Over the last few weeks the refugee crisis has dominated the news headlines. Whether it is a photo of a huge refugee camp in the Middle East or a crowd in a European railway station pushing onto a train or a lone child lying dead on the beach - it is hard not to feel compassion at the same time as being overwhelmed by the need.
Whilst many are petitioning our government to do more, people are also asking what can they do and how can the church help.
Here are a few practical ways we can help:
- Give money through churches
- Some of our churches (especially in Turkey) are caring for refugees. One church in particular is caring for over 300 refugees, from across the Middle East, who attend their meetings and the need in the city is even greater.
- Send any donations to Catalyst and we will forward them to the churches that are providing care on the ground.
- Give money through trusted aid organisations, like Tear-fund, which is working in some of the large refugee camps.
- Give your time locally. In our towns and cities are organisations already helping refugees and asylum seekers. They will be running drop in centres, English lessons and practical help with settling in the UK. Volunteer a few hours a week. This is a straightforward way to build relationships and get to know refugees in your community.
- There may even be an opportunity for you and others to start a project that meets some of these needs.This whole area will increase greatly in the coming months.
Plan to be involved for the long haul
The current cries of 'more needs to be done' and the level of media coverage this issue is receiving is appropriate but the danger is it could be short term whilst the problem won't be. Let's do what we can to keep caring and be involved for longer than the headlines.
Do not underestimate how important this is! Sadly the situations causing such huge numbers to flee their homes are not going to change in the near future. The underlying causes need to be resolved. Only God can do that. We need to pray for peace. Pray for politicians to act righteously. Pray for churches and Christians in the Middle East to continue to be courageous and reach out. Pray for thousands to know the love and mercy of Jesus.
For Church Leaders
Finally - the impact of this crisis will change our communities in many ways and provide multiple opportunities for the gospel. Church leaders need to pray and strategize, so please be ready.