“Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him, give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life. At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.”
Today as we listen to Cecile’s story of difficulty we share her tears; but can you also hold on to that hope for the joy of dawn?
This week we journey with Cecile, who came to the UK in search of safety over 10 years ago.
“The Home Office…don’t see the person, or what the person went through, all they see is a person lying. The Home Office has got a way of making people suffer.”
Cecile’s political activity and hope for a better future had put her life at risk and she had been imprisoned a number of times. Afraid that she would ‘disappear’ like her fellow campaigners, Cecile’s family made the difficult decision to organise her escape.
“My friends and family agreed I should run away … How could I live in that type of country?
“One night a guard said I had to come with him. I came out and said to myself, ‘this is the end of my life’. But then I saw my friends, they had arranged for me to escape from prison. They introduced me to someone who was going to take me out of the country. The tickets were already arranged. I stayed with him for two days. Then we went to the airport, and got a flight to the UK. That was around February 2008.”
Thankfully Cecile made it safely to UK. However, the support her friends had organised only guaranteed her arrival in the UK and once she was in the airport her chaperone abandoned her. Unable to speak English, and with no understanding of the asylum process, Cecile was left lost and confused.
Cecile’s situation could have been even worse if it weren’t for a stranger’s kindness.
“I didn’t know what to do so I just stood and watched people at the airport. Suddenly I heard someone speaking my language and I started to cry and asked him for help. I told him about being arrested, and having to flee my home, and then being abandoned right there is the airport. He told me to stop crying and said ‘I see you as my mother’. In our country calling someone mama is a mark of respect. He took me home and told me I was safe, so I started to feel at ease.”
An Invitation to Prayer and Reflection
Praying the Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross is a traditional way of praying during Lent. We pray this familiar prayer to be with Jesus Christ who walked this journey, carrying the Cross, the instrument of his death, out of love and commitment to us.
We pray it as we seek to become closer to this Jesus who loves us all so deeply. We walk this journey with him to glimpse the heart and mind of Jesus Christ who is alive today, and experience the journey to the Cross wherever our sisters and brothers are suffering throughout the world, not least in those refugee friends we accompany at JRS.
Today we invite you to set aside some time to walk the Way of the Cross with JRS. In the resource below prepared by JRS, each station begins with a piece from scripture, followed by a reflection, and culminates with a prayer to say together. The resource can be used alone or with others.
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