From citizen to refugee
All it takes is one terrible act for a Christian citizen to become internally displaced in their own country or a refugee in another country—just a split second.
Each year, Christians flee Iran to escape persecution, often by themselves, and with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. In Afghanistan, since the Taliban took over in August 2021, Christians have fled to nearby countries to protect their families. With the record-high violence in Nigeria, believers have abandoned their homes and villages due to attack from extremists or threat of imminent violence.
But what is so astounding is this: More often that not, Christians become refugees not because of their gender, the color of their skin or their societal status but rather simply because they refuse to recant their belief in Jesus Christ.
Our teams recently spoke to Kouroush*, an Iranian refugee now living in Turkey, who told us, “I had to leave everything behind—my country, my friends. I lost it all. I didn’t steal anything. I didn’t murder anyone. I didn’t do anything illegal. I only met Jesus and surrendered my heart to Him.”
What depth of faith, to be willing to sacrifice everything earthly to have a relationship with Jesus. Kouroush went on to say, “After I came to faith in Christ, I faced arrest and torture. I was forced to leave my home in Iran.”
Kouroush’s story is—sadly—just one of millions of Christians forced to flee their homes due to state or extremist persecution. And unfortunately, the conditions they run to, especially in the case of an attack. are often extremely difficult. Refugee camps are often makeshift tents with not enough food supply. Too many are overcrowded with no infrastructure to offer hygenic or basic living standards. In some cases, Christians have shared they were discriminated against and are often last to receive any food or other essentials (if they receive them at all)—because they don’t follow the local religion.
While believers who flee may be “safe” from attack or state persecution, no one chooses the refugee experience—a reality that can be harrowing, at best.