Our Local Missional Leader, Joe Edgar, shares something of the new opportunity for mission that God has brought to our town…
During 2015/16 an international refugee crisis has unfolded in Europe. We have all seen the horrific images on our TV screens of men, women, and children fleeing their home countries. We’ve seen pictures of families tramping along muddy tracks, and having to sleep out in the open in freezing temperatures. There have been haunting images of bodies being washed up on Mediterranean beaches.
They leave their homelands as a result of war and persecution, also many are escaping from brutal and corrupt governments such as Eritrea. The UN refugee agency describes Eritrea as “possibly having the world’s worst human rights record” Its citizens are routinely arrested, tortured and executed without trial. Eritrea is just one example there are many others, such as Sudan, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan. In recent weeks I have met men and women from all of these countries, and let me tell you, their need is great.
In Wigan the Churches response to the plight of the asylum seekers is to setup befriending groups in a number of parishes around town. I have been helping at St Catherine’s in Scholes, which was the first Anglican church to open their doors to welcome people from a variety of countries. Now the second group will be starting at Worsley Hall community church on May 19th 1pm-3pm.
A priority amongst the asylum seekers is the need to learn English, and we will be offering Basic English lessons. For many this also involves learning a new form of writing, as most only speak and read Arabic, so it’s going to be interesting.
My personal view on the whole refugee/asylum seeker situation is that as Christians we have a real opportunity to show the love of God to those who desperately need our help. The Eritreans are mainly Christian, but many of the other nationalities are Muslim, and we shouldn’t treat them any differently.
Recently I read a letter from a Pastor of a church in Lebanon, who writing of the influx of Muslims into Europe wrote; “Let them see the true face of Christianity. The Christianity of worshipping God in Spirit, not the Christianity of idols. The Christianity of families dedicated to God, not the Christianity of immoral values. The Christianity with demonstrated power of the Holy Spirit, Not the Christianity of lukewarm churches. The Christianity of a Europe of revival, not the Europe of Atheism. Our God is still on the Throne. History will one day witness that God in his wisdom has sent to you the hungry to give them food. The thirsty to give them a drink, the stranger to take in, and the naked to clothe. How will you respond? Some of them will take advantage of you that’s for sure, but others will fall in love with your God”.