He was a distinguished looking man, mid 50's. His bearing suggested he had been a person of some significance, probably one to whom people went to for advice and counsel. We met him far from his home in Sudan – selling – or trying to sell useless trinkets to tourists in Cannes.
The taxi driver told me he grew up in Ninevah. Yes the same city Jonah was reluctantly sent to. Some of his family still live there. A Christian, one of the several million who have fled persecution in the Middle East, he calls Wellington home. Now a New Zealand citizen, he has enjoyed and contributed to richness of our society for 20 years.
There are times when human tragedy on a large scale unfolds before us. This is one of those times. The brief images on the television news only hint at the horrors and desperation which causes families to risk extreme danger in the hope of finding a new life, somewhere, anywhere which might provide safety and security.
There is no question New Zealand can make a difference to refugees and could do more. Increasing the quota, doubling or better for 2 -3 years to attend to the worst of the crisis. The Government however seems to be deaf, but I suspect they will no longer sit on their hands if 1000's of New Zealanders write to or visit their member of parliament asking for compassionate action on our behalf.
Yes it might mean as churches we need to offer practical support to help refugees find and make a home in New Zealand. Faith, compassion and our common humanity call us to action.
General Secretary – Methodist Church of New Zealand
4 September 2015
This statement was endorsed by Council of Conference and is issued on behalf of the Methodist Church of New Zealand.