20th June 2022

A joy of studying family history is finding how interesting was the life of a distant relative who had just been a name. I discovered that a great aunt had been awarded a medal by the Queen of Belgium in 1919 for her work among Belgian refugees. Of course, Tyndale too welcomed these people.

Now this country is doing so again – refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine and from other troubled countries, making their way here by all sorts of means. Today is designated by the United Nations as World Refugee Day, so it’s fitting that we take time to ponder the many issues surrounding this problem.

Last week, on the day the first group of asylum seekers were due to be despatched to Ruanda, a group of Anglican bishops signed a letter in which they stated: “The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice as we have for centuries”. They went on: “These are the people Jesus had in mind as he said when we offer hospitality to a stranger, we do it for him. They are the vulnerable that the Old Testament calls us to value”. They ended their letter: “This immoral policy shames Britain”. A Baptist Union spokesperson has also said that this policy is “the opposite of the nature of God”.

My attention was drawn to the significance of today by my kitchen calendar! It’s one supplied by the Christian Blind Mission. Each monthly page carries a biblical text. The one for this month from Joshua reads: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you”. A message for refugees, but also for all of us.

David T Roberts