Over the past few months, we have felt as a church that God has been speaking to us about a new area of ministry he wants us to invest into. This ministry is to provide support for the many refugees and asylum seekers here in Luton, and show the love that God has for them, and the intrinsic value and dignity that they have.
Where has all this come from? Well, over the past few months and without actively seeking it, we have had 5 refugees start worshipping with us, and we are expecting more to join us shortly. As we have got to know these people, we have heard first-hand about the difficult circumstances which have forced them to be displaced from their home country, and away from friends, jobs, homes and families. And having spoken with local council representatives and other local churches, we have realised that many of these asylum seekers are grouped together in small local hotels, and without the language, understanding and confidence to engage with the community around them.
At Hope Church we have felt God speaking to us and our need to respond to this. A small number of us met to pray and chat with some local asylum seekers, and very quickly had a page of ideas of services and support which would be beneficial. However we also felt strongly that with other existing projects we are already involved in, that we should focus on 1-2 promising initiatives which we can commit to and support. Those initiatives will be (1) a specific refugee-focussed session of Open House on Wednesday afternoons and (2) English Language lessons.
Speaking personally as a leader of the church, I have been amazed and excited by how quickly and easily plans have fallen into place for these initiatives!! The right rooms are immediately available, the right leaders are immediately available, we have had immediate support and encouragement from across the church family, and in times of prayer about refugees I have immediately felt the Holy Spirit close, energised and powerful. It is miraculous that having met to discuss ideas in the late March, these initiatives will be up and running within 6 weeks of that first discussion.
God is on the move! It is exciting to feel His passion and energy in His purposes. No doubt there will be surprises, joys and challenges ahead, but God we pray to you for your blessing. If anyone feels stirred to join us as a helper please do contact me ASAP Jonathan.firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Adams (on behalf of the Hope Leadership Team)
Other interesting links
City of Sanctuary network: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Sanctuary_(UK)
UN Refugee Agency: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/
Asylum seekers in UK: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/asylum-in-the-uk.html