In the past week, immigration has been front and centre in the press. This followed two main incidents: an attack on a migrant processing centre in Dover, and the exposure of over-crowding at another processing centre in Manston, Kent.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion, or views on migration and how to deal with it, the Bible is clear that God loves and cares about the sojourner, stranger, or foreigner. In Psalm 146:9 we read, “The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” I think it is important for us to remember that at the heart of this challenging situation are people, God’s creation, and image-bearers. God loves and has compassion on all His creation, but we see clearly throughout the Bible, His particular concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.
The scenes at the migrant processing centre are of particular concern, due to the sheer number of people and the risk of disease and impact on young children. As Christians, we are called to love and have compassion on those whom God loves and has compassion. Just as He loves and has compassion on us. We read in Zechariah 7:10, “Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” We cannot simply turn away from this issue, but we need not despair either.
So, how as followers of Jesus can we respond to this challenge?
Firstly, and most importantly, we can pray. We can lift to the Lord all those currently facing poor conditions and over-crowding at processing centres, including Manston. We can pray for wisdom and compassion for our politicians, pray that they act decisively and with love. We can pray for ourselves too, that we will not grow cold or indifferent to those that God loves and calls us to love too.
Secondly, we can contact our local MPs. It is important for us as Christians to be actively engaging in politics. Why not write to your MP, respectfully asking them to keep encouraging the Government to take action that gives dignity to those who are being processed.
As Christians, we trust that we have a God and Father who loves us, one who is just and who stands up for the poor and marginalised. Galatians 5:14 reads, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” Let’s rest in His love and let it motivate us to pray, to care, and to act.