“The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.”
Today, we join Han at a difficult time in her journey. What stirs within us as we listen to the challenges she faces?
For many of those we have accompanied this Lent, being denied the right to work is one of the biggest challenges they face under the hostile environment agenda. Not only does work allow our refugee friends the ability to support themselves, but, as Han explains, it is such an important part of one’s identity.
“It’s very difficult. I don’t have an introduction, I can’t introduce myself if I go to a public place and talk because the Home Office has identified me as a person with no purpose in life.
“If you don’t have a job or identity you are treated with insult and contempt by people.”
This loss of identity that Han feels is something that she finds very isolating and prevents her from having any sense of community; a community from which she feels purposefully excluded.
“When you don’t have a legal status that is what people attach to you and that is why you are isolated.
“I will be completely shunned from the society, ostracised, not allowed to take part in community activities. I will be isolated completely.”
An Invitation to Prayer
We invite you to take some time with Han’s journey and today’s readings, and join with Nick, Community Outreach Officer at JRS UK, in prayer and reflection.
As we sit with Han’s words today, it is difficult to avoid the feeling of pain in her voice. The idea that she has had her identity taken from her, left with no purpose, is a thought that leaves us feeling uncomfortable and, perhaps, in a state of despair.
Worse yet, her sense of being lost is no accident but part of the purposeful hostile environment, a creation of public policy, which seeks to exclude her from any notion of community.
When walking with another in this difficulty and struggling with despair, we can find hope in today’s first reading. We hear that even before the beginning of time we are known and called by God. For many of the refugees we accompany, it is their unshakeable faith in God that nourishes their hope. Through their trust in God, they are able to move forward on their journey in the face of all the adversities and pain because they believe that one day they will be “honoured in the eyes of the Lord.”
Today, may we be inspired by the faith of our refugee friends. Through our shared faith, may we seek to prevent others being stripped of their identity and instead build compassionate and welcoming communities.
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