The sacred ministry of welcome
“… I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Jesus, in Matthew 25:35
Migration in its many guises is a major issue in today’s world; an issue that’s as varied and complex as it is politically charged. And it’s an issue on which our Scriptures have much to say. While it would be foolish to move straight from bible text to political policy, the thrust of Scripture leaves us in no doubt that the Christian community is to offer a welcome to those who come to our towns and cities. Our Scriptures encourage us to view this as a sacred duty and a reflection of the hospitality God extends to us. It’s mission.
Hong Kong response
The challenge to Baptist churches is brought into focus by the current wave of migration from Hong Kong. As a result of a changed political climate in this former British colony, several countries, including the United Kingdom, have moved to reconfigure their immigration policy, or grant refugee status to those leaving Hong Kong. The Home Office estimates that nearly 300,000 Hong Kongers will relocate to the UK by 2025. Baptists Together has responded to this opportunity by the appointment of a national Hong Kong Response Coordinator, Rev Sharon Shek, who is based in Derby.
We encourage all our churches, particularly those close to major towns and cities, to learn more about possibilities for involvement by reading the relevant pages on the BT website. These pages urge churches to sign up as a Hong Kong-welcoming church and provide a link to contact Sharon. Sharon would love to hear from you and is willing to speak at EMBA churches.
Several of our churches have already welcomed Hong Kongers into their midst; you can read a great story about Chesterfield Baptist Church here.
Wider visioned than the current Hong Kong migration, Welcome Churches provides encouragement, resources and training to churches with a heart and willingness to offer a welcome to refugees and asylum seekers. You can register as a Welcome Church via their website. Some of our churches have already registered. For example, both West Bridgford Baptist Church and Watnall Road Baptist Church have received help or training as they have sought to extend a hand of welcome. Their lead Ministers are happy to share their experience if you contact them directly.
Resources for going deeper
- Jubilee+ refugee network provides a comprehensive overview of asylum and refugee issues, including some biblical reflections and resources for worship.
- Welcoming the stranger: What does the Bible say about refugees? provides a short biblical overview on this important subject.