“The poor when they see it will be glad and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains.”
Throughout Lent, we invite you to journey alongside some of our refugee friends. Today we introduce you to Bobby, through Sr Linda, one of our volunteers. Join Sr Linda as she reflects on the words of this psalm.
Sr. Linda’s Story
Sr. Linda, one of our detention outreach volunteers, accompanies those held in the immigration removal centres at Heathrow airport. By listening to the worries and stories of detainees, Sr. Linda walks beside them during their time in detention.
It was mid-last year when I met Bobby (not his real name) in detention in a very devastating condition. One would know that he had not been sleeping or eating well. He has a beautiful face but it was too dark to see even a glimpse of light. He was crying a lot in the times I have visited him. Indeed, he was too depressing to look at.
Before detention, Bobby, with his wife, escaped their country and sought asylum here in UK. Unfortunately, they were arrested in the airport and put in accommodation temporarily. When the accommodation expired they needed to move out and onto the streets, eventually becoming homeless. His wife was pregnant at that time. However, they met generous people who helped them to stay in a safer place. One day, while reporting, Bobby was arrested and put into detention. His wife was 7 months pregnant. Both mother and child were in a critical medical condition and this was breaking his heart.
Every time I met Bobby, I could sense a deep cry of longing to be freed from isolation and be reunited with his loved ones. His pain was deep and his hope was slowly fading away. In the midst of his suffering, I found him to be a prayerful person. He would always utter on his breath ‘Inshallah’ with a deep sigh whenever I assured him with positive encouraging words ‘to keep well so you can face another day with enough strength’. He would often smile whenever he start talking about his wife and child with fond memories.
Bobby’s ‘inshallah’ is a prayer seeking God’s mercy. Whenever I hear him say that one single word, I trust God is listening to his deepest pleas. After four months of detention, Bobby was released. He had phoned me to say that he was released and to say ‘thank you’. I could not see Bobby’s face anymore but the sound of his vibrant voice has given me strength and hope too.
Sr. Vui, another of our detention outreach volunteers, found that many of the men we accompany in detention struggled to communicate as they couldn’t speak in English. Sr. Vui was able to speak with many of the young Vietnamese men in their own language, allowing them to share their stories and their journeys. “Most of them were victims of trafficking or had been tortured because of their faith.”
“Sometimes I feel hopeless. However, I do feel there is hope when I hear and see all the work that is being done by so many charity groups, and so many good people, speaking, writing and protesting on behalf of the detainees.”
Today we invite you to accompany those held in detention by joining our ‘Praying with Detainees’ group. Each month we will ask you to remember a number of male detainees who have asked for our prayers, trusting in God to revive their hope.
Prayer for the Day
You can catch JRS UK’s Director, Sarah Teather, on BBC Radio 4 each morning this week as she presents Prayer for the Day.
Today, Sarah talks about encountering a tender love from a surprising source.