The film ‘Dunkirk’ is presently packing people into our cinemas.
This box-office hit tells the famous story of the Dunkirk evacuation in May of 1940.
More than 330,000 people were picked up from the French beach using the hastily assembled fleet of ‘little ships.’
The film ignores the London-based military strategists and tells the story through the experience of a very few individuals.
A ‘big story’ is made up of countless smaller individual stories.
Each small story involves the lives, actions and emotions of individual people and takes account of their personal circumstances.
One man’s heroic story of bringing a few men to safety is a tiny fragment of a bigger picture.
He is not a military full-timer, or even a reservist, but he is resolved to play his part and contribute to what Winston Churchill later described as ‘a miracle.’
Sometimes we cannot give ourselves full-time to working for something important, no matter how strongly we feel about it.
All we can do is play a very small part, perhaps by casting a vote or signing a petition, maybe by writing a letter or giving a few pounds.
That engagement with a cause may be brief and modest, but it matters because it contributes to a bigger story.
I was recently reminded of this by a charity that invites people to give what they want to an individual with a particular need. ‘Jane,’ for example, who cannot afford shoes for her daughter, can receive the cost
from perhaps three donors each giving what they can afford.
‘John,’ homeless until last week, has moved into a flat and needs curtains for his bedroom.
A little bit of each individual’s story is on-line and you can respond if you wish. It doesn’t wipe out poverty, but does allow individual people to make a real difference to the lives and wellbeing of others.
As with the small ships, it is the participation of many that builds the big story.
To find out more about the charity, head to acts435.org.uk. You can find out how they work, give to others and even join the team seeking to make a big difference one small step at a time.
They say, 'When so many people need so much help, giving can sometimes feel hit and miss, and choosing between charities can be hard. Acts 435 puts people who can give in touch with people who are in need with the Church as the physical, face-to-face forum to enable virtual, online giving. Many churches run their own charity or together with other churches have set up a charity helping people in need. Acts 435 does work through Christian charities as well as churches of all denominations and independent churches.'
Church: local and online.
In March of 2014 the Church of England launched @OurCofE, an initiative which saw a different person in the Church of England take over a Twitter account for a week and share their area of ministry. The aim of the account was to give people an insight into all the work that goes on into the day to day running of a church community, telling the story of the Church of England through the eyes of its people, providing an insight into faith in action. There's been an arts chaplain in Gateshead, a nun in Portsmouth and a vicar staffing the church tent at Glastonbury Festival (to name just a few!). The account has also demystified some of the major calendar events in the year, such as how churches mark Ash Wednesday or Ascension Day, pulling together the photos churches have tweeted at their events to explain what these days mean to Christians. You can follow this on twitter: @c_of_e