From Refugees at home to 'Great floodwater'L
Refugees at home
Hearing the world news you can feel ashamed to be human: we could do, and could be, so much better with our free will, our highly developed brains, and the ability to laugh and love. We can rise to George Fox’s challenge to walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in everyone – but so many of our fellow humans are in trouble with one another, and we are just powerless to help.
Have you heard of the registered charity Refugees at Home (www.refugeesathome.org)? Since being founded in 2015 they have arranged for over 2,300 adults in Britain to spend time in a guest spare room while waiting for ‘leave to remain’, or newly granted ‘refugee status’ and almost simultaneously become homeless. We heard about it from an enthusiastic business colleague in London who had participated as host. Having such a guest brings nothing but pleasure to feel the world is a tiny bit better than it was: measuring upwards from the bottom, not down from perfection.
It also brings understanding of the experience of others. We had Agnes staying with us in London before lockdown, and she is still there. This is an exceptionally long stay – the shortest can just be a few days, and that couldn’t be simpler: there is no money involved, the home visitor is on call if a problem emerges, or advice needed; and in dealing with the Home Office, the legal niceties are known and understood. My husband Mark and I really recommend it to Friends, if you have the room.
Recently my wife and I visited a National Trust property in Derbyshire. At lunchtime I went to the café to get cups of tea for our picnic lunch. While in the queue the two women behind me were in discussion about a religious sect – I never heard which it was. One of them said that it was very similar to Quakers with an opinion on everything and part of the angry brigade. At that point I was very tempted to join the discussion but thought it best not and anyway it was my turn to be served. Later I was reflecting on this comment and was rather disturbed: is this the way others see us? My Quaker upbringing was of a caring tolerant religious group who tried wherever possible to help those who needed it and in particular along the religious pathway.
Yes, I sometimes think we have become an angry group ready to jump on any bandwagon going. True concern comes from individual leadings that we are called to follow when we listen to the leadings of the spirit that comes to us in times of worship. Of course we should be aware of injustices in the world and seek guidance in worship but not just nail our colours to the mast because we think it might be a just cause.
Individual action through leadings I thoroughly respect and support. For example, in my own family I had a great uncle who was a conscience objector and joined the Friends Ambulance Unit in world war one. Then in world war two my mother joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in her professional capacity as a chiropodist. Two totally different decisions but I understand and respect both, but the crucial point is that they were individual leadings.
We need to get back to that spirit-led way and show to the world we are a caring and understanding religion rather than a bellicose organisation ready to latch onto the latest unjust fad.
David G Bower
You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.