For me, Christians find Jesus in people who struggle to find dignity in society, in people who are excluded and condemned by others. In the past 14 years of working for a Catholic justice organisation, it’s been impossible to ignore the plight of asylum seekers – often locked up, traumatised by horrifying experiences or living in the community, often poor, unemployed, sick, isolated and maligned. I feel compelled to be in the midst of the pain and suffering of asylum seekers because I know Jesus is to be found in their midst, suffering with them, but also showing us what love is all about.
Walking alongside asylum seekers has transformed my faith and my life. Despite the hardship they face, I often see in my asylum seeker friends a burning desire for dignity and an unquenchable hope that they will, somehow, find it.
Being a Catholic invites me to put my focus on the person who has a name, a face and a story rather than on facts and figures and abstract, ideological points of view on asylum seeker policy. Rather than giving attention to the disembodied data about things like boat arrivals, drownings or numbers of asylum seekers resettled in different countries, my Catholic faith demands that I see the flesh and blood human beings who have individual stories of experiencing violence and persecution and who also have hopes and dreams for freedom and happiness just like me. My Catholic faith always invites me to see Zahra, the Hazara woman who fled terrifying persecution rather than a nameless category of ‘queue jumpers’ or ‘economic migrants’.
– Peter, Queensland