Life as a Refugee

  • A Displaced Life

    refugee lifeDefinition of Refugee:

    A refugee is a displaced person who seeks safety from persecution by going to a new country.

    ‘‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

    My name is Rayan Masih*. I am Pakistani but living in Thailand as a refugee for almost 8 years. We are a family of 3 – myself, my wife and my daughter.

    In Pakistan, life was good for us as long as we didn’t catch the attention of Islamic extremists. Christians are often persecuted, and many unjustified blasphemy cases are made against us. Muslims consider Christians to be a low class, and we don’t have the same rights as other citizens in our country.

    Before I married my wife, she was the victim of a planned forced marriage to a Muslim extremist. This is quite common, and often ends in kidnapping and the “marriage” of an older Muslim man to a young Christian girl. Maira’s parents tried moving to other towns to hide, but there are many Muslims in Pakistan and they work together. Wherever they went, they were found. My cousins knew her family, and they decided it would be good for Maira and I to marry. If she were already married, no one could force her to marry this Muslim man.

    But once we were married, the Muslims tried to kill us both.

  • A Letter of Hope

    Another noteburundi flag heart by Alex, telling us a little about himself:

    ‘’ Am writing this letter from exile in hope of getting a sponsor in Canada for my resettlement.’’

    War, political violence and persecution led me to flee my home country, Burundi leaving behind my family and everything I knew to save my life.

    I was just like any normal teenager of my age (19) out of high school waiting to enrol for college. I had a job in a local bookstore working part time(4 hours in the morning). Most of my evenings were spent volunteering with the Red Cross and if not there, I'd head to the basketball court as basketball is my second best hobby after Chess. (I am a huge fan of the Toronto Raptors by the way.) A few months later, the school break was over and I went for college.

    It was there at college when I was a volunteer in a humanitarian organization in 2015 that demonstrations against the 3rd mandate of President Nkurunziza were getting violent. I decided to step in and help vulnerable ones in need of medical attention.

  • A Refugee Journey

    woman asian“Please, if something happens to us, take care of my children.”

    I stared at Amira’s* tearful face on the monitor and knew we could not respond to that plea.

    Having received the initial contact with Ahmad* via an emailed appeal for help over three years before, we, and Faith Community Church in Blackfalds Alberta, had been working to bring this Pakistani family to Canada, guiding them through the refugee application process.

    We were encouraged to see how our small congregation embraced the idea, though raising the required $30,000 seemed daunting at first. The church family became more enthused as we broadcast skype calls with the family on Sunday mornings and a shipping container began to fill up with donations.

    We rejoiced when we heard that an interview had finally been granted, but now all hope seemed dashed. Their application had been rejected. As Ahmad recounted how the immigration official dismissed the documents he presented to verify his story, we felt helpless.

  • ADS-Up

    refugees 2Australian Diaspora Steps Up

    Ads-Up Canada is a group of Australians and Canadians working to sponsor Manus and Nauru refugees who have been detained indefinitely by the Australian government.  They are looking for partners in Canada after refugee resettlement was cut so drastically by the USA.

    I first heard about Manus Island after receiving an email several months ago from a refugee who had been stranded there. It was a disturbing note as he described living conditions on what was essentially a prison island. I had never heard of such a place, and it didn't sound like something the Australian government would allow, so I went looking to see what I could learn. The facts are more painful than I could have imagined.

  • Aerial Shot of Lifejackets

    The garbage dump in Lesbos contains a powerful symbol of the number of refugees risking their lives by sea.

  • Ahmad was a soul, and he became a number.

    Syrian refugees are not only fleeing ISIS.

    Human Rights Watch has investigated some of the stories of leaked photos of detainees killed while in custody of the Syrian government and produced this video.

    *** contains mature content ***

  • Antecessor Refugee Crisis Response

    Our thanks to Antecessor Rapid Response (www.antecessor.org/) for allowing us to share this video which shows how the church is reaching out and caring for refugees passing through the the Balkans: an example of love for churches everywhere to emulate in their local response to the worldwide refugee crisis.

    This is the Gospel sharing love for others that Jesus has called His church to live out in their communities and around the world.

  • Asylum Crackdown in Thailand

    This documentary published by the BBC in 2016 describes living conditions and the situation that many  Pakistani Christians have encountered as they looked for refuge in Thailand after being falsely accused of blasphemy at home.

    Although it was created several years ago, the situation has not improved. In fact, many refugees in other countries find themselves in similar situations. Having been forcibly displaced by violence or persecution from their homeland, they have sought asylum in another country - often nearby, and often inhospitable.

