Confronting Misconceptions

Posted by John K on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 Under: Refugee Stories

A lot has been said about the migrant crisis in Europe, and much more has not been said. The Guardian ran an article recently to clarify some common misconceptions. Immigration has been a sensitive topic in the U.S. as well as Europe in the past few years. It takes some work to get information of who is crossing borders and why. There is a difference in perceived impacts too. Migrants are considered a threat when crossing the U.S. border with Mexico and also at border crossings throughout Europe.

While there are dangerous people in any group, things I have heard said about migrants in the news and first hand don’t hold up when we investigate who is taking the risk and why it is worth subjecting oneself to being trafficked by criminals and enduring physical and psychological abuses by them along the way.

As I write this, two people come to my mind that I was scared of the first time I saw them. In both cases I was embarrassed when I got to know them and found them to be two of the nicest people I have met and neither is inclined to hurt anyone.

I believe one of their stories is relevant to this topic. While I was serving with a team that was rebuilding a house that was devastated in Hurricane Katrina, we stayed at a compound set up to house volunteers while working in the area. I was shocked to see that one of the guys from another group staying with us had a tattoo that covered his face. I assumed much about his story, and none of my assumptions, I would learn, were at all close to accurate.

It turns out that, this man lost a son who strongly resembled him in an accident. He couldn’t bear to look in the mirror and see his son’s face anymore. So he covered his face with a tattoo. As I got to know him over the next few days, I couldn’t imagine fearing him. As I learned his story, I also found that he was one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Likewise, the more people I meet who leave their homelands to find safety, the more I realize that the vast majority are not a threat to anyone. The ones I have met want to contribute to their new homes and have the types of communities many of us take for granted.

I hope more people get to know a refugee and learn his/her story. We may be surprised at what we learn about them and ourselves.  

In : Refugee Stories 

Tags: migration  immigration  europe 

Blog Authors

John and Kaylee Kolditz Kaylee founded Refugee Connect in 2008. John joined the work in 2011 as we investigated the refugee situation in Europe. But our faith and cross-cultural journeys have been a work-in-progress for many years. Much of this blog reflects that. ************************************************ We met in Austin, TX, while volunteering at a serving event at Gateway Church and have been married since 2002. Marriage, parenting and ministry all require a great deal of intentionality, humility and true reliance on God for strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a journey we are grateful to be on together. Ultimately, what matters to us is building into meaningful relationships in ways that, to the best of our ability and by God's grace, demonstrate the love and hope Jesus freely offers to us all. ************************************************ We bring both business and ministry backgrounds into our current work. John started a business in his 20's and helped build several other businesses. He has also served with churches in a variety of roles including as an assistant pastor, director of community development, and missions board member. Kaylee left her marketing career to become the global missions director for our home church in Austin, TX, then founded a local refugee ministry, and became TEFL certified (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in order to prepare for our work overseas. We have led short-term teams domestically and internationally, and served with a variety of cross-cultural ministries. In 2008, we sensed a call to build into the church in Europe, which was also around the time when God broke Kaylee’s heart for refugees. Since then, God has continued to weave together this heart for refugees, desire to serve alongside the church, and focus on His call to Europe.

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