“Christian love teaches us to give our brother and sister not only material gifts but also spiritual gifts” (Maria Skobtsova)
MARIA SKOBTSOVA PRAYER BUS
The Prayer Bus project evolved in response to the need for a mobile space which can be driven to where refugees are sleeping, to provide a small but safe place where they can tell their stories, receive support and, if needed, pray. For many refugees and migrants, religious faith is a very important source of strength and resilience.
ICONS for the Prayer Bus have been written by Maria Skobtsova House volunteer ARTA SKUJA who comes from the small village of Užava in Latvia.
“Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share their meal, side by side with them.” Rev. 3:20
This icon, together with Theotokos, the God bearer, and Archangel Michael, form a triptych that tells a story of Tenderness, Hope and Safety. The creation of these icons, inspired by the experiences, stories, reflections and life lived alongside the refugees in Calais, is an offering of hope. Words from the book of Revelation come alive – at any time of the day the doorbell can ring at the Calais house. The door is opened, and one encounters sometimes a lone figure, at other times a small group of refugees. By using simple words, they describe their needs: phone charge, shower, wifi, sleep. A stranger is welcomed, offered a place to rest, to pray, to wash clothes, to take a shower. Each evening the table is prepared, the meal is cooked, blessed and shared, side-by-side, among those who have come together.
Revd. Canon KIRRILEE REID, Pas de Calais Anglican chaplain and refugee projects officer, photographed alongside the bus which is now in the UK for a refit. Kirrilee has taken on responsibility for the prayer bus (which will also be used by the Calais Catholic Church as part of their service to the homeless).
Revd. GILL NEWMAN, deacon at St John of Jerusalem, Hackney and Maria Skobtsova House volunteer, ran the very successful fundraising campaign for The Prayer Bus.
As with all the refugee communities in Calais, the Eritreans have been progressively fenced out of the areas where they sleep, pray and pass their days.
Matthew 11, v 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Drawing, in Tigrinya, by Maria Skobtsova house guest.