Monday, January 11, 2016

Guest Post // On Being a Refugee: The Sojourner's Hope

Editor's Note: Kayla and I were "random" roommates in college (good one, God!) and have been close friends ever since. We kind of thought we'd never see each other after I graduated and she had two years left, but then I decided to stick around and work with The Navigators and after two years we both moved to Minneapolis where we roomed together again, got married, and now live 15 min away from each other. Score! Kayla moved to Minneapolis to work with refugees and has been doing so for the last year and a half as an employment counselor at two different non-profits that serve refugees and immigrants. She gets exceedingly excited about maps and nutrition, enjoys red wine and chocolate, and is always looking for people to cook for. She is a true gem and is one of the most compassionate people I know. You will be blessed. —HD

On Being a Refugee: The Sojourners Hope

There are countless stories, and a few told by people who I’ve met in the last year and a half.
Akberet* hasn’t seen her husband in eight years because he was imprisoned for being a Christian. Mohamed is desperate for a way to support his family living in poverty back home. Rashiab received the opportunity to move to the US from a country plagued by Ebola and had to leave his young family behind in order to support them. Hawo came to Minneapolis after 7 years in a refugee camp with her young daughter, few belongings, and no knowledge of the English language. A family came to Minnesota in the middle of winter with minimal possessions, dressed in t-shirts and sandals.


All of these individuals have had pain and hardship in their arduous journey to the US. And now, they each have challenges as they face a new culture and language in a foreign land. Being around people with these stories every day has served as a reminder that as believers in Christ, we are truly sojourners and outsiders as well. As Peter wrote in his letter to believers, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11). Clearly a refugee is an exile from their homeland, but why would Peter call the believer an “exile”? For the same reason Jesus says that His people are “not of this world” (John 17:16).

Like the refugee, I am a foreigner. I am not home. Like the refugee, I am a sojourner on a journey. Like the refugee my journey can leave me weak and thirsty at times. Like the refugee, I do not belong to this culture that I am living in. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).  Just as the refugee faces a new language, new cultural rules, new weather, I face challenges as I learn more and more what it is to be a citizen of heaven in a sin-filled world

In the midst of the sobering stories aforementioned, there are also stories of great hope. In the two years she has been in the US, Akberet has learned English, earned her certification to work as a nursing assistant and took college readiness classes to study nursing. Rashiab published a novel. Hawo is attending school for the first time in her life to study English. A family was reunited with relatives whom they haven’t seen in years.


For the refugee, there is great hope found in resettling to a new country with seemingly boundless opportunity. For the Christian, there is also a hope, but it is much greater and much more secure. Our hope is not found in working towards a degree or supporting a family or arriving in a new country. Our hope is in the redemption that Jesus Christ brings in forgiveness of our sin. This hope will be fully realized the day that we stand before the great Judge, faultless because of what Jesus did. For “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3).  Like the refugee, our desire is for a better country. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16).  When we arrive in that place, that city prepared for us, we will be gloriously welcomed and reunited with our King forever.

Let us pray that our friends and neighbors who have been forced to flee their homeland will come to share in this hope. How great it would be to tell them "… you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2:19).


*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

If you want to help the refugee crisis here are some organizations I recommend:
Additional resources:


  1. Beautiful. I have a few friend who work for World Relief Memphis, and their stories are always astounding and full of Kingdom.

  2. Well said, Kayla. We are indeed all sojourners.This is not our home and I for one, am looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where the multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will worship the one true God. :)

  3. Thanks for this post. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a refugee. At one time, they couldn't either. This makes me think that someday, I could be a refugee. This brings me back to thinking of what/Who/who are most important. Are these the things and people and my God that I prioritize now; because someday, I might be a refugee. We have no guarantees in this transient world that we'll always be safe and secure as we are now. May we be tender to those in need, knowing it could be us some day.


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