My earliest memory of being aware of refugees even existing simply involves sitting in a living room with a family I couldn’t talk to (because we didn’t speak the same language), and being served my first cup of Turkish coffee in a beautiful, tiny demitasse cup. I was about 16, and I had no idea what this family had experienced or how they had landed in a town near me. I still don’t, not specifically. But they changed my life with their hospitality, at a time when my world was very small.
Over time, God has provided more and more touch points for me with refugee families. Opportunities to help set up apartments, welcome families, and walk with them for a time. Opportunities to hear their stories and their dreams. Every time, I receive from them so much more than I give—a more complex world, a softer heart, a bigger God.
These are people who have experienced the stuff of nightmares—harassment, threats, abduction, or torture, because of their race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. What they’ve experienced is harsh enough that the international community has *officially agreed* that they had to flee for their lives. And it takes a lot to get the international community to agree on anything, am I right?
Most spend years in refugee camps, waiting for either a visa to a country where they can start a new life or the “all clear” to return home. One refugee described his time in the camp to me this way, “It’s like a prison without walls. You wish to die.” Visa’s are slow in coming, because refugees are subjected to the kind of vetting that could get a girl like me top-level security clearance.
After all that vetting, the US plans to accept between 50-110,000 refugees in 2017, just .4-.9% of the 1.19 million people that the UNHCR projects will need resettlement this year (UNHCR). Keep in mind, those are just the people who the international community has agreed can never go home. There are more like 21 million total refugees seeking asylum right now, and 56 percent of them are being hosted by 10 countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (according to Amnesty International).
But please don’t get lost in the numbers. Each one of these people has a Father and Creator that knows their name, sees every tear, carries their hurts and fears. All I have to do is imagine my own child being attacked and fleeing to strangers for help to know what is required of the Church. Shouldn’t we be crying out to our governments on their behalf? Using every resource available to us to offer shelter and protection? Getting on our knees and begging God for miracles of mercy?
Join me today in praying for refugees:
- To be protected and have their basic needs for food, water and shelter met.
- To have hope in the midst of suffering; that they would know God as their protector, provider, and redeemer.
- To be reunited with missing family members.
- Pray that nations (especially your own) will be open and generous to receiving those who need a permanent new home. Pray that decision makers would be motivated by compassion and justice, rather than fear.
- Pray for organizations caring for refugees—that they would have the resources they need to alleviate suffering and that they would pour out hope and love from the Lord. Pray specifically for Jordanian Christians who are serving about 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Pray that they will not grow weary of doing good, that every need will be provided for, that they will be bold in their prayers and in speaking the good news of God’s healing power and love.
- Pray that God would reveal His love and forgiveness to those who are perpetrating violence that causes people to flee their homes. Pray that they would repent and turn from evil.