Europe Regional Leader, International
Association for Refugees
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide,
120 people have been killed since February in a series of attacks targeting Christian communities in southern Kaduna, Nigeria. Such atrocities often serve as a catalyst that forces victims to flee their home countries in fear for their lives. Having experienced such terrors, they then face the challenges of migration and the search for safety. Many seek refuge in the West, only to find themselves facing new difficulties – physically safe but now socially excluded. What is it really like to be an asylum seeker? What is the truth about those who are fleeing their homes and what do they really need?
Written by former asylum seeker, Javed Masih, No Longer Strangers?
asks what it is like to seek asylum in Europe. It tells the story from the inside of a family forced to flee their native country because of their faith, only to find themselves invisible, voiceless and marginalised in the Netherlands, sharing a cramped, single room with nine other people. Prevented from working and stripped of their identity, they were surrounded by strangers and had to adjust to an alien culture, climate and language. Depression was a constant threat, but they determined to persevere and change their environment. Seeking to serve their fellow refugees and engage the local community, they brought renewed hope and purpose to many and began to connect with the Dutch people. Caught in a system that can seem designed to keep people on the outside, Javed’s account shows the strength needed to survive Europe’s ‘welcome’ and what we can do to help.
No Longer Strangers?
carries the message that refugees are no longer outsiders once they have a sense of belonging in their new country. Javed says, ‘
As a family, we thought it would be very important for society, the Church and other development organisations to know what the real situation is in asylum centres and how the people there embrace difficulties. During our stay in the asylum centre, we found that so many volunteers, social workers and church groups were involved in different ways to help refugees; but sometimes they did not exactly know what to do for them in this uncertain situation.’
He continues, ‘
This book seeks to help people grow in their own involvement, ministry and compassion towards asylum seekers and to eliminate the divide between segregation and the mainstream. Refugees can play an active role through learning a new language, acquiring new work skills and adopting new cultural norms and traditions. By doing this, the refugees can become visible in their new country.’
About the author:
Javed Masih is originally from Pakistan, where he worked in pastoral and social work, with a particular passion for helping educate poor children. In 2014 he and his wife and two teenage children had to flee Pakistan after the publication of his second boo drew violent threats from Islamists. They now live and minister in the Netherlands.
What reviewers say:
‘The story gives an inside perspective on the asylum process and also how those outside of the system can get involved and make a difference. The story is a must-read for anyone who has questions about the asylum system or who knows someone in it.’
Europe Regional Leader, IAFR, RHP Network Leader
‘What makes this book special in my eyes is that Javed, Nasreen, Nimra and Aroon kept looking for hope in whatever situation they were in, regardless of how they felt. They tried to look at every situation with God’s eyes. They were always looking for God’s guidance and for opportunities to build bridges, to use their talents and to give love to the people they met.’
Fieldworker, Stichting Gave
‘This book clearly shows on which points the COA, the IND and the Repatriation & Departure Service could humanise their working methods with a few simple measures, because despite the many good things they do, very poignant aspects are revealed, of which I am deeply ashamed as a Dutchman! I heartily recommend this book to you to gain some insight into the circumstances that so many refugees face daily.’
Hans van Delft,
Chairman IWAK in Katwijk aan Zee
‘The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. We see this once again proven in the life of Javed and his family. What a testimony they provide in the way they persevered through the asylum procedure.’
President of Open Doors International, Netherlands
‘Once a family arrives in the Netherlands to seek asylum, there is still a long road ahead. The experiences in this book give us a glimpse into all the emotions and practical issues that refugees have to deal with every day. From the smallest things that we all take for granted, like finding a Wi-Fi spot, to the daily challenges of finding Bed, Bath and Bread.’
Fr Sjaak de Boer
, Mill Hill, Pastor of the RC Church of Our Saviour
‘This book … is not only engaging, but also powerful and very personal. I work with refugees in Italy and understand first-hand some of the trials these folks face on a daily basis. For all who are called to serve and share the gospel with refugees, this book is a must-read, and gives a rare and profound inside perspective of the refugee world in Europe.’
Missionary, Avant Ministries
‘A “must-read” for anyone who is genuinely involved with refugees, who wants to understand them and wants to stand by them. I hope that many people will read this book. In particular, I hope that church congregations will take the content of this book to heart in order to understand their calling to “the stranger at our gate”. Highly recommended!’
Rev C H Hogendoorn,
Reformed Church Katwijk aan Zee
‘This book is a must for anyone who wants to know more about what it means to be an asylum seeker and the hardships that entails. … The power of the book is a simple testimony not to be overcome by this, but to see the good in every situation.’
Rev Piet Vroegindeweij
, Reformed Church, Lexmond
‘How good is it that Javed gives us an insight into the life of a Pakistani Christian who arrives as a refugee in the Netherlands with his family … Heartily recommended.’
Member of Parlement-ChristenUnie
‘Faith and good will help to overcome even the deepest crisis – that is the message that this book gives us all.’
Rev R H M de Jonge
, Reformed Church
‘An impressive, moving, yet inspiring narration … At some places their story is painful to read. There are moments of hope, and some of despair. But it is told always with the example of Christ in mind!
‘Javed and his family practised the words of the gospel, even in the darkest moments of their life. “God taught us to trust him”, is the key message he gives us.
‘An inspiring message, from a family that was supported by the pillars of their faith.’
Marten van der Meer,
Parochiekern Joannes de Doper, Katwijk
‘It is a book that not only tells the life story of a family, but it will also help believers and churches in their interactions with refugees. I hope and wish that it will be a blessing to many.’
Javed’s mentor in the integration project of (the municipality of) Leiden
‘The honesty of this book really struck me … This book also shows how loving one’s neighbour and praising God can be practised in both the smaller and the bigger things, which is a great word of encouragement for every Christian to incorporate into their daily life.’
Dutch Christian student, Leiden
‘This book is a fascinating, beautiful and moving report of their journey. The refugee in our midst lives so close and yet in a different world.’
Fr Michel Hagen,
Parish Priest, H. Augustinus (Katwijk)
‘In Javed's story, we see an inspiring example of steadfast faith in a God who can be trusted. Time and time again, facing challenging circumstances, Javed put his trust in the promises in God’s word, and with prayer and thanksgiving made his needs known to his heavenly Father.’
Revd Ruan Crew
, Chaplain, St James Voorschoten; Area Dean of the Netherlands, Diocese in Europe
‘This story illustrates, among other things, how learning Dutch has helped Javed and his family to become familiar with the Dutch culture as well as to establish relationships with the people living in this country.’
van der Plas, English Language Teacher
‘The Dutch Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, once said, “Ministry is entering with our human brokenness into communion with others and speaking a word of hope.” The refugee experience shared by Javed’s family is that resounding voice of hope and living faith.’
Catechist at RC Church of Our Saviour, The Hague
No Longer Strangers?
by Javed Masih (ISBN: 9781912726035) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 21st March 2019 from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction, 144pp, £8.99.