Displaying items by tag: Compassion
Millions are fleeing tyranny of war, famine, and heartache in the largest movement of people in modern history since WWII. For most, Europe offers the only hope of safety, and many risk the very real threat of death on their journeys. Often these people are seen as a problem, and while our enemy can use people to kill, steal, and destroy, God sees each one as a unique and loved creation. Christian mission agencies working in refugee camps and across Europe want to introduce each refugee to the God who loves them. Meanwhile many European countries are rejecting them, the latest being the Dutch government who refused to accept 47 refugees currently on a ship run by a humanitarian group who rescued them off the Libyan coast over a week ago. Since then it has been sailing through high winds and seven metre-high waves.
The bishop of Dover, Rt Rev Trevor Wilmott, has urged greater compassion in the migration debate as new figures revealed an influx of lone child refugees among the boatloads of people crossing the Channel. In an appeal to the home secretary, he said, ‘It is crucial that we remember we are dealing with human beings here. We have been celebrating the season of hope and goodwill as we remember Christ’s birth: let’s not forget so soon that every person is precious.’ The rising number of boat crossings has prompted an increase in unaccompanied child refugees to levels not recorded since the Calais migrant camp was dismantled. One specialist facility caring for unaccompanied minors in Kent is caring for over twice the usual number.
Many refugee children are abandoned, abused, or lost to trafficking because of neglect or being orphaned. They are forced to work or beg for money on the streets where refugees currently live. One child said: ‘Because my father died in the war, I was forced to work selling things on the streets. One day, some people visited my mother, sisters and me. They helped me go to a school for refugees and learn about Jesus.’ The compassion expressed in the story of the prodigal son gives us insight into the heart of God. He is the compassionate God who weeps over those who are lost and despairing. His desire is that those who have lost their way will return to Him and know the great love He has for them. Pray for refugee street children in the Middle East and Europe.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is ‘saddened and shocked’ by the Government’s decision to take only 350 unaccompanied refugee children. He said last week, ‘We believed that the Government was committed to welcoming up to 3,000 children. To end the scheme now, when such a small proportion have actually entered the country, is regrettable.’ The immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, has stated that after consultation with local authorities, the UK will take just 350 children, including more than 200 already transferred from France. The Labour MP Yvette Cooper described the move as ‘shameful’, while the Conservative MP Helen Whateley said that Kent was already looking after more than a thousand unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. MPs have challenged the Government’s assertion that local authorities cannot take more children, and suggested that other groups (including faith organisations) could help. Archbishop Welby urged the Government to reconsider, saying, ‘We must resist and turn back the worrying trends of seeing the movement of desperate people as more of a threat to identity and security than an opportunity to do our duty. We cannot withdraw from our long and proud history of helping the most vulnerable.’
(Updating last week’s Prayer Alert article) On Sunday Judge Osama Ahmed Abdulla found Czech national Petr Jašek guilty of espionage. He was sentenced to life imprisonment plus a further three and a half years and a fine of 100,000 Sudanese pounds (approx. £12,000). Rev’d Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for espionage and a further two years for inciting hatred between sects and for propagation of false news. Lawyers representing the men intend to appeal the verdict and sentences. Joel Edwards of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, ‘We are profoundly dismayed by this verdict. The serious charges against these men were wholly unwarranted and the excessive sentences unjustified, given the paucity of evidence against them. These men are not spies; they were simply driven by compassion to source finance for the treatment of a man with severe injuries. We call for the annulment of the verdict and the immediate release of these three men.’
A worker for Christ wanted to write about recent news, but didn’t. Firstly it was too depressing, and secondly there was a fear of information getting into the wrong hands with the possibility of personal danger. The desperation is to get people praying. Asked for their greatest fears, most replied, ‘being hacked to death and wasting away through starvation.’ Burundi has the highest rate of malnutrition in the world. The worker and colleagues need prayers for protection and wisdom in complex situations. He write: ‘“Why are you still here?” Because God calls us to weep with those who weep, to be a voice for the voiceless and to “not love our lives so much as to shrink from death”. (Rev 12:11) “How do you see things going?” Not well in human terms but, through the eyes of faith, I still believe that God is on His throne and that the Church is the hope of the world as He has stationed His best troops in Burundi. “What about your family?” We have agreed to live by faith, and want to model this to our children as we stand alongside the precious suffering Burundi community. Will you stand with us in prayer, if you have the emotional energy? I am here, amongst other things, to fly the flag for Burundi. Can you see it waving? It’s small, soiled, stinking, fear-ridden, torn, blood-and-tear-stained, but look more closely….that is not the whole story.’ See also