It’s been a week since the terrible murder of Nahid Al-Manea in Colchester and several people have asked me in the past week, ‘what is Colchester coming to?’ We are only a few months on from the death of James Attfield and these two horrific murders in a short period of time have left many local people feeling shocked and afraid.
So how should people feel about living in Colchester at the moment? The police are advising people ‘not to walk alone in secluded places’ and whilst I think we should be sensible and follow their advice I also believe that we should not be afraid. Both of these tragic killings have come in remote places at the beginning or end of the day when there are fewer people around. If we follow police advice, then there is little reason for us to live our lives in fear.
Fear is destructive. If we let it take root in our lives and make it our main focus then we will be miserable. If we give in to fear, then the people who commit these evil acts will win and we will be robbed of enjoyment in life. Whenever the Bible talks about God or an angel appearing, the first words are almost always ‘Do not be afraid’. Fear spoils and consequently we shouldn’t want anyone to have to live permanently in fear.
The population of Colchester is over 176,000 and when asked what Colchester is coming to it is worth realizing that most of us live here in peace and that we don’t experience violence. A family on one of the estates near my Church lost their home and possessions in a fire recently and it has been so encouraging to see the way that the community has pulled together and that people are so desperate to help them. The local community and their love and concern has made me glad that I live in Colchester.
We are a generous community and an example of this is Colchester Foodbank which according to its website has in the last 12 months issued 2937 food boxes, which equates to 3300 people. That food has all been donated by local residents and through our generosity the food bank is able to help others.
My prayers and deepest sympathy are with the family and friends of James and Nahid as well as the family and friends of Kirsty Humphrey and Jay Whiston who were also murdered in recent years in Colchester. I cannot imagine the depth of pain and suffering that they are feeling. I’m also praying that the murderer or murderers will be brought to justice soon and I would join the police in calling on anyone who has any relevant information to come forward. My prayer for the rest of us is that we would know how to be sensible without being afraid.
What is Colchester coming to? I think that it is partly up to those of us who live here. Where we see hatred, anger, antisocial behaviour or prejudice it is up to us to say that we will not stand for those things here in our community and that we do not want them here. My hope is that when things go wrong and bad things happen that instead of being negative that we can rally around and support each other and make Colchester a better place.
Why not take a few minutes to watch this video? I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me.