I have been struck in the news recently by a lot of discussion around how we support refugees and others that are homeless and need support. There has been a good response from churches who have been talking about making use of empty church buildings or empty church houses or even halls and stuff like that. While that is a positive response I am not sure it is the correct or best response.
I will try to explain my thinking with a hypothetical situation. Take, say a family from a war torn country arriving here in need of shelter. We are aware of an empty house in one of our towns and we house them there. They know no one. They are in a new land. They are trumatised. They are in a new country with new customs, new rules, a new language. I wonder if this approach results in a continuation of a feeling of isolation. It is definitely a step in the right direction … but is there more we can do … is there more that God might require of us?
I believe people seeking shelter need more than just a building …. all of us need connection with the rest of humanity, all need to know they are accepted, loved, cared for … wanted even to add to the community we find themselves in . Living alone, where you know no one, can simply generate isolation and feelings of rejection, no matter how best the intentions.
Maybe, instead of our halls, we need to be offering our homes?
Maybe, instead of placing people into our empty sanitised buildings, we need to invite people into our messy cultural rich loving homes.
Maybe we need to open our family life and invite others into it.
Maybe ‘finding somewhere’ is easier than ‘inviting in.’
Finding empty buildings for people may be an easier option … inviting a family to live with you, and learn about culture and community with you, to eat together and learn together is a much harder thing to do.
Inviting people in, though, gives a more solid footing to growing in community … it is just that for many of us it is so hard to do.
I include myself in that …. but it does not stop the niggling feeling that we should be doing more.
What does this mean for me? I don’t know!
What about for our church HT on the Peninsula … again I don’t know!
What do you think … any comments on this … am I way off the wall in this thinking?
Homes or halls?