What does the word ‘home’ mean to you? There might be many responses to this question depending on your experiences, from ‘warm and welcoming’ to ‘cold and callous’. But for many in the world today they have no home at all. According to the UN more than 65 million have been forcibly displaced from their place of home and third of those are refugees.
“By reason of their intensity and magnitude, the refugee problems of the twentieth century outrange the forced migrations of bygone ages. It is the most serious human element in the troubles of our time”
Little did Revd Henry Carter realise that his statement, made in 1947, would be so poignant – if not prophetic. Henry Carter was commenting on the aftermath of the Second World War. He saw the problem of displaced people – of families and children rejected from their homes and countries. They had nowhere to live. So he responded and established the Methodist Refugee Fund to raise money and provoke action to provide care, support and practical compassion. Seven decades later, Revd Carter’s legacy resides within All We Can: Methodist relief and development, which is a direct descendent of the Methodist Refugee Fund.
Henry Carter saw in 1947 the needs of refugees, and particularly the vulnerable. All We Can sees this need too, today. This is why we are supporting work in some of the most difficult places, and with the most vulnerable people seeking refuge. All We Can is working with organisations in places like Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Bangladesh with displaced people.
While visiting some of All We Can’s humanitarian aid partners in Jordan in 2016, I was stuck by just how welcoming Jordanians were to me. But more importantly, how welcoming they were to refugees. ‘This is your home now’, was their attitude. Jordan has a long history of welcoming the foreigner and stranger into their land. Many Jordanians live in difficult circumstances themselves, but this has not stopped them from reaching out with a helping hand. We see the same thing now in Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar, where local people living in poverty themselves are doing what they can for the Rohingya refugees coming across the border. Whether a person has a religious faith or not, the Bible provides some compelling advice and instruction as to how we should treat and care for refugees. Deuteronomy 10, Leviticus 19 and Exodus 23 all set out a mandate for practical compassion well before the UN or EU developed their treaties. The Bible is simple and timeless: Who can argue with the charge provided in the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10? Show mercy. Love your neighbour. Go and do likewise.
Migration and the displacement of people groups is an age old issue. Most countries, including those within the UK, cannot claim to be made of a single race – let alone a unified culture or class living in peaceful harmony. Somehow we need to learn to live with the fact that immigration is happening and will continue to do so. We need to determine what we are going to do about this issue, because it is not going to go away. Our mandate at All We Can is to respond to local situations by supporting local people to provide local solutions.
As I visit families that are struggling to survive I come away thinking about the legacy being left to the next generation. What of their future? The youth have lost years. The younger ones know the inside of a tent as home, or unsuitable housing as their refuge. All have suffered trauma. Even if displacement stopped tomorrow, the tragedy will continue for decades. And each individual will continue to be our neighbour.
Find out more about our current Rohingya Refugee Crisis Appeal