A Refugee’s Redemption Story

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“… An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and His mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, they stayed there until Herod’s death.” (Matthew 2:13-15, NLT).

When you walk around historical places, do you ever wonder, “what famous people might have walked in this exact spot?”  

Maybe it’s odd, but I sometimes play that little game in my head. During a recent trip to Egypt, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, Jesus and His family had once walked the same street. We don’t talk about it much—the refugee years when this little family fled to Egypt to escape Herod—but at present, in this turbulent global moment, with over 60 million internally displaced people and refugees struggling to find safe harbors, Jesus’ family’s experience is deeply relevant to the brokenness of our world.

Isn’t it just like Jesus to fully identify, even in His childhood, with one of the most significant challenges for humanity—the unique suffering and upheaval that comes from being forced out of one’s home and culture? 

I’m thankful we serve a God who willingly identifies with us and bears our sorrow … AND is writing redemptive stories in the middle of the brokenness. 

Recently, I sat in a community center full of refugees, as together we watched JESUS in their heart language, Zo. Many in attendance were newly arrived in America, struggling with English and cultural barriers. Yet, they found affirmation and welcome in seeing and hearing the gospel in a film translated just for them. 

What captured my heart during the showing was one dear Zo pastor holding his phone up to record the two-hour film. After about 45 minutes, someone gently tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You don’t have to do that.” He said, “But I want my family back home to see it.” It was a joy to tell him that Zo and 2000 other languages are available on the Jesus Film Project® app—ready to be sent to Myanmar, India and elsewhere around the world.

Jesus is meeting refugees as they travel. A Jesus Film Project team that does online evangelism and discipleship told me about a refugee disciple who frequently texted them, sharing passionately about his new faith in Jesus. He suddenly stopped messaging the team because he was “going on a journey.” Concerned, the team prayed faithfully for him. When he finally texted again, he said he had been on a risky raft journey, trying to reach a safe place to live. He told the team that knowing Jesus is “the best thing a man can get in life! I have three friends here (that have accepted Jesus). We’re MANY now.”

In the instability of our broken world, we can cling to the immeasurable power and love of Jesus, who will cross waves, continents, and the distance between hearts and minds to seek His beloved friends. What a privilege to know Him in the midst of struggle and to look expectantly for the flooding of His kingdom!

Want to hear about what Cru® is doing to meet the physical needs of refugees?

Meet Al Goff, CEO of Cru’s humanitarian aid ministry UNTO, on our JFP podcast.
Find the Zo language version and 2,000 other language versions of JESUS here.