Praying with refugees

Confronted by the conflict, slaughter, and seemingly endless anguish in so many places in our world, we wonder how God can allow such things to happen. The Old Testament describes how the people of Israel suffered war, violence, famine, persecution, and exile, and how they tried to find the presence of the loving God of the covenant in all those harsh realities.

This section of the website offers readers an opportunity to reflect and pray on the good and evil which happens. As we meet and work with refugees who have confronted evil and suffering, it is important to remind them and ourselves as well to keep in touch with God, the source of all good and love. This is the only way to withstand evil.



Praying with Refugees: education enables self-sufficiency
03 June 2015
Washington, DC, 3 June 2015 – "Education is a key in combating the evil of hatred, violence and war," says the Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Peter Balleis SJ. "It is important to get [displaced and refugee] children into school. It is important to keep learning, it is a form of healing in the midst of conflict."
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Praying with refugees in South Sudan: God never fails those who trust in Him
07 April 2015
Yambio, 7 April 2015 – For more than three decades South Sudan has been engulfed in a sequence of wars. Generations have been born in exile and refugee camps. Those who survived did so in extremely harsh conditions. Yet as an uneasy peace comes to parts of South Sudan, violence breeding hatred continues in the east and northeast. Nobody should face such injustice.
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Praying with refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo: education as hope
16 February 2015
Kashunga, 16 February 2015 – Moambi's white blouse gleams bright in the morning sun of Kashuga. She beams with pride in her new school uniform – she gets to attend high school after two years of staying at home.
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Praying with refugees in Chad: education preserves the life of its owner – girls' education
01 November 2014
Abéché, 1 November 2014 – Food shortages in refugee camps forced families to engage in otherwise unacceptable practices. Some marry off their daughters early in exchange for payment. Young girls wash clothes instead of going to school for as little 1.75 US dollars a day; other engage in survival sex. Sixty percent reductions in food assistance last year for the 360,000 Sudanese refugee families in eastern Chad have not only put girls and women at risk, they have affected girls' education.
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Praying with Refugees in North Kivu: singing together to the Lord
01 September 2014
Masisi, 1 September 2014 – How can we challenge ourselves to pray in a way that gives room to the refugees and displaced persons in our communities? There is a call for change to welcome the displaced in our world. What are my personal commitments towards that? How can I, as a member of a host community, express solidarity for and show hospitality to others?
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Praying with Refugees in the Middle East: the resilience of mothers
15 May 2014
Damascus, 16 May 2014 – For years mothers in Syria have suffered; many have been displaced, losing their homes, their husbands, and for some, their children. Mothers often have to decide whether to leave other children behind in order to take a wounded child to gain access medical assistance, or to safety across a border.
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Praying with refugees in South Sudan: a call for peace
01 February 2014
Tombura-Yambio, 1 February 2014 — The people of South Sudan have experienced far more than their share of suffering. Historians tell us that more than 4.5 million people died in our wars of independence, with similar numbers unaccounted for in past decades. Our nation needs to embrace the past to avoid repeating the mistakes that caused death, suffering and humiliation on a massive scale. I, therefore, appeal strongly for peace in South Sudan, an appeal which comes from deep within me.
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Prayer for South Sudan
06 January 2014
(Washington, D.C.) January 7, 2014 — Jesuit Father Kevin White invites all to pray this prayer for South Sudan at this difficult moment. Part of the preparations for South Sudan’s founding and Independence Day in 2011, the prayer's plea for grace and call for peace and unity has an urgent relevance today.
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Praying with Refugees in Nairobi: encouraging reconciliation through spiritual seminars
01 January 2014
Nairobi, 1 January 2014 – Refugees pass through painful experiences that leave them emotionally wounded while in a foreign country. They carry the burden of those who have caused or still cause them this pain. Sometimes they become disconnected from themselves, others and even from God. Consequently, some develop complications of different illnesses and even nightmares.
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Kenya: Our treasure is our heart
16 June 2013
Nairobi, 16 June 2013 – The grey overcast Nairobi skies did not dampen the spirits of people who had gathered at Divine Word Parish in Kayole, Nairobi for a mass and celebration organised by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to commemorate the World Refugee Day. The theme for this year is ‘one family torn apart by war is too many’. There was a buzz of excitement and anticipation as the crowd waited for the mass to begin. The area around the church was a sea of colour as people who seemed dressed in their Sunday best milled around, with the dominant dress code being that of elaborately designed African print dresses.
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Kenya: Still celebrating life - Holy Week in Kakuma refugee camp
09 April 2013
Kakuma, 09 April 2013 – Living in a refugee camp is often a daunting and excruciating experience. When the refugees try to make sense of their forced displacement, their religious faith offers them some solace and consolation. Here in Kakuma (Kenya), Christians during Holy week have had the opportunity to affirm their faith in life and love despite being in exile.
