Pray for These People If You Care about the Plight of Refugees
The global refugee crisis has always been about more than just statistics. At its heart, the refugee crisis is about people and how to care for them.
In the midst of all that’s going on today, it’s easy to lose sight of this personal dimension. But refugees are people with their own hopes, dreams, fears, families and futures. If we really want to protect refugee lives, then we have to hear their stories and lift up their voices.
Through my work at World Relief, I’ve been blessed to hear refugee stories firsthand. And this space of encounter has transformed the way I understand God’s call to care for the neighbor. The Bible asks us to love refugees as we love ourselves. “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt,” reads Deuteronomy 10:19. As Christians, we can do more to center refugee stories with love; we can and must meet refugees with an open mind and a prayerful heart.
In prayer, we can transform God’s church into a place of friendship for the foreigner, for the oppressed and for our global neighbors in need. Today and every day I pray for the refugees I’ve met and heard. And I think it’s important to share my prayer with the world.
I pray for my friend Sunny. Sunny has spent over four years waiting to be reunited with his wife in Spokane, Washington. Sunny, who fled Pakistan after being kidnapped and tortured for his Christian faith, has already been processed for resettlement to the U.S. as a refugee, but he needs our government to complete the process so he can come to America and rebuild his family. In the meantime, he is suffering from separation in a faraway and dangerous country. His story is the story of a love that won’t quit, in spite of the odds and obstacles against him.
I pray for Joe. After being beaten for participating in a peaceful pro-democracy march in Venezuela, Joe traveled for a year to get to Tijuana and request asylum at the U.S. port of entry. After months of waiting in Mexico, he endured six months in a U.S. immigration detention prison. But Joe had his asylum case denied. He remains in legal limbo, without any option to stay permanently in the U.S.
I pray for Ny. Ny is an orphan living alone in Egypt. Many years ago, her parents died in the violence of South Sudan’s civil war. Her uncle, aunt and cousins are the only family she has left, and all of them are living far away from her in Spokane. She’s been waiting for five years to rejoin them. But so far, her pleas to enter the United States have fallen on deaf ears.
I pray for Kalima and her family, who I visited in the Kutapalong camp in Bangladesh. I first met Kalima over three years ago. But while I’ve since returned to America, she and her family are still there, waiting patiently and fervently for someone to start caring enough to let them start a new life somewhere. Just a few weeks ago, a brutal fire burned down the homes of 10,000 of her neighbors; we live in comfort, but Kalima and her family face devastation and hardship.
These stories are all unique, yet they are not out of the ordinary. There are thousands of refugees like Kalima, Ny, Joe and Sunny. These are people whose lives have been put on hold by persecution, poverty, illness and suffering. They are more than just a number for the media to report on; they are human beings seeking the comfort and care of good neighbors.
America has the power and prosperity to change their lives forever. But our political leaders need wisdom and compassion to hear refugee stories and make good on America’s centuries-old promise to be a home to the world’s tired, hungry and poor. That’s why I also pray for President Biden, who has the legal authority to reopen and rebuild our refugee resettlement program and our asylum system — but who despite inspiring statements, has thus far continued the refugee ceiling of the previous administration and continues to expel asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. If God can touch his heart to show him the way to restore America’s refugee program and rebuild our asylum system, then we can start to make a difference for thousands of people made in God’s image.
I invite everyone reading this to join me in my prayer. Through prayer, we can become better instruments of God’s will for a transformed and more loving world. I invite you to join me in praying for and hearing from the world’s refugees. With God’s help, we can build a better tomorrow for our neighbors in need.
Dr. Mark Finney is the director of World Relief Spokane and lead pastor of Emmaus Church. Some of the names mentioned here have been changed to respect the individuals’ privacy.