The Trust Blog

Opinions, insights and learnings for a better world

Gain fresh insights from Rev. Bill Crews and guest contributors.

The reason I am in Paris in memory of Charlie Hebdo

I’m here in Paris now because I buried Tori Johnson of the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place after the dreadful siege there.

I was also in Europe at the time of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter and went with Charles Miranda of News Ltd to pay my respects to the victims there.

It was at the Memorial Service for the Lindt Cafe a couple of weeks ago that I realised I was one of the few people to have been involved in both ‘situations’.

What I found so moving at both places, Martin Place and Charlie Hebdo was the mountains of flowers that literally appeared out of nowhere and the absolute silence, the so respectful silence of the onlookers/flower bringers who like the flowers appeared out of nowhere.

In Sydney, this was typified for me by a young couple who I noticed.   She held a small bunch of flowers. He held her hand. As she laid the flowers, she shed a tear and he held her tenderly and comforted her. They like all the others turned up because they simply could not stay away. They came in solidarity with the victims.

I noticed the same thing in Paris.

What really got to me was the flowers and the absolutely reverential silence.   I’ve been part of a silence thing before but this was complete silence even with thousands there.  I have never experienced anything like it and to witness and be part of that in both Sydney and Paris was a really humbling awesome experience.

The flowers left at Martin Place were composted to go into a memorial to be placed in Martin Place. At that Martin Place Memorial Service the idea formed in me to take some of the composted flowers to Paris by the Jan 7 anniversary, to conduct a small memorial service there in a way to honour those citizens of both cities who reached out beyond themselves in a spirit of magnificent silence.  There are also the usual reasons, too.  To bring healing and comfort to traumatised people in traumatising times in a spirit of unity of two great cities. What matters is going there on behalf of all the people who care and don’t feel important enough to be able to be there. And, in a way don’t relate to leaders very well.

Australia is not really involved in the ceremonies and the main one is on Sunday which I’ll go to. They are going to plant a tree in the Square and I’m hoping I can put some of the composted flowers in the hole in which the tree is to be planted.  I’ll get on to that right after I’ve performed the ceremony outside the old Charlie Hebdo offices on 7/1 today.

20160106 - Bill with Aust French Amb with composted flowers in urn

With the Australian Ambassador to France with the urn of composted flowers.


  1. Thank you Mr Crews for being so caring. On behalf of my family & I we say thank you. You are a wonderful man x

    • Elizabeth. God Bless you and Thank you. BILL

  2. So why are you in Paris? I read the above paragraphs, but remain confused regarding your reason to consume thousands of donated dollars in Paris bound air fares and I assume, hotel bills, (not to be funding food, shelter or crisis funding for the needy as donators intended)?

    • Hi Mary. I gotta say your comments make me feel really sad. Sad that you would think that I would do something like that. The truth is all donated monies get used exactly for what they are given for. I would never use any money donated to help the homeless for anything than precisely that. I hoped you would accept that as a given. A friend of mine gives me tickets to travel overseas and mostly when I’m in Europe I stay in a Monastery.I repeat, no money given to me for homeless people goes to anything else. However, I am caught up in many more things than the plight of the homeless. Many people come to me with issues other people find too hard or confronting to deal with and it’s my belief that I should do my best to help whatever the circumstances.
      Over time I have become very cynical about what we are told about things and so, as much as possible, go and look for myself. I got caught up wth Charlie Hebdo through my burying Tori Johnson, the manager of the Lindt Cafe who was cruelly killed be that gunman (I could say other things, but I won’t) in Martin Place last year. I was asked ‘out of the blue’ to do that and through that a whole new part of my life opened. Through that I have seen the current events in Europe through two eyes. The eyes of someone caught up with the victims of acts of terrorism and the refugees who are trying to escape the barbarism going on in many countries in the name of religion and get exploited by both sides who want to keep these wars going.
      Believe me, Mary lots of innocent people are suffering and as a Christian minister, loyal (I hope I am) to Jesus, my role model I can do no other but go and look for myself. I don’t believe what the politicians say, I don’t believe what the major NGO’s say, I don’t believe what a lot of so called religious people say. I go and look for myself. I take no money given to me for the poor. I only take what I’m given to undertake this specific task. I often go and simply sit with the victims. I sit, hold hands and listen. It is a profound experience, I can tell you. I then come back and tell what I have experienced.
      Mary, I hope I have answered you query as truthfully and honestly as i can. I am so sorry you would even think I would do something like that. God Bless you, BILL

  3. This is what ive alwayz wanted to do,when i can i will do put up a shelter for homeless people in every state it saddens me and leaves an emptiness in my heart knowing kids to parents to all walks of life have no help for survival.iv hit rock bottom many times over.wat im willing to do it isnt much,but i do have my own smsf set up an i will donate all to this cause.i have well my partner and i have worked hard to actually put a deposit on a home for two years we had it as an investment,as this economy has dropped significantly we decided to move into our home.For what sacrifices we made to try.We are know behind in morgage payments to be honest id get more satisfaction from helping the homeless, and actually humbling myself to the streets, than give the bank.In the longterm i can only see the bank eventually taking our home from under why not just split away from beautiful partner of 16years has put up with my bullshit for long enough now.she is agood soul with a golden heart.its my foolish behavior and actions thats taken its toll.but yet she still hoping for a miracle to come through.ive been a user for 30 years on it.iv been clean for two months 1day cold turkey no rehab no nathing.but yet our relationship is not the my lady is still hanging in there hope faith.god only knows why.shes beautiful because god dosnt make mistakes she was born this way.

    • PHIL, I’m going to get a really close friend to contact you. I think we can help. GOD BLESS, BILL


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