There were about 35,000 asylum seekers who came to the UK last year. Some of them will have ended up at churches, some because they were Christians, whether nominally or as heart believers. Others will have come looking for help, advice, practical support and ESOL classes. Some will have been avoided to kids clubs Toddlers Groups and Messy Church.
What kind of a welcome did they receive? I hope that the welcome included warm friendship, a genuine desire to help, a listening ear and the Gospel. I hope as well that the welcome included not just a desire to bless but an openness to be blessed.
But will it stop there? If we are happy for asylum seekers to attend our churches and maybe even become members then we still haven’t truly welcomed them in. Our welcome needs to include the recognition that if they belong to Jesus, then they are not guests at our churches. Rather we are partners together, members of the same family in His Church.
So, this is the extra mile. We will know that asylum seekers are welcome when we see them participating in decision making, teaching Sunday School, leading worship and preaching. We will be getting there when refugees are elders and pastors in the church.
In Christ’s church there should be no host nationality. Christ himself is the host who welcomes and gathers in scattered refugees from the world. I look forward to the day when we have learnt this lesson.