I just signed a few petitions and sent a letter to our MP regarding the mounting crisis facing people attempting to escape war, persecution and poverty in their own countries, by travelling to Europe. What if every church in the UK and Ireland took in just one family?
Here’s the letter:
Dear Mr Shannon,
My name is Ross Harte, I’m the minister of Ballynahinch Methodist Church. I’ve just signed a petition on the Parliament website urging the government to allow more asylum seekers into the UK, and to better provide for the refugees fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa.
When I was on holiday with my family this Summer we travelled twice through Calais. At the time, I was grateful for the fences separating our car and caravan from desperate people camped in the vicinity of the port – I didn’t want my children to be scared or my property damaged. I can understand why many people fear an influx of strangers into the UK.
However, this fear of the unknown cannot allow us as a nation to shut down our compassion, stirred all too briefly by the sort of images currently circulating the Internet, of drowned children and hopeless parents.
Of course, there are root causes to this current predicament, and our country while wielding well-trained, effective armed forces cannot force a change of heart in those determined to follow the cause of IS or despots or insurgents. But a transfer of funding within the UK government, for instance from nuclear weaponry to further intelligent compassionate foreign aid, might help.
At a local level, as people who follow Jesus Christ, whose family were also refugees during his early years, we hear the affirmation that, ‘God is love’ and ‘perfect love casts out fear’. I will do my best to encourage the Methodist people in Ballynahinch to embrace the strangers amongst us; we will be ready to welcome and accept any people fleeing from war, persecution and poverty, to our small town.
Please do all you can to ensure the government hears the voice of ordinary people in this constituency, who are horrified at what is happening at Calais, in the Mediterranean Sea, and on the ground in Syria and many other countries. We are ready to play our part in sharing the burden of this human tragedy.
Rev. Ross Harte