We believe that God is at work in response to the prayers of His people. Many churches are hosting local prayer meetings, and there is a unified effort among the body of Christ to support these refugees in prayer. We want to encourage this as the first response to the current crisis.
1) Donate financially towards the logistical costs involved for future refugee trips OR for sending money to our missions partner for ministry and aid.
Donations can be given via TotalGiving, click the button below:
OR by sending a cheque made out to Creation Fest Limited to Creation Fest, The Goods Shed, Southern Way, Wadebridge, PL27 7BX
2) Donate financially towards CCBCE Refugee Relieve working in Hungary and Serbia: relief.ccbce.com
The Creation Fest office team are not currently planning to undertake any trips to refugees. If you are interested in working with refugees, please get in touch with us and we can help to point you to some agencies / missions partners that work with Refugees on a continuous basis.
Please continue to pray for the refugees we've met and ministered to as well as for the refugee situation as a whole.
What does it feel like in someone else's shoes? Recently a team from Creation Fest went to support refugee projects reaching out to over 2000 refugees in Belgrade, Serbia. Read Emma Fowle's personal account of her time meeting Nazeem and Fez and hundreds of more names, children as young as her own.
It’s raining outside. Water pouring down for the past three days apparently, turning my garden into a veritable mud bath. I slip on my ‘garden shoes’ – the old trainers I no longer choose to wear out and about but that are still perfectly serviceable – not stopping to untie laces but jamming in my toes and trampling down the heel, and stamp across the mud to let out my chickens. The sky is grey and I am damp when I return from the school run and shake off the rain.
I glance at the trodden-down trainers and swallow hard. Last night I returned from a freezing-cold Serbia. Three days in sub-zero temperatures visiting the impromptu shelters that have sprung up across the capital as neighbouring borders have closed and refugees have found themselves stranded here, in Belgrade. The conditions were worse than horrific. Worse than anything I could have prepared myself for. We met boys as young as 13 sleeping in car parks in the snow, bedding down under blankets that grew frost as they slept. Derelict warehouses that now sheltered clusters of men and boys in the most unsanitary, unsafe environments you could imagine. We wrapped scarves around our head as we entered, the smoke from a thousand little fires stinging our eyes and making our chests hurt. Futile attempts to stave off the cold instead poisoning lungs as thick, dark smoke belched upwards from burning wood coated in who-knows-what.
My shoes look back and reproach me. They look like the shoes I saw on so many feet this week. But their heels were not trodden down because of laziness or lack of time. Heels poking naked out of shoes that were 3 or 4 sizes too small, bare and vulnerable without socks to shield them from the snow and ice. Not garden shoes or a second pair of shoes (or God forbid the 10 or so pairs that I have in my wardrobe right not) but the only shoes; shoes that have travelled who knows how many miles and that offer the only protection those feet know.
The contrast with my own life is feeling hard to bear this morning, as I settle back into old clothes and old routines and my normal, comfortable life. I know it’s to be expected, and many others have been and seen and felt similarly on their return.
But it’s hard.
Hard to come back and hug your own children and try to imagine them out there, on their own. Try to imagine a circumstance – anything at all – that would make it seem preferable that they leave me and here and our family to make a journey of many thousand miles, alone, in search of safety and a better life.
I tried to put my snowboots in the washing machine, and somehow couldn’t quite manage it. They are filthy and muddy from playing football in the melting snow with refugee boys. I never knew how much joy a football could bring, how much it could mean to try and fashion a moment of ‘normal’ in a life like this. Somehow I don’t want to wash all of that away just yet. I don’t want to stop seeing their faces.
I cried as I put away the children’s laundry, feeling ridiculously grateful and guilty all at the same time that my children own many pairs of clean, dry socks.
I don’t know where they’ll go, or how their stories will end, and maybe that is hardest of all. But I pray that they find peace, and safety, and a way to be with their families again – wherever that might be. And I pray I will never forget what I have seen, never stop feeling it, even if it does make it hard to breathe sometimes.
