Harvest Thanksgiving Songs of Praise


Harvest Thanksgiving

As the programme celebrates harvest, Claire McCollum visits Kenya. There's music from Stuart Townend and some traditional harvest hymns.


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On Songs of Praise this week, we're celebrating harvest

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as we give thanks for all that God has provided throughout the year.

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And I've come to Kenya to find out how the humble

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Irish potato is transforming lives.

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Also on today's programme, we will be meeting the men

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who risk their lives bringing food to our tables.

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We take to the streets with the group who make sure that

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none of the harvest goes to waste.

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There's music from Stuart Townend,

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and our choirs will be singing some great harvest hymns.

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Welcome to Songs of Praise, and welcome to Kenya.

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Straddling the Equator,

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Kenya is home to almost 50,000,000 people.

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Although it has the strongest economy in central Africa,

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Kenya is still a developing country

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and four out of every ten people live in absolute poverty.

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Agriculture dominates Kenyan life.

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Despite only one-fifth of the land being suitable for growing,

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80% of the workforce are involved in farming or food processing.

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Because of its warm climate, crops can be grown throughout the year.

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Across the country, there are millions of small farms

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where families grow food, mainly to feed themselves.

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The people of Kenya have many reasons

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to give thanks for a good harvest.

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We'll have lots more from Kenya throughout the programme,

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but we'll start with the first of our harvest thanksgiving hymns.

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Our choirs have gathered in St Patrick's Church in Jordanstown,

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and they're singing that harvest favourite,

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We Plough The Fields And Scatter.

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Like most African countries,

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Kenya struggles to produce enough food to feed its growing population.

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Potatoes, or Irish potatoes, as they're known in Kenya,

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are an important crop.

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In the last decades, a combination of poor farming techniques and

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climate change has badly affected the size of the potato harvest.

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Derek is working with Kenyan farmers to help change that.

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Derek, what brought you, an Irish potato farmer, here to Kenya?

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I have to say that it was a very strong sense of call,

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a conviction from God to, I suppose, come and help others

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who are a lot of less well off than ourselves.

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I had a feeling that the skills and abilities I had learned through

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farming at home could be of use to small-scale farmers here in Kenya.

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Just how important are potatoes to the lives of Kenyan people?

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The potato is such a wonderful food source,

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it's very rich in vitamins and minerals.

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They're the second most important food crop in Kenya.

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Having a good crop of potatoes is the difference between your family

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living in full nutrition, or living with malnutrition.

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So, what has caused the potato harvest to get smaller?

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Potato farmers in Kenya could not get access to quality,

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certified seed, and so they were planting the same crop

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that they harvested over and over again.

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The problem there is that you get a build-up of diseases within

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the crop itself, and it's passed on from one generation to the next.

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If you keep multiplying generation after generation,

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the yield will drop enormously.

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Working with other farming experts, Derek and his colleagues

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adopted a back to basics approach.

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They started by growing high-quality seed potatoes.

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As we started to multiply quality seed and give that to farmers,

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immediately, without anything else, their yield started to double,

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and sometimes triple.

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Considering that it's had no rain,

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it's absolutely amazing what you have here.

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When we started to teach them about our methods

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and planting methods, spacing, where to apply the fertiliser,

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how to manage the crop, their production went up phenomenally.

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Isabella Paul was one of the first farmers to benefit

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from Derek's guidance.

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Since the death of her husband,

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Isabella has been responsible for feeding her extended family.

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What difference has meeting Derek made to your life, Isabella?

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Isabella has been involved with the scheme for several seasons,

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with amazing results.

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Wow. That's huge!

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With an abundant crop, Isabella can now sell her extra potatoes,

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which benefits the entire family.

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Isabella's story is so good to hear

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because it shows that all of the work we have put in is making an impact.

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It's transforming lives,

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it's putting more food on the table for Kenyan people,

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and that for me as a farmer from Ireland is a great satisfaction.

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# Lord, we stand in the shallows of all you have given

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# Grateful for mercy, yet hungry for more

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# For the power of grace to go out from this place

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# To the ends of the Earth

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# We have praised you with passion and worshipped in wonder

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# Thrilled by your spirit and fed by your word

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# Now to fully delight in the riches of Christ

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# We must go to the world

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# For you live in the streets of the city

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# You stand with the weak and the needy

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# You walk with homeless and hungry and poor

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# And your hands are the hands I am lifting

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# Your voice is the life I am living

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# Your love longs to meet them

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# But how will they know

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# Unless I am willing to go?

