You may have seen in the news over the last few weeks that MPs and Peers have been debating how far Britain should go to protect the commitment to family reunification for unaccompanied child refugees after Brexit. This is a difficult issue meaning that child refugees arriving in Europe alone may find it more difficult to be reunited with any of their family in the UK. As we have been told, the government’s priority is to ‘get Brexit done’ and this is one example of that priority taking precedence over any other debate.
Our political points of view and opinions about the role of government in refugee protection will vary hugely (or perhaps you have never thought about it!). Whatever you think about the politics, when it comes to refugees the tragedy we see time and time again is that people’s lives, refugees’ lives, continue to get caught in between the politics.
We passionately believe that the Church has a responsibility to welcome, support and include refugees (including those under 18) in our communities. This is so easy to see in the pages of the Bible: ‘I was a stranger, and you welcomed me’ (Matt 25:35)…. ‘Love the stranger, for remember you were once strangers in Egypt’ (Deuteronomy 10:19)… ‘Do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers’ (Galatians 6:10)… I could go on. In fact we’ve written a whole 40-day devotion on what the bible says about welcoming refugees – let us know if you want a copy!
At Welcome Churches, our vision is to see every refugee welcomed by the local church. Why? Because refugees are close to God’s heart. This is one email I received last week. I know that it reflects the story of many others in the UK too:
‘A got brought to our church by his housing officer just before Christmas. He is 17 years old and had converted to Christianity in his home country with two of his friends. They were arrested but he managed to escape, his family have disowned him too.’
The Bible tells us that the church is now A’s family. We have a responsibility to A, to welcome him as we would our own brother. Let’s not leave it to the politics, let’s show the government how it’s done. Let’s welcome the stranger and in doing so, we will welcome Jesus.
‘I was a stranger, and you welcomed me’ Matthew 25:35