St Stephen’s Twickenham Refugee Response….so far!
At St Stephen’s in East Twickenham we are used to responding to some of the challenges of life in a busy urban community- a weekly drop in supper for homeless people, mums and toddler groups, debt and abortion counselling, a teenage youth club etc. Recently however, we have felt compelled to respond further afield to the international refugee crisis that is happening as a result of the conflict in Iraq and Syria, creating millions of refugees and displaced people in the Middle East. A group of us got together to plan our response as a church and coordinate a “Refugee Sunday” where a range of ways of responding were put to the congregation in the context of relevant biblical teaching.
These included options to support (with prayer or finances) organisations like Open Doors working with persecuted Christian families in Syria and Tearfund working with displaced families in refugee camps in Lebanon. A practical option was also presented: the church was challenged to see if we could collect and fill 100 banana boxes of aid to go to refugee families through Samara’s Aid’s Care Pack Appeal.
This proved a very popular option, with many people saying how much they appreciated the chance to do something “hands-on”. Wonderfully, in the end, we collected 170 boxes of aid that we have prayed over, checked and delivered to the Samara’s Aid warehouse, ready to go to the Middle East. The children of the church also caught the vision, and many lovely pictures were drawn that were included in the boxes. We pray these aid packs will not only be a practical blessing to those that receive them , but also a symbol of hope and a sign of love to the people that they are not forgotten.
From here, we plan to roll out the campaign to the community, encouraging church members to fill boxes with the community groups they are part of- book groups, choirs, sports clubs, bridge circles etc- as a means of spreading the net wider and giving more people the opportunity to help in a down to earth practical way.