Last updated 19th October 2021
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35).
Our hearts have been deeply moved with compassion for the people of Afghanistan. Many are asking, ‘how can we help?’ The Church of England has produced a toolkit which you can access here. This gives a wealth of information about ways churches can help including joining the Welcome Churches network. The Government have set up a webpage which details different ways people can help locally. You can access this here.
As a diocese, we want to extend welcome to these families and help them build new lives here in the North West. Bishop Jill, the Revd Sarah Gill and the Revd Bryn Naylor can be found in conversation discussing Afghan hospitality.
The Revd Bryn Naylor, Curate at Holy Trinity Hoghton and All Saints Higher Walton, has also shared the following reflection.
پیاز دې وي خو په نیاز دې وي
Let it be an onion, but it should be given with love and pleasure.
Before being ordained I worked as a translator, working mainly with Pashto, one of the two main languages of Afghanistan. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with Afghans and experience their warmth, generosity, hospitality, and friendship. So it has been hard to see the images on the news recently, particularly those showing Afghans so desperate to flee their home country that they have been willing to risk their lives. Those images have prompted many of us to seek out ways to help, and it has been inspiring to see the efforts of so many to welcome and meet the needs of Afghans arriving in the UK.
Many local churches have already been playing an important role. As I reflect on what we can continue to do, I keep coming back to the word hospitality. At the heart of Afghan culture is the custom of offering an unconditional welcome to the stranger and providing for his or her needs. I want to encourage us to offer that same hospitality to Afghans moving into our communities, extending a hand of friendship and support to them, not only materially but also by making personal contact and offering a genuine welcome. There are various ways in which we can do that, some of which can be explored using the links below, and I would be more than happy to help if there are Afghans moving into your parishes.
It might feel like you have little to offer, in which case I want to leave you with the proverb at the beginning of this message and its slightly cryptic translation, taken from a trusty book of Pashto proverbs that I have. It suggests that whatever we are able to offer, even if it seems as inadequate as an onion, we should offer it with love and friendship, and it can be a blessing to someone in need.