‘The heart of the Christian message is about a refugee God - a God who has been displaced. Groups of people ultimately rejected him.’ Steve Lee
The migrants in the migrant and refugee camp known as 'The Jungle' in Calais are loved by Christ Jesus.
The camp has caused huge controversy, with the question often being asked - 'should we allow migrants from the camp into the UK?'
‘No’ is the answer from some. They argue that as a country we are already densely populated and there is a shortage of housing. If more people are allowed into the country unemployment will rise. After all, they're only economic migrants. Why do they have to come to the UK? What about other countries?
The reasons why we shouldn’t welcome those in Calais are motivated by fear. Fear of what would happen if we opened our doors to them. But the Bible commands us: ‘Do not be anxious about anything.’ (Philippians 4:6).
As Christians, we must welcome these people in with a loving heart. We should not be fearful, or filled with concern about political problems. We are called to care and do what Jesus would have done when he was on earth.
We must have compassion. If you lived in a warzone and you feared for your life, wouldn’t you run as far away as possible? The Bible commands us to care for the vulnerable. James 1:27 says, ‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.’
The definition of a migrant is a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions. The definition of a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster. Describing the whole of The Jungle as a group of migrants is a massive generalisation. Some newspapers have chosen to describe these people as economic migrants but this is false. According to figures from last October, The Jungle contains 6,000+ displaced people. The majority are refugees. The current crisis is caused by displacement in war-torn countries mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and North Africa.
Editor of Premier Youthwork magazine Jamie Cutteridge visited Calais late last year. He helped distribute supplies and has since helped raise over £22,000 to help support aid efforts through the #LoveCalais appeal. The team gave out milk, oil and bread but as they handed out the last bag of food the back of the queue was still not visible. Jamie describes the reasons why the people who live in the jungle want to go to the UK: ‘No one mentions our benefit system, instead they talk about jobs, and they talk about family members over there. They don’t see the UK as a ‘soft touch’ they see it as a place to build a home’
How can you help? Consider supporting Steve Lee's ministry Miracle Street who are doing amazing work in Calais. Another great organisation is Calais Field Music, created by Isolda Heavey from Ireland who encourages people in the camp to earn money through their musical talents. The sale of the music goes directly to the artists in Calais.
The refugees and migrants need all the support and help they can get, whether it is donating supplies, money to charities, visiting Calais or of course prayer. They do not deserve to suffer, they should be able to live like we do in the UK.
Lizzie Turner is a trainee journalist studying at the University of Gloucestershire in her final year. Read her blog at lizzieturner.wordpress.com