Anna Lloyd shares how, with prompting from her children, she has decided to open her home to Ukrainian refugees. She reminds us that God has asked us to love our neighbour, and that we should do what we can.
Over the past weeks, my husband, two children and I have watched images of Ukrainian families cowering in bunkers and crowding onto trains. Zach (11) and Georgia (13) have emphatically and empathetically, been asking ‘Can we have a family to stay? Can we look after any children?’
When I posted our intention to house a refugee family on my social media profiles with a link to Krish Kandiah’s Sanctuary Foundation, I was inundated with messages and calls from friends and members of the community - all interested in doing the same, or supporting us in our endeavour. The BBC rang to ask if I would be interviewed on the evening news and BBC Radio Norfolk about why we had decided to sign up.
In the interview I explained about the deep instinct to help. I also shared that our family has done this before, hosting an Iranian couple who were seeking asylum, and that in our experience it is a very special thing to be able to offer. I talked about the overwhelming compassion everyone has felt at seeing the heartbreaking images, and that we were in a position to offer help because we had a spare room and a good support network.
What I didn’t go so far to say, is that as Christians we feel aware of a much bigger dimension at play. We know and believe that the impulse, the urge to do something is tied up with a God who loves us and asks us to love our neighbours as ourselves (“Who is my neighbour?’’ the expert in the law asks Jesus in Luke 10, who goes on to share the parable of the Good Samaritan).
We know a God who calls us, at different times and in different seasons, to do certain things. We have experienced this before in the big and the small, and this is another one of those ‘bigger’ moments. God asks us all to love in many shapes and forms.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ asked the Mole. ‘Kind’ said the boy.
I have these now famous words written by Charlie Mackesy from The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, on a poster above my desk. Their profound simplicity has reached millions. Charlie’s words (echoing Jesus’ charge to love our neighbour as ourselves) reverberate through the soul. The language of child-like love resonate universally, transcending the chaos and confusion of pandemics, politics, wars and crisis. Our job today? To be kind, to love.
And so as bombs devastate homes and communities in a country not that far away, a common and instinctive reaction has been to ask ‘How can we help?/ What can we do?’ Heartwarmingly, and without exception, everyone I have spoken to about the situation has voiced this innate, humanitarian response. Other mums at the school gate, our next door neighbour’s builder, the Deliveroo guy and politicians alike are united in their shared horror, and urge to act.
An inner, instant impulse - not dissimilar to that which would propel you to rush and help someone off the pavement if they collapsed in front of you - seems to have been activated in us all as we watch, in real time, the bombs falling on homes and families. It is just not right, it is utterly harrowing, we need to help, do something.
There are infinite ways God will call us to help and love others, and hosting is just one of those ways. But if you feel that prompt, that nudge, I would encourage you to air it with those around you. Talk to your loved ones and support networks - ask ‘What do you think about us doing this?’
Either way, whatever you do, continue to emulate kindness. Because kindness is contagious, and is one of the most powerful weapons we have.