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Asylum Seekers Update

Introduction

Apologies for the fact that it’s been so long since we last sent an update. This note will bring you up to date on a few things. It contains some important information so please read it through to the end.

Visiting

Since our last update we have gained a number of additional houses. At the time of writing we are trying to support 14 houses. Unfortunately at the same time as the need for more visitors has increased, a number of visitors have pulled out.

 

We desperately need more visitors in order to support asylum seekers based in and around Ashton. If you know of anyone from your church who might be interested in helping then please encourage them to take part and ask them to contact us. Our original scheme which allocated 4 visitors (2 pairs of 2 people) to each house is no longer sustainable and many houses now have only 1 pair of visitors. Indeed, if it were not for the generosity of those visitors who are now supporting two houses, the scheme would be in an even worse state.

 

We are also aware that a number of visitors appear to have stopped visiting without bothering to tell us. The consequences of not visiting are serious. We recently learnt of a man who was in one of the houses which hadn’t been visited who became destitute without our knowledge. He was therefore potentially homeless with no support and we couldn’t help him because we didn’t know! Another man we met is a Christian, but because the visitors hadn’t been to the house, he’d never been invited to church.

 

Many of our asylum seekers don’t attend the Sunday drop-in or the language class and the only contact we have is via the visits.

Destitution

Asylum seekers normally become destitute (i.e. lose access to accommodation and all financial support) for two reasons.

 

1.    Their asylum application has been granted but they are not yet entitled to claim benefits or apply for work. (We know this shouldn’t happen but it does!)

2.    Their asylum application has been rejected and all support is permanently withdrawn.

 

Thankfully, we know of relatively few of our asylum seekers who have become destitute. However, we want to be able to better support those that do. We are currently trying to put together a scheme to support any of our asylum seekers who become destitute and will send out more information about this in due course,

Meeting

We will shortly be organising a meeting for all those involved in supporting our asylum seekers. You will receive an email offering a range of dates. Please try to provide as many options as possible. If you don’t do so then it makes it difficult to choose a time when most people can attend.

English Lessons

The number of asylum seekers attending the English classes continues to fluctuate from week to week but has increased and we sometimes have more than 20 people attending. We are very grateful to our teacher Pat for her continued commitment and to those volunteers who support the Thursday sessions.

Sunday Drop-In

The Sunday drop-in takes place in St Thomas’ church hall between 1 and 3pm. It has now been running for several months and on a typical week 10-12 asylum seekers will attend. Once again thanks are due to those who support the drop-in.

Status

Since our last update several more of our asylum seekers have been granted status which is great for them but we are always sorry to say goodbye to them. Can you please heed our previous requests to make us aware of any changes in the houses you visit?

Bikes

Keith Whittle has kindly taken on responsibility for organising provision of bikes to houses. If you are a visitor and believe the house you visit requires more bikes then please talk to Keith.

TVs

Eleven of our houses now have TVs which have been kindly donated. A number of our visitors have been incredibly generous and funded the cost of the TV licence for the house they visit. However, without significant additional revenue we cannot afford to continue as we are. For this reason we cannot provide any additional TVs.

Adult Safeguarding

There are still many people reading this who won’t have completed the safeguarding training. If you are one of those people then please make the time to do this. If you are unsure how to do this then please contact us.

A Name for the Group

We feel that our group would benefit from having an appropriate name. If you can come up with a catchy name which reflects our work: Ashton Christians Supporting Asylum Seekers and Refugees, then please let us know.

Grant

We recently made a presentation to the Ashton Rotary group. As a result, we were awarded £250 which will benefit our financial situation. We are very grateful to the Rotarians for their support.

Prayers

With so much going on we need your prayers more than ever.

 

·         With the next general election looming large and a number of political parties vowing to make life even harder for asylum seekers, please pray that the new government will be sympathetic to those fleeing their homes in fear of their lives.

