International (MNN) — When young refugees feel a loss of hope and purpose in their lives, they are especially susceptible to radical recruitment tactics. And extremist groups know this.
(Photo courtesy of Sharnoff’s Global Views via Flickr)
But Christian ministries like Tent Schools International are stepping in and speaking hope into the lives of young refugees.
Dale Dieleman with Tent Schools notes information drawn from a document called “Countering Violent Extremism: A Peer-to-Peer Guide for Young People“.
“It’s written by ten persons in their 20s from around the world. Each continent is represented, and they did research in their own countries through the Kofi Annan Foundation that was sponsored by other organizations, as well to talk to youth in their countries about the causes of and prevention of young people getting involved with these extremist groups.”
Dieleman quotes a part of the document:
Violent radicalisation occurs when grievances, ideology, potent narratives and charismatic recruiters collide. To tackle it each of these must be challenged as part of a full spectrum approach.
“That I think is key. And the document goes into very specific, positive steps for taking action at the local level or one-on-one.”
(Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)
One thing Tent Schools does to encourage young refugees is provide for computer labs job training. They partner with local ministry partners in various countries for this outreach.
“The trainees then would be persons who are within that country, but mostly refugees who have come and have nothing to do. These are young adult refugees who are not in any schools or in any other way engaged in employment, so they’re just sitting there in these refugee camps in sort of a limbo land between countries with no rights, with no hope, [and] no perspectives on what their goals are.”
These job training computer labs provide marketable job skills, something that gives the young people a vision for their future and a sense of direction. Because they won’t be refugees forever.
“Also, it’s an opportunity while they are participating in these labs. Say there’s 15 to 20 people in a computer lab meeting on a regular basis. Young people, they have an opportunity to speak with each other, talk with each other about their frustrations at being a refugee or their hopes being dashed and what future is there, and they can begin to talk with each other about some positive steps…. So not only would they get a certification at the end of the course, but they would also have some people who, it’s almost like a support group.”
So where does the message of the Gospel come into play? Dieleman responds, “I think the hope of Christ comes in, in the fact that we are doing this out of the compassion of Jesus. We want people to know about the Savior, we want to tell them about the Prince of Peace. In some places, they may be opposed to hearing that, but we rely on our partners in these countries to really determine how best to integrate that faith with the training they are taking and having opportunity to get to know people. It’s very much a relationship-based approach.”
Going back to why young people and refugees become susceptible to radical recruiting tactics, another contributing factor is that sense of being marginalized and devalued in their current society. To that end, there is something Dieleman says you can be aware of in your day-to-day to combat marginalization.
“If they would help other people see, for example, that jokes, xenophobic jokes or discussions that they’re having putting down people from other religions or whatever, or being frightened that their own identities and their own cultures are being threatened, people really need to talk with each other and say, ‘Hey, you know, all this is really doing is fueling the fires of extremism and radicalization.’ So I think part of that is educating each other.”
Then, pray for young refugees, especially as they grapple with their purpose and future. Pray for them to place their ultimate hope in Jesus Christ — something that can never be taken away from them no matter their circumstances.
Dieleman also lists these prayer requests:
“Let’s pray for the young people who are struggling today. You may not know their names, but let’s pray for them. Let’s pray for those who are just, if you will, wasting time in refugee camps with no sense of direction, no sense of what’s next….
“Let’s pray that the situations that are causing refugees be done away with….
“Let’s pray for level-headed leadership globally to reduce this continual rising tide of refugees and migrations all over the world which causes instability….
“Let’s pray for the destruction of these extremist groups. Let’s pray that God intervenes in ways that we may not even know of at this time….
“Let’s just pray for strength, for peace, and for stability in this world.”