10 represent 60 million plus…
My family and I are big fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. We spend a lot of time watching soccer, gymnastics, swimming, diving, and beach volleyball. I also admit that I watch trampoline and synchronize swimming just because they are fascinating!
Like many viewers around the world, I was stunned to learn about the official refugee team this year. Reading more, I learned these ten athletes represent the more than 60 million people around the world who have had to flee their homes and countries in recent years. Indeed, the data shows that, in all of history, the world has never seen this many refugees!
I am struck by what this says about our world: that there is so much violence that more than 60 million people are forced to make the excruciating decision to leave behind their homes, neighborhoods, jobs, family members, and friends to find safety. That the large majority of these people face excruciating journeys, more violence, victimization, disease, hunger, and possible death to find that safe place. That millions and millions of them are turned away by other countries who, for various reasons, will not accept them and offer them asylum. That even for those who do find safety, they must then endure poverty, intolerance, and continued hardship when all they want in life is what we want: security, love, connection, and the opportunity to contribute the gifts God has granted them.
I applaud the Olympics in establishing the refugee team, offering a chance for these elite athletes to compete and, in the process, raise awareness of the needs of our world. In their honor, I am writing this devotion, which encourages us all to end violence and receive openly those who must flee because of it. I cannot imagine life in a war-torn nation, much less life on the run. I pray no one else has to either.
Prayer Bead Devotion
Cross: God of All Nations,
Invitatory Bead: who calls us to Peace
Resurrection Bead: through your Son, Jesus Christ:
First Cruciform Bead: We confess the violence in our world.
Week Beads, 1st Set: Use each bead to acknowledge the violence in our world, particularly in countries that are besieged by war and persecution. If possible, take time before you pray to learn about places where there is war in the world.
Second Cruciform Bead: We see the devastation, particularly those who are forced to flee their homes and countries to be safe.
Week Beads, 2nd Set: Use each bead to see – really see – what it must be like to live in a war-torn country. What does it look, smell, feel, sound, and taste life? What is life like when battles are being fought in your neighborhood. How does it affect your daily life?
Third Cruciform Bead: We hear their cries for safety. Help us to lay down our fears and respond to your call to welcome the stranger.
Week Beads, 3rd Set: Use each bead to listen – really listen – to the cries of those who are seeking refuge from war and persecution. What do the voices sound like? What are they saying? What are they asking for? What is their prayer?
Fourth Cruciform Bead: We hear your call of peace. Help us to work towards peace in our hearts, in our daily interactions, and on a broader scale, recognizing that the smallest act of kindness towards strangers is the place to begin.
Week Beads, 4th Set: Use each bead to consider how you can promote peace. What can you do in your heart and daily life? How is God calling you to make a difference?
Resurrection Bead: In the name of Jesus Christ,
Invitatory Bead: the Prince of Peace,
Listening Focus (to be repeated with each bead): Peace begins with me.