Christians living in the UK have become used to the TV images of desperate migrants in Calais attempting to board trucks to the UK. The plight of over 2,000 migrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean has brought this issue into sharp focus. How should we, as Christians, respond to the migrants who stand on our doorstep? Well, a team from Life Church in Folkestone, Kent, has been going to visit the migrants in and around Calais most weekends for more than a decade, taking them food, clothing, Bibles and tracts, and offering to pray with them.
Rev Margaret Knight, a retired Anglican vicar from Hertfordshire, who joins the group about once a month, says she often feels “totally inadequate” when confronted by the situation. “These people are desperate. Most of them have fled for their lives. They’ve probably got what they’re standing up in, maybe a plastic sheet,” she told Christian Today. To me, the awful thing is that they’re not treated like human beings, nobody wants to know.” It is thought that there are now 4,000 people at Calais, having come from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Every so often, the police will come along and clear their makeshift tents, turning the hose on them. Over the years different French charities have taken responsibility for providing food and clothing, and ensuring that the migrants get a hot meal every day. Many of the Eritrean migrants Margaret has spoken to are Christians, and she says it is a “wonderful privilege” when they are able to share Communion with them. These Eritreans have travelled across the desert on foot, and about half of those who set out die on the journey. Those who do make it face further hardship when they get to France.
The group talk to people and offer to pray with them, even though many of them are Muslims. “We usually ask if any of them is sick and if they would like prayer. We make it clear that we are going to pray in the name of Jesus,” Margaret says. They have seen a number of miracles and answers to prayer, despite the language barrier.
On one occasion a Chinese man was following her around for much of the day. He had declined prayer for himself, although he acted as an interpreter as she prayed for other people. Just as they were going to leave, he asked for prayer, said he had done wrong things and gave his life to Christ. “You should have seen his face, there was no doubt that he had done it. Then you just have to leave them with the Lord; I left him with a Bible and God,” she says, adding that leaving them behind is the difficult part, particularly as a pastor. Margaret recognises that it is important to tackle the crisis from a political perspective, but says “I’m not called to do that.” Instead, she felt called to do what she could with her time and gifts.
Source: Christian Today
Bible Study: Deuteronomy 15:11
PRAISE God for this fruitful ministry of grace and for many answers to prayer. PRAY that the seed sown may bring forth a rich harvest and that a godly solution may be found.