Lynn Green urges churches to action on Calais
Yesterday was a day like no other.
Yesterday I sat with a group of Iranian Christian men who have sewn their mouths up and gone on hunger strike at The Jungle camp in Calais as a protest against the lack of a humanitarian response to their plight. Their protest began on 4 March and was sparked by the bulldozing of their homes by the French authorities that I am sure you witnessed through the media. Their 'media moment' has passed, but in real life they continue to sit and wait for dignity, justice, freedom and peace for the people of the Jungle.
I visited The Jungle with fellow Baptist Ministers, Juliet Kilpin and Simon Jones. As we sat with these Iranian believers and heard something of their reasons, we also shared Scripture together, “But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
We were also able to pray with them. It was a 'holy Ground' moment where we saw in these men the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ in their willingness to give up their own lives for the sake of their community. I promised these men that I would not only pray but also act by writing to all our churches and to our Government to urge a humanitarian response to their situation.
So please will you renew your commitment to pray
for all those in the Jungle in Calais and especially for these Iranian believers. Pray that they might live to see justice, freedom and peace.
I would like to urge you to act as well. May I suggest that you contact your local MP as soon as possible to highlight this situation and ask:
That the UK Government ask the French authorities to handle the 're-housing' of refugees in the camp in liaison with community leaders and with a humanitarian concern that meets not just their basic physical needs but recognises their dignity, relationships and community dynamics.
Our Government to take immediate action to fulfil our legal obligations under the Dublin 3 Agreement by processing the claims for asylum of unaccompanied minors with relatives already living in the UK.
Your MP to use their influence to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to enable the efficient processing of asylum applications from those at our borders.
You can also sign the Children of Calais Open Letter to David Cameron.
Like you, I am aware of the incredible complexity of the situation across Europe and in many ways feel powerless in the face of such international upheaval. Yet, we overcome feelings of powerlessness by collaboratively taking small actions which add up to something greater. This issue is the one that is closest to home for us and so I hope and pray that we can prayerfully engage with this for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
Follow the situation on Twitter using #CalaisHungerStrike and visit the blog set up by friends of the hungerstrikers in Calais for more supporter actions
For more statements, stories and resources on the refugee situation, visit the "Baptist Responses to the Refugee Crisis" area of our website
Refugee Response: sharing, listening, praying - Tuesday 5 April
An open invitation is extended to anyone who is involved in responding to the refugee crisis, offering welcome and support within your local community, or simply those who are concerned to know and learn more about how we can respond as a Gospel people. This day of listening, learning and praying together will be held at Queens Road Baptist Church, Coventry and costs £5 including lunch.