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Kenya: As refugees, we still can do great things
20 November 2012
Nairobi, 20 November 2012 - Wednesday 24th October will remain a memorable day not only for the refugee prayer group of Riruta Parish but also for JRS Nairobi region as a whole. Riruta stands out as the first to organise a successful Eucharistic celebration, since the formation of prayer groups.
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Praying with refugees in Nairobi
01 December 2012
(Nairobi) December 1, 2012 — Urban refugees in Nairobi live on the margins of society, not legally allowed to work, and struggling in an already over-crowded city. Fleeing violence, political instability and drought, refugees end up living in economically-deprived areas, desperate to find a place to call home, searching for hospitality in an unfamiliar country.
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Praying with Refugees in Uganda
01 August 2012
(Boston) August 1, 2012 — As we traveled toward Morobi in northern Uganda, Lodu informed me that Flabius, the head catechist in the village, had lost a daughter. But it was a much deeper tragedy. This good man had lost not only his daughter—and his wife a few years ago—but seven children to war and disease over time.
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Praying with Refugees in Congo
01 February 2012
(Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo) February 1, 2012 — About two million people have been internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armed conflicts. The situation here is characterized by chronic and rampant sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.
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Praying with Refugees: the spirit of accompaniment
01 December 2011
(Geneva) December 1, 2011 — The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service is to accompany, serve and plead the cause of refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Accompaniment, I have learned, is by its very nature reciprocal. It cannot be done alone and it cannot be done in a unilateral fashion.
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Praying with Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees
01 November 2011
(Bangkok) November 1, 2011 — Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees were forced to flee Pakistan due to religious persecution. August was a particularly challenging and happy month as this year it marked Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. During Ramadan, they are not allowed to eat or drink during sunlight hours, a challenge in the Cambodian heat.
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Praying with Refugees from Somalia
01 October 2011
(Nairobi) October 1, 2011 – Since the beginning of the drought and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa in July, tens of thousands of refugees have fled Somalia, most of them into Kenya and Ethiopia. They march for days or even weeks. Some do not survive the journey; others lose family members on the way or have to leave them behind.
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Praying with Refugees in Syria
01 September 2011
(Aleppo, Syria) September 1, 2011 — Since the beginning of this year, the situation in a number of Arab countries has changed considerably — caused in great part by popular political movements. This has not only led to changes in the political regimes or bloody confrontations, but has also created much forced displacement of peoples.
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Praying with Refugees: the opportunity of education
01 August 2011
(Washington, D.C.) August 1, 2011 — Refugees don’t leave their countries simply because things are difficult, they leave because their lives are in danger and the situation is hopeless. They are driven by hope to seek new opportunities, not just for themselves, but, for their children.
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Praying with Refugees: hope for Haiti
01 July 2011
Washington DC, July 1, 2011 — The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 caused much heartache, pain, and death. But, also present among the rubble was hope. For every story of hope there seemed to be one of heartbreak; every act of courage and progress teetered on the edge of frustration and hopelessness.
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Sudan: Caught in Between
01 January 2011
Praying with Refugees, January 2011. When Jesuit Refugee Service went to Southern Sudan in the late 1990s, the staff shared the terror of internally displaced people caught up in the prolonged civil war. As 2011 dawns, JRS is still in Southern Sudan, accompanying the people in peacetime as we did during the war.
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Les Bonnes Nouvelles: the Good News
01 December 2010
Praying with Refugees, December 2010. As we make our journey during this Advent season let us hope and pray that we can respond in haste in our travel toward God and in our interior travel and examination of our own soul. Let us also hope and pray that we can respond in haste along very concrete paths of service of our neighbor.
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Urban Refugees: Making Visible Refugees Hidden in Plain Sight
15 June 2010
This brief couplet of unknown origin captures in a few words the distinct charisms of four saints and founders of religious communities in the Church—the Cistercians, the Benedictines, the Franciscans and the Jesuits. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), placed much focus on the plight of the poor in the great cities of his time.
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The Lord is Risen!
01 April 2010
(Washington, D.C.) April 1, 2010 - Their eyes were opened and they recognized him! A number of years ago Fr. Gildo Dominici was working with Jesuit Refugee Service in Galang, Indonesia. His reflection on living with refugees reminds us of the call to know the Risen Christ that refugees and those who work with and for them are invited to experience.
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