I don’t know how to feel about the fact that a single picture of a drowned boy is the catalyst for the flood of sympathy. In the media the word ‘migrants’ was suddenly replaced with the word ‘refugees’ (although, as one commenter pointed out, it would be better still if they were called ‘people‘). The picture changed everything: Hammond had talked of ‘marauding migrants’; the Prime Minister had described them as a ‘swarm of migrants’, as though they were insects, not people, but now even David Cameron has been forced to soften his words and perhaps yet his policies as the public have risen as one, signing petitions, giving generously, protesting the lack of help from governments, tweeting #refugeeswelcome in solidarity.
At this point, I want to pause and say his name: Alyan Kurdi, because he is not just a symbol and a catalyst for action, but a beautiful boy. (I struggle about whether it should have been published, and consider what his parents think about the image of his body being so widely distributed.) Nevertheless, every time I see the image I well up with tears. I hope we never get so accustomed to death in the media that we lose that sense of horror. We knew that the refugee crisis was bad – the people drowning in the seas, the ‘jungle church’ at Calais, but sometimes it takes the death of one person, one beautiful child, to remind us of our common humanity, to turn the ‘Them’ into ‘Us’. Some images still have the power to change the world.
Here is a round-up of the best that has been written about the crisis, and some links for what you can do practically to help.
If you’re short of time, just go to the first link, (Five Practical Ways..) and see what you can do.
How you can practically help with the refugee crisis
- The Independent – Five Practical Ways You can Help Refugees Trying to Find Safety in Europe
- Are you interested in providing a home for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, either for emergency, short-term or long-term care? Check out Home for Good.
- My friend Joy French has started ‘Project Paddington’, encouraging children to send their teddy bears to refugee children, as well as coordinating help for other supplies. It is as much a prophetic call on the government to show compassion as it is a desire to help practically.
- Don’t forget those left behind – Open Doors provides help for persecuted Christians and is working on the ground with families trapped in refugee camps in Iraq and Syria. £71 can provide emergency supplies for a family for a month.
Best of the comment on the Refugee Crisis
“Remembering that our Saviour was once a refugee, and that we too were once “aliens and strangers”, excluded from the family we now belong to by the grace of God, how can we show solidarity with those seeking refuge from the atrocities that are happening in Syria?” – Krish Kandiah
- Krish Kandiah in Christian Today (video) – The Refugee Crisis – a Call to Compassion
“Kudos, then, to Justin Welby, quoting from Leviticus. We must “break down barriers, to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves”, he said. No, that’s not lefty hand-wringing. It’s biblical faith. And while one cannot read off the specifics of immigration policy from an ancient text, there is little argument what the underlying principles must be. And – listen up Donald Trump, who has been cluelessly invoking his love of the Bible over the last few weeks – if our politicians don’t like the basic principles, then they shouldn’t claim the Christian mantle in the first place.” – Giles Fraser
- Giles Fraser in the Guardian – Christian Politicians won’t say it, but the Bible is clear: let the refugees in, every last one
“The communion table reminds us of God’s divine hospitality towards those in need of grace. Whatever the response of our government and the people of the UK to the refugee crisis, I want to state resolutely and unapologetically that the response of the church in the UK must be one of compassionate action.” – Dai Hankey
- Dai Hankey – A gospel response to the refugee crisis (A helpful and thorough look at the biblical basis for #refugeeswelcome)
“So lets be kind to our inner child in these debates. Let’s name and recognise the fact that it is hard to prise that toddler fist open. We know we want to be generous, but it is difficult. We have grown up being trained to hold onto what is ours, to be careful with it, to know the value of money, to know that things don’t grow on trees, to know that we should share, yes, but that they should give us our stuff back at the end of playtime.” – Miranda Threlfall-Holmes
- Miranda Threlfall-Holmes on what happened when she asked her child to give away her teddy to a refugee – incredibly insightful about the complex emotions surrounding our response. Project Padding1 and my daughter’s tears
And finally, the words of Somali-British poet, Warsan Shire:
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
Quick links – give to:
Please consider what you will do: give, pray, petition your MP, open up your home. Let’s all do one thing today.