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04 September 2015

This is not a time for the Church to be silent

This is not a time for the Church to be silent

I suspect, like me, you’ve been shocked by the images you’ve seen this week. It might be just one child, Aylan Kurdi, who has captured our attention, but it has become the lens through which a global crisis has come to the forefront of our attention. When the horrific reality of the suffering endured by so many is impossible to ignore, as it has become this week, I can’t help but be provoked towards compassion in response.

I want to echo what the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, that: “As Christians we believe we are called to break down barriers, to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), and to seek the peace and justice of our God, in our world, today.”

What we’ve seen this week is not new, and that it’s taken this to get our attention is something to cause us to reflect. The crises across the Middle East, Africa and Europe as millions of people are displaced from their homes and countries demand our attention and they require our action.

In Syria alone over four million people are classed as refugees and across the world the number reaches 60 million displaced people. The pictures that have covered newspapers this week remind me of the horror many face not only as they flee from danger but also as they seek to find their way to safety.

As the world pays attention to the UK and how as a country we respond, my hope and prayer is that the Church will lead the way in modelling a generous and compassionate approach. There are many situations of deep complexity involved in the current crises. The solutions are not straightforward and not all of us will agree on the best approach. I recognise the challenges for the government in responding to global situations, and I hope you will join with me as I pray for those in power to exercise their authority with wisdom and compassion.

I want the UK to be a place of refuge, but I also want our churches to be beacons of hospitality, and our homes to be full of warmth and welcome. Please join with me in prayer this weekend. To help you respond, here are a few examples of ways you can get involved:

  1. Pray: in your services this weekend, perhaps you could use this prayer written by Fred Drummond, the Alliance’s director of prayer:
Lord have Mercy
Gracious God,
For every tear streaked child
For every voiceless mother
For every desperate father
For every homeless and stateless family
We cry out to you

Lord have mercy

For those slumped in despair
For those on their knees unable to take another step
For those who look and feel hunted and hopeless
For those who live in the desperate captivity of fear

Lord have mercy

Soften our hearts
Move us to action
Fill us with compassion
Let us be channels of your love

Lord have mercy

Lord whose family had to flee a country
Lord who had nowhere to lay your head
Lord who weeps over the city
Lord have mercy

Move us to make a difference
To act with love and understanding
To offer hope and strengthen the weak
To put the needs of the broken above our own

Lord have mercy


  1. Give: many of our member organisations are involved in development and relief work in countries at the centre of the current refugee crisis. Tearfund and World Vision both have specific appeals for work in Syria and the Middle East. Open Doors, part of our Religious Liberty Commission, also has a fund for Syria and Iraq.
  2. Open: Citizens UK are asking landlords to provide rental homes for local authorities to use to resettle refugees. Are there people in your church or community that provide this accommodation? Are there other ways you could open up your homes to provide hospitality? Home for Good are also collecting names of people who might be willing and able to provide foster care for unaccompanied minors.
  3. Act: There are many organisations working to support refugees in the UK. One such charity is Refugee Support Network which provides mentors for young people specifically to help them in their education.
  4. Campaign: While there is a vast amount that churches and individuals can do, there are also vital decisions for the government to make, both in terms of refugees coming to the UK and support and assistance in Syria and the wider region. This is not a time for the Church to be silent, so please contact your local MP to speak up.

There are no easy solutions, but this is something we cannot let pass us by. As a nation we have stood up many times to help people who are in the greatest need, and it is my prayer and my passion that we would do the same today. Please join with me in prayer, and as a Church across the UK do what we can to provide care and compassion, and treat all people with the greatest of dignity.

Yours for the King and His Kingdom,

Steve Clifford
General director of the Evangelical Alliance