the people whom we cannot visit in residential care, and others who are at home on their own, together with others in our church family who are feeling the effects of increasing age and infirmity…

We continue to pray for those who have been bereaved and ask Your comfort for them …

We now pray silently for anyone else known to us who is in need of our prayers at this time…..

We pray also for our own needs…

We bring all these prayers before you in Jesus’ name,


Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘For the fruits of all creation, thanks be to God’

The Message
Graeme McMeekin Tearfund

My name is Graeme McMeekin and I am the Head of Tearfund Scotland.  I would like to tell you about the work of Tearfund before we go on any further.   Tearfund works primarily through the local church in order to unlock people’s potential to end poverty.  There are three main ways in which we do this.

The first is through Church and Community Transformation.  This is where we work with the local church in order to identify what the needs are in the local community, to work alongside the community in order to identify the needs, the responses and the potential within that community. Then the church works with the community to set up new programmes, new businesses and new entrepreneurial activities. Most of this work starts through Bible Studies – by doing Bible Studies with the local community that show what the needs are in the community, both spiritually and physically but also how God can use the little that they have already.

The second area of our work is our advocacy work.  Now advocacy work looks different in different places around the world.  In Scotland it might be in working alongside the Scottish Government or Westminster government in order to mitigate for and tackle climate change.  Climate change has a huge effect on those living in poverty around the world and we will find out more about that later on.  As we move towards COP26, the UN summit on climate change that is due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021, we want to work together to reduce some of the effects of climate change.

We also do advocacy work around the world.  In rural areas, it might be about lobbying the local government to build a road so that villagers can get food to the market.  Our advocacy work can look quite different in the various places.

Tearfund are also involved in humanitarian work.  Over the last few months it has focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic and how we respond with water, soap and hygiene work in various places. These include refugee camps such as Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh which is one of the world’s largest refugee camps or in places like Columbia where we are providing food programmes for those who cannot get out to work due to lockdown arrangements. We have also worked in places with Tsunamis and cyclones. We have recently been working in Ethiopia where a plague of locusts have been infesting the Eastern side of Africa over the last year.

[Ephraim Tsegay – Ethiopian Country Director]

Praise be to the Lord for who He is, His greatness and majesty!  The year 2020 has been a quite challenging time, as we all know it has been a very difficult year.  In Ethiopia it has been, as I call it, a cocktail of disasters, complex problems and climate-change induced crisis.  In Ethiopia we had recurring droughts, we had flash flooding, desert locust infestations combined with the effects of COVID-19 and also over 114 inter-community conflicts taking place since 2018 according to our Prime Minister reports.  All this have undermined the livelihoods of those living in Ethiopia.

These crises have resulted in pushing the most marginalised people, those with disabilities, the elderly, and children into the brink of collapse. With this compounding crisis, millions of people were internally displaced in Ethiopia.  Thousands of innocent people were killed.  Millions of people have also lost their lives and the cost of living has soared upwards. 

If you see the desert locust infestation, this is what you see in Afar region.  It was devastating and ravaged animal feed and crops that we have in Ethiopia.  We also have had the challenge of flooding in the same region.  It was recurring in just a couple of months.  Following also we have had the conflict in the Tigray region.  More than 4.5 million people are in need of emergency response/aid, including about 2.2 million in the Tigray region.  Also the number of cases of COVID-19 in Ethiopia is increasing.  It now [at the time of recording] has the second highest number of cases in Africa, following South Africa. 

All these affect the work we are doing in Ethiopia and it impacts the progress that we have made over all these years in our Church and Community Transformation approach and our Self-Help Groups, our economic sustainability and our emergency approach.  However we didn’t lose our hope.  Why didn’t we lose hope?  Because the Bible says that the excellence of power is from God and that whilst we may be troubled on every side, we may be despised and distressed, we are persecuted but not forsaken.  We are not cast down or destroyed because of the power of the Lord.

We also had some really encouraging things in Ethiopia that give us a source of hope.  Our source of hope was really the joy in communities, when we serve communities – when they have access to water.   It really was our joy, such as when we have installed solar-powered borehole pumps in the Afar region where people do not have access to clean water.  This is the time when we see drought affected communities, impacted by climate change, but we are able to bring clean water through solar-powered pumps in Afar.  This was also our source of joy in the last year.

Also, the sacrificial giving of our supporters, their commitment to serve communities affected by COVID-19 was also a source of hope last year.  We have had hope in the midst of the wilderness and this crisis of a cocktail of disasters in the last year, but there was hope for us.  There was hope because of His power, the work we see in communities, because also our supporters standing with us, because also of the teamwork and collaboration in Ethiopia.