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# Lord, where are you hungry and where are you thirsty

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# Naked, imprisoned, with no-one to care?

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# To give of our best to the poor and oppressed

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# Is to give back to you

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# So cause us to see with the eyes of the Saviour

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# Give us a heart that will love as you love

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# Courageous compassion in words and in action

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# Brings hope to the world

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# For you live in the streets of the city

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# You stand with the weak and the needy

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# You walk with homeless and hungry and poor

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# And your hands are the hands I am lifting

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# Your voice is the life I am living

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# Your love longs to meet them but how will they know

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# That you live in the streets of the city

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# You stand with the weak and the needy

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# You walk with the homeless, the hungry and poor

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# And your hands are the hands I am lifting

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# Your voice is the life I am living

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# Without us there's no other way they will know

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# So send me, I'm ready to go. #

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In the last century,

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the invention of the tractor has transformed farming.

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Like me, this tractor has travelled quite a distance to get

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over here to Kenya, and it bears the name of an Irishman who is

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known across the world as the creator of the modern tractor.

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Harry Ferguson grew up in a Christian family

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on a farm in Northern Ireland.

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One of 11 children, he knew just how hard

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work on a farm could be during the early years of the 20th century.

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He was a born engineer and inventor.

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Spurred on by his childhood memories,

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Harry turned his inherited evangelical zeal

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to making life easier for farmers everywhere.

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He wanted to modernise farming and to make food affordable for all.

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Early versions of the tractor were bulky and cumbersome.

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Harry worked to design a smaller, lighter tractor and plough

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that could work together as one unit.

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Using this Ferguson system, the tractor quickly replaced the horse,

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and became an essential item on the farm.

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Working with other partners, Harry Ferguson's tractors

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were mass produced and shipped across the globe.

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Harry died in 1960, but his name lives on.

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Today, farmers around the world are thankful for the enormous

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contribution that one Irish engineering genius

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made to the world of agriculture.

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And giving thanks is the message of our next hymn,

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as our choir sing, Now Thank We All Our God.

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No matter where you live in the UK,

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you are never too far from a fishing port.

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Every day, tens of thousands of fishermen and women

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leave harbour to reap the harvest of the seas.

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The Fisherman's Mission works to meet the physical

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and spiritual needs of these communities.

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Maurice Lake works around the fishing ports in Ireland.

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What is life like for these men?

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It's a job that they do because it's in their blood.

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In the good times, it's very, very good.

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It can be lucrative, but there are difficulties within fishing -

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quotas, cost of fuel, it's never easy.

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There's always another brick wall for them to face.

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The frustration is going out, spending a fortune on fuel,

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being out all week, wages to pay,

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all the bills coming in and no fish caught.

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When, as happened at the beginning of last winter,

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horrendous weather, they're unable to get out and fish,

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and not just for days, but for weeks, going into months, and their

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livelihoods are completely in danger, their families were suffering.

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The Fisherman's Mission were there to help.

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Last year, the Mission was part of a team that developed

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and distributed a new life jacket which fishermen would find

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comfortable to wear when working.

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You can take over here, Maurice.

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For one skipper, his life jacket arrived just in time.

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It was a lovely, calm morning, a pleasure to be at sea.

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But, as the day progressed,

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the sea got rougher and rougher.

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There was some water in the boat.

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During the next few minutes, the water level was increasing.

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Just as we were sending out the Mayday, the boat capsized

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and I found myself in the water.

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I always believed that if the boat was ever going to sink,

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I could sit and relax and wait on the lifeboat coming to get me,

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but it didn't happen like that. Boats sink fast.

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After about an hour, I was tired and starting to get cold.

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Silly things were coming into my head, you know,

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like I'm supposed to be getting married soon,

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who's going to walk my dog?

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I just thought, you know, this is the end.

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I felt a great calmness and peace,

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and basically just gave myself up to the sea.

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I felt someone grab me,

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and it was the inshore lifeboat crew. They got me into the lifeboat

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and were able to give me the medical attention that I needed.

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Bush that button and it sends the distress through to the coastguard.

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The life jacket was given to me by Maurice Lake from the Fisherman's Mission.

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Without it, I would have drowned in a few minutes.

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I'd only just started wearing it, to be honest.

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I'd never worn a life jacket in my life before.

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If I hadn't been wearing it, I guess I wouldn't be talking to you today.

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What is the spiritual aspect of the Fisherman's Mission?

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I think it's meeting individuals at their point of need.

