upside-down and bad – the refugee crisis

Our daily verse yesterday was Matthew 11:25-26, where Jesus says God has ‘hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to little children’. How true. Just a couple of weeks ago we had a conversation with a little girl who isn’t quite five. She can’t even pronounce Syria quite right yet. But she understands the situation perfectly

welcome low res

This is something like what she said as far as we can remember it:

‘There was a girl and she had come here from Syree. It’s upside-down and bad there. I don’t want to ever go there. But there were some people and they wouldn’t let her and her mummy in….’

She went on at some length. But she didn’t need to.

The point was made. Stark. Obvious. Heart-breaking.

And her response was clear – she was baffled, totally and utterly confused, that people wouldn’t make sure this little girl and her mummy were safe.

We could end this blog here, and let the wisdom of a little child lead us all where we know we need to find a way to reach.

But we do have a few reflections of our own to share with you too as we all continue to pray and wrestle with what we should do:

1. We want to tell you that we have been deeply encouraged by the answered prayer of signs of a heart-change in our nation:

In the late Spring and early Summer, we felt led to pray with some urgency that the truth about the situation at Calais – both in terms of the severity of the situations many of the people there were fleeing and the reality that there were women and children present not just young men – would come to light.

The story of the church at Calais emerged and revealed the polarisation of views and hearts.

We prayed again that something would happen that would shift the heart of our nation. And it did – it was heart-breaking and horrible to witness it taking something like this to wake people up to the truth. But wake up they did…

When we re-opened after our late summer break, one of our pray-ers described her feeling as she witnessed the transformed reactions of many people in Britain. ‘It was like waking up from a horrible nightmare. I felt like I recognised the world I lived in again.’ Compassion was coming through alongside hardened rhetoric.

Since the Bible teaches us that are hearts are behind everything we do, this was no small turning point.

2. We want to share with you what has come up for us again and again in prayer as we’ve prayed in response to this crisis:

It’s very simple again… and it’s this.

That in all our leaders’ responses and all of our own individual, church or community responses, heart must lead head.

Head must be involved too. There is wrestling to do; solutions have to be found; we all have limits.

But there is no way the right solutions will be reached without the right heart.

A compassionate heart leading thorough, dedicated thinking is what we are praying for and – even when people don’t realise this is happening – an ability to receive and respond to God’s mercifully creative strategies.

At the Sanctuary, we are praying for the release of these solutions often… but our principal focus is simply on praying for the hearts of individuals in our nation, and across Europe – and the heart of our nation and continent as a whole – to experience an ever increasing virtuous circle of compassion-led responses.

3. We want to pass on these things we’ve come across that have fueled our prayers and understanding still more, in the hope they will also help yours:

We were deeply touched when we saw these images of these sculptures, created by Bruno Catalano which voice so perfectly the vacuum created in people who are forced to leave their homeland.

And we found this informative cartoon on some of the unreported root causes of the conflict in Syria particularly revealing.

4. We want to let you know where you can find our prayer resources for refugees

We’ve created a number of resources that are helpful in praying about the refugee crisis, which we often re-use ourselves.

We’ve now grouped them together in a single place so there easy and quick for you to access. You’ll find them in the second section of the search by issue page of our online worship resource library.

4. And lastly, we wanted to share something that has truly blessed and inspired us today.

Have you heard of the nation of Kiribati? You might remember it as the first place to see in the Millennium in the global celebrations that were televised… and you might know about it in connection to climate change…

Kiribati is a small island nation in the Pacific with a population of 112,000 people. And it is famous beyond its size because of tragic reasons.

It is already suffering the devastating effects of rising sea levels and is the first nation destined to lose the entirety of its land as a result of them.

On Thursday 24th September at 5pm prayers at the Sanctuary – when we cycle through prayer a different nation of the world each day – we prayed for Kiribati. One of the specific things we led to pray was that a new home would be found for its beautiful people.

One of the pray-ers who was there that day tweeted us  this link this morning: Kiribati’s government has bought land from Fiji for its people to move to when the floods come.

A creative solution has been found. Yes, money has changed hands, but a nation with its own struggles has said yes to being part of the rescue for another which is suffering. Hearts have softened and hope has won.

It will not make up for the loss Kiribati’s people are facing. But it will provide a home.

And hopefully – please Lord Jesus, please –  this story will resonate loudly with the world’s leaders and act as pivot for a breakthrough of justice and transformation – at the next round of International Climate Talks at Paris in November, and as our nation and Europe continue to consider how to respond to the refugee crisis.

What more is there left to say? There is always a way. There is always hope.

Earlier in this blog we talked about creative solutions… they are there. And we talked about hearts leading heads… and it is possible.

Let’s keep praying! And responding as he then leads…

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