Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a very great pleasure to be able to join you here this morning because I have the greatest admiration for the wonderful people who work here in this Church and indeed other churches like this around the country, who I hope are making such a difference to the lives of people like yourselves.
If I may say so, I cannot even begin to imagine the dreadful conditions, the suffering, the agony you have all had to endure on your way to arrive here in this country. I pray you have been welcomed and the fact that you have found some accommodation - I hope is something. The fact that there are people here to help you learn English, to find your way through the inevitable difficulties that there are, is I hope something that will make a difference to your lives. I know so many of you already have qualifications, training in your own countries, and we have enormous skill shortages in this country, where so much of what you can do could be of enormous benefit to it. We are very lucky in many ways to have you and your skills and all you can bring.
I have visited Afghanistan once, sadly only once, about ten years ago. I know there are many of you from Iran, I went to Iran once or twice. I remember going to visit Bam after the earthquake, that terrible disaster. I’ve been once to Iraq and keep hoping, In sha'Allah, that there will be another chance to go there. I’ve always wanted, all my life, to visit Syria and Yemen - and now so much has been destroyed by these terrifying wars and conflicts.
For me, it is an immeasurable tragedy that so much death and destruction exists around the world at this present time, leading to such utter misery for so many people who have to leave their countries like you have. It seems even more insane when we have a global emergency at the same time, of mammoth proportions, to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, which are the ultimate threat multipliers. We should all be collaborating together to work together to solve these immense problems we have created for the world around us. With people like yourselves to help in the future there is a chance, perhaps. I just wanted to say that we are so fortunate to have people like the wonderful churches here, who are all over the world - all helping, all providing selfless service under the most challenging, dangerous conditions. We are so lucky to have people like that. I find it very humbling to think of what the contribution is that they are making.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been such a pleasure to meet you. I keep praying for you. There are so many people wanting to help you and, as I say, I hope you feel welcome.