The prayers that I have written this week have a theme about returning home. But what about those people who feel they are already home and others want to remove them? Such is the case facing a family who live in the parish of the Rev Linda Pollock who has recently been one of our Sanctuary First prayers writers.
I want to draw your attention to this because on Tuesday of this week our thoughts and prayers will be influenced by the Old Testament prophet Amos. Amos speaks out for justice and he, like so many of his kind before him, found himself being removed form the place where he felt God had called him to serve.
In Tuesday’s reflection I ask everyone to think about how we as individuals can influence our politicians and neighbours to live out justice. I ask what has to change in order that social equity engages all our thinking.
I would like you to hear the voice of Linda as she tries to express the plight of this family whom she has come to know and love. I also think perhaps it is the right place for such a voice to be heard. Surely we want Sanctuary First to become literally a place where those who need help and encouragement can bring their prayers and longings and find Sanctuary and comfort.
Why I decided to set up a petition for Somer and Areeb
I’ve known Somer and Areeb and their parents for five years in my role as ‘their’ Minister. As wee boys their love of God was simply a given… as with most children who are reared in a church. As they have progressed into their teenage years, (a time when it is very common for young people to dismiss God and Faith), the boys have become more devoted in their love of Christ Jesus. I say this because it is their love, their devotion, the way they choose to live that will be their downfall if they are removed from Glasgow and sent back to Pakistan.
Somer and Areeb cannot change who they are, their Faith determines how they behave, how they treat others, the way they perform at school and even how they play. Their ethic for life is profound and formed and affirmed daily in their family devotions. Their identity is quite simply defined by their love of God and to forcibly place them in a context where this is threatened is nothing short of a violation of their human rights.
I started this petition because the boys have no other options. They have exhausted all avenues of appeal to the Home Office for the right to stay here and I fear for their lives. I am also very concerned about the impact of living with this high level of stress is having upon them. They are kids, 13 and 15 years old… they have given our community so much and they have so much more to give our community and country – we ought to be nurturing these youngsters not placing them in an unbearable situation where they are publicly begging for life.
It feels as if Somer and Areeb are being treated not as boys, alive with hopes and dreams but as numbers on a list. My hope in setting up this petition is that the people’s voice will be heard by the Home Office, the ordinary people who know what it is to dream, to hope, to celebrate our gift of life.
- Linda Pollock
If you feel you’d like to sign the petition it can be found here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/somer-and-areeb-should-stay-in-the-uk
Here is the prayer for Tuesday 17th July, God of the Nations:
Turn our hearts from self interest
To consider the interests of others
Turn us away from self love
And nationalism that is insular
Expand our hearts and minds
To love You more
Let compassion well up with in us
Direct our hands and feet
Turn our eyes to look upon the poor and needy
Show us how we can love our neighbours
And in doing so fulfil your Laws of Justice and Grace
Very Rev Albert Bogle, Minister of Sanctuary First