I, like you, am heart broken by the picture of 3 year old Aylan washed up on the beach in Turkey. Perhaps it is because I first saw the picture 3 seconds after looking into the face of my 3 month old son and feeling sick at the thought of being that poor child ‘s father. His father survived the sinking of the boat they hoped would save them from terror. I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t. I cannot imagine the turmoil he is in.
I, like you, am sickened by the language of much of our media who seem to be unable to say parent, child, son or daughter. Who describe terrified people forced to flee untold horrors and atrocities as swarms and invasions.
I, like you, am disturbed by our Prime Minister’s policies showing an apparent lack of basic humanity. I cannot balance tax cuts for industry against starving, scared and drowning people’s lives.
I, like you, am inspired by Germany’s Refugees Welcome. Everyday people offering their spare rooms to those in need of shelter. I am inspired by Bundesliga football crowds waving banners with the same message upon them. Europe’s governments may be failing but her people are not.
I am inspired by these things but they have betrayed the selfishness of my own heart. I look at the pictures and think we could help. We have three empty bedrooms in this church owned house. Then instantly I worry about the safety of my wife and son. As if their need for safety outweighs the needs of the refugees crying for our help.
If our government granted asylum to Syrians and Iraqi refugees would I actually take the steps I can to help them? If not I need to reconsider my position. How can I continue to label myself a Christian if I can look at my neighbour in their most desperate situation and fail to love them?
Perhaps of any existing organisation in the UK the church is best positioned to help. We have huge numbers of buildings. We have a few million people. We have more financial resource than we care to admit to.
Not only are we well positioned to help, but the Christ we follow was a refugee. There is that little part of the Christmas story we leave out of the nativity where Jesus family flees to Egypt in fear for their lives. We will worship one refugee whilst simultaneously turning our backs on others. This cannot be so.
So church leaders. Consider postponing your leaders retreat or building project for a few years and ask to donate to those in need. What if we all said we wouldn’t go to New Wine or Spring Harvest in 2016 but donate the money to Save the Children instead? Don’t upgrade your projection or pa system, use hymn books if you have to. I am sure God cares more about these lives than our projection. Whatever you do, find space in your budgets to help. Give until it hurts.
All of us who are Christians can respond by signing petitions. Writing to our MPs and requesting we increase the number of asylum seekers we allow in but are we prepared to be radically welcoming to those who do come in of the government listens?
Would you sacrifice your Sunday service meeting space to give shelter to some desperate people? What about your spare room? Your holiday home? Your camper van? Would you stop drinking craft beer and posh coffee and donate the money to a refugee centre? Would you quit the gym and spend the time volunteering at a refugee project. How we behave in money’s like this will teach our children what we really believe.
For every refugee in this crisis there are 2-3 church goers in the UK. We are perfectly positioned to look after at least some of them. The question is; are we willing? I don’t actually know that I am, but I know that I should and I want to want to help. The only thing stopping me is fear.
I, like you am outraged at this horror but is my outrage real if it leads to very little action? I’m not sure it is.
If you want to give but are unsure how to you can do these four things: