World Refugee Sabbath Highlights a Sanctuary Church in Italy

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Migrants’ shocking stories drive church volunteers to tears…and to action

Jean* faced a stark choice. Take over leadership of her father’s animist faith or face deadly consequences. Jean is a Christian. Her only choice was to leave not just her community, but her country.She made it to Libya. There she was safe, and that is where she planned to stay—until civil war started and the regime fell. Then she had to get out.She couldn’t go home. The deadly peril of the Mediterranean was her only hope.

Patrick also left his village in fear of his life. Tribal chiefs were fighting. In aiming to escape death at home, little did he realize how treacherous the road would be that would take him across deserts and mountains. He saw his friend die of dehydration by the roadside. He was not the only one to die on that journey.

Ray shared how people smugglers dumped his group in the middle of the desert. They had to walk with neither food nor water.

Ruth, a Nigerian, had to leave home after her husband ran off with another woman. She could not support her two children and her mother. She was desperate. She did not want to go, but she had no choice. Pregnant and terrified she traveled north by truck, van, and eventually on foot. She saw women being raped, pushed into prostitution, beaten and abused during her journey, but praised God that even though she spent four months in a Libyan prison, she escaped the worst of the harm. She lost her baby at seven months. She suffered food poisoning, but with the help of friends she eventually made it onto a boat and was rescued by the Italian coast guard.

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