All Saints Church has been involved in collecting and delivering aid to refugees in Europe and further afield for several years. Just this year Rowley Surridge, one of our churchwardens and Project Leader for the All Saints European and Syrian aid trips has been to Calais several times in 2017 and again this year, with a further trip planned this June. The refugee situation has not and will not go away and refugees are returning to the Calais and Dunkirk area despite the closure of the “Jungle”.
Why does a small church in Cornwall get involved in an international crisis? As Christians we are called over and over again by the words of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments to help others, particularly those who are victims of injustice.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 reminds the Israelites:
“For the Lord your God...loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:33-34; 24:22 instructs them:
“When the foreigner resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the foreigner. The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
and the gospel of Luke tells us: Luke 3:11
“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Matthew 8:20 records the words of Jesus: "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Jesus, and therefore Christians too, belong to a people indelibly marked by stories of Exodus and exile. Like the millions of Syrians today, Jesus and his family were forced to flee their home and find refuge. In Jesus’ case the destination was Egypt, the very place that his family’s ancestors fled in the time of Moses. We believe that God will bring justice to the world and right wrongs as part of that he will also ask us to account for our actions:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Further information on ways to get involved with the Cornish response to the refugee crisis can be found on our website http://www.asht.org.uk/refugee-crisis.html. We also have several initiatives to help local people in need, one of which is Acts 435 http://www.asht.org.uk/acts-435.html.
Revd Jeremy Putnam
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.