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Migration from Libya and Tunisia: prayers for refugees

A Christian Science perspective: As migration from Libya and Tunisia continues, our prayers for progress and peace can help forward the cause of freedom.

By Elizabeth Mata / March 10, 2011



Europe has been a spectator when it comes to Arab uprisings, but recent events are pressuring it into player mode on a grand scale. Six thousand Tunisians have already landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is just 70 miles from Tunisia. It’s possible that unimaginable numbers of Libyans and others from sub-Saharan Africa will be migrating to Europe because of antigovernment protests. Already over 200,000 people have fled Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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While Europe cheers on the desire for democracy, pulls are coming from other directions. Supporting Libyan antigovernment protests could jeopardize lucrative business deals with Libya. Monitor writer Robert Marquand reported that “much of the fear in Europe involves the change in status quo, a status quo it has been comfortable with for years” (Feb. 22).

An image woven throughout the Bible that I’ve found helpful is that of the shepherd and his sheep. God told the prophet, Ezekiel, “Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 34:31). What a clear depiction of the one all-powerful Shepherd, God, as the sole overseer of His creation – excluding no one. This imagery evokes tender guiding in the right direction, watching over each individual and providing protection from harm. And the Shepherd necessarily desires to fulfill their every need.

Jesus used this beautiful imagery in his teachings when he spoke of the flock God gave him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Jesus embodied the Christ – the divine message of good to the human consciousness – and taught that it was always present to shepherd everyone.

I’ve found it useful to pray by affirming with the conviction that grows out of my own experience that everyone can recognize the Christ voice – that it can compel a change of heart and action, can save lives when it seems impossible to do so, can provide courage and strength to work for good as the only reality worth seeking.

Our prayers can help those in decisionmaking positions to side with honesty and dignity on behalf of human rights. When duplicity and the fear of reprisals lose their grip, the way is opened for clear, unequivocal decisionmaking on issues involving human rights and justice, and on immigration as well. Effective resources and services can be found not only to secure borders but to secure individual freedom and safety.

Many passages in the Bible make clear the unchanging nature of God and His love for the man and woman He created. These spiritual facts of God’s love for all help me set aside opinions about what other countries should or shouldn’t do.

There really is only one flock: the flock of God’s children, which includes all people no matter what their social, economic, or political status. Whether one is a refugee or an official overseeing refugees, each can feel the gentle and strong prompts of the one Shepherd leading them toward goodness, honesty, purity.

While conditions on the ground may suggest that oppression has the upper hand, the power of God’s love, or Christ, can reveal that God never created oppression. As the Christ reveals the freedom that belongs to every child of God, it guides the footsteps of those seeking human freedom.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, understood that it is God’s purpose to reveal His goodness. She wrote, “Individuals, as nations, unite harmoniously on the basis of justice, and this is accomplished when self is lost in Love – or God’s own plan of salvation” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 283).

Our prayers for progress and peace in the world can forward the cause of freedom. And our divine Shepherd can guide refugees to a just and loving outcome that will meet their needs and keep them safe.

For a Spanish translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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