The path of a refugee begins with a traumatic event in his homeland, sending him and his family on a road they never imagined they would be on. Here we find the first major loss for a refugee: their home. In every country and every culture, people have the same desire and need for a home. The houses look very different. An apartment, a grass hut, a tin roof house, a house with a white picket fence. Regardless of how big, how pretty, or how clean it is, a family needs a home. A place parents and children identify as theirs. The place they feel safe, cared for, and – most of all – known. Home is ultimately the place where we draw so much of our identity. It is where we are known best. It where we go when the world outside has been difficult, harsh, and tiresome.
When a family faces the level of trauma that refugees do, they not only lose their house, they lose their home. And they begin to journey toward a place they don’t know – and a place where they are unknown. This is one of the more heartbreaking parts of the refugee’s journey. Spouses no longer have a place to retreat, parents have nowhere to eat and pray with their family, children have no place to be tucked in at night.
My wife and I have four children. Our home is one of the most sacred places in our lives because it is where we have the most important, intimate, fun, heartbreaking, and restorative times with our family. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have that ripped from us by no choice of our own.
So what can we do about it?
First: pray for families on this journey. Pray that God, in a supernatural way, will restore a sense of home even while they are fleeing. Pray that God will remind each displaced person that this world is not our ultimate home, and that God has a place prepared for us in Heaven, our true Home.
Next: take a step to help the displaced people in our community. There are over 600,000 homeless people in America. There are 2,500 homeless in Charlotte – that is 2,500 people who have landed in a place they never wanted and have no place to call home, and no place to be known. Visit http://www.urbanministrycenter.org to find more ways to get involved.