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World News

Elianne Andam's family comforted by prayers following the loss of their 'child of God and lover of Jesus'

by Donna Birrell

The Bishop of Croydon has told Premier the family of Elianne Andam are being comforted by knowing people are praying for them at this time.

A 17-year-old boy has appeared in court and been remanded in custody charged with the 15-year-old's murder.

Elianne, who was a committed Christian, was attacked on her way to school in south London on Wednesday morning.

Rt Rev Rosemarie Mallett spoke at a vigil for Elianne on behalf of the family, and she's been speaking to Premier about the situation.

"I think every person in Croydon feels it personally as if it could be their own sister, or their own child or their own grandchild, it really hurts the community. At the vigil everyone was hurting badly at the loss of this young life so senselessly.

"We came together to pray. Elianne's family are people of deep faith, and they themselves go to church regularly. Elianne was, in their words, a 'child of God and a lover of Jesus'. And so for them to be held and to know that they're being held in prayer is extremely important. It helps to be a balm for their soul; So knowing that people are praying for them is really important. And they asked for that."

Bishop Rosemary added local churches have "come together as a network a round the community" not only to support them in prayer but also to find new ways of engaging with young people "who may themselves be finding this difficult".

She continued: " One of the ways we're thinking about in the short term is providing an opportunity and the space for young people to gather because we know that sometimes when young people hurt, they don't know how to express the anger or the upset-ness.

"We want to find ways to offer them an opportunity with people, like mentors, people who can speak to them, people who can give them encouragement, and words of healing.

"At the vigil, there were young people who were wracked by grief and not knowing what to do with that grief. I think people who can be with you to pray with you, stand alongside you and sometimes not even use words, but be a comfort to you is something that can be felt. Young people need to know they are being looked after and cared for and loved and the church can do that.

"It is part of our DNA to gather, to pray, and to offer compassionate care to people who are hurting and need to be held and offer the hope of healing love in the long term."

For Bishop Rosemarie, it's "deeply sad" that only the day before Elianne's murder, the Dioceses of Southwark and London, had produced a resource which is specifically aimed at helping families and churches who find themselves struggling or facing the challenge of a young person who has been engaged in serious violence or who has been hurt or killed because of serious youth violence.

It was launched by the young people at a church in South London on Tuesday evening.

"It is just so sad that having launched something that we thought would be helpful for churches, who often don't know what to do when these circumstances occur, the very next morning, the worst of all things happened.

"I think what we want to continue to do is work with the community, with Croydon Metropolitan Police, and provide partnership opportunities and options for young people. There are many young people like Elianne, who do go to church, and they see church as a place of opportunity and possibility. And we want to offer that to more young people."

The teenage suspect's also accused of possessing a knife and will appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.


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