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Praying with Refugees in Australia
Thursday, November 01, 2012

For many refugees a visa is the beginning of a new struggle, not the end. Psychological trauma and loss can be completely debilitating to even the strongest of personalities. We can advise, refer and offer treatment. Sometimes all we can do is stand by. In times like these it is God alone who provides strength and healing. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Sydney) November 1, 2012 — The Jesuit Refugee Service office in Sydney is located in an inner city Jesuit parish. Each day the parish ministers to many hundreds of homeless who come to the soup kitchen. Our office is located on top of this soup kitchen.

Rarely do the clients from either ministries mix, though both groups share similar concerns about finding adequate and safe accommodation. 

Recently Said appeared at the door of the JRS office. A volunteer in the kitchen had referred him to our services. He spoke quickly and showed signs of his distress. We invited him to meet with one of our case-workers. 


Reflections for Prayer

From minute one it was clear that Said was struggling. Our deeper discussion revealed that he had been in Australia some years and had a protection visa. He had formerly served in the army in Iraq and had witnessed the death of all of his family. We could see he was a man of stature. What was not so clear, until we delved deeper, were the years of addiction and trauma that Said had struggled with since arriving in Australia.

Business cards and appointment slips revealed that Said had bounced from agency to agency, clinic to clinic in search of ‘peace.’ In recent days he had been allocated an apartment from public housing, only to return the keys because the confined space of the apartment evoked disturbing images of his deceased family.

For many refugees a visa is the beginning of a new struggle, not the end. Psychological trauma and loss can be completely debilitating to even the strongest of personalities. We can advise, refer and offer treatment. Sometimes all we can do is stand by. In times like these it is God alone who provides strength and healing.

By Maryanne Loughry — Jesuit Refugee Service Australia & Boston College


Suggested Reading for Prayer
Luke 8: 26-36

Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

When he came ashore a man from the town who was possessed by demons met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes; he did not live in a house, but lived among the tombs.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!"

For he had ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (It had taken hold of him many times, and he used to be bound with chains and shackles as a restraint, but he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into deserted places.)

Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "Legion," because many demons had entered him.

And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss.

A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them.

The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside.

People came out to see what had happened and, when they approached Jesus, they discovered the man from whom the demons had come out sitting at his feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear.

Those who witnessed it told them how the possessed man had been saved.