Wrapping presents. Not something everyone loves to do, but often done with love and anticipation of the joy it may bring for the recipient when they understand that they have been thought of.
As this present wrapping season fast approaches and we plan, buy and prepare gifts for those we love, there remains in our own village, town or city those who will not be considered. They will not be loved or appreciated. In fact they will feel unseen in every way.
With little or no expectation they will pass through this season in suffering and slavery, with little hope of change or rescue.
On Thursday November 11th this year, a group of people gathered from different parts of Oxfordshire to offer a measure of love and care for those who have thankfully been rescued by frontline organisations, from human trafficking and modern slavery in our county. These survivors face Christmas living in safe houses and locally in our communities.
The small park café was carefully filled with gifts bought and gathered by local people and businesses. A table bursting with children’s gifts, a table of beautiful pampering gifts for ladies and another for gentlemen, bordered on all sides by volunteers gathered to wrap.
My teenage daughters and I arrived and began collating presents for gift bags. My daughters imagined what they would love to receive and happily gathered and wrapped for bags that would hopefully bring some joy for the recipient, when they too realised that they had been thought of this Christmas. Strangers in their local community, wanting to reach out and care for them.
The evening was supported by local businesses offering refreshments and further encouragement was brought when we listened to a volunteer for the ASIOX befriending scheme. The befriender shared how she has supported a survivor of slavery, coming alongside them as a friend.
Gift bags full and messages of care written, my prayer as a Christian who has been moved to action through the work of ASIOX, is that these precious people will experience love, support and hope beyond this Christmas season.