I live with 4 adorable men sized males. Some weeks I pick up, wash, dry, fold and sort into piles at least 30 to 40 pairs of boxer shorts, it actually feels like twice that amount!! I have a large load washing machine and I can easily fill it just with boxers!
Let me tell you how a simple pair of boxer shorts transformed into a symbol of dignity and compassion from a mundane chore.
I promised more accounts from our trip to Calais and Dunkirk. One of the first days of our trip we heard about the need for boxer shorts (no briefs – the preference is very much boxer shorts)
We chatted about it with Brian & Diane our dynamic duo stationed in a caravan between Calais & Dunkirk for 6 weeks (on their way home just now – Brian took unpaid leave to go – hero or what?!). They have been our beach head of compassion from VCD if you like. (follow their antics here). The area is littered with German WW2 bunkers and defence structures all along this part of Northern France. The Dungannon to Dunkirk brigade have fundraised and galvanised support for the refugees and on our first night there we chatted about how to use some of the money to supply urgent needs. The conversation quickly landed on boxer shorts. A few phone calls later we had ordered 800 pairs of boxers direct from a supplier though our middle man in Dungannon to be delivered straight to the Calais.
One week later, by this time we’re back home but I’m still dreaming of the refugee’s most nights, and the 800 pairs of small & medium mens boxer shorts arrive at the Calais warehouse and within 3 hours they are ALL distributed.
800 felt like a lot to me. But when you have over 3500 people in the Calais camp alone, it feels like a drop in a bucket. 800 pairs of boxers arrive, are sorted by volunteers, are delivered to the camp by more volunteers and are distributed with dignity and compassion by yet more volunteers.
Lets look at that chain of compassion. 2 men from rural Northern Ireland get broken hearts watching the scenes on the news of refugees arriving by the thousand, desperate, destitute and determined. Nigel and Brian head off in a camper van full of donations with 2 others in Nov. They come back even more broken hearted and now equally focused on doing something more to help. They begin to tell the stories of the people they met, of the terrible conditions and the immediate needs and they began to gather more people, money and resources. 15 go out in February with another camper van filled with donations. 2 are sent out in April for 6 weeks with a caravan full of donations and a dream to do more. Small short-term teams join them during that time, more people from Vineyard Church Dungannon and others join in too including a team from Causeway Coast Vineyard and a couple from Emmanuel Church in Lurgan. The kind generous donations are converted in this instance into 800 pairs of boxers. The black bin liners full of donations have been delivered, sorted, distributed, and still the need grows.
So many people form the links on this compassion chain that provided a simple pair of boxer shorts. Every person in this chain is vital, every £1 matters. Every volunteer that makes the journey to Northern France to ‘do something’ matters. Be it for 6 hours, 6 weeks or 6 months.
We cannot avert our eyes to wave of humanity who are already on our doorstep, to the hundreds arriving each day and the many more already heading our way. We need to send aid in Syria and around that entire region, absolutely 100% we do. But we also need aid and solutions for the mass exodus of humanity already on the move.
Will you take your place on the chain? Send money. Donate your stuff. Rearrange your holiday plans. Use your annual leave and go serve. The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, His body has an opportunity no more than that a responsibility to be His light, to pour out His love, to share our wealth, to show mercy.
LET’S GO!!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???
You’re in? Great here’s some links below to help you or email me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org if are thinking of going out and want some advice on planning your trip.
VCD Dungannon to Dunkirk Facebook Page – updated regularly with info on ways to help
Help Refugees Facebook Page – updated regularly with the most urgent needs.