From 3-7 May 2016 Creation Fest led a third trip to Calais in partnership with All Saints Highertown, Refugee Aid, Wadebridge Cornish Refugee Collection, Care4Calais, Share Jesus International, Churches Together Launceston, and Christian Surfers. The team of twelve included a videographer, two Arabic speakers, and several charity and support workers.
Each of our trips have served different purposes, including delivering aid, working in warehouses, partnering with Christians and churches within the camps, and sharing the Gospel. During our previous trip (January 2016), significant portions of the camp, including the Pentecostal/evangelical church, were bulldozed. Just before our arrival in May, the pastor for that church left the Jungle.
This left us with two significant challenges: the challenge of finding and partnering with local Christians, and the challenge of long-term support and discipleship. The second is still a significant prayer need for the Jungle in Calais. There are a wide variety of Christian efforts we were able to connect with during our time in Calais (SOS Chai, Ambassadors, YWAM, Peacemakers, etc), but there is still space for an evangelical pastor living in the Jungle.
On this trip, we were joined by two Arabic speakers, which significantly increased the opportunity for clear, Gospel conversations. We were able to connect and share the Gospel with over 30 individuals, and widely distribute Bibles and Christian resources.
One morning, we sat in a tent with a group of teenage refugee boys from Sudan. They had never read a Bible before, and our lead translator was able to give them one. As we sat together and read John, chapter 3, the boys heard the message of the God who loves them. We believe and pray that one of the ways God is redeeming the refugee crisis is allowing conversations like these, where men (and women) from hard-to-reach countries are brought to our borders for Gospel conversations.
Please pray for the camps in Calais and Dunkirk; that in each of these places, the Word and the work of God will be fruitful. In Dunkirk, we met a YWAM worker who shared that many of the men and women he meets are having dreams about Jesus, the Son of God. Several Kurdish men shared with us that due to the violence they have recently experienced, they have left Islam. Our prayer is that they would discover life, freedom, and joy in Jesus Christ.
The Church with no walls reaching out to Calais… When Creation Fest started to plan our second trip to Calais, opening it up so that more people can join, our prayer was that God would build the team and send the right people… As always, He is faithful, and answered our prayers. God put together a team of 8, from 7 different churches and denominations across Cornwall – all loving Jesus and stirred by the refugee crises. Every one of them ready to do what is needed in Calais.
Having spent 3 days in one of the distribution warehouses and in the camp with the refugees, the generosity of people were remarkable. Claire and John who have put their own lives on hold to run one of the distribution warehouses, Care4Calais. The number of volunteers who work so hard sorting, distributing and are all there at their own expense. Hilda who does amazing things with 2 small electric rings to produce a hot lunch for sometimes up to 90+ volunteers. The people from across Europe who have donated goods. The 70 year old pastor who comes over from England to minister to the church and sleeps in the camp and the much needed medics who are there offering vaccinations and medical care (especially against the current measles epidemic). The list is endless.
We spent some time in the camp. We observed, listened, talked and shared some laughs with the refugees. With more than 6000 people living in “the jungle” from more than 10 countries, the stories are endless. Each has a unique story for leaving or fleeing their home country but most of them have a common goal - to get to England. We met:
Saboor, our Afghanistan friend that we met during our previous trip. Fleeing his country because he was being threatened by the Taliban. A qualified engineer with about 10 years work experience, good English, hoping to come to England.
Harry, a 24 year old Iranian, well-educated with good English. He travelled on a boat with 2000 other people to reach Greece and then by bus to get to Calais. He spoke of the fear that was in the boat. Now, living in a tent, wearing clothes that had been given to him. A delightful young man that although desperate to get to England, prepared to wait for the right legal documents.
The encouraging testimony of the Iranian that became a Christian after he fled Iran and on his journey to Calais
On the Sunday we joined the church, and a group from London, for morning worship. The time of worship was beautiful, once again in multiple languages. The pastor spoke from John 14:1 and Psalm 27 exhorting everyone that peace and joy is not in our circumstance or in a country… but it is where God is!
