Saturday, 10 September 2016

Charity Starts at Home?

Charity Starts at Home?

The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome.   It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me.  It not!  Scripture that is!

Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country?  What are you talking about?

I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”.   Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.

So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.

In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe.  People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.

Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help.  I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.

The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.

So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever,  I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.

Adrian Hawkes
W. 529

Edited Gena Areola


  1. Christopher Chessum
    The proverb “charity begins at home” is another way of saying we have to sort out our priorities. We have responsibilities towards our families, our neighbours, our country, and yes, towards the rest of the world. But which one should take priority? Let’s make no mistake, the harsh reality of life is that we do have to make priority decisions.

    It makes little difference to me whether the “charity begins at home” proverb appears in the bible or not. If something is right, then it is worth putting into practice because it is the right thing to do; not simply because it appears in some ancient book. But even if you insist on the latter view, doesn’t 1 Timothy 5:8 seem to justify the dictum “charity begins at home?” Here Timothy outlines what he considers should be top priority when it comes to charity.

    “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Tim 5:8

    When it comes to assisting refugees, (and often people confuse migrants with refugees – there is a distinction between the two, which people often get confused about) yes I think we do have a responsibility. But again, lets keep this in perspective and get our priorities right. This is a complicated issue and all too often people have a tendency to do what makes them feel good about themselves. That isn’t always necessarily the same as what is right. So emotive is the issue that people often find it difficult to look at this objectively. In many cases, people who think they are helping refugees are doing little more than assisting people traffickers and are also oblivious to the long term consequences of what they are doing to their own country.

    The journalist Peter Hitchens wrote an excellent article on this very issue for the Mail on Sunday. It’s worth having a read of his article in full. Here is the link below.
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs · Edited

  2. Adrian
    I think my last paragraph covers what you are alluding to in your third paragraph.

  3. Adrian
    And yes I have read the article in the daily mail, a paper I am not fond of, I would say he is guilty of what he is accusing the welcome people of. I.E simplistica answers. posturing for a different position, and a certain level of sentimentality, existing without any real depth.


  5. Christopher Chessum
    Your last paragraph being the bit about Jesus commanding us to love our enemies. Firstly, I don’t see refugees or even migrants as my enemy as such. Secondly, I do have a bit of a problem with this Christian idea of compulsory love. Yuk! The whole point about love is that it is spontaneous, voluntary, a free gift. The moment it becomes compulsory it effectively ceases to be love; so the command is of little value.

    As for the Hitchens article; I beg to differ. The simplistic answer is to tell millions of people leave their country, come and settle down in Europe without any thought being given to social cohesion, let alone provision of health care, education, housing, etc; whilst at the same time being complicit with people traffickers who thrive on this human misery. Life is not as black and white as you present it: it is made up of several shades of grey. A morality that fails to take into account the complexities of life is a morality that doesn’t work. We see that in droves all over Europe now and its likely to get worse. I should also add, we tend to see this simplistic kind of morality most commonly coming from fundamentalist religious and political sources.

  6. Adrian
    mmm Sorry Chris, by the way missed you the other night. Sorry still can not agree. First let me put a different view on LOVE it is not as you describe, but rather an act of will! so my position there would be very different from yours. Second 'simplistic answer is to tell people to leave their country' please... Do you really call Barrel bombs, Bullets, and gas, a 'please leave your country and go to the UK. Simplistic, yes I think so.


  7. Adrian Hawkes
    Oh and the last paragraph was This you should have done i.e. Look after your own home, but this you should also do I.E Look after those in great need.


  8. Christopher Chessum
    Sorry I couldn't make it the other night Adrian. Hope you had a great time anyway. With regard to the first point about Love. An Act of will, I get. A command to love, I don’t get.

    Second point, of course what people have been going through in Syria is absolutely dreadful. They should go to a place of safety and many of them have done so. The fact that they then decide to leave that place of safety and come to Europe to acquire a better standard of living is also not something I blame them for, but by then, they are no longer refugees, they are migrants. The migrants in Calais living in the so called “jungle” could quite easily have claimed asylum at the first port of entry, the first safe place they reached. They chose not to because they prefer to come to Britain which they see as an El Dorado. Not my words, but the words of the Mayor of Calais.

    I’m not unsympathetic to people who have fled worn torn countries and seek refuge elsewhere. I do think we should take some who have applied for asylum at their first place of safety. I don’t think we should be taking people who have paid criminals to get them into this country and other countries in Europe. I think that plays into the hands of people traffickers and leads to an ever increasing downward spiral of corruption and criminality. Lets be sensible about this. We can’t take everybody and our government has a moral, as well as a political obligation to look after its own citizens and the country we live in for future generations. If all we ever had to do Adrian is just to be nice and generous to people all the time, life would be so easy. Lay people like you and I can largely afford the luxury of not having to think too much about all these considerations. People in government on the other hand have to make very difficult decisions, balancing lots of considerations including security, financial, political, environmental and cultural in terms of social cohesion. Allowing decisions to be made on the basis of pure emotion is a recipe for disaster for all concerned, including the refugees themselves.

