10th December - Refugees and asylum seekers

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.'

Matthew 2:13

The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:34

"I did not know what was happening tomorrow...but could make no sense out of yesterday"

These words were spoken to me by an asylum-seeker trying to describe the total despair they felt while fleeing for safety.

There are many reasons why people flee from their home countries. People fleeing danger in their own country simply want safety. The fact is, it is the poorest countries in the world, often those bordering war and crisis zones, which accept the largest number of refugees. Most asylum seekers do not choose their destination country. When fleeing persecution, it isn't the first thing on their mind. Those with some choice often come to the UK because they have friends or family here. They are keen to contribute to the communities and society, but are often hampered by legal restraints.

As Christians, and followers of Jesus, we can be helpful and welcome refugees in our homes and churches. Cultural distinctions will be a reality, but hospitality is universal. A genuine welcome can be hugely supportive to a family or a life devastated by this kind of trauma. The Bible gives us guidance on this, as in our two verses. Jesus and his family were refugees and had to flee to a strange land; God commands Israel to welcome foreigners. Can we find it in our hearts to welcome the stranger into our homes and community? I hope so.

Julian Kotze is a Quaker and a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Durham University with a research focus on migration/refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa into Europe with a specific focus on the North East. She was awarded the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling scholarship which enabled her to travel to refugee camps in East Africa.

Two websites that will give the reader more insight to the life and detail about being a refugee are this video and this myth-busting factsheet.

Daily prayer

Father, where there are violence and conflict, help those who need safety and stillness to realise it through You.


Lord, in this time of Advent open our hearts to those who feel excluded from Your church.
Help us draw in those on the margins and place them in the centre of our family.