On Sunday 22nd May the world passed a staggering milestone. The UN High Commission on Refugees published the data: The Ukraine war and other conflicts had pushed the number of people forcibly displaced worldwide to an eye-watering 100 million people. If refugees were a country, it would be the 14th largest nation on earth! This is a global movement, and it is worth making the point that less than 6% of refugees end up in high-income countries such as the UK. In fact, it may surprise you to know that currently the largest community being settled in the UK is from Hong Kong (100,000 people).
Two weeks later a flight chartered by the British government intended to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.
Against that backdrop, this week is Refugee Week when the public are invited to celebrate the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary across the globe.
People are on the move. And God is on the move amongst them. Whatever your politics or point of view might be, the fact is that God is showing up in migrant camps and English language classes, in multi-cultural Alpha courses and in WhatsApp groups. In miracles dreams and revelations, “just like the book of Acts”, as Sasan Tavasolli reminded us of a few weeks back.
If Jesus said, “I simply do what I see the father doing” and our mission is to “see where God is working and join in” then how are we joining into this work of the Holy Spirit in our days?
“Mission” and “evangelism” are trigger words, flooding Christians with fear and worry and over-complicating our befriending and sharing of lives with others. As a result, many of us are finding it freeing to see our Christian task through the lens of “hospitality.”
Last week I joined with a bunch of people who were thinking about “hospitality as mission”. “Hospitality,” said one of our speakers “means accompanying people where they are and expecting God to show up”. That sounds doable to me! Just as God has spread his arms wide to welcome strangers and rebels like us so we too are to extend the same welcome to others. Showing hospitality does not mean breaking open your bone China collection or turning into a Cordon Bleu chef overnight or even cramming a family in your guest room! Hospitality is simply about befriending others and treating them with respect, believing that they have gifts to offer us as we have gifts to offer them. It is simply to treat a stranger just as we would like to be treated (didn’t Jesus say something like that!?). We can offer time, listening, and conversational chat (for a great example see this article about Mossvale Community Church in Paisley – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-61839500 ).
So, what has this got to do with Sunday and the topsy turvy kingdom I hear you say? Well, everything!
Matt 7: 15-20 asks the question “what does authentic faith in Jesus look like?” in response Jesus says that a God-centred life will produce fruit. Now here’s the kicker – the fruit is not being super tight with biblical doctrines, nor being popular and platformed in Christian culture nor even being psychologically “healed up” but as James 1:27 says:
“The authentic expression of worship that God our Father accepts is this: to look after orphans and widows (each word conveys the sense of “dispossessed” – those who have unremitting losses) in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Christians all over the country are stepping up to join in what God is doing, professionally and personally and are making a substantial contribution. Did you know, for example, that the term “new Scot” was coined by a Christian seeking to convey welcome and respect?
Why not have a conversation with the lord about how you might join in his mission of hospitality? Talk to some of the “new Scots” at QPBC about their experience and explore some of these websites :