Millions of displaced persons today can't go home, or they have no home to return to. Political situations and wars, as well as floods, droughts, and similar conditions abruptly force people into refugee camps or make them seek refuge in what is to them a foreign country.
The good news is that people are finding ways to help some of them. An article, "A warm reception for refugees; Center rolls out the welcome mat" tells of a group of agencies that have come together to help those seeking asylum in the United States (The Washington Post, Aug. 2). One who works there, Rachel Mogga, a refugee from Sudan, said, "I want them to get the dream of being in a place of freedom, where they have peace and tranquility."
Another story of aid to refugees – this one at the grass-roots level – appeared in this newspaper, "Simple sun-cooker takes off as a way to help Darfuris" (July 26). It tells of a solar cooker that can be assembled in Darfur refugee camps so women don't need to leave the safety of the camp to find firewood. The cookers are simple, using the sun's rays, and two of them can be purchased for $30. Thousands of dollars have already been raised to provide these cookers.
These and other efforts are making a difference, but it goes without saying that much more needs to be done for the homeless, whatever the cause of their situation, and prayer can open the way for those new efforts.
My prayers lead me to regard where we live from a metaphysical basis. They recognize that all of us truly live in the kingdom of God. And this home is not a place but is within consciousness right now. The Bible records Christ Jesus' message, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20, 21).
Recognizing that this kingdom is right now within the true consciousness of each refugee not only brings comfort but can also bring new ideas for improving living conditions such as the sun-cooker, which is improving the life of some Darfuris. Even more important, with a recognition that this spiritual kingdom is everywhere, the conditions that forced people into refugee status can be resolved. Actually the true refuge for all of us is God, as the 91st Psalm says: "He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."
The spirit of this message is also conveyed in a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. One verse reads:
Love is our refuge;
only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare,
the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here,
His arm encircles me,
and mine, and all.
("Poems," p. 4)
Understanding that we all – including our brothers and sisters in refugee camps and other places of escape – can find refuge in God, Love itself, gives hope to us as well as to them. Instead of being discouraged by dwelling on the snare that entraps women refugees into sexual slavery, that plunges hope into a pit of despair, that causes a fall into dependency and lack, each of us can realize that God is right there, right now with each refugee.
Cases in which individuals have found inspired ideas or help from unexpected sources have been proof to me that prayer has an effect. Far from ignoring the plight of the homeless, prayers affirming the presence of God open thought to find refuge in God and to be blessed.
Refusing to leave our prayers until we feel God's encircling arm embracing all who cannot go home now will reveal ways for improving their lives right where they are. They cannot fail to find God's habitation and to gain some sense of this eternal home where they will always dwell.