Asylum Seekers/Refugees

Very few subjects are as divisive as that of asylum seekers and refugees illegally being brought into the UK usually by people smugglers who make vast fortunes from other people’s misery.  These journeys can lead to death or serious injury, and the victims involved risk becoming part of the modern-day slavery situation.  Many of these people travel thousands of miles, often from war-torn countries but also as economic migrants, to seek a better life in the UK where they frequently have other relatives or friends who have settled here earlier.

The media is full of stories highlighting their plight but also vociferously raises criticism, anger and outright hatred from many people who do not welcome such a vast influx of outsiders.  While many people would try to be humanitarian in their outlook when seeing, hearing and reading about people in such distress, others feel that such people have no right to be landing on our shores without going through the proper procedures and, even then, would not want them to be here without being prepared to make a contribution to their own welfare and not be a drain on our society.

Some of the comments made in the media include that such people are queue-jumping over others who have applied for immigration through the proper channels; they are living a lavish lifestyle in hotels free of charge at the UK’s expense without having contributed to the cost; many are not running from war-torn countries at all but are just economic migrants; they can bring Covid and other diseases into the country; they often have large families, are increasing in number and we are in danger of them taking over; they are changing the character and culture of the UK; they have come here just to claim welfare benefits.

People also comment that Brexit was supposed to limit the number of people coming into the country; they are a drain on the National Health Service and other public services without having paid anything in; they are often involved in various types of serious crime, theft, shop-lifting, etc.; many of them are terrorists who want to endanger life or cause serious injury and destruction in the country which has given them help and support; bringing so many people from different religious backgrounds and cultures causes disharmony among the resident population and often they don’t integrate into the local culture or even learn the language; they are given preferential treatment over local housing; they could settle in other safe countries which are their first port of call nearer to their homeland rather than travel thousands of miles to reach the UK. And so it goes on….

Photo by Ahmed akacha from Pexels

The Government has been trying to take decisive action against illegal immigrants for many years and is now even accused of making cruel decisions to stop this illegal trade. They seem to be in a no win situation between showing compassion and caring or being seen as a ‘soft touch’ harbouring and financially supporting people who have no right to be here.

How is it possible to view the plight of asylum seekers and refugees from a Christian stand-point while recognising that illegal immigration is causing major public concerns as listed above?

Graham replies: Thank you Carol for your question as to how we should consider the plight of asylum seekers, refugees, and illegal immigration which is causing public concerns as listed above.

I think the idiom “Before you judge a man, (woman) walk a mile in his (her) shoes” will help us to form an understanding and empathy as to why people have had to leave their countries of origin and embark on lengthy and complicated journeys to find work and a new home to settle in.

In an ideal world every man, woman and child would have perfect health, wealth, shelter, work, family support and friendships. There would be no wars, conflicts, famines and disasters. There would be no religious, social and economic differences only a wonderful paradise for us all to enjoy. However one thing we are sure of is that the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and people looking for work is nothing new and will always be with us in one form or another.

In the Bible we can observe some unexpected and shocking journeys that men and women have found themselves in and apply a wisdom and practical solutions to the concerns of refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigration.

In Genesis 2 we read of Eden, a perfect garden, where Adam and Eve lived. It was a peaceful place full of provision and guidelines as how best to live. As we are aware Adam and Eve were forced to leave that place of beauty and take up a new home full of toil and pain.

In Genesis 12: Abraham is told by the Lord to travel to a new land, not knowing where he was to go or end up. It was through him that the idea of a promised homeland for Jewish people would come into being.

In the book of Exodus we find Moses was born in Egypt to Hebrew parents and was abandoned as a baby. The Lord raised him up in a foreign land to lead the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt and spend forty years wandering in the wilderness in preparation for their new home.

God’s chosen people, Israel, were not faithful in following the Lord’s guidelines and commandments and were exiled for seventy years in Babylon. They later returned to Israel to rebuild their homes, faith and community.

In the extended Christmas story we find in Matthew 2 the account of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus fleeing persecution from King Herod to find safety in Egypt as instructed by the Angel. Jesus in his ministry knew about being rejected and persecuted for his faith and eventually crucified.

Throughout the ages many persecuted people have held on to a future hope and a restored Garden of Eden to get them through difficult situations. Such a hope is found in Revelation 22. A new garden awaits all believers and is set alongside a river that has The Tree of Life producing twelve kinds of fruit ripe for each month. The leaves of the Tree are for the healing of all peoples and nations.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At this point I think it would be helpful to try and get a measure of what Jesus would want us to do on behalf of the refugee, asylum seeker and illegal immigrant.

Jesus would refer us to Exodus 22: 21: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” and Leviticus 19: 34 “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”.

It is important to show compassion and practical help in the Lord’s name to those whose journey and desire for work is totally devastating. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks about feeding and welcoming the stranger. In Hebrews 13: 2 we are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers. In Galatians 3 and 5 we are asked to love our neighbours as ourselves for there is no differences for those who are one in Christ and all God’s people. In Psalm 146: The Lord watches over the refugee and those in distress.

In conclusion there is no easy answer to your difficult and complicated question Carol. However, if political, religious, social and moral governments and powers were able to work together on practical solutions then certainly the situation would be better than it is at the present time.

