“And so, I pray…” – A Refugee Psalm

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And so, I pray…

It was almost 40 years ago now. I remember cowering in fear, infant daughter in my arms, not knowing if I would be the next fatality of the murderous gangs that ran amok in an ethnic cleansing campaign in my country of birth

I thought of not going down without a fight and so, I pray for the Ukrainians as they bravely take on Goliath

I didn’t think of loving my neighbours rather of their love as they sheltered my elderly parents at the risk of their own lives and so, I pray for the many (often poorer) nations that have demonstrated compassion to their neighbours in need

I remember not eating for days and not having an appetite and so, I pray for our Sudanese brothers and sisters as they combat the double blow of conflict and famine in their country

I recall not knowing if my house would be burned down and if I would have a place of refuge and so, I pray for the Rohingya and Uyghur communities who for years live in harsh environments, on foreign soil, pushed out of their homelands

I could smell the smoke of my neighbour’s houses going up in flames and so, I pray for my Syrian siblings who have seen everything they owned and knew burned to the ground

I recollect how my wife and I were separated and couldn’t communicate on that first night and so, I pray for Afghans who have had to tear themselves away from their loved ones in despair, searching for safer surroundings

I cannot forget the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of the powerful and so, I pray for the Palestinians who are displaced, disempowered and disenfranchised

I realize that my ethnicity was the reason for being hunted down and so, I pray for all those who have had to flee persecution for their beliefs, identity and faith

I witnessed people fleeing for their lives, bleeding and bruised and so, I pray for those wounded and harmed due to conflict

I saw desperation in those who were forced to move from the security of their homes to makeshift shelters in schools and churches and so, I pray for all those who have had to spend years in refugee camps and tenements across the globe

I watched as people of ill intent with swords and machetes prowled the neighbourhood and so, I pray for those who contemplate evil, that their hearts may be turned

And finally, I cannot describe adequately the miraculous deliverance when we were the only one of twenty families (and homes) spared from destruction that day and so, I pray for all people everywhere that they experience the God I know – my only refuge and strength, my rock.

By Chris Pullenayegem, WEA Migration, Refugee, and Diaspora Network