Restoring hope

Today we acknowledge the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. Rhythms and Tearfund are lucky enough to share an office with the amazing charity, Restored, a Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women. Although they are a UK based charity, they mobilise Christian communities in Zimbabwe, India, and Latin America with the aim of reducing violence against women on an international level, not just within our own country. We want to spend this day celebrating their work and raising awareness of the issues they address.

Women who have been abused can be thought of as a feminist issue, not to be worried about by the masses, but what we, as a society, fail to realise, is that it’s a human issue. Violence against women (VAW) is something we should all be concerned with and yet we often push it aside, Restored works around the belief that the church should be at the forefront of protecting these women, and encouraging men to stand alongside them, rather than against them. The Church has massive influence and power, so if we can teach them how to act against the violence then we could be witnesses to massive social change. It is also a place where people come for care and support, so there’s a lot of working going on to empower churches with the knowledge and ability to aid the women who come to them in need.

Lucy Gardner says “My time as an intern at Restored so far has opened my eyes to how big the issue of violence against women is. One in three women will experience abuse. I struggle to get my head around that astonishing figure. God is crying out for compassion from us to bring about justice for those being affected. This verse in Isaiah for me, demonstrates a necessary response to what can be an extremely difficult issue to grapple with.

Isaiah 61:3 ‘…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’. God calls us all to look after one another, to ‘love thy neighbour’, it’s time for the church to take action against such a widespread issue.

Restored is currently taking part in an international campaign, 16 days of activism – launching today (25 November), and ending on 10 December – International Human Rights Day. During the 16 days they’ll be inviting followers to engage with the issue through different actions, participating prayerfully, as well as sharing videos and messages around the subject of violence against women. To join in you can follow them at Restored Relationships on Facebook or @Rest0red on Twitter.

Another of their big campaigns is First Man Standing, where they address the question of: ‘Where are the men?’ If we’re to affect change, then the actions and attitude of men have to change. Men are so often in a position of power, with 97 per cent of CEOs being male (Forbes Global 2014), as well six out of seven church leaders, so if they were all to stand up against VAW then so many lives could be saved. They encourage men to do three things:

Respect the women around them

Challenge each other to speak out about ending violence and negative attitudes towards women

Join the cause and make a personal pledge by joining the FMS list

Overall the biggest need is to raise awareness, to break the cycle of shame and stigma, to encourage men and women to speak out so that those who are abused can feel they are heard and understood.

If you’re interested in getting involved, there are three main ways you can do this. Firstly, pray: this is an issue that requires a spiritual response as well as a practical one. Secondly you can give: they are a small but mighty organisation, in order to keep their work going they need financial support. Thirdly you can subscribe to their emails to find out what they’re up to on a regular basis and how you get involved in events and campaigns. To find out more you can also email them at info@restoredrelationships.org.

For actions to do each day throughout the campaign check out their calendar

Image by Global Panorama via Flickr/Creative Commons

Article collaborated by Fiona Jackson and Lucy Gardner

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