Bad news

The news came by a text in WhatsApp at around 6 AM…

Pastor, we need your prayer. We are in a very hard moment. The pictures below is a family of my wife sister. Yesterday during the night, at around 1AM some people burnt their house…the whole family… [including] 4 children died. I don’t know how to hold my wife emotion, thus we need your prayer.”

Photo: The sister-in-law

I received this message (along with several gruesome pictures) from a refugee pastor in Malawi last Friday. The brutal killing of his sister-in-law and her family went down in DR Congo – one of the world’s leading refugee producing nations.

My heart and mind were numbed by the news. I couldn’t process it. How would you reply to such news? I was finally able to send him a heartfelt prayer via WhatsApp.

I pray that our partnership and friendship with him and his church will be a source of strength as he and his family walk through this dark valley.

I don’t share these kinds of stories very often – not because they are few and far between – but because they are traumatizing and difficult to carry. Yet in a world that is increasingly hostile to refugees, I think it is important to understand the kind of hell from which they are escaping.

My hope is that this story will imprint itself on our hearts so that we are less likely to give in to the ceaseless rhetoric of politicians that paint refugees as opportunists and potential terrorists.

They are people in desperate need of protection and refuge.

The refugee pastor has been forcibly displaced for over 20 years with no permanent refuge in sight. The news of his sister-in-law demonstrates it is not an option for him to return to his homeland. What is he to do?

How is it that the world refuses to offer him protection and place?

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