The Refugee Journey – What would it take for you to leave your country?

 – first published January 19, 2016
¿Que haría falta para que usted dejara su País?

On The Road…

Refugees in TorontoMost people do not like change. What would it take to pack up your family, leave your home, friends, community and everything that is familiar to set off on a dangerous journey with only the possessions you could carry in your hands? How desperate would you need to be, to pay your life savings to smugglers, hoping for a safe passage in an overcrowded, rubber boat where others before you have drowned?

In the United States we have not had to ponder that question yet, but the steady stream of refugees on the journey to Europe came to that conclusion. For some it is a desperate desire for physical safety from war, bombs, destruction and ISIS.* For others it is to escape religious persecution, with the hope of being allowed to worship Jesus Christ without getting arrested and jailed. For some it is the promise of a better financial future. But for everyone it means leaving the known and moving out into the unknown. Mostly, brave people take that step.

Syrian refugees stranded in ViennaCell phones, a refugee’s lifeline, chronicle the journey and navigate the path into the future while connecting them to those left behind. An article in Time Magazine**, notes that smartphones are often the only item refugees carry. “The European refugee crisis is the first of its kind in a fully digital age, and that has changed how the exodus is unfolding. With each border crossing, there is a race to find a new signal, a new local SIM card or a public wi-fi network.” When asked what is more important, food or power, one refugee answered, “Charging my phone”. This is a new phenomenon, says Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director. “Most of the Syrians fleeing are educated and urban so they have the funds and the exposure to use smartphones effectively.”

Reading this article, I flashed back to my two-month journey in 1975 traveling along the “Hippie Trail” from Pakistan to England by local bus. Information traveled from person to person in those days. Sitting in cafes we would exchange information about the place we had just travelled with the ones who were on their way there: the best routes, the cheapest hotels, the things to see. It was a different day, and a different purpose for travel, but communication travelled effectively along an information highway nevertheless.

Worldwide connectivity between refugees and their families living in their cities of origin, create an information highway for the gospel to travel back to home countries where it is difficult for missionaries to get visas… now is the time to share the gospel!


Let’s pray for refugees on the road, for all that they will encounter, for safety, provisions and hope. 

  • Pray they will find Christian websites as they scour their phones for information.
  • Pray that they will hear the gospel from Christian fellow travelers.
  • Pray that refugees will share the gospel back to their homelands.


* For further information on ISIS, refer to “Understanding ISIS” by Jim Bennett (Intercede Jan/Feb 2015).

** See How Smartphones Have Become a Lifeline for Refugees (Patrick Witty, Oct. 8. 2015)

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