I’m often overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness when I read about injustice or the casualties of war or the victims of disaster (man-made or nature). My mantra is once you know about something that’s wrong then you must act, even in the smallest of ways, to do something. I refuse to be uninformed, to avert my eyes. This leads me to live in place of frustration, knowing that I could do more, should do more, that our western privilege bears a cost that we aren’t paying.
Last week we travelled to Calais in Northern France; Jason, Micah, Matthew and I. We have dear friends Brian & Diane Cummings from our church who have given up 6 weeks to go and serve with the charities supporting the refugees in Calais and Dunkirk. This is Brian’s third trip out in 6 months – when he came back after the 2nd trip (he took 14 others on that one) and told us that the church needed to be out there on a longer term and that he was going back for longer I thought he was a bit mad, but I could see the fire in his belly and the determination in his eyes would not surrender to my common sense, or even to Diane’s voice of reason!!
Brian and Nigel Graham have pioneered our involvement. These men are incredible in their ordinariness. Typical hard working, family men of as few of words as possible, preferring to just get on with it and get the job done. When you see men like them moved to tears by what they have seen, then you listen. We listened. We helped make plans, we promised our support and we said we might come out and visit them.
Our sons had a part to play. When they heard the February teams’ account of the living conditions that people where in and that there was ways to help they announced that they wanted to go next time. When they heard that Auntie Diane and Uncle Brian where going for 6 weeks they told us we had to take them! Not the best timing I thought – Matty has GCSE’s this month, Micah AS’s and Caleb A’levels. We scheduled it as best we could which sadly meant Caleb couldn’t come this time 😦
In the past couple of years since the refugee crisis has begun to affect us here in the UK, the information and vast swathe of opinion about what we should do/shouldn’t do, can do/can’t do is confusing to say the least. My confusion leads to indecision that soon breeds inaction. All the time there’s this still small voice, simple in its clarity. ‘The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof.’ Cutting through the arguments of immigration quotas, the in or out of Europe, the rights of our citizens over the rights of strangers, cutting through the selfish bias that raises its head in my heart to look after my own first, the fear of ISIS. ‘The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof’ (1 Cor 10) followed by “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, ” Matthew 25:35-36
These words cut through the confusing arguments and shine light on the humans caught up in the fray. This is God’s earth, His alone, how ridiculous our man made borders and possession of land must look to Him. What right have we to natural resources more than any other of His children? The only way to respond to our brothers and sisters stuck on our border is to clothe, feed and care for them until they are invited in.
It was this still, becoming louder voice that lead me to Calais last week.