‘…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.’ (Romans 5:3-5)
Perseverance is underrated. It’s not glamorous, it doesn’t look impressive and it doesn’t take great skill. Most of the time, perseverance just means hard work, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that it doesn’t get people excited. And yet, extraordinary things can be achieved, simply by keeping on putting one foot in front of the other. Just ask Phil Edwards. Last month, Phil completed an incredible 643-mile trek along the South West Coast Path, raising over £5,000 for BCT and our partners in the process. Phil will tell you that, although he doesn’t for a minute regret taking on the challenge, there were some days when fierce winds, pouring rain, fatigue and sore knees made him utterly miserable. But he kept going. And the outcome speaks for itself.
The SCWA steering group could tell you a similar story. In their case, the challenge hasn’t been physical. Persevering in tackling witchcraft accusations against children and in challenging the beliefs and attitudes that create these accusations has been an enormous task – and hugely draining and discouraging at times. But recently, SCWA has seen amazing progress. After four years of preparation, the UN has announced a resolution condemning child witch accusations and associated abuse. At last, the governments of nations where accusations of witchcraft against children are blithely accepted will be held to account. Just a month later, SCWA ended its long wait for an opportunity to work in Nigeria – a hotbed of witchcraft-related abuse – helping to train a group of local church leaders, hungry for insight and ready to take action. There is still a long road ahead for SCWA but, at last, they have reached some significant milestones.
Perseverance is worth it. It’s not easy, it’s not exciting and it’s not usually fun. But it will take us to some fantastic places. And on the way, it will make us more like Jesus.