“It is a huge privilege to share in so many children's lives”

First published on: 28th February 2022

Malcolm with James Kenyon, PCDC Secretary, and two siblings supported by the charity

When Malcolm Jones was 23 years old and training for ministry, he spent some time in Jerusalem.

Little did he know those short few months in 1965 would stay with him forever, and lead to a lifetime of service and care for some of the “most forgotten and needy” children in the world.

Now aged 80, Malcolm has been the guiding light of Practical Compassion for Destitute Children (PCDC) for the past 27 years.

Offering care and support to disadvantaged and impoverished youngsters in Palestine, PCDC has given thousands of children a helping hand when they have had nowhere else to turn.

“Children tell us we are the only charity they can approach directly when they are in distress,” said Malcolm, who set up PCDC 30 years after his first visit to Jerusalem.

The charity now supports 172 children who, because of conflict, occupation and poverty, have been unable to attend school.

With the belief that good education can rescue children from the spiral of poverty and destitution, PCDC – working in 25 Palestinian schools - pays the children’s educational fees.

The charity also gives access to doctors, dentists, psychiatric support, counselling, and provides food, clothes and shoes for the young people, many of whom are orphans.

Malcolm, in his role as Children’s Coordinator, made sure each child’s needs are met and worked closely with the children, their families, teachers and others to set up support networks for the stricken youngsters.

“We can take sick Palestinian children into Israel for treatment where often the parents are not permitted to do it. We take them and bring them safely back to their parents,” said Malcolm.

“Over the years, we have provided a prosthetic leg for one which had to be amputated, contacted doctors, dentists and surgeons throughout the country to get their help and services for children.”

As a Christian and ordained priest, this far-reaching work is central to Malcolm’s faith and his deep calling to help these children has been guided by the hand of God.

“I felt that He was asking me to lay each child's needs before Him and that He would provide the means to find a way,” Malcolm recalled about his early days of starting-up the charity.

From a young age, Malcolm has had an unwavering desire to help children – before ordination, he taught at an ‘Approved School’ for boys who were no longer in mainstream education, and at the age of 21 became Britain’s youngest House Father in the employment of the Home Office, supporting 35 “very disturbed teenagers”.

Even throughout his ministry training in Lincoln, Malcolm volunteered his time to work with disadvantaged children in schools.

So when he was warned against speaking to the streetboys of Jerusalem on his first trip there in 1965, Malcolm’s compassion and natural instinct to safeguard troubled youngsters led him to ignore this advice.

“I went out and got to know them, and gradually gained their trust,” he said.

“They took me to their lairs and homes, if they had homes. They were all refugees, bitter about what had happened to them, bypassed and ignored by pilgrims.

“I soon learned to love them and spent a lot of time with them. I never forgot them. One of them, Ibrahim abu Rakbeh, now aged 79, is still my friend and I talk with him and visit him often.”

He always had the intention of returning to Jerusalem to help these young people who became his friends “but life took its different turnings” for Malcolm, who, after marrying Jennie in 1969, went on to live in Venezuela for a period as an oilfield chaplain before his ministry brought him back to the UK as a parish priest in 1975.

But Jerusalem was never far from Malcolm’s thoughts. Thirty years after he first set foot in the sacred city, Malcolm returned to act as a tour guide for pilgrims and ended up fundraising for an orphanage.

“Soon I realised that God was calling me to some kind of ministry to such children, not all at one institution but over an area,” Malcolm recalled.

In the months and years that followed, Malcolm and a small team set up PCDC as a faith ministry, meaning they cannot appeal for money or donations on their own behalf. All donations can only be used for the children and any administrative costs must come from Gift Aid.

Incredibly - with the support of a loyal army of supporters and sponsors - PCDC has flourished since its inception in the 1990s.

“In one recent year we spent about £160,000 but the same amount came in. God has never broken His promise and we trust Him day by day,” Malcolm added. “I am deeply grateful to all who help us.”

As the charity continues its essential work in the Middle East, Malcolm is slowly stepping back from the day-to-day administration of PCDC and passing on the baton to the active board of trustees, who are planning to appoint a new chair soon.

A post-pandemic visit to the West Bank is already being planned, so that the vital personal contact with PCDC and their schools and families can resume.

Malcolm will remain as a trustee, offering his guidance and knowledge to the new team who are dedicated to continuing the crucial work of the charity.

Reflecting on the achievements of the charity, Malcolm said: “It is a huge privilege to share in so many children's lives, and to be known, trusted and loved whenever we are in Bethlehem. The Bible uses the phrase Talitha Kumi - ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’.

“We reach boys and girls when they are down, restore their vision, heal their hurts, comfort them, love them, and pray for and with them. We work in refugee camps, schools, homes and orphanages. It is an enormous privilege, and the work is spreading.”

If you would like to find out more about PCDC or offer your help, visit its Facebook page or contact Canon Richard Hill (collis.rick@gmail.com or ring 0191 284 1108).

You can also sign up to the charity’s monthly e-newsletter by emailing jonathan@pcdcuk.com

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