21st June 2023

Yesterday, Tuesday 20th June, was World Refugee Day.

A refugee is defined by the United Nations as someone who fled their home and country owing to a “well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, … social group or political opinion” [UNHCR]. Many refugees have escaped the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

According to the UN, every minute twenty people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.

That was another five people since you began reading.

Have you ever tried to imagine what that must be like? Let’s do it now. They are coming for you. Grab a bag from the cupboard. Fill it with the clothes you see lying around. No time for toiletries. Don’t forget the medicines. Can’t find the cat… there’s no time to look. Bundle what you can into the car. Did I lock the front door? Doesn’t matter, the house will not be there next week. Is there petrol to make it to the coast? Will the ferries be running if we get there? …

And if we make it across, what will be waiting for us as strangers in a foreign land?

Most of us at Tyndale have not had to flee like that – we are more likely to be the ones on the other side. Will we welcome the refugee? I hope so. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” said Jesus. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35 ESV).

Ian Waddington