“What Would it Take for You to Leave Your Country?”
Most people do not like change. What would it take to pack up your family, leave your home, friends, community, and everything that is familiar to set off on a dangerous journey with only the possessions you could carry in your hands? How desperate would you need to be to risk your life to escape political or religious persecution, or pay your life savings to smugglers, hoping for a safe passage in an overcrowded, rubber boat where others before you have drowned?
The picture of Alan Kurdi, the dead Syrian toddler, who washed ashore in Turkey, held in the arms of a Turkish policeman, sent shock waves throughout the world, and opened people’s eyes to the horrors of the Syrian refugee crisis. (For further information on the background of the Syrian Crisis see Intercede Nov/Dec 2012, “Syria in Crisis” by Harry Morin).
In the United States we have not had to ponder that question yet, but the steady stream of refugees on the journey to Europe came to that conclusion. For some it is a desperate desire for physical safety from war, bombs, destruction, ISIS,* and the Taliban. For others, it is to escape religious persecution, with the hope of being allowed to worship Jesus Christ without getting arrested and jailed. For some it is the promise of a better financial future, but for everyone, it means leaving the known and moving out into the unknown. Mostly, brave people take that step.
Cell phones, a refugee’s lifeline, chronicle the journey and navigate the path into the future while connecting them to those left behind. An article in Time Magazine, notes that smartphones are often the only item refugees carry: “The European refugee crisis is the first of its kind in a fully digital age, and that has changed how the exodus is unfolding. With each border crossing, there is a race to find a new signal, a new local SIM card or a public wi-fi network” (p. 56). When asked what is more important, food or power, one refugee answered, “Charging my phone” (p. 57). This is a new phenomenon, says Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director: “Most of the Syrians fleeing are educated and urban so they have the funds and the exposure to use smartphones effectively” (p. 57). The same is likely true for Afghans fleeing their country today.
Worldwide connectivity between refugees and their families living in their cities of origin create an information highway for the gospel to travel back to home countries where it is difficult for missionaries to get visas. Truly, now is the time to share the gospel!
Let’s pray for refugees on the road:
Pray for the Afghans who have just left their country amidst great danger, trauma, and turmoil in hope of a better future and for those left behind.
Pray for refugees from other nations on the road, for all that they will encounter, for safety, provisions, and hope.
Pray they will find Christian websites as they scour their phones for information.
Pray that they will hear the gospel from Christian fellow travelers.
Pray that refugees will share the gospel back to their homelands.
* (For further information on ISIS, refer to Intercede Jan/Feb 2015, “Understanding ISIS,” by Jim Bennett.)
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