Refugees. That the world may become aware of the plight of the millions of displaced persons and find solutions to their tragic conditions.
Statistics about the millions of refugees in the world might make us glaze over and give up. Who can pray for that many people?
Perhaps we can respond to the Holy Father’s prayer request by starting with just one refugee.
You will find photographs of refugees on the website of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), http://www.jrsusa.org. Look closely at them. When you become aware that each refugee is a real person — and not a statistic at all — your heart will be moved to pray.
The JRS serves a huge camp in Kenya called Kakuma, sheltering over 50,000 refugees. One Somali refugee who is unable to walk told workers his story. “I met a distant relative who recognized me and offered me a small space to stay with him. He found me food and kept me company. It was nice to have company. Unfortunately, he was barely surviving himself. One day, he just left me.”
At Kakuma the JRS offers counseling services to help refugees cope with emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, and trauma from sexual abuse. JRS has turned its psychosocial program sites into oases of tranquility. Patients find that its cooling trees and benches create a climate of peace at odds with the heat and noise of the camp.
Prayer will lead to action. It always does. We need awareness, prayer, and action to find solutions to the tragic plight of refugees. The JRS website also has suggestions for action each one of us can take to help refugees.
The Letter of James says it clearly, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:15-17).
So now we can ask, just how many refugees are there? The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that worldwide there are 9.9 million refugees and 24.5 million people displaced internally by conflict. Please pray.
How will you increase awareness, prayer, and action on behalf of refugees?
Leviticus 19:34 — “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself.”
Persecuted Christians. That Christians who suffer persecution and discrimination may be granted human rights, equality, and freedom to live their faith.
The Pope’s mission intention this month turns our attention to persecuted Christians throughout the world. Christians in India, Turkey, and Iraq risk martyrdom. In places like Saudi Arabia, China, and Kosovo, they cannot practice their faith openly. Many of the world’s refugees are Christians who have had to leave their homelands because of persecution.
In many places throughout the world — even in the U.S. — Christians face discrimination in jobs, education, business, the courts, taxation, housing, travel, and marriage.
The Pope asks us to pray for human rights for Christians everywhere because we are one Body in the Lord. We pray because our prayers have power in God to make good things happen for Christians even in a world that opposes us.
While we are aware of hostility, danger, and discrimination directed toward us, we also remind one another to love those who persecute us, as Jesus commanded. We exhort one another to have courage and be not afraid no matter what happens because our loving Father holds us in his hand.
As we pray for human rights, equality, and freedom of religion for all Christians, we ourselves make an effort to extend those rights to non-Christians everywhere. When we Christians are in the majority, we should exemplify the Lord’s peace, justice, and mercy toward all, particularly toward those who do not share our faith. Our love for friends and foes alike is the mark of Christians ever since the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and Mary as they were praying in the Upper Room.
God will reward and comfort all who suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. Secure in that knowledge, we ought to rejoice in our own sufferings on behalf of the Gospel. But while we encourage each other with these thoughts, we pray that Christians everywhere may escape suffering and obtain the rights to which all people are entitled.
You can offer all your sufferings in prayer for the good of others. How have you suffered for your faith?
1 Corinthians 4:12 — To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed we bless; when persecuted we endure.
Prayer of the Month
Almighty and merciful God, whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own, look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry. Bless those who work to bring them relief. Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts, and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– from www.invitationtoprayer.org