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Something that I've learnt in the ups and downs in my life,

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is not to look at an individual and judge them

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by the circumstance you see them in, but more to take off your own

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metaphorical blinkers, broaden your view,

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stand in their shoes.

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And your own faith, how important is that in the role that you play?

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It's absolute.

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I feel in some small way that I am actually doing

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what God wants me to do.

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In some small way, we are fulfilling his purpose in our lives.

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# I'm gonna make it

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# He's already said that I would

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# I'll keep on trusting

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# That he's working everything for my good

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# He walks beside me

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# And heaven is in my view

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# Oh-oh

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# I'm gonna make it through

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# In spite of the good intentions I've had

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# Sometimes my strength can fade

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# Though I have tried the very best that I could

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# My weaknesses prevail

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# But then I remember the promise He made

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# That in my weakness, he is strong

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# And that's when I know whatever may come

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# His steady hand will lead me on

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# And on and on

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# I'm gonna make it

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# He's already said that I would

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# I'll keep on trusting

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# That he's working everything for my good

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# He walks beside me

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# And Heaven is in my view

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# Oh-oh

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# I'm going to make it

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# I'm gonna make it through. #

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# This is the call from the mountain of God

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# Tambira, tambira

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# To come with thanksgiving and joy in our hearts

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# Tambira, tambira

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# Let's fill the streets with love

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# And shake this world alive with singing

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# The celebration's now

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# For our time to dance has come

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# Tambira, Jehovah

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# Tambira, tambira

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# Tambira, Jehovah. #

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Aren't they brilliant?

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The children at this girls' school

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certainly know how to celebrate harvest.

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Our next hymn is perhaps the best-known

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of all the great harvest hymns.

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Written by Cecil Frances Alexander, All Things Bright And Beautiful.

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This is the small town of Hollywood in Northern Ireland.

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It's early Saturday evening

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and the shops are just about to wrap up for the weekend.

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Time for a local church group to spring into action,

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making sure that none of God's harvest goes to waste.

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Hi, are you all right?

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The ministry is called Restore Food Ministry.

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We get food from bakeries

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and coffee shops in the town - food that they have not been able to sell

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on the Saturday, which would be wasted.

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We collect that and then distribute it around the families.

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Why does the Church get involved in this work?

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We want to meet people's practical needs,

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but more importantly, we want to demonstrate God's love

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and our Church mission statement or strapline

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is "Making Jesus Known", and we feel through this

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that we can get alongside folks and show God's love to them.

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So they leave the goods here, ready to go, brilliant.

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Initially, some people are puzzled as to why

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we'd be arriving from church and giving them food,

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but once people realise we're being practical when people are in need,

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I think people see us then as genuine friends, which is nice.

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If we can help to make your week a bit easier by sharing God's love

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in a practical way, that's what we're about.

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OK, Alistair, thank you.

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My daughter said to me early on,

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"Doesn't it make you feel good to do that?"

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I said, "No, it makes me feel really ungrateful".

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When I go to the shops I have a Visa card and I have a job.

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If I want food, I have got it.

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I've also got family who'd do anything for me,

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and I'm now aware that there are people for whom that is not the case,

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and they're not miles away from me, they're actually around the corner.

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Why should the Church get involved in a ministry like this?

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Because church is not just about what we believe.

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When Christ was on the Earth he did not just talk about what he believed,

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he showed his love to people in practical ways,

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and we need to be the mirror of that.

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It's 2,000 years on, but we're still trying to be practical, as He was.

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He was either healing people or providing for them,

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and I think we need to be the same.

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It's lovely to walk into peoples lives,

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see these families come along to church services,

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come along to some of the events that we run,

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and God spoke to me through his word,

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which just talks about not to grow weary in doing good

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because in my time you will reap the harvest.

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God the Father who created the world,

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give you grace to be wise stewards of his creation.

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God the Son, who redeemed the world,

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inspire you to go out as labourers into his harvest.

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God the Holy Spirit, whose breath fills the whole creation.

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Help you to bear his fruits of love and joy and peace.

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And the blessing of God Almighty the Father,

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the Son and the Holy Spirit,

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be with you, and with all whom you love, this day and always.

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Amen.

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Well, that's it for this harvest edition of Songs of Praise.

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We'll leave you now with that stirring hymn of Thanksgiving,

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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.

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From Kenya, see you soon.

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Next week, Diane explores exciting initiatives

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churches are adopting to invite people in.

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She'll meet pioneer of the Alpha Course, Reverend Nicky Gumbel,

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and find out how a summer festival led to a fresh expression of church.

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And there are captivating praise and worship songs from around the UK.

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