  • Asylum Seekers Flee to Quebec

    Haitian refugees at Quebec borderIn recent weeks, the number of new asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, crossing the US border into Quebec has risen dramatically. On Friday, August 11, as many as 1,200 people were waiting to file refugee claims in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

    UNHCR Representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze was interviewed on CTV News to address the situation. Watch the 4 minute video below to find out: why so many asylum seekers are heading to Quebec, why they are leaving the US, if there is any substance to the fear that the province of Quebec will be overloaded by the sheer number of refugees, and what determines if an asylum seeker can stay in Canada.

  • Bible Studies, Books and Media Links

    bibleFor those who want to inform and position themselves to be a voice for truth in refugee crisis conversations, there are Bible studies, books and documentaries available.

    This listing will be updated as new material is discovered. If you are aware of something that may be useful to others, please let us know and we will add it to the site.

    Bible Studies

    Refugee Highway Partnership has made available a 3-lesson Bible study by Marike Blok simply called "Refugees" available for downloadby anyone who would like to use it. A guide for facilitators is available here.

  • Connect with Pakistani Believers

    flag pakistanIn our world today (2019), Pakistan is ranked by World Watch List at #5 of the top 50 nations where "it is most dangerous to follow Jesus," ahead of Sudan (#6), Eritrea (#7), and Yemen (#8).

  • Conversations

    computer mouseOne of the blessings and the challenges in this work are the conversations with people who have been forcibly displaced. Most of those ‘conversations’ happen by way of email, but having been at this for 3 years now, there are more happening via Skype, Facebook Messenger and phone.

    I would like to share 2 of those conversations with you here. English is not their first language. In order to protect their identity I have changed their names, but I have preserved their words, their message to us …

  • Drone footage shows total devastation in Homs, Syria

    This aerial footage shows the total devastation of the city of Homs, once Syria's third largest city and a major industrial hub.  Close to 1 million people no longer live here; those not killed are seeking refuge somewhere.

  • Embracing a New Life in Canada

    hany unhcrAs we get further and further along in this humanitarian crisis of displacement and people forced to flee for their lives, more and more have come to Canada and are resettling into a new life here.

    This month, we would like to high-light the story of 22-year-old Hany Al Moulia who fled Homs, Syria a year after his youngest brother was born in March of 2011. After graduating high school he knew "he would be conscripted into the army. And then his cousins were murdered in their homes. It was time to get out."

  • Europe's Refugees Wash Ashore in Greece

    A Samaritan's Purse video showing some Syrian refugees arriving on the shores of Greece.

  • Fair Havens Community Church

    silhouette 3Written by Ann Sparrow

    In October 2016 Fahad* contacted us - he said he found our name on a site of sponsoring churches. We were surprised because we didn't even realize that our names were on any list, so it was something definitely not on our radar at that time.

    We checked his story out through some missionaries to make sure that his story was true. Having found that out and feeling that this was perhaps a direction God was leading us in, we brought it to the church. There was full support from the board, and many of our church folk immediately showed a lot of interest.

  • Faith Community Church

    Faith Community Church begins a sponsorship of a refugee family.At this point, it is still a waiting game but way more so for Ruth and Joseph* and their three children.

    We first began the process of sharing the vision for this with the congregation of Faith Community Church in January 2017. It was formally agreed to by the congregation in February.

    We worked closely with our SAH (the Alliance Church) and their representative Hannatu as she helped us work through the thorough template they have crafted for sponsorship. That process took us about two months as we emailed back and forth with Ruth & Joseph getting them to fill in their documentation even as we did ours. After the initial review of all our paperwork, our SAH then sent the file on to Immigration Canada. This was an invaluable time saver as it virtually eliminated all the mistakes we might have made and saved the time of resending.

  • Four Minutes Experiment

    Psychologist Arthur Aron said that four minutes of eye contact brings people closer to each other better than everything else. In this video Amnesty International experiments with that idea by pairing up Europeans and refugees who have never met before.

  • How a Refugee Camp Became a City

    dadaab camp kenyaDadaab, Kenya, is an area of 5 refugee camps that was home to 329,811 people as of October 2015. Laura Secorun Palet has written an excellent article on this refugee camp that has become a city - a reminder to us all that the worldwide refugee crisis extends far beyond the current Syrian conflict.  

    You can read her article here.

  • Introduction to the Refugee Highway 2019

    What is the Refugee Highway? Where is it? Who travels this Highway?

    This 6 minute video will answer these questions and describe how the church is particularly equipped to respond with the compassion, grace and love of Jesus to those who find themselves on it. 

    We encourage every congregation to watch and then pray to understand how they should respond to the ongoing global crisis.

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