January
20
Author
Paul Mogford
Hong Kong Ready Churches

Immigration is one of the most divisive issues in our national political life, yet as Christians there is a clear call on us to be hospitable and welcoming, peace-makers in our communities, those who cross dividing walls of hostility to offer friendship.

The UK has seen some mass migration in the past (the 1968-1974 East African migration springs to mind), but none will equal the migration taking place from Hong Kong to the UK in the spring of 2021. Over 130,000 Hong Kong Chinese are expected to arrive in the UK, given full citizen rights to live here for five years. They won’t be refugees or asylum seekers – this migration comes with the full blessing and invitation from the UK Government and with some resources. This means they will be able to live and work here, but will have no recourse to public funds – for example, they will not be eligible for benefits or free healthcare.

This welcome extended by our Government to those born in Hong Kong before 1997 and their descendants comes with awesome responsibility – and is an incredible opportunity. The responsibility of drawing each person and family in as part of the community, to integrate and settle as quick as possible – and the opportunity to make it happen through our churches! Imagine what it might be like were it to be the other way round – landing with no home, no understanding of the geography, the language, the culture, the systems. Where to live, how to buy a home, where to school your children – all big questions that need to be answered as quickly as possible.

What an incredible opportunity for the Church in the UK to step up to the plate – to become a gateway to our local communities! Many do this already for our refugee and asylum seeker friends through Welcome Churches, Community Support and other fantastic serving opportunities. Have a look at our website https://jubilee-plus.org/refugee-network/news/ to find loads of ideas and groups to help you.

And in this new migration, why not become a church that welcomes new friends from Hong Kong? All the information you need can be found at UKHK.org – we can become befrienders, signposts and guides to people who need quick and immediate help. Next week will see a number of significant church leaders commit to being part of the solution, and around the country many churches are getting ready to help in so many ways. Strangers need friends – why not look at practical ways you could befriend someone new to your area. Help with schools is going to be important, as is helping to fill forms in, to contact the right departments in local government – the many things we take for granted (doctors, dentists, banks etc) will need explaining, sorting out, bringing to a conclusion.

If we truly believe that the church should be the primary source of welcoming strangers, those from other cultures, caring for the dispossessed and the lonely, then now is a great time to get involved.

There are a limited number of donation-only places left for the launch event of Hong Kong Ready Churches, where Jubilee+ team member Natalie Williams is among the line-up of speakers. Book yourself in here to attend the event on 28 January and find out how your church can sign up as a Hong Kong Ready Church.

As we express a warm welcome to those who come, we are reflecting the heart of the Father who welcomes us into his family.


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