Student mission to Calais
5 students, 1 van and lots of people to reach
At the end of January, our first team of Regent’s Theological Students set off from Malvern heading to Calais for an Elim Missions trip, to serve and hand out aid at refugee camps.
Daniel, Ashley, Kate, Lizzie and Barry share how their step of faith made a huge impact to them and those they met.
What made you go to Calais?
Ashley: After hearing all the stories of what is going on over there, we jumped at the opportunity to go and get stuck in and help for ourselves and find out what it is really like on the ground.
Katie: It was to reach out where there was publically a need. I’d already had a heart for missions so this seemed like a good opportunity to go and just serve.
Danie: This was a chance to get involved practically but also to go and meet the people affected. To hear their real stories and to bring that reality to it – it’s not just numbers or a TV Story on the news, its real people.
Lizzie: I wanted to go to show to myself, and people around me, that things like this are possible, even if you can only give a day, you can do amazing things if you trust in God. He will guide you to places to encourage other people.
What did the weekend look like?
After leaving Malvern at lunch time the team arrived at Leighton Buzzard at around 3:30pm. All the aid collected by Elim Churches across the UK is stored at warehouses in Leighton Buzzard, before it goes to refugees in Calais and across Europe. The warehouses belong to a church, pastored by Colin Kaye. The team organised the clothing donations and made-up goodie bags to give out – 300 in total.
Katie: The goodie bags included sweets, biscuits, a carton of juice, crisps, a bottled drink, chewing gum, pot noodle, tea bags, cereal bars, chocolate.
Lizzie: It was really nice stuff, and exciting to see that God is bringing in good stuff not cheap food, it was all really good quality.
Ashley: I thought this warehouse was literally just for Calais, but it is actually a church, only with a small number of members, who are making a massive difference all over the country, just by seeing a need and then reaching out and doing whatever they can in that situation.
Danie: I think that is what impacted me, seeing what the local church can do when they work together and they are intentional about helping those around them, notjust in their society but further afield. How powerful a unified church can be when they want to make a difference.
Ashley: We were up at 4am and had to be picked up at 5am. We travelled the two hours down to Dover and again, we just chatted a lot on the way down there, speaking about God’s faithfulness and I think we noticed, every step of the journey, God was with us the whole time. It was crazy, we just went to reach out and help and we encountered God along the way. The heart of the father reaching out to the lost and broken, and we had the privileged to be part of that.
After arriving at the refugee camp they were able to get in through a side entrance, as the main road through had been blocked off, and they met with Ali, a missionary living in the camp. They gave him all the bags of clothing to distribute where he knew there was a need and then they set up the van to hand out the bags of food.
Danie: It was a really happy atmosphere, even though you are in such a poor place, the people have still got really high spirits! They were happy, thankful – they couldn’t speak much English but they would always say a big thank you. It was incredible getting to put real faces and stories to these people, they aren’t just Muslims trying to get into the UK to bring Islam and Terrorism, they are real people that are seeking refuge and they have got real stories and real lives and it was incredible to get to meet and encounter them.
Ashley: I think one of the things that surprised us all was getting there and seeing what people are capable of when they are dumped in a small area, the community that sprung up, the little shops and shower rooms and the ‘community feel’ really took over considering the situation.
What will you take away from the experience?
Lizzie: I think it was amazing to meet the people who are doing this every day. We’ve got missionaries all over the world doing this 24/7 and it is just a reminder to pray for them and to give support to them where we can, and, if anyone wants to do that as well – it is possible.
I recognise the need for generosity and tithing and just giving where you see a need, knowing that God provides. The need to pray in faith and also, doing the little things. The smaller projects where we can get involved here, now.
Danie: I think for me it was seeing the impact that the local UK church can do in their surrounding area. It’s not that someone else is going to go and tackle poverty and take care of it, we are supposed to have faith in God and if we really have faith in God to provide, we will reach in our own pockets and do something, whether that is giving financially or actually doing something practically, if we have faith that God will provide then why can’t we get involved and make the difference.
Katie: I was encouraged just to realise that we can do so much here, now, we don’t have to wait. We can do so much to empower and encourage our community, here and the worldwide community. Whether that is linking up with other people or even within ourselves, being aware of the way we act and represent God. We can be good stewards here, now.
Ashley: I think for me it is remembering that the same God that is out there in Calais, reaching out to these people that are lost and broken is the same God that we serve here. The faith that the missionaries there have and seeing what they are seeing, the miracles they are seeing – can be seen equally here. We just have to believe and reach out and do all that we can.
With the busyness of life; work, university, school, home, family – we sometimes forget that even the little that we give, when met with God’s awesomeness, can make a huge difference. Serving always seems to have as big an impact on the one giving, as it does on the one receiving, as we surrender our own agendas and aim to simply be God’s hands and feet.
How can you get involved?