We are really saddened by the news that less than 24 hours after we attended the church, the church and “houses” of the believers around it was bulldozed by the French police with very little warning. Many of the church equipment and their personal belongings destroyed. Please continue to pray for the group of believers in the camp.
One of our continued prayers was for safety because as we know, expect and anticipated the camp in Calais is very volatile. Our trip and visit to the camp were cut short due to a police tear gas attack and had to leave the camp quickly. Tear gas attacks are frequent - most often when someone is trying to get onto a lorry going into the port. The atmosphere in the camp changed very quickly - people running everywhere. We left safely, unharmed and thank Jesus for His protection over the team.
Jill, summarised it so beautifully for us: The weekend was heart breaking but a total privilege to be useable by God.
Despite all the trials and tribulations God is in that place and in the refugee crises. We might not really see. Our team, however, experienced it during the church service but ultimately God’s Word says so. In Psalm 46 it says He is a very present help in trouble and that “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her, just at the break of dawn”. His Word fails not. We are thankful for serving a God that is faithful, never changing and always keeping His promises.
We thank God for the many specific, tangible answered prayers, including:
1. Hygiene pack donations:
Creation Fest was given a truck load filled with blankets, sleeping bags, tents and hygiene packs. Basically every necessary item was tangibly donated.
2. Financial donations to cover logistical expenses:
Donations toward the project totalled £600, which covered all petrol, Eurotunnel and accommodation expenses for our team.
3. Transport to get the aid in Calais:
Creation Fest was GIVEN a 3-ton van in time for the trip to Calais. Thank you Grace Church, Exeter.
4. Safety on the road and smooth entry and exit at the border:
In travel, the team made it through the borders with NO issues, on-time and were kept safe on the road and in the camp.
5. Peaceful distribution of donated items in the camp:
The team joined a few distribution trips and most of them were fairly peaceful. During these distribution trips you don't really meet the people - but you see their desperation for the very basic and essential items that I so often take for granted.
6. Divine appointments / conversations with other volunteers:
Our team met and worked with many volunteers over the weekend from many faiths and backgrounds. Some were there for the day, weekend or week but others unselfishly give up their life indefinitely to serve the refugees. With many, we were able to share personal stories and testimony of God's faithfulness, provision and timing for this trip.
7. One-on-one conversations with refugees:
A few specific stories…
Our team carried Gideon Bibles with the aim to deliver it to the Eritrean Orthodox church. Upon arrival on Sunday, they directed our team to a Pentecostal church in a different part of the camp. At that church, we received one of the warmest welcomes (in contrast to the windy, wet and cold weather). Even though foreign in language (mix of Ethiopians, Eritreans, Iranians, Iraqi), God's presence was felt as we prayed and worshipped together. In typical African style, the service was beautiful and long - with continuous worshipping that included some dancing, singing and drumming on an empty container.
As the team walked, looking for the Pentecostal church, we passed a group of Kurdish men. They asked: "What is in that box?" and we answered: "English Bibles". "Can we have some?"... And right there we were able to hand out and share God's Word with them!
8. For boldness:
God answered this prayer in different ways! As our team walked through the refugee camp with around 5000 refugees, 95% men, from about 10 different countries, there was no fear or intimidation.
A few personal stories:
Beniam is a Christian from Eritrea, fleeing because of persecution towards Christians. His family were all in prison for their faith. He travelled for a year and has now been in the camp for one and a half months. Saboor is a civil engineer from Afghanistan. He travelled for 40 days with his 2 nephews and uncle and paid about $5000. He had only been in the camp for 3 days. He is Muslim but he fled after the Taliban threatened him because he was working for the government.
Both these men's stories are very different but their journey took them to the same place - refugees in Calais. The Jesus I love was a refugee Himself. He and His parents had to flee the country shortly after His birth and later in His life and ministry He said that: "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." The refugee crisis is big, complex and controversial. Yet what a privilege it was to be His hands and feet to a few refugees these past few days.