As you will have seen and heard, there are millions of people fleeing war-torn countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya to reach safety in European countries. However, due to complicated immigration laws, many people have been left stranded, creating what is called a refugee crisis.
The UN says that there were over one million refugee and migrant arrivals in the EU in 2015 but thousands also died on the dangerous journeys across the sea. This has continued throughout 2016 with thousands more loosing their lives as they try to make their way to safety.
The ‘Calais Jungle’ as it is known, is a refugee camp in France where an estimated 10,000 or more people have ended up, having not yet made it to their destination. We spoke to Sarah, who has recently visited the camp, and asked her to tell us a bit about her experience.
So Sarah, you recently went to Calais to visit the refugee camp known as The Jungle. Tell me about it!
I went with out for a week with a team sent by 24-7 Prayer. We were working with a project that runs a tea and coffee van and pop up café so we were serving free hot drinks and snacks to the refugees. Then we had a café area set up where people could just sit and play games or play guitar or sing and generally hang out, which was fun.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was hearing the stories of what the refugees had been through; horrendous stories of being tortured, families and friends killed in front of them. And then hearing how they’d made it to this refugee camp but now they were just stuck in really horrible conditions because non of the countries want to take them, nobody is really helping them at the moment and they don’t really know what to do.
How could you worship God surrounded by that devastation?
Good question! I think in seeing the joy and encouragement that these people still brought to each other and to us as a team. I thought that it was quite amazing that they could still have so much joy even when they had been through so much.
I found I was worshipping God more because I was talking to Him more. I found myself praying for people in my head as I heard their stories. As I was talking to God more, even though I was asking God for a lot, I was coming round to thanking God for things in the camp, the small glimmers of hope was saw.
As a girl of faith, how do you think it impacted your faith?
I think it challenged my faith and it grew my faith. I very much believe that Jesus is all about loving people who are vulnerable and poor. In the Bible he was constantly telling people to do that, showing people how to do it and doing it himself.
It grew my faith because I was really thankful that our God is a God who wants to care for people and love people and heal people’s pain – and he wants to use us for that. I wanted to recommit my life to making sure that I’m taking every moment and every opportunity to do that.
What can the rest of us do to change the world?
I think just look around for where you see things that are unfair or where people are sad or having a hard time. That doesn’t necessarily need to be in a different country or with refugees, you can just be that in your school or with your friends.
Pray and think about what you can do. Even tiny things; one small action, one small gift, one small word – it can start from that. If you are faithful with a small amount God will give you more opportunities to do amazing things.