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Welcome to the jungle

Play hits home with a story about refugees, writes Linda Mcturk

It is talking about a situation that is happening right now

THE stage is set. The auditorium at the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End has been transformed into a café in the unofficial refugee camp ‘the Jungle’ in Calais. The story the audience is about to see is based on a script produced by the Good Chance Theatre, which ran a temporary theatre in 2015 in the real camp.

The Jungle begins with the end of the camp. Bulldozers and French police arrive in full force to evict the 8,000 men, women and children who live there. One British volunteer urgently hands out cloth masks to help protect residents from the tear gas fired by the police. Another volunteer, Sam, argues with a French civil servant responsible for the eviction. Sam is furious that the official has broken his promise not to evict the residents. But it is too late – Sam is powerless to halt proceedings. All arguments end when a funeral march is held. Migrants and volunteers hold up the body of a teenage boy who has died trying to cross into the UK illegally through the Channel Tunnel.

Before the camp was torn down, it had become a home to its inhabitants.

An Afghan refugee creates a café in the camp. Christian refugees establish a church service. Muslims pray together. A volunteer teaches at a school. But countless stories of people who have tried to enter the UK and failed come flooding in. As time goes on, the situation becomes more and more desperate for the residents who remain.

Alex Lawther, who plays Sam, tells The War Cry: ‘This is the first time in my working life when I had a story that was genuinely necessary to tell. I’d never come across a story that has the same urgency – it is talking about a situation that is happening in the world right now. There are still refugees in Calais and in northern France.’

Northern France is not the only place where people feel a sense of injustice. News headlines are full of traumatic stories of societies ravaged by war, crime and poverty. Closer to home, in our own lives, we might feel that life is not fair.

God knows that the world is not as it should be. His Son, Jesus, was betrayed, persecuted and sentenced to death. Through Jesus’ suffering, God shows that he is able to stand close to those who are in trouble or face persecution.

One Bible writer says: ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18 New International Version).

All of us at times can feel crushed. But God has made it clear that he will not abandon us in our time of need. Our stories matter to him.

Are we ready to share them with him?

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