'For You Were Foreigners'
Pictures of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach, have jolted the consciences of people across the world, and spurred political leaders into action. Yet the refugee crisis has been worsening over many months as people from Africa and the Middle East have fled the turmoil and destruction of their home countries in search of greater peace and security.
Those of us in Emmanuel last Sunday who saw the video produced by Krish Kandiah will be aware that the story of the Bible is the story of refugees – from Abraham to Jesus, so many of the characters whose stories populate the pages of Scripture are those who knew what it was to be foreigners and exiles, wandering far from home. So it is not surprising that we find that same Bible commanding us to reach out to those in such a plight: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19 v33-34.)
How can we respond in the face of such tragedy? The temptation can either be to make an immediate, knee-jerk reaction, or alternatively to feel that we are simply helpless in the face of such overwhelming need. As a church, the staff team and PCC Standing Committee believe that we have a responsibility to reach out to those in need and offer help. But how might we do that?
1) Pray – there are a number of resources available to help us to know how to pray individually, but there is also value in coming together – so we are inviting people to join us between 8.00pm and 9.00pm this coming Thursday (17 September) in the Arch Room (above the Westgate) to bring the plight of refugees before God.
2) Give – many agencies are channelling money to help those who are helpless, and you mayalready have done so. As a church, we are encouraging those who wish to do so to give to TEARfund’s work in Syria providing food, help with shelter, clothing, stoves and hygiene goods. There will be an opportunity next Sunday to do just that via the Offering.
3) Engage – as part of the Diocese of London we stand ready with other churches ready to play our part. The Diocese recognises that the refugee crisis will not be a short term endeavour, so they are working to co-ordinate a careful, considered and appropriate response. To that end, Andy Burns (who works for the Diocese seeking to tackle poverty) has been tasked to produce a proposal as to how we can best respond. He asks that, if we have any thoughts, suggestions or solutions that might shape such a response, we let him know via his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What part can you play? -Mike Talbot