Today, 20 June 2022, is World Refugee Day, followed closely by International Widow’s Day on 23 June 2022. A celebration is held, called the Refugee Festival Scotland, and their website says “People from refugee backgrounds make a huge contribution to life in Scotland. We believe that’s worth celebrating!”
Here at the Mission, we are celebrating our new NRPF Support Workers, Lorna and Kirsty. Lorna and Kirsty will provide support specifically for guests who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These are guests with unclear asylum status, or who have been denied asylum. We are working, for their benefit, in close partnership with Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership. We care deeply about displaced people, and Lorna and Kirsty will be placed to deepen relationships with and seek more support for our NRPF guests, with dignity.
When I was a little girl, a woman called Aunty Ella had a huge impact on my life. She was a beautiful pianist and she had a worshipful spirit. She very kindly invited me, and the youth club, into her home every year for a whole weekend without any complaint of the inconvenience we were. She encouraged me to play music and find delight. She role modelled having a living relationship with Jesus. Aunty Ella is a widow, her husband died before I was born. She has lived a life full of rich friendships, she gives away love freely, without complaint. As a child, I didn’t even realise she had once been married. Today as an adult, I look back at the kindness and love that Aunty Ella showered on me and other young people, and it seems even more costly than it seemed at the time, because she was giving love despite being widowed. However, she was not giving love from an empty heart; she was giving love from a heart full of Jesus love. Her life impacted me then and still impacts me now. Her contribution was beautiful, and worth it. I think this is what the Refugee Festival of Scotland are getting at when their website says, “People from refugee backgrounds make a huge contribution to life in Scotland.” We could also say, “Widows make a huge contribution to life in Scotland, and we want to celebrate that.”
I do not think it’s an accident that these two dates on the UN official calendar are three days apart. The Bible very clearly links refugees, or displaced people, and widows. There are many Bible verses about this, a few I came across are Psalm 146:9, Exodus 22:21-24, Zechariah 7:9-10, Deuteronomy 27:19, Deuteronomy 10:18 and Jeremiah 7:5-7. One reason God honours and looks after widows and displaced people is because they do not have an earthly family to look after them. Can you think of one way you could celebrate with kindness the role of refugees, displaced people, and widows in your life or local area?
Many of our guests in Glasgow City Mission are displaced people, so you might feel the desire to take part in Mission life for a period as a volunteer. Please note, because we seek to build meaningful relationships with our guests, we’re looking for volunteers who are able to become a regular part of a team and give a year-round commitment. Unfortunately, this means we aren’t able to accommodate offers of help for Christmas or for one-off visits. However, if this sounds like you, please find our volunteer pack here.