The Bible in 2 Kings 3, talks about the three kings that went to fight together against Moab.  Similarly we in Ethiopia together, with colleagues in the UK and colleagues in the region, were able to work together and support many communities come out of abject poverty in Ethiopia.  That was also a source of hope.

Regularly prayer, having a mindset of prayer, like the harpist in the Bible.  In 2 Kings, before the word comes to Elijah, the harpist was there giving thanks to the Lord and praising the Lord.  He was in the middle of the wilderness, in the middle of a difficult situation where people really had no water for themselves or their animals, he was giving thanks.  The regular devotion, the prayer, the giving thanks was also our source of hope over the last year despite the cocktail of disasters in Ethiopia.  The Bible says from nothing to plenty of water.

So it was a challenging year with this crisis, this cocktail of disasters but praise be to the Lord that we are able to renew our hope because of who He is.

Thank you and God bless you.


Today I would read to you from Matthew 25, starting to read at verse 34.  This is the parable of the sheep and goats where Jesus is telling this parable of a king who separates the sheep from the goats and he goes on to say the following:

‘Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

37 ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

40 ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

It is quite an incredible passage whenever we read it – ‘whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me’. Whenever we meet people’s needs – their hunger, their thirst or visiting them in prison, whatever those needs might be it is as if we are doing it to Jesus himself.

One of the things that has struck us in that passage in particular is the references to thirst.  ‘I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’.

I live in Renfrew and work in Glasgow, both of which are on the banks of the Clyde river. 

The Clyde is one of the many rivers that are flowing throughout Scotland.  We have an abundance of water and it is often through the abundance of rain that comes.  We don’t really understand what thirst is.  We don’t really understand what thirst is because there is always access to that water.  For many of us it is just a few steps to our nearest tap and we can just turn the tap and get that water.

For many people around the world it is just not the same.  For 785 million people, that is about 1 in 8 of the world’s population, don’t have local access to clean water.  That means that they have to travel hours and hours for their basic needs.  Water for drinking and cooking needs, never mind the needs around cleaning that we have become so accustomed to because of coronavirus.  They just don’t have access to the water.

Some of our team in Tearfund Scotland travelled to Ethiopia just before the pandemic and the travel restrictions came into force.  They were in the North-East of the country in an area known as the Afar region.  They met someone called Orbisa and I would like you to watch this short film and hear a bit more about her story.



Your neighbour is thirsty, but there is a solution and there is hope.

For many people in the north of Ethiopia, the impact of climate change is devastating. They used to expect rain up to four months a year, but now it only falls in August. People do not have enough water to survive – it is an issue of life or death. And for families, like Orbisa’s, everyday life is a real struggle.


My name is Orbisa and I have nine children. Life is very challenging here, we have no food and are dependent on our livestock for our livelihood. Whenever there is no rainfall, our animals die as there is no grass or water. This affects our lives significantly. We will not get money or have milk to drink. We have no other option.

When it rains, I only need to walk five minutes to collect water, but these water sources are now dry. Every night, I walk for ten hours to collect water from a lake. The walk is dangerous, I can face wild animals such as hyenas and leopards. There are crocodiles in the lake.

The water I collect is not sufficient, I am only able to collect a third of what my family needs each day. We need most of it for drinking, but sometimes it is not enough and my family has to go to bed thirsty. I feel extremely sad whenever I cannot provide water for my children.

We used to get rain every four to five months, the area was very fertile and green. But now, the length of the dry season is increasing. It hasn’t rained for six months and I don’t know when it will rain next. It is God who knows when the rainfall will come. I worry about my children and my family. I worry about the small livestock which are remaining. I feel worried whenever I think about the future.

If we could get water access in our village, this would change things for me. This is the first and most important thing that would give me hope.


Orbisa’s story is, sadly, all too common. Forced to find any kind of water, more people are getting sick and their livestock – their only source of income – are dying due to lack of water. Because of climate change, the area has become even more dry and arid, like a desert. People are suffering and many are giving up hope.

But, there is good news. Tearfund is changing lives, by working with local partners to set up solar-powered wells that will provide clean water closer to communities. This will help to restore hope and give new life for all who live there.

[Tearfund Partner]

Afar is one of the hottest areas on our planet and rainfall is very meagre. In the last ten years, the droughts are now increasing from year to year. Households used to depend on the water from the river. During dry season, those streams dry up and then availability of water is very, very difficult. Tearfund has started now working with FSA, creating access to potable water, drilling boreholes and developing water supply systems near their village. Their lives are being changed, they are getting water and they are seeing the love of Jesus. When we provide water for these communities, we are changing the lives of the coming generations too. The young people – the children – their lives will change, definitely, when we provide water for them.


