Praying with Refugees

Confronted by the conflict, slaughter, and seemingly endless anguish in so many other places in our world, we wonder how God can allow such things to happen. The Old Testament describes how the people of Israel suffered war, violence, famine, persecution, and exile, and how they tried to find the presence of the loving God of the covenant in all those harsh realities.

This section of the website offers readers an opportunity to reflect and pray on the good and evil which happens. As we meet and work with refugees who have confronted evil and suffering, it is important to remind them and ourselves as well to keep in touch with God, the source of all good and love. This is the only way to withstand evil.

Praying with refugees in Iraq: 'God wants us to learn something'
01 September 2015
Erbil, 1 September 2015 -- A young Iraqi woman who fled ISIS with her family talks about her struggles in a camp for displaced people, and how her faith has evolved because of her ordeal.

Praying with Refugees: education enables self-sufficiency
03 June 2015
Washington, DC, 3 June 2015 – "Education is a key in combating the evil of hatred, violence and war," says the Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Peter Balleis SJ. "It is important to get [displaced and refugee] children into school. It is important to keep learning, it is a form of healing in the midst of conflict."

Praying with refugees in the Middle East: faith in action
09 March 2015
Beirut, 9 March 2015 – At a time of increasing extremism, people drift apart. Consumed by war and subjugated by fear, it is difficult to hold onto hope. As the spectre of violence and terror has crept into all of our homes; we must make a great effort not to give in to despair.

Praying with Refugees in Belgium: then the storm died down
25 September 2014
Bruges, 1 October 2014 – Detention centres are places where storms frequently erupt, especially in the spirits of anxious, angry and stressed detainees. They feel overwhelmed, as if drowning. Yet in the middle of these dark storms, suddenly something can change. It is difficult to identify exactly what, but something changes their perspective, draws their attention to elements almost lost in the storm. It might be that God is at work.

Praying with Refugees in North Kivu: singing together to the Lord
01 September 2014
Masisi, 1 September 2014 – How can we challenge ourselves to pray in a way that gives room to the refugees and displaced persons in our communities? There is a call for change to welcome the displaced in our world. What are my personal commitments towards that? How can I, as a member of a host community, express solidarity for and show hospitality to others?

Praying with Refugees in Afghanistan: even after the darkest night there will be a new day
01 August 2014
Rome, 1 August 2014 – Two months have passed since Fr Alexis Prem Kumar SJ, the Jesuit Refugee Service Afghanistan director, was abducted by a group of armed men from a JRS-sponsored school in Sohadat, a government township for returnee families, 35 kilometers from Herat city in western Afghanistan.

Praying with Refugees in the Middle East: the resilience of mothers
15 May 2014
Damascus, 16 May 2014 – For years mothers in Syria have suffered; many have been displaced, losing their homes, their husbands, and for some, their children. Mothers often have to decide whether to leave other children behind in order to take a wounded child to gain access medical assistance, or to safety across a border.

Praying with Refugees: accompanying people in detention
01 April 2014
Washington DC, 1 April 2014 – In the United States and many other countries, Jesuit Refugee Service actively works to assist refugees and asylum seekers in detention. The use of detention to discourage, control and punish asylum seekers has increased worldwide during the past decade. Each year in the US, some 15,000 people seeking asylum are held in detention.

Praying with Refugees in Southern Africa: redefining our mission in life
01 March 2014
Johannesburg, 1 March 2014 – One morning I received a visitor to our office, a young woman refugee whom I shall call Ayan*.

Praying with refugees in South Sudan: a call for peace
01 February 2014
Tombura-Yambio, 1 February 2014 — The people of South Sudan have experienced far more than their share of suffering. Historians tell us that more than 4.5 million people died in our wars of independence, with similar numbers unaccounted for in past decades. Our nation needs to embrace the past to avoid repeating the mistakes that caused death, suffering and humiliation on a massive scale. I, therefore, appeal strongly for peace in South Sudan, an appeal which comes from deep within me.

Praying with refugees in Congo: unexpected gifts of Advent
01 December 2013
Bujumbura, 1 December 2013 – "The hand that receives is the same hand that gives", says one African proverb demonstrating the importance of recognising that there will always be others in need, but by helping them you help yourself.

Praying with refugees in Congo: reconciliation brings hope
01 November 2013
Bujumbura, 1 November 2013 – "I grew up hating. I believed the others were bad people. They were not like us", said Léonce*, a Burundian refugee, who spoke with honesty about his experience of prejudice.

Praying with Refugees in Syria: persecuted, but not abandoned
01 October 2013
Homs, 1 October 2013 – Sunday is normally characterised by an atmosphere of love, openness and reciprocity. But now everyday makes our communities more united as these difficult circumstances pull us together and make us stronger, more resilient, just like that symbol of Sunday.

Praying with Refugees in Cambodia: return requires constant trust and forgiveness
01 September 2013
Siem Reap, 1 September 2013 — When the landscape of home is a constant reminder of terrible injustice, how do you forgive and move forward, with neighbours who were once your jailers?

Praying with refugees in Southern Africa
01 August 2013
Johannesburg, 1 August 2013 – When I go to a refugee camp I am often beset by requests from refugees for resettlement. I tell them that I have no control over this process and am not a UN refugee agency employee. Yet people still come….

Praying with Refugees: Palm Sunday in Beirut
01 April 2013
Beirut, Palm Sunday, 1 April 2013 – It must have been a spring day like this, bright and sunny, when long ago Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we as Christians now call Palm Sunday. Last week in Lebanon, during the procession around St Joseph's Church in Beirut, worshippers – mostly domestic workers from the Philippines, South Sudan and Sri Lanka – waved their olive tree branches.

