The Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2017 is raising money to support refugees at home and abroad. Throughout Lent we are featuring forty stories of Christians in our diocese who are motivated by their faith to live differently, for the common good.
Donna Wensley is involved with Portishead Church of England and is currently helping run the holiday club there. After reading about the plight of a young girl with a life-limiting illness in the town, Donna felt she must do something to help the family. Donna’s six-year-old daughter Lucy, a pupil at Trinity Anglican Methodist School, knew just what they should do. This is their story.
I read about Lottie’s illness in an article written by her mum and it had such an impact. I was moved to tears. Lottie is four years old and her condition means she won’t live until 5 and there seems nothing that anyone can do. I didn’t know it then but her family live just around the corner from us.
As I sat there crying, wondering how I might help, Lucy, my six year old asked me what the matter was. I explained in a way that a six year old might understand. Straight away she said, “We’ve got to help them. We’ll sell sweets.” Her conviction matched mine.
So we started with a sweet sale, Lucy made sweet cones and posters and sold them in the local park, making a modest profit which we gave to Lottie’s family.
Next, as I approached my 30th birthday, I took on a challenge of 30 days of fitness with a different exercise on each of the 30 days running up to my birthday. Instead of presents I asked for sponsorship and donations.
Earlier this year my husband and I took the children, Lucy, and Maisie (4) to see children’s entertainer, Nutty Noah. Lucy said, “Mummy, we should do a Nutty Noah show for Lottie.” She started work straight away. We helped her with emails to arrange and promote the event – we’ve been her PAs – and she made tickets and posters. The performance took place on Monday and over 120 people came, raising over £400 for Lottie. Lucy is over the moon.
Everyone we speak to in the community wants to help – it’s been a wonderful response, which I know means a lot to Lottie and her mum. Although Lottie hasn’t spoken for a while, when we last went to visit, Lucy got a ‘hello’ from her which made her day as Lucy thinks very highly of Lottie.
I’m very proud of my little girl and her big heart, who when asked why she wants to help says, “If you don’t help people Mummy, no-one helps anyone.” That’s not a bad lesson for all of us. And I think it shows that small ideas can make a big difference, not just in terms of the fundraising which is a big help for all the equipment that the Lottie now needs, but emotionally for Lottie’s family, knowing that their neighbours and community love and care for them.
I haven’t really thought too much about whether our actions are down to my faith. All I know is that from the moment I read that article, something has compelled Lucy and I to help and the feeling is so strong that we can’t ignore it.
Bible verse: John 6:9
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
These words come from the well-known story of the feeding of the 5000.
We assume the boy offered his lunch, or at least was willing to give it away. There are other Bible stories of children playing a part in God’s transformative work – the little girl in the story of Naaman the leper, for example – and usually we don’t know their names.
In this case we do know the name of a little girl who was inspired by Bible stories and Christian values to help Lottie. Like the boy in the story, she wasn’t put off by the size of the challenge confronting her – she just saw the need and the possibility and gave what she had – a good idea, creativity and a lot of hard work. Children often see what adults don’t see, and God can and does use them – his beloved little ones – to do remarkable things.
- Pray today for Lottie and her family and all who are facing similar situations.
- Give to any charity that supports life-limited children and their families
- Donate to the Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2017 in support of refugees in Somerset and in Greece. Donate online or text BISH17 and the amount you want to donate to 70070 e.g. text BISH17 £10 to donate £10.