One of the news items that has been recurring through 2015 is the issue of mass migration to Europe. We have heard stories of people dying in the attempt, sometimes through drowning in the Mediterranean Sea or being killed while trying to get through the Channel Tunnel. Desperate people from Africa and the Middle East have been seeking an escape from life in their home countries. Today (August 19th) it was reported that Germany faces a predicted influx of up to 800,000 people this year and that they are asking other countries in the EU to share the burden.
How should Christians react when faced with such a great human need? On the weekend of August 16th Songs of Praise included two sections from the Calais migrant camp known as ‘The Jungle’. They interviewed some of the migrants, who included Christians fleeing persecution from their home country. The first thing that the migrants had wanted to do on arrival was to erect a church; a fragile tarpaulin construction, where they could worship together. Several issues were considered in the programme including the rights and wrongs of illegal migration, but also why Christians were coming over from Kent to distribute food to those in the camps. One woman, asked by the presenter why she did this, answered simply “That’s what the Church is here for”.
Earlier this week Canon Giles Fraser, a parish priest, writer and broadcaster wrote about the Songs of Praise Programme in which he pointed Christian readers to this text in Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3 v. 28
He also mentioned a hymn we sometimes sing in church, John Oxenham’s ‘In Christ there is no east or west,’ and noted Christians are linked to each other by the waters of baptism and not by some accident of nationality.
The Songs of Praise programme on August 16th has challenged me to think again about the continuing migrant crisis and how I as a Christian should react, something I hope that you can share in doing too.
With best wishes