Back to Jonah for some thoughts on the #refugeecrisis – ACT NOW and cast aside your #clicktivism

173371531Famously, Jonah is thrown overboard, swallowed by a large fish and then spewed out onto dry land. He’s on the ship in the first place because he is heading directly in the opposite direction to the one God has sent him in. He is told to go to Nineveh and instead he heads to Spain: told to head to modern Iraq/Iran, Jonah heads to the safety of the West.  So many others have no choice – over 3 million have fled Syria alone from the horrors of ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh, 6.5m are displaced internally, and we have seen too the horrors of Kurdistan and Northern Iraq.

But this week, things seemed to have taken a turn. While our Prime Minister, champion of British Values, says we cannot take any more than the 7,355 refugees we have already taken (compare Germany’s 70,000+), we have been collectively horrified by the pictures of young Aylan Kurdi, aged 3, from Kobane in northern Syria, washed up onto the beach of opulent Bodrum in Turkey – the summer destination of so many of the world’s elite. Aryam died fleeing ISIS, running away from war, trying to find a safe place to live.

2015-08-28 23.16.58As I sit here and pen this, I want to ask why God didn’t find Aylan an accommodating whale? Why Jonah and not Aylan? Why save a disobedient, complaining and selfish prophet and not save the innocent lad fleeing from war? What are you doing God? And of course, Jonah is just a story, a myth, a parable about evangelism and mission. And so perhaps I shouldn’t be asking the question – but I am.  And sadly, I’m not getting much of an answer.

Instead, I feel the finger of God pointing back to me.

I think God turns round to me and asks me what I am doing about it.

Well, I tweeted and posted on Facebook. I linked to that amazing speech of in Shakespeare’s Thomas More which Ian McKellen read out. I received lots of retweets of my tweets of indignation, lots of likes and comments on my Facebook prayers, lots of people signed the petition because of what I put online. I tweeted and posted and shared my frustrations.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 16.07.38But I am not really any better than Jonah if I leave it there. Clicktivism is not activism. Putting up a tweet is not the same as donating money to one of the charities working in the area like MOAS or MSF. It’s not like shopping on the Amazon site for refugees or being there in London for the march of support on September 12th.  In fact there are loads of ways we can practically help – read about some of them here. Click, tweet, post, engage…but also ACT!!!

refugees_welcomeJonah eventually got to Nineveh and was horrified that the people there listened to his message and repented. Despite his initial disobedience and lack of action, Jonah was given a second chance to obey, to act, to share the good news. I wonder if we, our country and our selves, will be given a second chance to move our virtual clicktivity into enfleshed action, real giving, passionate defence of the alien and the dispossessed?    If only our British football stadia could be graced with the signs which have been appearing in Germany, where troops welcome refugees, where the government is going out of its way to support the dispossessed.

Come on, Blighty, it’s time to show what British values are – ACT NOW!

Refugees are welcome here too!!!!

…and this morning, even David Cameron seems to be in agreement…wow!

About pmphillips

Pete Phillips Bio: I'm into the New Testament (especially John's Gospel), technology, literary theory, postmodernism, football and that kind of stuff. I am married to Theresa and we have three great kids (and a Westie called Grace). I'm a Christian and love the whole church thing, which is good because I also work for the Methodist Church in the UK. My formal job titles are: Director of Research for CODEC at St John's College, Durham University and Secretary to the Faith and Order Committee of the Methodist Church.