17/07/2016 Songs of Praise


17/07/2016

Following the referendum result, Songs of Praise explores how Christians are reacting to Brexit, and there are uplifting hymns and songs from across the UK.


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The British people have spoken and the answer is, "We're out."

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Since the results of the EU Referendum,

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the country is facing changes and uncertainty on many fronts.

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The Church is no exception.

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When you have a seismic event, cracks open up,

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and some fairly unpleasant things can come out of those cracks.

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There have been comments on Facebook that people are going round

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to European people's doors saying,

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"Would you like us to help you pack?"

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If you think that all the situation is just smashing you down,

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you always can go to the church and just pray

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or just make your own conversation with God.

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This week on Songs Of Praise,

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we've come to Boston in Lincolnshire,

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the town that recorded the highest proportion

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of Leave votes in the country.

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I'm here to see how the diverse and multinational church communities

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reacted to the reality of life after the Leave vote.

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And a year after her visit to the camp in Calais

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known as the Jungle, Sally has a surprising reunion.

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And of course we'll be bringing you wonderful music from across the UK,

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with out first hymn reminding us

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that whatever might be changing around us,

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nothing changes the love of God.

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Hear the name Boston

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and you're inclined to think of the American city called Boston

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by the 17th century emigrants

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who took the name of their hometown with them

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when they left Lincolnshire in search of a new life.

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In recent years, though,

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the story has been more about people coming IN to Boston.

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According to the 2011 census, the town is home to a higher proportion

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of Eastern European immigrants than anywhere else in England and Wales.

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With many being Catholic,

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this has led to a marked increase in attendance at St Mary's Church,

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but it's not without its problems.

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-Lord, in your mercy...

-ALL:

-Hear our prayer.

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Most churches would welcome a rise in numbers attending.

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Do you?

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Well, of course.

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And I think people generally do, but after all,

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St Mary's is a microcosm of Boston in some ways,

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and I recognise that people have felt bewildered to some extent

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and occasionally overwhelmed by the sheer numbers

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who've come very rapidly into the community.

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Although there hasn't been an increase in reported hate crimes

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in Boston since the referendum,

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across the UK the police have reported a sharp increase

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in the second half of June.

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It's a rise that's drawn a strong response

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from national church leaders.

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The outbursts of the last week, two weeks, may pass,

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but the signal has been set at "danger" for our cohesion,

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and the church must respond with a fresh effort in integration.

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I've been in a few churches in the last week

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and I look round and I think,

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"I wonder how all these people are thinking."

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And a number of parish priests have said to me,

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"Please could you give us something

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"that is of reassurance to our congregations."

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We have to ask ourselves that golden question,

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"Am I treating others as I would like them to treat me?"

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Or, put it this way around, "Would I expect my fellow Britons,

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"who live in European countries,

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"to be treated in the way that some, a few people, in this country

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"are treating European citizens here?"

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Earlier this month, a joint friendship service was held

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by all the churches in the town.

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Neal Mugglestone is the leader

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of the ecumenical group Churches Together.

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He voted Out in the referendum,

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as he believes it will benefit business, but he's also seen

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the effect the Leave result has had on the local community.

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Over the last few years, as the population in Boston has grown,

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with more and more Europeans coming in to find work

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and find better lives here, that in itself has caused tension.

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I think over the last recent weeks,

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since the vote took place, then, yes, there's been...

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That's heightened, if you like.

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It's a shame, and it shouldn't be that way,

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but there have been comments on Facebook

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that people are going round to European people's doors saying,

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"Would you like us to help you pack?"

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Erm... You know, it shouldn't be like that at all.

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Do you think in some ways churches can lead the healing for the town?

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I think we must. Yes, without a doubt.

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As Churches Together in the town,

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we've got a great united feel between us.

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All the churches pull together, we work together,

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we do an awful lot of things in the town,

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and that now needs to spread out more into the European community.

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We just need to find ways to do it.

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Let us pray for all the other countries of the European Union.

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Yvonne Stevens has lived in Boston all her life

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and is a UKIP councillor.

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She's seen first-hand how her town and her church has changed.

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I feel like a foreigner in my own town.

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It feels like, really, if the sunshine was there all the time,

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one would assume one was on holiday.

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Because when you shop on Saturday, the place is full of people

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with a different tongue to mine doing their shopping as well.

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But isn't it true that the immigrants are filling jobs

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that badly need to be done?

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That may be true to a point.

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The amount of immigrants we've got...

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..is excessive.

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I feel that we need to draw a line and say,

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"OK, if you've got the skill that we need, then welcome."

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But we can't, en masse, in my opinion,

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just say, "Carry on coming and swamp us."

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There are now three Polish and two English Masses each weekend

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at St Mary's Catholic Church where Yvonne attends.

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Could you have joint services?

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Would you like to work towards that?

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I would love it.

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These people are coming to an English service

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simply because they're in England.

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And let them learn - but even if there's a social evening

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on at church, they don't come.

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They're welcome,

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but they choose not to.

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Marcin came to Boston from Poland over ten years ago.

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He and his wife have three,

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soon to be four, children who were all born here.

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He runs his own business in the town and often leads worship

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in the Polish services at the church.

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Some people feel that your community is not integrating

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as long as you're having your own separate Mass

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that's actually in Polish.

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Yes, we can speak in English, but we always feel in Polish.

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And, for me...

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I cannot express myself as much in English as in Polish.

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The English Mass is really...

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It's OK, I go to the English Mass sometimes as well,

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but singing Polish songs and praying in Polish,

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that's what was taught by my parents, by my grandmother.

