I was preaching on Sunday about the parable the tenants, and touched on the fact that we have a responsibility to steward God’s kingdom as good tenants, and that includes his people. So, I did slightly go off on one about Syria and it was prompted by something I’ve seen on a few people’s Facebook pages in recent weeks, which is an attitude of ‘help ourselves before we help others’. One particular post came from a Christian and was so hypocritical it made me feel so angry. Now I recognise that there are plenty of people in need in the UK and plenty of other issues we could be dealing with. I am also not naive enough to think that this is the only people group who need help, I know the media have a large part to play in this too. However some of us are already doing something about trying to reach out to the lost, the poor, the homeless and so on. I am about to sound like I’m pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye before taking the plank out of my own, I’m aware of that. But I’m still going to say it. I said it on Sunday in my sermon, and I will say it again, if you are a Christian and you think that it is the right attitude to help ourselves first, you are wrong. We are ALL called to help the poor, the bible is full of it for goodness sake. You cannot stand up and say (or post on your Facebook page or anywhere else for that matter) that it is wrong to want to help these people because there are people here in need. Of course there are and we need to help them too, so then get off your backside and do something to help them. I wonder how many people who have commented in this way are actually doing something to help others, worse off than them? At least I can say that I am trying.
And anyway, these people are desperate. Their homes have been destroyed, heck not just their homes entire towns, villages and cities have been wiped out. People, families, have been brutally murdered, persecuted, generations wiped out. There is nothing left for them to stay for or to ‘go back to’. If you want to know why it is so bad, this article in The Guardian is helpful.
I heard today that David Cameron is visiting one of the refugee camps and that he has agreed that the UK will take in 20,000 refugees by 2020. What? What planet is he even on? 20,000? How is that going to help when there are around 4 million refugees? and by 2020? they need help NOW!
Anyway. On Sunday I asked people to let us know if they feel prompted by God to help and we were all in agreement that we weren’t sure what we could actually do now, and it turns lots of other people are wondering the same. So having done a bit of research, here’s a list few things you can do now. I will update this as and when I find more places/ideas.
How to help Syrian refugees
Pray – if you are a praying type please do pray. Of course the media has brought this awful situation to our attention but the situation in Syria has been escalating for years. I found out today there were a few people in our church who have been praying for the area for years and let’s face it it really needs our prayers. I believe in the power of prayer and that God can intervene in all situations, and that he loves all his people the same.
Donate – This article in the Guardian talks about why it is so important to give money and what it is being spent on.There are several charities collecting for the Syrian crisis, my suggestions would be:
Save the Children – I did some fundraising work a few years back and STC has one of the lowest admin rates in the country which means that more of your money actually goes to the cause. They are collecting specifically to help refugee children.
Open Doors – who seek to help and support persecuted Christians around the world. On Syria their website says this:
Christian families forced to run from their homes are now trapped in Iraq and Syria. They can’t return home, work or provide food for their children. Now 19,000 families depend on Open Doors for food. Our emergency supplies have become a symbol of God’s hope.
Sign the petition – The Independent has a petition to encourage the UK government to take its fair share of refugees. It takes just a few minutes to complete – please sign up and encourage others to as well.
Raise awareness – I am not the only one who has been annoyed and appalled by some of the public reaction to the refugees plight. Help people to think differently, point out the facts – they can’t go home, there is no where to go! They have nothing, these are not ‘economic migrants’ for example, often people get confused. Use your Facebook, Twitter etc to help people understand the real situation. If you have the energy perhaps organise an event to do so?
Fundraising – could link in with raising awareness as above, a friend of mine has suggested this and as a church I think that’s the route we will go down, raising awareness whilst also raising funds.
Project Paddington – if you have kids or links to schools this is a sweet project sending teddy bears to refugee children. They are working with Tearfund and also launching the #TeddySelfie campaign to encourage people to donate and get involved. Go check them out! They are also on Facebook here.
Taking in refugees – If you can honestly say you are really and truly happy to do this then Home For Good is the place to look at. They handle fostering and adoption and are working with local authorities to compile a list of people who would be happy to look after unaccompanied minors (i.e. children).
If you want more, this was a helpful article from the Independent a few weeks ago.