I was reminded recently, in the most unlikely situation, of Jesus’ immeasurable love for people. I was staring in horror at an anti-immigration poster which showed a photograph of hundreds and hundreds of people walking across Croatia into Slovenia, fleeing atrocities in the Middle East.
As I looked at the faces of the individuals; men, women and children, I saw Jesus in amongst them. He was not shrouded in glorious white robes, but he walked as one of them, walking in unison with their steps, carrying the weight and trauma of forced displacement in a single rucksack.
When I saw Jesus’ face in the crowd, I was reminded of how the fullness of God came to earth and lived and breathed as a human being. I thought about Jesus’ particular experience; as a child being torn away from His home town due to a threat to His life; thus forced to enter a completely alien land. A primary and significant experience in Jesus’ life on earth was the forced displacement that all refugees and asylum seekers endure.
If I believe that Jesus understands my human experience, how much more does He completely and utterly empathise, understand and appreciate the absolute turmoil of the refugee experience?
I believe Jesus was reminding me that His love for these people is above and beyond a love that I could ever, ever comprehend. His love is so tangible and intimate. He is with them at all times.
Jesus is with these individuals as they run from their bombed out homes. Jesus sits with them in the dingys as the motor stops and it starts to sink. Jesus walks with them as they cross borders in search of safety. Jesus is cramped with them in that small box on the back of a lorry as the police dogs try and catch their scent. Jesus holds their hands as they are disbelieved and ridiculed by border agencies and He is with them as they are met with hostility and fear in their host nations.
I was also reminded in this moment of my time in the refugee settlement known as the ‘Jungle’ in Calais. On my last evening there I sat with my friends in their small makeshift hut, surrounded by mud and squalor. My friend, an English Literature graduate and devote Muslim, showed me a book that he’d be given that day by a French volunteer. The book was about Jesus Christ. He placed the book on a piece of wood that protruded out from the wall. Jesus’ face took central stage for all to see and I knew that He was with my friends.
Jesus in human flesh was a Middle Eastern man, speaking a language different from our own and from a culture and religion utterly contrasting to ours. He was ripped from His home and forced to seek refuge in a foreign land.
I believe it is time for us, as those who love Jesus and are striving to emanate His love in this nation, to think about how we would welcome Him into our lives and homes.
It is time for us to consider how we are welcoming His people. After all, Jesus is walking with them
Call to Action
If like many people you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this crisis and are unsure how to make a difference, I have thought of some suggestions:
- Refugee Support Network: RSN is an incredible charity which gives volunteers the opportunity to meet weekly with an unaccompanied child who has come to the UK to seek asylum. As their Educational Mentor, you will be able to support the young person with their school work, but also provide them with stability, continuity and friendship within an uncertain and unsettling asylum system.
- Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers: SDCAS is a holistic service which strives to welcome and serve Asylum Seekers and Refugees all over London. There are opportunities to become involved in advocating for those who are instantly marginalised once they’ve entered the UK; provide creative activates; teach English or simply sit and chat with someone over a cup of tea (no previous experience required to become a volunteer!). Services such as SDCAS constantly face cuts and currently the charity is running with a 50% funding deficit. Your financial support will be a blessing to many.
- The Jungle – Calais: There are so many ways to help people in the Jungle. Currently there are over 8000 men, women and children living in utterly horrendous conditions only a few hours away from this city. If you have time to volunteer, there are many opportunities to cook for people, teach English, look after the children and help in the warehouses.
- Hosting Schemes: One of the biggest issues faced by individuals who receive their Refugee Status is homelessness. It’s hard to believe that this country’s asylum system would recognise a person’s need for refuge and provide them with ‘the right to remain’ but not actually a home, but unfortunately this is the reality. Nevertheless, in response to the government’s failure to provide refuge for refugees, a number of charities have taken on the enormous task or housing thousands and thousands of people.
Organisations such as ‘Refugees at Home’ match people who have spare rooms with destitute refugees and asylum seekers, offering a personal welcome to those who have been totally abandoned by a failed system. The act of hosting a destitute refugee is an exact manifestation of our faith and resounds directly with God’s clear heart for social justice; “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house” (Isaiah 58:7). It takes faith and a strong conviction to bring a complete stranger into your home but I believe that this scale of generosity is at the heart of our faith.
- PRAY: God listens to our prayers. Share your heartbreak over the crisis with Him and ask for opportunities to love His children.
Hannah is about to embark on a 12-month trip to Turkey to support projects that are working with Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian refugees. People from ChristChurch are also involved in helping Refugees and Asylum Seekers right here in London. If you would like to find out how you can support Hannah in her work, or how you can get involved here, email