  9. Adrian
    If Love is an act of the will, why should it be so difficult to understand that we can be commanded to Love?

    2. Its great for the UK to always claim that refugees should go to the first country that they come to and claim asylum there. I know that is the regulations, but if we followed it that way we get no one. Very funny.
    3, I agree that pure emotion, is never a good way to make any kind of decision. However taking all the things that you have mentioned it still could be that we as a nation do more that we are doing. And as far as Calis is concerned, what about the 300+ children there who already have family in the UK, why would they not want to run to where their family already is and is safe. I have thought about the whole thing, and there are better answer than we are practising at the moment. And yes I am taking my responsibilities seriously, we have just opened a new office in Dover, taken on three staff there and have places for at least 10 people.

  10. Christopher Chessum
    depends what you mean by love, I guess. Showing kindness to people, compassion, being merciful can be an act of free will. Love as an emotion, I'm not sure has that much to do with free will and therefore commanding people to love someone seems to be somewhat perverse.
    Not necessarily. Britain has agreed to take a number of Syrian refugees who have claimed asylum in Jordan for example.
    there is a case I think for possibly taking minors that are currently in Calais who have family in the UK. But there again, we need to be careful that we don't encourage further people trafficking in the process. Most migrants in Calais are not from war torn countries. They are economic migrants.

  11. Simon Nicholas
    Many people who say charity begins at home don't even do the home bit.

  12. Christopher Chessum
    With regard to asylum seekers, I guess we could always argue that we should do more. The best thing would be a political solution to bring an end to war and to rebuilding some of these wore torn countries. In this sense, taking in asylum seekers is merely a sticky plaster solution. However, David Cameron (when he was Prime Minister) was quite right to say that the UK would only take asylum seekers from the refugee camps in neighbouring countries. That, way those who have done the right thing by seeking refuge in a place of safety without colluding with criminals are the ones who are rewarded. That’s why any donations I have given for refugees have only ever been donated to NGOs that are actively working in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. That’s where most of the aid should go in my opinion, and it’s where it is most needed.

    In terms of bringing asylum seekers into this country, I think we have to see this in terms of the broader picture. The refugees are not the only people to consider. As Hitchens explains in his article, we have an obligation to our children and future generations who will inherit this land. To hand it to them undamaged at the very least. There is a growing population problem in this country. In terms of population ratio to land mass, we are even more densely populated than China. The more people we take on, the more homes, schools, hospitals, etc, we need to build. That in turn will mean building on green belt land. Do we really want to trash our country to such an extent that we eventually all live in a concrete jungle? How many people would you like to bring into this country Adrian? What about next year and the year after? Would you be prepared to take an unlimited number? That’s ultimately what it boils down to. There are hard decisions to be made and our politicians have to balance these competing demands. It’s not easy. As critical as I am of politicians, sometimes I think we fail to understand that they have to look at a much broader array of competing demands and complexities than most of us will ever need to consider. We do not bear that burden but we may need to live with the consequences so it’s worth giving it some thought.

  13. Christopher Chessum
    I am also concerned about social cohesion in our country. People who come from backgrounds where women have to be covered up from head to toe, where sharia law applies and where a woman’s testimony only counts for 50% of that of a man’s testimony. People who come from countries where FGM is acceptable, and misogyny in one form or another is the norm. Do you think that migrants with these beliefs and practices suddenly leave those beliefs behind at boarder control when they enter the country? No, they brings these ideas with them and that causes problems for our society. I know that it’s not politically correct to say these things and I can almost hear the jeers of “Islamophobia” as I write this on Facebook, but it’s a fact. When we have small, manageable numbers of migrants coming into our country, a process of adjustment can be accommodated and there is time and a willingness for most to integrate and adapt to the values and culture of the host country, without necessarily giving up their culture and beliefs entirely. When very large numbers of migrants come into a country this process is made almost impossible, as Germany is now discovering to its cost. This in turn has a further knock on effect with the rise of extreme right wing groups fuelling racial tensions and it all starts turning very nasty and ugly. Again, we are seeing this right across Europe as well as here.

    I applaud the efforts you make Adrian in doing the best you can to care for the needy and the dispossessed, but I do urge you to try and look more broadly and the bigger picture. The simple edict, charity begins at home, isn’t quite as daft as it sounds.

    By the way, you say the migrants you have met in Calais are from war torn countries. Fair enough, I take your word for it. But in this case, there’s no reason why they can’t apply for asylum in France. They have already reached a place of safety, there is no need for them to live in the so called jungle in Calais.

  14. Adrian Hawkes Well that is a long reply, I haven't covered every point in my recent article, but most of it I have