When I was in Syria I made friends with a woman who had lost her husband and her sons in a war she couldn’t understand. Pushed from her home and country, she now pays rent on a crate behind a café by selling her body. Up to ten times a night.
In Southeast Asia I was blessed to be part of a campaign to rescue children enslaved in human trafficking. These children, and I do mean children, were torn from their families, or SOLD by their families for money. Every one of them was a refugee.
By definition, a refugee is someone who has been forced to leave his or her home/country to escape persecution, natural disaster or war.
I’ve been honored to stand with refugees all over the world and to understand a little of what they are suffering.
When I was twelve years old something so horrific happened within the walls of our home, I was forced to flee for my life. I had nowhere to go. It was the middle of winter and by midnight I had run out of quarters telephoning and begging relatives to open a door. They all said no.
By three o’clock in the morning I was numb with cold, loneliness and despair. A stranger finally took me in and gave me a warm bath and a bed and a meal. The next day I was driven to the police station. I never went back “home”. I’d already lived in a number of foster homes. There were more in my future before an uncle and aunt took pity and gave me a real home. For them, I will forever be grateful.
I don’t share any of this so you’ll feel sorry for me; I share it so you’ll know that I know what it’s like to be a refugee. Sometimes for weeks at a time, I lived on city streets, dodging cops and perverts. Foster care usually only fostered abuse. But I’m cagey, and I survived. Today I am blessed beyond measure. What matters now is that I have a home that’s warm. I can open my doors to refugees. A couple of years ago I learned of some families that had arrived here with nothing. Eli and his friends went through our neighborhood late, late at night asking for various items to help set up these desperate families. It was easy to give a pan or a lamp or a blanket. In fact, when Dev and Mike recently moved to Hawaii, they donated most of their furnishings to refugees that had no dishes, no clothes, and no furniture. It was simple.
But now things aren’t so simple. I don’t know what to do to help. I feel frustrated and desperate. I understand that President Trump doesn’t want “undesirables” let into our country. I understand that America has enemies that would destroy all of us if they could. I get the policy. What I don’t get is a chance to help the hurting and that hurts me. If a stranger had not taken me in that December night so long ago, I would have frozen to death.
I can’t let that happen to anyone else if I can help it, and I hate that I’m being told that I can’t. Maybe that’s why St. Peter will never let me relieve him of his sacred Pearly Gate keeping duties. I wouldn’t check the records. I’d just push back the hinges and let everybody through.
Imagine such a heaven!
Right now I’m praying hard for those who are alone, afraid, abused. I am praying for the leaders of our nation and the leaders of the world. Mostly though, I’m praying for the children who are cold, hungry, hurt, confused, and feel abandoned. God be with you!
Things will get better because in the end, love will always, always, always trump hatred.