£12 per month, for a year, could provide 12 families with access to a life-saving water source, giving hope and a future to communities, like Orbisa’s. Please donate now:

Afar is in the north-east of Ethiopia and is a very hot, dry, remote place. It’s not a particularly well-visited place – even Ethiopians from other parts of the country don’t really like to go there.  Teachers and contractors are sent to Afar, stay for a few days, then leave. People tend not to stick around. Afar is home to nomadic people who keep goats and camels.

As I said, some of my colleagues from Tearfund Scotland spent some time in Afar and when they were there they were surprised at how everyone seemed so lethargic.  Everyone was just sitting there because they had just enough water to survive and no more.  It was here that they met Orbisa, and her family. They sat with Orbisa and she told them about her life.

In the past, if her family needed water, they would only have to go a short distance, a five minute walk to find a source of water, perhaps to a river, or a stream.  However, over the past five years or so, due to climate change the water has dried up. Throughout the region there are many riverbeds, the earth now cracked and dry where there would once have been water. The rainy season that could be expected for perhaps three or four months of the year is now down to just one short season.

Orbisa spoke about how they have been waiting year after year for things to go back to the way they were – but it never does. The situation is only getting worse, as the impact of climate change wreaks havoc on the environment and on the land. She is feeling the effects of climate change in the here and now.

Because of this, Orbisa now has to set off at around 4am, each day, on a round trip that takes up to ten hours in order to fetch water from the nearest water source. And this is common throughout the region of Afar now. She said that the water they are able to collect is often dirty, and they get sick because of it. She also has to contend with dangers in her journey to get the water, such as hyena and leopard attacks.

Orbisa said that she can carry nowhere near the amount of water for her family’s daily needs. This means she often has to put her kids to bed complaining that they are thirsty. She just has to tell them to wait until the next day. Because of all of this, Orbisa’s life is one of struggle, anxiety and hopelessness.

Here in Scotland, we don’t hear about Afar and what people are going through there. It’s not in the news or in the papers. Orbisa’s suffering continues and it goes unseen – along with many more families in Afar. As we go about our lives, in relative comfort, Orbisa continues to struggle, sitting in the desert heat.

I believe God wants to provide for Orbisa’s needs, both spiritually, and practically, like he did for Hagar.

When the team from Tearfund Scotland were in Orbisa’s village, the overwhelming feeling was that it was lifeless. There seemed to be a lack of joy. The children sat still, not playing, not laughing. There was an intensity in the air.

But, on their last day in Afar, they visited another village. One that had just received a new water source provided by Tearfund’s partner. As soon as they entered the village they could see, and hear, that things were very different here. Right in the middle of the village water flowed powerfully through a large tap, as women filled up barrel after barrel of fresh water chatting loudly together in groups. Children played in the misty overspill of water that bounced off the barrels. There was so much noise, so much laughter.

One of the Ethiopian colleagues turned to the team and said, ‘Where there is water, there is life.’

The good news is that in places of the greatest need, like Afar, we often see Jesus at work through his people or his church.

In Afar, Tearfund’s partner Friendship Support Association are now in the process of providing fresh, clean, abundant, local water for villages like Orbisa’s. So far they have dug two wells, but they want to dig many, many more. We too want to follow Jesus where the need is greatest, and we want to provide, and bless abundantly, like Jesus does.

Those words are so striking… where there is water, there is life.

That desperate situation that Orbisa and her children are in is heartbreaking, however, I am excited there is something we can do about it. I’d like to ask you, today, to consider your neighbours in Afar. Your unseen neighbours who are thirsty.

I know that £12 per month has the potential to enable Tearfund to provide abundant, clean, local water for 12 households a year in Afar. For the cost of a Marks & Spencer Saturday night meal for two, a family – like Orbisa’s – could have their lives completely turned around.

Tearfund are doing work like this to help people all around the world. If you feel led to join us in helping people, like Orbisa, you can do so simply by heading to where you will be able to give. We’d be really grateful for your support.

I would also like to ask you to pray. To pray with Tearfund as they follow Jesus where the need is greatest, and pray for Orbisa, and her family, that they will know the love of Jesus, the living water that only he can provide, but also the physical water that they so urgently need.

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Kyrie Eleison’

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.

Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’

Our closing song is: ‘Christ be in my Waking’

Closing Prayer:

Thank you Lord Jesus that we have received from You so many blessings that enrich our daily lives. We are deeply grateful for them. We recognise our responsibilities to care for and when we can support our brothers and sisters living in much more challenging circumstances in other parts of the world.  We thank You for mission organisations like Tearfund that accomplish so much in partnership with national believers in the two-thirds world. We pray Your blessing on them and other mission agencies serving in Your name. Help us also in our local context to live out our faith in ways that demonstrate Your love and care for others, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace