We were devastated to hear of this awful event, where a man tried to take an explosive device to Liverpool Women’s Hospital and cause great harm, which ended with him losing his own life. We understand that the suspect is an asylum seeker, and someone who had converted to Christianity in recent years. We do not know any of the details surrounding this incident, and it is important not to speculate. Our immediate response is to pray, and to call the UK Church to pray with us.
Pray for all those seeking asylum in the UK.
We are grateful that events such as the one in Liverpool on Sunday are not the norm. The majority of people seeking asylum in the UK are peaceful and want to rebuild their lives here in peace. Now, more than ever, they need our continued welcome and support to show that they are not alone, and are truly welcome in our communities.
We also know that the mental health challenges are very real for many seeking refuge in the UK. As with many people struggling with their mental health, this has been exacerbated since the first Covid-19 lockdown. At Welcome Churches, we have heard stories of asylum seekers having flashbacks of being back in prison in their home countries, or panic attacks because of the huge isolation the lockdown brought. Many people seeking refuge in the UK have experienced significant and numerous traumatic events in their lives, which they are still coming to terms with. The mental health challenges are significant, and there is very little support available for this. Suicides of refugees and people seeking asylum are not uncommon either.
Pray for our communities
Events such as the one in Liverpool this weekend, can increase fear of people we don’t know in our communities. There can still be a lot of fear of people who are seeking refuge in our communities, particularly those who are unknown. The words of Brendon Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, remain true as we come to terms with events such as these: ‘We have more in common than that which divides us’. Our communities are strongest when we celebrate what we have in common. Those seeking refuge need to be included in community life so that love, not fear, will win.
Pray for our churches
Churches across the UK, especially those who have welcomed and supported many people seeking asylum, will be struggling to come to terms with the events in Liverpool. The Christian couple, Elizabeth and Malcolm Hitchcott, who temporarily housed the suspect, could have easily been a couple in any other church welcoming and supporting people seeking asylum too. Pray for the Hitchcotts as they come to terms with what has happened. The hospitality they showed was radical in so many ways. Pray that they know God’s grace as they seek to follow him.
Showing ‘welcome’ is not always easy. Following the biblical call to ‘welcome the stranger’ by definition means to welcome people we don’t know. We live in a broken world, and the people we welcome are broken people too (as are the rest of the people in our churches!). Showing a welcome, despite people’s brokenness, is a vital Christian value that we continue to be called to. Pray for the UK Church, and our own churches, as we continue to seek to live this out. That we will bring light by the example we give of welcome and hospitality to all, especially those seeking refuge.
Pray for our government
Our government has very big decisions to make, particularly as the Borders and Immigration Bill is making its way through parliament this autumn. It could be very easy for events such as the one in Liverpool to increase fear and hostility in our immigration policies as a country. Pray for wisdom and compassion. Pray for solutions that will work and mean that asylum seekers and refugees can live in freedom in the UK. Pray that this upcoming Bill will not increase the mental health challenges for those seeking refuge in the UK. The Evangelical Alliance have written more about this Bill, and how you can respond, here.
The Bible tells us that God’s light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). The tragic events in Liverpool on Sunday remind us that the darkness is very real. However, God’s light is bigger than the darkness. Let us continue to shine His light in dark places, bringing hope and freedom to a broken world.