SIGNPOSTS

Manchester Refugee Support Network – Tel: 0161 868 0777

British Red Cross, Greater Manchester – Tel: 0161 888 8932 Email: GMRS@redcross.org.uk

Refugee Action, Manchester – Tel: 07753 325364

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit – Tel: 0161 740 7722

Boaz Trust – Tel: 0161 202 1056 Email: info@boaztrust.org.uk

Children and Families Refugee and Asylum Seeker Services (CFRASS) (Manchester City Council)

Tel: 0161 234 5001

WAST (Women Seeking Asylum Together) – Tel: 0161 464 7374

Revive – Tel: 0161 223 5668

Freedom from Torture – Tel: 0161 236 5744

Greater Manchester Law Centre – Tel: 0161 769 2244

For further reading check out my site insights from the bible

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11 thoughts on “Asylum Seekers/Refugees

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  2. I must confess to having had a real difficulty on the issue of asylum seekers. I really do understand the Biblical teaching on this issue and Yes we remember that Jesus himself was a refugee

    To me the situation today day is very different from the situation from biblical times we are now in a situation where people come over to the Country and they say that they are asylum seekers what they mean not me when you think that they have come on many countries and crossed Europe up and Under international law law they are to remain in the next nearest country where they can find safety and security most of Europe is not a war torn country and people can find help in other parts of mainland Europe. There are many who feel or believe that the UkIs paved with Gold and it is not the other consideration but we must remember is the drain on our resources and we have a country of 65 million to look after

    However

    We have a dire situation in Ukraine and of course they must have sanctuary. We must give them every help that we can and find them housing accommodation and jobs because it will be a long long time until they can return back to the homeland. The United Kingdom has always been a country that welcome strangers if you want to make a better life if or themselves in this country and we must continue to Warmley endorse that

    I think so needs to be a sense of careful balance and the other thought is that we have to protect our own people from any potential threat it is not an easy one and an easy subject to have a right or wrong answer to

    And of course a brilliant opportunity To share the Christian gospel The mission field on our doorstep

    It is the fear of the stranger we were told as children don’t talk to strangers

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    • Hi Ian – thanks very much once again for your interest. As you say, the refugees/asylum seekers this is an extraordinarily difficult situation

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    • Hi Ian – many thanks once again for your interest. I feel the situation of refugees and asylum seekers is extraordinarily difficult to decide upon – in fact, to be honest, it was the very subject which gave me the drive and passion to look to the established church for spiritual answers but nothing was forthcoming as these difficult subjects do not seem to be covered in traditional Sunday services. I agree that, particularly in the Ukrainian situation, we should offer temporary sanctuary as we know that, in the end, most of those people want to go back to their homeland – or what’s left of it in many cases. I also feel that priority should be given to those economic migrants who go through the proper channels to become UK citizens rather than giving priority to those who try to jump the queue by coming in illegally, albeit I understand that many of them are from other war-torn countries, are desperate to support their families and see the UK as the answer to their prayers. We also have to take into account the cost of taking more people into this country. We are in trillions of debt, not least because of the Covid pandemic and the furlough scheme, etc. which cost billions of pounds. We generally have a high standard of living compared with many countries but that means an extraordinary amount of funds being given to run public services. There are many poor existing UK residents – often people who are working and pay their taxes – who believe that priority for funds, housing, etc. and who object to other people who have not contributed to the UK getting the benefit of scarce resources. On the other hand, as Christians, we have to love our neighbours and be humanitarian in our outlook. Having said that, I understand that the UK is one of the most generous in terms of people giving to charitable causes, whether home or abroad, and our Governments also contribute to poor countries. Let’s pray that the Ukrainian people coming to this country are able to go back home in the not-too-distant future and re-build what I believe in many cases were beautiful towns and cities.

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      • I am not against migrants coming to this country per se I do admire the men who come to this country and Who before they arrive have organised themselves accommodation and also organised a job for themselves and they pay their way. As you say we are one of the most generous countries in terms of charity and in terms of helping other people when you consider that the son of a Pakistani bus driver is no Health Secretary and used to be home secretary and Ugandan Asian is now home secretary the United Kingdom is a wonderful country for those who want to come here and make something of their lives The complexity are those who come illegally and they think that the streets are paved with Gold. And people who have paid smugglers to get here if they are able to pay people to come across to the UK then they have the means to come over here legally

        We have in the NW a lady who escaped from North Korea and she found sanctuary in the UK and she is doing very very well for herself and I can remember that I really do do but as we say it is a very complex issue and and I do see that the mandate that is from the Bible it’s very different to the time that we are having no no the very different situation to where we are now

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      • Hi again Ian – yes it is very satisfying to hear of people who have come to the UK and contributed greatly to the wealth and well-being of the country, although some do not integrate well and therefore get other immigrants a bad name. With a small country like our’s, and the demands made upon it, it is bound to cause conflict when one group appears to be getting preferential treatment over another in whatever manner that takes. As you say, the smugglers are the ones who are making vast fortunes on the back of those people who risk their lives to come here, albeit illegally. I believe the Government is genuinely trying to stop illegal immigration but they also have to be mindful of humanitarian needs. It doesn’t help when France, which is being paid to stop illegals from coming to our shores, turn a blind eye to the situation.

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