Christian Gospel transforms says Norwich aid worker
The power of the Christian Gospel to transform lives around the world is a driving force in the work of Norwich-based humanitarian and aid worker Eldred Willey. Mike Wiltshire reports.
Years of experience in humanitarian and Christian work in Europe, Africa and Asia has been ‘an enormous privilege’, says Eldred, whose work with relief organisations has taken him to some of the neediest parts of the world.
In 2015 he joined a team from international relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse in Nepal, where a deadly earthquake affected more than eight million people, with 2.8 million displaced and 3.5 million needing food assistance. More than 9,000 people died and 500,000 homes were destroyed.
When he was in Nepal, Eldred said: “We were distributing tarpaulin to provide shelter from the imminent monsoon rains, as well as blankets, as nights at this altitude are shiveringly cold. We also gave out kitchen kits to replace the utensils, crockery and cutlery which all too often had been buried under rubble.
“In addition we were running a program to distribute Plumpy’Doz food supplement for children. People had food stored up for the monsoon rains, but much of this was lost when houses collapsed.
“It was a privilege to connect with the people of Nepal in their moment of tragedy, and to express some of the great love which Christ bears towards them,” he said.
Eldred, who grew up in a Christian home in Canterbury, was strongly influenced by the love of Christ at the age of 20. He gained a degree in theology and also developed his love for languages - in particular, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German.
Eldred and his London-born wife, Kathi, have a daughter, Nadia Rose. Eldred’s travels in crisis situations have presented big challenges to him and the family. He recalls his five months’ work in Africa in 2013, serving with Samaritan’s Purse, when he saw first-hand “the impact of the Gospel among the Congolese people” where so many have experienced extreme violence and massive population displacement.
Eldred speaks of “the transforming power of the Gospel among Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims – as well as at home here in the UK.”
For this reason, he has been working more closely with the Billy Graham Association in the past year, helping to promote a national initiative to equip local churches to proclaim the Gospel through the ‘My Hope’ video film project. This enables Christians to share the gospel through the messages of Billy and his son, Franklin Graham.
Eldred also helps to present free seminars on 'Sharing Hope in Crisis' - the next one in Norfolk will be at Thrigby Mill on Saturday, December 2.
In his days of worldwide ministry, Billy Graham – who, despite years of ill health, will be 99 in November – spoke to more than 215 million people in 183 countries, and countless millions more via TV and film.
In 1984, Billy Graham made a powerful impact on the city of Norwich when he preached to 63,000 people at Carrow Road. There were 3,700 recorded decisions for Christ at that meeting, and many local people continue to date their ‘Christian journey’ from that event 33 years ago.
Pictured, above, is the earthquake devastation in Nepal and, top, the distribution of emergency supplies by Samaritan’s Purse personnel in Gatlang aided by Eldred Willey (on right). Pictures courtesy of Samaritan's Purse.