Praying with refugees: the real face of peace
01 January 2013
Caracas, 1 January 2013 – Recently, the Colombian government has opened peace talks with the with the largest left-wing guerrilla group, the FARC. Surely real peace building in Latin America needs participation of the victims of armed conflict in Colombia.

Praying with refugees in Nairobi
01 December 2012
(Nairobi) December 1, 2012 — Urban refugees in Nairobi live on the margins of society, not legally allowed to work, and struggling in an already over-crowded city. Fleeing violence, political instability and drought, refugees end up living in economically-deprived areas, desperate to find a place to call home, searching for hospitality in an unfamiliar country.

Praying with Refugees in Australia
01 November 2012
(Sydney) November 1, 2012 — The Jesuit Refugee Service office in Sydney is located in an inner city Jesuit parish. For many refugees a visa is the beginning of a new struggle, not the end. Psychological trauma and loss can be completely debilitating to even the strongest of personalities.

Praying with Refugees in the Philippines
01 October 2012
(Guindulungan, Philippines) October 1, 2012 — The southern Philippines has been ravaged by political violence since 2008. Jesuit Refugee Service supports internally displaced persons in their journey to become self-sufficient, and manages programs to strengthen peace building between communities in Guindulungan and Datu Piang municipalities.

Praying with Refugees in Jordan
01 September 2012
(Amman, Jordan) September 1, 2012 – Iraqis have been seeking refuge in Jordan for decades, coming here to escape years of repeated wars, internal strife and economic hardship. Despite a slightly more stable situation in their home country, Iraqis from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds continue to arrive, seeking safety and the chance to build a more dignified life for themselves and their families.

Praying with Refugees in Uganda
01 August 2012
(Boston) August 1, 2012 — As we traveled toward Morobi in northern Uganda, Lodu informed me that Flabius, the head catechist in the village, had lost a daughter. But it was a much deeper tragedy. This good man had lost not only his daughter—and his wife a few years ago—but seven children to war and disease over time.

Praying with Refugees in the United Kingdom
01 July 2012
(London) July 1, 2012 — Visiting the detention centres near Heathrow airport outside of London, Jesuit Refugee Service staff and volunteers accompany failed asylum seekers, in a pastoral capacity, striving to enhance their dignity and strengthen their resolve to remain strong in the face of much uncertainty.

Praying with Refugees in the Dominican Republic
01 June 2012
(Tierra Nueva, Dominican Republic) June 1, 2012 — The Haitian immigrants in Tierra Nueva are among the most economically marginalized people in the Dominican Republic. Their resources are limited even further by authorities who abuse their power in demanding bribes. More recently, the security of their neighborhoods has been threatened by an unsettling wave of violence.

Praying with Refugees in Sri Lanka
01 May 2012
(Vavuniya) May 1, 2012 — Sri Lanka concluded its war on May 18, 2009. It is estimated that more than 300,000 were forcibly displaced, having lost almost everything during the conflict, and between 40,000 –140,000 were killed in the final phase of the war alone.

Praying with Refugees in India
01 April 2012
(Washington, D.C.) April 1, 2012 — The Chin people in Mizoram State, India, live in a protracted, urban refugee situation and face daunting problems related to protection, livelihood, health, and education. While many have been there for years, new arrivals continue, including many youth who are fleeing forced conscription by the Burmese military.

Praying with Refugees in Cambodia
01 March 2012
(Phnom Penh) March 1, 2012 — Before Mohammed fled Burma, he was often stopped by the authorities on his way to school and sent to work in military camps. There he was made to cook, clean and carry heavy building materials, and he was punished when his captors were unhappy with his work.

Praying with Refugees in Congo
01 February 2012
(Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo) February 1, 2012 — About two million people have been internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armed conflicts. The situation here is characterized by chronic and rampant sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.

Praying with Refugees from Colombia
01 January 2012
(Caracas) January 1, 2012 — Thousands of Colombian women and men are forced to cross their border to find protection. Their flight marks the beginning of a long and difficult journey to find peace and dignity. Their lack of knowledge about refugee rights reduces the likelihood their applications will be accepted by their host countries.

Praying with Refugees: the spirit of accompaniment
01 December 2011
(Geneva) December 1, 2011 — The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service is to accompany, serve and plead the cause of refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Accompaniment, I have learned, is by its very nature reciprocal. It cannot be done alone and it cannot be done in a unilateral fashion.

Praying with Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees
01 November 2011
(Bangkok) November 1, 2011 — Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees were forced to flee Pakistan due to religious persecution. August was a particularly challenging and happy month as this year it marked Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. During Ramadan, they are not allowed to eat or drink during sunlight hours, a challenge in the Cambodian heat.

Praying with Refugees from Somalia
01 October 2011
(Nairobi) October 1, 2011 – Since the beginning of the drought and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa in July, tens of thousands of refugees have fled Somalia, most of them into Kenya and Ethiopia. They march for days or even weeks. Some do not survive the journey; others lose family members on the way or have to leave them behind.

Praying with Refugees in Syria
01 September 2011
(Aleppo, Syria) September 1, 2011 — Since the beginning of this year, the situation in a number of Arab countries has changed considerably — caused in great part by popular political movements. This has not only led to changes in the political regimes or bloody confrontations, but has also created much forced displacement of peoples.

Praying with Refugees: the opportunity of education
01 August 2011
(Washington, D.C.) August 1, 2011 — Refugees don’t leave their countries simply because things are difficult, they leave because their lives are in danger and the situation is hopeless. They are driven by hope to seek new opportunities, not just for themselves, but, for their children.

Praying with Refugees from Iraq
31 January 2011
(February 1, 2011) More than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees have sought refuge in neighboring countries, particularly in Syria and Jordan, and Jesuit Refugee Service has opened projects in these countries to accompany and serve this population and their many needs.