The Refugee Crisis: “We don’t know the answer but we know we have to pray”Brian Heasley - 3 Sep 2015

join with us & others all over the world in a week of prayer for The Refugee Crisis

Next week we are asking you to sign up and pray in hour slots, wherever you are in the world, for the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis. The week will run from midday on Monday September 7th until midday on the 14th.

Join a global community longing for justice: sign up online, take an hour out your week and pray for those in need.

Sign up for a 1 hour prayer slot here

Praying into a crisis like this can feel overwhelming, the issues too innumerable to bring to God. But we cant let that paralyse us and we can't let it silence our prayers.  

Instead, join with us as we bring our humble, whispered, inarticulate words to God, trusting that he is listening. 

And if we want to pray into specifics, lets get informed in how. If you want to learn more, you can read up on the crisis below - and below that, if you're looking for guidance in prayer, there's help with that too

What if prayers could stop boats sinking?

We are seeing an incredible refugee crisis breaking out around the Mediterranean. With thousands fleeing war, persecution and famine from a number of nations, this unprecedented disaster has become the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

According to the UNCHR there are over 4 million refugees from Syria alone - and we need to understand what that means: A refugee, according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." 

"I’m overwhelmed" 

The journey of many refugees is perilous and full of danger: Danger from war and persecution in the places they call home, danger from traffickers and gangs as they seek escape, danger in the long and arduous journey over land and sea as they seek relief, places of peace.

They come from lands that have been torn apart by war, famine and political infighting, they are subject to persecution, conflict and human rights violations.

They come to Europe for safety.

I sit and watch it on the news or look at online articles and I'm overwhelmed by the scale of this disaster and the seemingly impossible situation that we are faced with. The large majority of the 137,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe during the first six months of 2015 were fleeing from war, conflict or persecution. This makes the matter primarily a refugee crisis, not an immigrant crisis, a UNHCR report released on the 1st July concluded.

"As Europe debates the best way to deal with the rising crisis on the Mediterranean, we must be clear: most of the people arriving by sea in Europe are refugees, seeking protection from
war and persecution" 

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

I have no idea what the solution is - I tweet, I post stuff online but it all feels futile, not very hopeful. But I do believe that at times like this we should be turning to the words of Jesus. Words to inspire and fuel our responses...

Matthew 25: 34 -40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Praying for the crisis

We don’t know the answer but we do know that we should pray... 

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles 

Psalm 34:17

We need to pray for those that are fleeing. The journey is desperate and dangerous, the risks are great and undertaken only through fear. So lets start to believe that our prayers can stop boats sinking.

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself 

Leviticus 19:34

Pray that our primary reaction to refugees would always be love and not fear and that we would always love the one in front of us; regardless of background or status. Thank God for the encouraging stories coming out of Iceland and Germany.

For the kingdom is the LORD'S And He rules over the nations

Psalms 22:28

Pray that problems are solved in countries of origin – there will have to be some major changes in countries like, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan etc. Lets get informed about these areas and pray for Gods kingdom to come, for peace to reign and stability be restored.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

Micah 6:8

Pray for hard pressed agencies and churches working at the border on both land and sea as they seek to deal with this influx of people. Bless them, protect them, give them the energy and resources to respond well to all they come across.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in
all godliness and holiness

1 Timothy 2:1

Pray for those in authority, those who make policy,  that they have wisdom and compassion to handle this complex and difficult situation with grace and mercy. The UN said recently we must tackle the root causes of the refugee crisis. We need our leaders to address the root causes of forced migration.

How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked

Psalm 82:2-4

We need to pray about criminal people traffickers that this evil trade that preys on the weak and vulnerable would desist.

We are only just getting started in this. We will do more, write more - but with all of these things we think it is best to begin in prayer.

Join WITH us. sign up here


Brian Heasley

International Prayer Director

Brian Heasley is the International Prayer Director for 24-7 Prayer, and is part of 24-7’s international management team. Brian also works at at Lambeth Palace as International Ecumenical Lead for Thy Kingdom Come.

Before this, Brian and his wife Tracy pioneered the work of 24-7 Prayer in Ibiza, Spain, where they developed rhythms of prayer and mission. Brian’s book, Gatecrashing, tells the story of 24-7 Prayer in Ibiza. He is a gifted and passionate communicator with a real heart for prayer, mission and justice. Brian is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and now lives in England. Brian and Tracy have two adult sons

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