·         In the wake of the dreadful bombing at the MEN Arena, there has been a further increase in racially motivated crimes against Muslims. This reaction has no place in a civilised society, so please pray that UK communities would be more tolerant.

·         Pray that more visitors will come forward and that those who are visitors will make the visits they committed to.

·         Pray for progress with our efforts to establish support for those asylum seekers and refugees who become destitute.

·         Since our last update there have been instances of serious arguments between those sharing a house. Please pray that this won’t happen.

·         Continue to give thanks for those who have obtained status and pray that they will be able to find somewhere safe to live and be able to find work.

·         Pray for those who are anxiously awaiting decisions. Some of them have been waiting for a long time and it’s hard for them to understand why others who have been in the UK for a shorter time obtain status.

·         War is a major cause of people seeking asylum. Pray for peace particularly in Syria, Yemen and Iran. Pray that all governments will do more to stop the trade in arms which fuels so many conflicts.

— Yours, Chris

HOUSE GROUP QUESTIONS

Read Philemon  

Focus on Philemon 1-3

Paul sends greeting to a ‘fellow worker’ and ‘soldier’, what is Paul saying about Philemon and Archippus? Could these titles be applied to people in our church today?

How might someone address a letter to us today? How would they describe us in terms of what we do for Jesus?

Focus on Philemon 4-7

In what ways is Paul encouraged by Philemon and the church that meets at his house?

What does he pray for the church? What is at the center of this prayer?

Focus on Philemon 8-21

Summarize these verses:

  • What is Paul asking of Philemon?
  • How does he speak about Onesimus?
  • What appeals does Paul make to Philemon?

How do Paul’s words to the church in Colossi in Colossians 3:12-14 echo the same sentiment as Paul is expressing here?

What does it mean to truly forgive someone? What does it look like in the way I act and feel towards someone who has hurt me in the past?

BE BLESSED

Be blessed October 2017

“When things don’t go right!”

No life is never without its difficulties. No matter what our family we will face problems at home. No matter what our school is we will face problems. In every part of a life there will be times when we wonder what is going on, things we didn’t anticipate or want, have invaded our space and it just doesn’t seem fair or right!

In situations like that we need to think very carefully about our response. Some options are feeling sorry for ourselves, feeling angry at God, giving up on God, accepting what’s happened as fate and carrying on, blaming ourselves or others, giving up on life altogether.

What is the response of the person with a living faith in the living God? It may not be leaping about clapping our hands singing at the top of our voice. There are times when our faith is really tested and we struggle to smile. Think of the attitude of Jesus in the temptation in the desert Matthew 4; or the Garden of Gethsemane Mark 14; in Herod’s palace Luke 23; or Pilate’s judgement hall John 18. These were times when it seemed that “things were not going right” for Jesus from a human point of view.

Jesus was perfect and the Son of God, but in his suffering he is our example. He was where God wanted him to be and he accepted what was happening as from his Father. Isaiah chapter 53 tells us how Jesus faced the suffering brought into his life under God’s hand. It is not pretty or petty, it is crushing physically and spiritually for Jesus, it is suffering beyond our understanding, but his attitude is our example.

His silence in the face of what seemed so unfair speaks of his faith in his Father. His answers to the questions asked at his trial speak of his knowledge that this is God’s will for him. Sometimes it’s our silence that speaks the loudest, when we can’t give an explanation or a reason but our faith is in our Heavenly Father who we know can do no wrong. When we speak about our faith, along with our acceptance of God’s will, it shines out to others.

As we face difficulties that are not of our making and we live through them with dignity and faith, people notice the difference in us, they noticed the difference in Jesus. They stand and notice our attitudes, silences, actions and words and through them God speaks.

When our conduct is displaying our faith God is being glorified and the evidence of a living faith in God cannot be denied. It may even draw the comment, “I wish I had your faith!”. Now that’s worth hearing! Let’s show our living faith when things aren’t going “right”.

Be blessed,

Ray