Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. ~ (Hebrews 13:2)
Dee came and lived with us for about 15 months. She arrived not long after Mohammed left us. He stayed for six weeks after having attended his mother’s funeral and then, arriving back in the UK, was not permitted to work for six weeks. Dee wasn’t quite perhaps what you would think of when you think of someone with no legal status to stay in her country of residence.
Dee came to the UK from Zimbabwe and had trained with the NHS to become a nurse. She had a career but then experienced mental health issues which meant that she forgot to file the right paperwork at the right time to enable her to stay, lost her job and her flat, and ended up sleeping on the streets one night in London.
A charity there picked her up, which is when we came to know her, and she moved in with us. We were not expecting her to stay that long, but she did, and we journeyed with her a little in the ups and downs of dealing with the paperwork and the paper trail she was forced to go through.
Eventually, she got her residency status restored and moved on. But the stress took its toll on her, as it does on many who have to go through ‘the system’ of immigration. Two years later, we heard that her body had been found in the place she was staying. Her journey was over.
We hope that we did the right thing by providing a home, a warm and comfortable environment, but we know from our experience of working with refugees that sometimes, perhaps, we are unable to give them all that they need or require.
Our questions may never be answered, but that should not stop us from keeping on entertaining others, showing hospitality, giving the offer of life, and hope to those who need it. We think it is what Jesus would do and what God asks us to do.
God, who travels with those who walk many miles, journey with us throughout 2023. Open our eyes to the people around us, whoever they are and wherever they come from. Help us to share the resources you have given us with all our neighbours. Amen.
-Mark Meatcher, United Reformed Church