Lights in dark places

Reaching out to refugees and asylum seekers

Katy lives near Glasgow in Scotland with her husband and son. She has been using the Farsi translation of Christianity Explored this year with asylum seekers and refugees at her church.

A few years ago some young people in our church were being baptised. One of the young men was Kurdish. I didn’t know him very well but our minister told us that he had been separated from his family for over two years. He was just one of several people in our congregation in a similar situation.

It suddenly struck me how sad I felt for those young people and how difficult it must be for them being thousands of miles away from home in a strange country with such a different language and culture.

It was leading up to Christmas and I knew that these guys might be facing Christmas Day alone. My husband and I decided to host a dinner in church for those who would otherwise be on their own. With huge support from our wonderful church family, we were able to have Christmas Day dinner for around 30 people, including refugees from various continents.

It was leading up to Christmas and I knew that these guys might be facing Christmas Day alone.

Over the following months my husband and I made a point of getting to know some of these refugees; the Kurdish guys and some people from Iran who had joined our congregation off the back of weekly English classes run by our church. Slowly our friendships grew.

Earlier this year three of them joined me on a Scripture Union young adult’s weekend to the Scottish Highlands. We had a fabulous time studying God’s word and exploring the outdoors.

Soon after I had the privilege of helping to baptise two of them in our church. As their baptism classes with our minister came to an end, I was keen to continue doing some type of Bible study. That was when I found out about the Farsi translations of Christianity Explored.

Since May this year we’ve been meeting twice a month to go through the material. We usually don’t get through one full study every time because of the three different languages between us (Kurdish, Farsi and English). But a slow pace is good; it helps our friends in their English language and it means we can take time to explain the scriptures and discuss them properly.

We started with three people but our numbers are growing and we now have about eight regulars who often bring friends, so we meet in our church rather than a home. When we announce our study night in church, we also have it announced in Farsi so everyone knows exactly where and when to meet.

As Christians, we are to be His light in a dark place. We are to be His 'town on a hill'.

We are currently in the midst of planning our third Christmas Day dinner at church. One person I invited wasn’t with us last year and he said to me: “You can’t imagine how terrible last Christmas was. Everywhere was closed, nothing to eat, nothing to do.”

They are so far from home and they miss their families dreadfully; it’s a heartbreaking situation. The recent earthquake in Iran has devastated a lot of them as they nearly all know of people who have lost loved ones. It’s difficult for them to see their fellow countrymen suffer so much knowing that they can’t go back to help.

I was driving to church one evening about a year ago. As I drove along the road past our church I looked up and the lights were on in the building. I noticed how the church building appeared to be standing on its own but it didn't look lonely or isolated. It looked welcoming and warm. The phrase 'a town built on a hill' from Matthew 5.14 came to my mind.

God is not a secret to be kept. Nothing showed that more clearly than when he sent Jesus, the Light of the World, at Christmas time all those years ago. God reminds us that as Christians we are to be His light in a dark place. We are to be His ‘town on a hill’. Welcoming, loving, standing out. At home, at work, with our neighbours, with shop assistants, bus drivers, wherever he has placed us.

As Christians, we are to be His light in a dark place. We are to be His 'town on a hill'.

God calls us to be brave and step out of our comfort zones. We can do it with His help. My challenge to you is to show God's love and extend hospitality to those God has placed around you this Christmas time.