Bishop Gregor has brought this observation from Canon John Higgins which, he thinks, offers us a very helpful and particular perspective on current events.
- On a lovely day I was working on the terrace overlooking the ambassador’s garden. A young women was brought to me with an older man. “She is a Christian, he said, I risked my life to bring her to you – I am Mujahedeen”. Life in the Middle East can be full of surprises!
- Contrary to popular opinion, with the exception of the most fanatical and intolerant, they are not fighting over religion. The oldest continuously used churches in the world are – or were – in Iraq and Syria; but there is a war for sure and an army that seeks to destroy everything before it, so the people have no choice but to flee, abandon everything, and become refugees. If they don’t they die. So Europe means safety, sanity, and salvation for Christian and Muslim alike. In some ways it is a compliment to our culture and civilisation.
- Do they want to stay for ever? No. Will they be going back any time soon? No. So we are in it for the long haul.
- A young man from Mogadishu came to see me in Ankara. Returning from Saudi Arabia the family were attacked on their doorstep by an Islamist gang, the eldest son killed, the father disappeared – probably killed as well, and the eldest daughter taken as a sex slave. The young man with the rest of his family fled. He eventually found his way to me. He spoke perfect English. “How did you learn?” “The BBC he said. I want to go to university and then go back to help rescue my county from these maniacs”.
- Many like him will have the same vision. The challenge is to help make that happen by offering respite as an investment in a better, more peaceful world in time to come.