The Refugee Highway

“WHEN A STRANGER SOJOURNS WITH YOU IN YOUR LAND, YOU SHALL NOT DO HIM WRONG. YOU SHALL TREAT THE STRANGER WHO SOJOURNS WITH YOU AS THE NATIVE AMONG YOU, AND YOU SHALL LOVE HIM AS YOURSELF, FOR YOU WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT: I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD.” – LEVITICUS 19:33-34

What is the Refugee Highway?

It has been observed that there are some well-worn paths around the world that refugees travel upon; air, water and land routes leading to safety and the simple hope for a normal life. These make up the refugee highway. Like any highway, there are entry ramps, crossroads, roundabouts and exits ramps.

The refugee highway is a place that robs men and women of their identity and denies them a voice.
Every continent on the globe finds itself connected to this winding network of roads. Many of the major entry ramps onto the highway are in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Latin America. In the vast majority of countries where travelers on the Highway arrive, they are perceived to be both a burden to society and an economic threat. Often, the only work they can find is on the black market, where they are offered the least desirable tasks and are paid far below market value, if at all.

These travelers have no voice, as they usually do not know the language, laws, nor their rights in the country in which they find themselves.

What does travel along the Refugee Highway look like?

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For Somalis, it might require up to a five-day jeep trip across the roadless expanse of a Sahara desert, where a vehicle breakdown could easily mean death from dehydration.
For desperate Syrians, it may include forcible rejection at a neighboring border.
For Bhutanese, it led next-door into Nepal – where they were “warehoused” for up to 18 years.
For Afghanis, it often requires sneaking paperless through another of the “stan” countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) and into Russia – where, in order to survive, dealing in the black market may be the only option.
The refugee highway is another painful sign that humanity needs a Savior.
For all who travel it – Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians, the Refugee Highway epitomizes terrifying danger; unspeakable loss of identity, relationships and possessions; and profound uncertainty about the future. For 21st century believers in Jesus, it tests our commitment to live out Scripture and embody the Good Samaritan to these destitute travelers.

In North America we receive more than 200,000 Refugee Highway travelers (refugees and asylum seekers) each year. This presents North American believers with an opportunity to model the ministry of Jesus that is written about in Isaiah 61:1, 2: “…The LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…”

Learn more about the Refugee Highway through our Awareness and Training Resources.

Like the parable of the Good Samaritan exemplifies, we invite you to join us as we seek to serve these wounded sojourners on the refugee highway!