Eat, Act, Pray - August
On the Serbian-Macedonia border last year, you’d often overhear questions like ‘what country am I in? How long to the next country, and where are we? Where do we go after that?’
The people asking these questions were refugees who had arrived off a train from Macedonia, many having made the journey from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.
From here they would walk towards the first registration point in Serbia where they’d be registered and could access humanitarian essentials. The Serbian authorities have put up lots of tents for people to rest in before they continue the journey too but last year nobody rested. Everybody wanted to move through and get to their end destination as quickly as possible. Everybody was determined.
Majd was one of those determined. When he arrived at the border he was understandably distressed and close to tears. Travelling with his family, he was weighed down with luggage and with what seemed like grief. He wanted to press on quickly with his journey and stopped for only five minutes at the registration point. In those five minutes he shared,
‘I am a skin doctor in Syria - I have a house and a car, I have money in the bank but I can’t access it. I’ve got all of these things. Now look at me. I’ve been selling shoes the last three years.’
He went on,
‘I’ve got a message actually - I’ve got Facebook and I’ve been following what people say about refugees on Facebook and I want you to know that I don’t want your money. I’ve got my own money. I am not coming for money.
‘I am coming because it’s like hell in Syria. Perhaps you cannot see what is happening, there are no cameras… I do not want to stay and die. That’s the reason I’m leaving.’
This year, with borders across Europe closed, refugees are no longer able to continue on their journey. Thousands of refugees are stranded across Europe, desperate to rebuild their lives, but unable to move forward.
We’ve all got ideas of who or what a refugee is. Often that idea is fuelled by the mammoth amount of negative headlines we see in our news. So what’s the reality? People who are human beings like you and I, seeking refuge from unimaginable conflict and violence. That’s what a refugee is, but we need to be reminded of who a refugee before we can begin to #changethestory.
Talk it over
- Let’s go back to the beginning. Take a look at Genesis 1:27 and discuss what it means to be created in the image of God. More than that, what does it mean that we’re all created in his/her image?
- If we’re all born of the same creator that makes us family. So, not only are we all unique and important but we’re brothers and sisters. Discuss with one another what you know of who else God says we are.
- What are some of the stories you’ve heard about refugees? Share these with one another and what it would feel like if these stories were about you, your family or your home.
There’s a story in the UK which we need to challenge. One from a negative, selfish place to one that is centred on love and what binds us together. So, we’ve got an action plan of how to do it:
Thank you for creating us in your image - precious and loved. Thank you for connecting us with one another as a family, even when we’re strangers.
Help us to love our brothers and sisters suffering in the wake of conflict. Help us to ‘love the stranger’ like you commanded and change the story around refugees which tells us they’re not as loved and as precious as they truly are.
And, of course, we ask that the conflict that people are seeking refuge from would end. That your kingdom would come and will be done,