Day 16: Saturday 28th March pray for Ministry with strangers and refugees
(By Lisa Norcross)
Blackburn has been welcoming asylum seekers for over 15 years, and we see the result of this in the amazing diversity of Christians from all over the world brought together in our church family.
The asylum seekers you will meet in church and around the town have been forced to flee their home country because of persecution, war or violence. Within Community Church Blackburn we have brother and sisters who have had to leave behind everything, home, work, family and friends because of their Christian faith. What a privilege it is to be able to offer them a warm welcome and belonging to our community.
Once they arrive in Blackburn, they face a stressful and complex legal battle to convince the Home Office of their right to stay. There are individuals in our church for whom this has gone on for considerable years. If the process goes well, they have just £5 a day to live on and are not permitted to work. If their legal case fails, they face homelessness with no right to work, claim benefits or even access a homeless hostel. You know the names of individuals in this situation although they are probably too humble to have let you know of their daily struggle to survive.
Some of these individuals have a language barrier to overcome too. I know sometimes we may be nervous of trying to strike up a conversation with someone with limited English but think how much more nerve racking it must be for them! While we are all currently housebound, why not send a text, pick up the phone or even try a zoom or video chat with some of these fantastic individuals.
Make the first move! Be brave and strike up conversation and friendship with our brothers and sisters from around the world.
Pray for healing from the trauma that has forced them to leave their home country, the horrors of the journey here and the challenge of their legal battle to stay here.
Pray for successful legal battles with fair and compassionate judges.
The Bible is quite clear that God’s heart is for the marginalised and poor. He tells his people, both in the Old and New Testaments, that we are to:
Treat foreigners as if they are native-born (Leviticus 19:33-34)
“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2)
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
Welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and feed the hungry (Matthew 25:31-46)
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute (Proverbs 31:8)
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Give justice and help to the poor and needy, because that’s what it means to know God (Jeremiah 22:15-16)
But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
That is why God blessed him.
He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
says the Lord.
Further Reading: refugeeresourcecentreforchurches.org.uk
Stephen Norcross is an elder, married to Lisa and living in Blackburn. Stephen works full time for Community Church Blackburn. Stephen studied music at university and uses his musical gifts leading worship. He also has a passion for bible teaching.