7 Facts About the Current Refugee Crisis

Do you know why many people from the Middle East are leaving their homes? Read these 7 facts about the current refugee crisis to learn more.

  1. Definition of a Refugee: “The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee 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." (The UN Refugee Agency)

  2. In the summer of 2015 Europe experienced the highest influx of refugees since World War II.

  3. Today, Syria is the world’s top source of refugees. For 30 years until 2011, most refugees came from Afghanistan.

  4. In 2011 the Arab Spring caused many authoritarian governments to fall. The Al-Assad family (who has been ruling Syria since the 1960’s) refused to step down. This refusal started a brutal civil war. Several different groups got in the fight, including ISIS, with the hope of building a totalitarian Islamic caliphate. The Syrian population was trapped between the religious extremist, the rebel groups, and the Al-Assad regime.

  5. During this civil war, more than 220,000 have been killed, 1/3 of the Syrian people have been displaced within Syria and 4 million have fled the country.

  6. 95% of the Syrian refugees live in 5 neighboring countries.  

  7. Jordan’s population is now 25% refugees. In Turkey, refugees are not removed from the country, but they are not allowed to work. So, even if someone has good education and skills (as most of the Syrian refugees do) they cannot work. 

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Reminder of God's Provision: Prayer Beads

This reflection offers a tangible way of focusing on God's provision and connects the journey of the Israelites to those migrating today.

Extra wide israelwilderness

In this reflection, we recall the experience of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness in search of the Promised Land. As you read, consider how even though the Israelites faced dire conditions and fell captive to worldly concerns, God proved faithful. Even more, God called them to use the fringe on their clothes to provide a tangible reminder of God’s protection and care over them. Kristen Vincent shows how prayer beads, like the Israelites’ fringe, can be a tangible reminder  of God's love for those migrating to new homes.


By Kristen Vincent from Prayers for the Journey

In the book of Exodus we read of the Israelites leaving Egypt. They were headed for the Promised Land, a land that God had set aside for them, a land filled with opportunity. The Israelites were full of hope.

But the hard and long journey lasted for forty years. As the people traveled across a desert, they experienced hunger, thirst, heat exhaustion, danger, and sometimes even death. Over time they became fearful and wondered whether God had abandoned them. In their anger and hopelessness they built false idols and began to break the commandments.

Seeing their desperation, God spoke to Moses and instructed the Israelites to take the fringe on their clothing and hold onto it. As they did, God encouraged them to remember the commandments they had been given. Doing so would make them holy and help them remain mindful of God’s claim on their lives: “I am the Lord your God” (Num. 15:41).

Fringe. It doesn’t seem like that would be much help. The Israelites wanted their journey to end. They were ready to reach their destination. What difference would it make to hold fringe?

God knew that all garments were made with fringe at that time. Every man, woman, and child would have had fringe on his or her clothing. And even though God had promised to be with the Israelites—indeed God was leading them to the very land that held God’s promise—God understood their humanity. God realized that their overbearing focus on hunger and thirst and fear would cause them to forget God’s promise. God acknowledged the people’s need for a physical object to remind them of God’s presence. The fringe served as their call to remember that God remained as close to them as the strands hanging at their sides.

As you journey to your new destination, you may experience worry, fear, or discouragement. You may even wonder whether God is with you. Prayer beads can be your fringe. They can serve as a physical reminder of God’s presence with you. They can help you pray and remember God’s promise of deep love for you.

Since the early church, many Christians have found beads to be a wonderful aid to prayer. The beads can help in many ways:

  1. Like the fringe for the Israelites, beads can help you feel connected to God. When you feel stressed or afraid you can hold them and know that God is with you.
  2. If you struggle with prayer—if you don’t know what to say, for instance—you can use the beads to guide you in prayer. 
  3. If your mind begins to wander while you are in prayer, the feel of the beads between your fingers can help you refocus.

Prayer beads offer a great deal of symbolism and meaning:

  • The Cross reminds us of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us, the ultimate display of God’s great love for us
  • The Resurrection bead reminds us of God’s gift of eternal life
  • The three large beads remind us of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
  • The week beads remind us of God’s presence with us every day, every week of our lives.

To learn how to make your own prayer beads, follow this path to the Action. 

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Creative Way to Pray: Prayer Beads

Learn about the a creative spiritual practice that uses prayer beads.

Kristen Vincent’s books A Bead and a Prayer and Another Bead Another Prayer introduce the Protestant practice of prayer beads as a way to connect with God. As a 4-week Bible study, this book both serves as a guide to find meaning through praying with beads while shedding light on its origins. In her Reflection, she shows how beads can be a tangible reminder of God's provision for those migrating to new homes. Learn how to make your own prayer beads with this step-by-step process.

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