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PRAYER IN POLISH

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It's really important for us to have Catholic Mass

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in Polish language here.

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Christians are taught to love our neighbour

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and to welcome the stranger. Is that happening?

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I know that there are people who maybe they've experienced

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some bad things from immigrants or something,

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maybe that's how it is.

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But one of the most important rules in our faith is forgiveness,

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you know, we should forgive our neighbours

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and our neighbours should forgive us.

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I know sometimes it's hard, but this is where the process begins,

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from the forgiveness.

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Well, from a hymn with words that date back to the 14th century,

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to a modern song that has been proving very popular with churches

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all around the world in the last couple of years,

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and shares the same sentiments of reassurance in turbulent times.

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Here's Jess Clemmons with Oceans.

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# You call me out upon the waters

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# The great unknown where feet may fail

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# And there I find You in the mystery

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# In oceans deep my faith will stand

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# And I will call upon Your name

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# And keep my eyes above the waves

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# When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace

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# For I am Yours and You are mine

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# Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

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# Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me

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# Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

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# And my faith would be made stronger

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# In the presence of my saviour

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# Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

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# Let me walk upon the waters

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# Wherever You would call me

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# Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

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# And my faith would be made stronger

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# In the presence of my Saviour

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# And I will call upon Your name

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# And keep my eyes above the waves

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# When oceans rise

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# My soul will rest in Your embrace

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# For I am Yours and You are mine

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# Oh-oh. #

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Last August, Songs Of Praise hit the headlines

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when Sally visited the Calais camp known as the Jungle.

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There she saw the makeshift church built by Christians in the camp

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and met Biniyam, a young Ethiopian

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determined to worship in the most challenging of circumstances,

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and equally determined to get to Britain.

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When I talked to Biniyam in that simple church in Calais,

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it was hard to imagine what the future might hold for him.

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I certainly didn't think I'd be finding him

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in the heart of the Welsh community in Newport.

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The Bethel Church here runs a project called the Sanctuary.

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Many asylum seekers and refugees are sent to the area by the Home Office,

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and the church is helping them adapt to their new life.

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Can we ask him another question?

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Why do you want to play football?

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Biniyam's learning English with some of his...

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Is this the English class?

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..fellow English learners today, and here he is.

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Biniyam.

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Hello, fancy meeting you here.

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How are you doing?

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I'm fine.

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-You've got official leave to remain now.

-Yeah, yeah.

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Yeah, finally, thanks to God.

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Remind me why you had to leave Ethiopia.

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-They tried to kill you?

-Yeah.

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He fled Ethiopia and travelled across the Sahara desert,

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eventually reaching the coast.

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There he joined 200 others as they tried to cross the Mediterranean.

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So everybody in the boat went in the water?

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After a perilous journey at sea,

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Biniyam risked his life again to come here illegally,

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holding on to a lorry as it travelled through

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the Channel Tunnel.

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Why didn't you stay in France?

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Biniyam was able to prove his claim for political asylum.

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The Home Office accepted his life was in danger

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and have granted him the legal right to remain in the UK.

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Here at the Sanctuary, he's found a sense of community and friendship.

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Sarah Croft runs the project,

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and works with the many refugee and asylum seekers,

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offering practical and emotional support.

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For me, it's a demonstration of my faith.

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I don't want to just be a Christian that comes to church on a Sunday,

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reads my Bible and it's about me and mine.

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I think we need to be hands and feet

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and do things to demonstrate our love for people.

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What would you say to people

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who think that actually refugees just shouldn't be here,

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they should be somewhere else?

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I would say, "Put yourself in their shoes."

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I would say, "If that was you and your family needing to flee

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"a very dangerous situation, would you stay where you were

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"and perhaps put your family in danger,

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"or would you try and get out

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"and come somewhere where your family can be safe?"

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What are your plans now, now that you are legally here in Britain?

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You want to be a nurse?

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How has the sanctuary here helped you?

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Back in Boston, whatever the issues the Leave vote has caused,

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everyone believes that things will get better -

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but it may take many years.

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We go to the church as often as we can,

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and if you think that all the situation is just smashing you down,

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you always can go to the church

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and just pray or just make your own conversation with God.

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He's always that light somewhere, you just follow it

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and you will find the answers for all your questions,

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for all the troubles you've got.

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Just over three quarters of the reception class

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next...in the autumn, will be English as an alternative language.

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Now, those are the people who will naturally integrate here,

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and what we need to do here is see how we can lay

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sound foundations on which that integration can be built.

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We're looking at two decades, not two years.

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PRAYER IN POLISH

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People can learn a new language with which to bring up a family.

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But the last language that changes deep inside a person

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is the language in which they pray.

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Because you pray in your mother tongue,

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and we have to find a balance of enabling people who arrive here

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to have some ministry in that mother tongue,

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in the culture in which their faith is nurtured,

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as well as inviting them to make their contributions

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and be part of the Catholic life wherever it is they might lead.

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That's just about it from Boston,

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but at this time of great change for our nation,

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our last hymn is a prayer that love, respect and tolerance

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might bring healing to all people wherever and whoever they are.

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Following the referendum result, Songs of Praise explores how Christians are reacting to Brexit, and there are uplifting hymns and songs from across the UK.

Music:

In Heavenly Love Abiding from St German's Church, Cardiff We Cannot Measure How You Heal from St Alban's Church, Bristol Soul of My Saviour from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sutton Coldfield Oceans by Jess Clemmons My Faith It Is an Oaken Staff from St Aidan's Church, Leeds Cornerstone from Birmingham Christian Centre, Birmingham For the Healing of the Nations from St. Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen.


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