A group of Welsh Christians are walking from Bethlehem to Egypt to raise funds for Christian Aid’s work with refugees and displaced people around the world. But rather than walking the 430-mile journey that the Holy Family undertook in the Middle East, they are walking the 140-miles between the south-Wales village of Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire and the north-Wales hamlet of Yr Aifft (Egypt) in Denbighshire.
The walkers set off from Bethlehem on Sunday and were due to arrive in the coastal resort of Aberystwyth today after stops in Lampeter and Blaenpennal. Tomorrow they will set off for Ynyslas before heading to Aberdyfi, Brithdir, Llanuwchlyn, Bala, Betws Gwerfyl Goch, and Bwlch Penbarras; before arriving in Yr Aifft (Egypt) next Thursday.
Tomorrow (Thursday), they are expected to cross the Dyfi estuary by boat, “recalling the perilous journey of many refugees across the Mediterranean,” the Church in Wales said in a statement. The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, will lead a service of welcome on the beach.
On Monday, the walkers will take part in a Church in Wales’ #RefugeesWelcome event at St Collen’s Church in Llangolle; and on Thursday, to mark the completion of the walk, a special service will be held at St Asaph Cathedral, led by Bishop Gregory Cameron.
“We decided to embark on this walk to draw attention to the plight of so many who’ve had to flee their homes because of conflict,” Huw Thomas, the head of Christian Aid Wales, said. Mr Thomas, who is undertaking the walk, added: “The response from communities across Wales has been incredible, not just in terms of those signing up to walk with us, but also offers of hospitality on the journey, and generous sponsorship.
“The Christmas story is based on love, and that love is shining through in communities in Wales this Christmas.”
Another person walking the entire journey is the Revd Aled Edwards, a canon of Lampeter Cathedral and chief executive of Cytun, the national ecumenical body of Wales. Mr Edwards, who is also the chair of Displaced People in Action, a Welsh asylum and refugee organisation, said: “I had the privilege of visiting the border between Serbia and Macedonia recently and witnessed the plight of refugees there.
“It’s vital that we seize every opportunity to raise our voice and give generously to alleviate the great need which faces these families who have been forced to flee from desperate situations across the world.”
Money raised from the walk will support Christian Aid‘s work with refugees and asylum seekers. Established in 1945, Christian Aid is the ecumenical international development agency of the churches of Britain and Ireland. They have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers throughout its history and is current working to help refugees in the Middle East and in Lebanon, Iraq, Greece and Serbia.