The stories have different names and groups involved, but every refugee story has the same starting point: trauma. The most common form of trauma resulting in someone becoming a refugee is persecution. The persecution could be religious, ethnic, political, tribal, or war. Whatever the reason, it results in a person or family being persecuted and forced to flee from their home to find safety.
Living in America, it is often difficult for us to imagine experiencing extreme persecution like this, but we can all understand to some degree what it is like to have someone stand against us. Maybe it was on the playground in school, social groups seemingly out to get each other through gossip and peer pressure, a work environment that makes it more difficult for someone to succeed, or the racial tension our country has experienced for decades. We have all seen it and more than likely have been impacted by it in some way.
Now imagine the persecution is at a level that causes you to legitimately fear for your life, lose your home and loved ones, and forces you to run for your very life. This is the starting point for the 51 million refugees in the world, and will be the starting point for the millions more who will become refugees in the months and years to come.
So what can we do about it?
First: pray. Pray for peace. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” Pray that peace will come and reign in the areas of the world where there is constant conflict and turmoil. Pray that God will bring His peace into the hearts of those most deeply affected by the trauma and conflict.
Next: be a peacemaker. Although we might not be at the center of the world’s greatest conflicts, we can be a daily peacemaker in our lives and communities. Treat others with peaceful intentions, help bring peace into the lives of families and friends in conflict, and be a voice for peace for those you see experiencing some level of persecution from others around them.