Christ with Us: An Interview with a Refugee Family
Christ Church Bangkok has been able to help our church members during this difficult time by distributing large packages of food and essential items to them. We are thankful that God has given us the opportunity to not only help our families, but to also to hear from them as well.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you face as refugees here in Bangkok?
One of our many difficulties is the fact that we live our lives hidden and away from the police. We are afraid that they would come in to our rooms. We live in fear. Especially when people knock on doors, we don't know what's going to happen. We are afraid they would put us in the immigration detention center since we’re technically illegal aliens, since we do not have visas, and we don’t have identities for ourselves.
Another big challenge is living without consistent income. We still have to survive. We have no education opportunities, jobs, and other opportunities that can help our families survive. Even when we do find odd jobs, we're not seen as proper employees, but receive lower pay than most, and some even refuse to give us pay after we've worked for them by threatening to call the police on us.
We are more unhealthy and are sick often because many refugees get stuck in one place for a long time and tension builds, which leads to stress, hypertension, and even heart attacks. We know families that have lost their loved ones after coming here. Currently, I have migraines from the stress of living in fear. We get Irritated and aggressive because we don't have any personal space or personal time.
The fourth thing is rejection. Rejection is part of the refugee's life, which includes being rejected when we ask for help to start our lives over. We wait for help and face some sort of rejection on a weekly basis, and people are irritated by us. They don't see us as normal people. We’ve gone to churches with signs up in the front saying "refugees are not welcome." Even with churches that we're welcomed to, there are many rules and regulations for refugees about where they can/can't sit, what they can say and can't say, etc.
Another issue is that if something happens to us, if someone steals from us or mistreats us, we cannot go to the police for help. There is no justice anywhere. If we run into trouble, there is no law we can turn to. Even if someone did something wrong in front of us. We have to sit down with the injustice that's happening. Worse, we've even been threatened by people who do questionable things who said they would call the police on us.
Q: How have you been able to cope with these problems?
Although we’ve often run into troubles, we've received God's wisdom through Scripture. We try to keep out of trouble and to keep peace when we can and to live in harmony with everyone. Sometimes we've had to ignore these troubles and move on, to avoid trouble with people, to remain quiet. Even where we live right now, we don't disturb our neighbors and we try to remain quiet. We try not to involve ourselves into people's lives around us.
Of course, where we came from, we faced different issues. Since we don't share the same religion as the country we're from, we face rejection in the form of religious discrimination. We were silenced there also. At least here, we're grateful that we're able to feel safer and not worry for our lives as much. Most importantly, we take our troubles to God in prayer.
Q: How have you remained faithful through it all?
We’ve dealt with issues even before we left our country, but since coming here, we've been able to give ourselves to God and to say confidently that God will keep us safe. He has been merciful to us and helped our family move here. He has kept us alive.
On the cross, Jesus gave his life for us. When we face rejection, we remember that he faced rejection in the same way, maybe even worse. Jesus faced rejection but he never gave into despair.
I am reminded of Prov. 24:16, which says that “…the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” If we walk with God, at least we know we are righteous and that we can get up again.
The world may reject us but God has not rejected us. We strengthen ourselves with the promise that God has given us. We gain our strength from the life of Christ, and we know that He has given us eternal life.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says God's will be done. Not my will. And we are always praying this over our lives, knowing that he cares for us.
Q: What are some things that Christians could learn from the refugee families here?
Of course, the big thing for us is that we don't have anything here. Even our homes are not ours. Here we're living fully in Christ's hope, knowing that he is enough. We want to leave that truth with the other families here too, that Christ is enough, and He is real. And refugees who come here, they've been able to grow in their faith because sometimes they don't have anything to eat and the next day God will miraculously show up and give them food. And so we live the verse that says, don't be anxious about anything… for your heavenly Father knows what you need (Mt. 6:32).
The big thing we want to tell Christians is to have an attitude of thanksgivings. We see many Christians who are busy, and even though they have much, sometimes they're not thankful.
Because of our status, with any little thing we get, we are thankful. We always know that everything comes from God. And if we are seeking the face of God, we will not lack anything.
We believe that God is a faithful God, and he can do everything we ask and request in faith. The God who brought us from our country to Thailand, we believe that he will lead us to the things we need and a joyful life. Every problem, anxiety, and burden, we took it to God and he sees it through. The Holy Spirit is with us even now.