by Matt Davies
As thousands of refugees fleeing conflict started arriving at the train station in Budapest, Hungary, in early summer, Episcopalians Lora Bernabei and her husband Arthur Reynolds knew that as Christians they were called to respond with loving kindness. They gathered apples from their 500-acre farm in southwest Hungary, loaded their car and drove to the capital to start distributing them to the men, women and children who’d walked for weeks to find safety in the arms of their European neighbors. The refugees were exhausted, traumatized and desperately in need of food and water.
[Episcopal News Service – Brussels, Belgium] Etched on a sign outside a makeshift refugee camp in north Brussels were the words “Et si c’était toi?” For the Rev. Sunny Hallanan and her parishioners at All Saints Episcopal Church in nearby Waterloo, Belgium, that question – “What if it were you?” – has been a constant reminder that those escaping conflict and persecution need to be treated with compassion and respect rather than suspicion and fear. After a month volunteering at the camp in Maximilien Park, Hallanan got to know many of the refugees. Although she didn’t speak much Arabic and they had yet to grasp basic French, just to sit with the refugees and to share the few words they did know seemed to be enough to form friendships and build trust.