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Reform Magazine | July 15, 2024

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Refugees in the manse - Reform Magazine

Refugees in the manse

Nadene Snyman opened the door to a Ukrainian family

We spent hours discussing whether to offer space in our house to a Ukrainian family. There felt like so many unknowns and uncertainties.

I’m the minister at Christ Church United Reformed Church, Petts Wood, and Camberwell Green URC, and we loved the fact that Southern Synod gave the green light to hosting Ukrainian refugee families. My husband, Kevin, and I both work in people-focussed professions (or ‘calls’ to be more precise) and our home is an oasis and sanctuary for both of us. The manse is a place of quiet, peace, and gentleness – an environment in which we are able to recharge for ministry. The thought of giving that up to offer strangers a space in our oasis made us a bit anxious. I am a glass three-quarters full person. I plan for the worst while expecting the best. My mind went into overdrive with the myriad things that could go wrong. We both looked at all sorts of possibilities and how we might creatively tackle any potential blockages to a happy home.

What made us change our minds? Three things. Lots of prayer. Asking ourselves: ‘What would Jesus want us to do’ in this situation? And a member of my congregation came to the UK with the Kindertransport as a child refugee from war-torn Germany. Maria’s story is incredibly inspiring. She speaks about being hosted by a Congregational minister and the difference that made in her life. With all of these elements pressing us forward, we decided to offer our home, and we sensed God bringing peace and gentle reassurance that all would be OK…

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