It was in the dead of night when Teddy joined a small caravan of locals out of Liberia. The dry season was in full swing, and the air felt so thick it was difficult to breathe. There was complete silence from the group, and the mood grew somber as the landscape of their home disappeared from view. Teddy felt the lump in his throat grow tighter with each step he took. All he wanted was to hear his mother’s voice one more time, but he knew there was no turning back.
Things had gone from bad to worse, and his family couldn’t even afford the basic needs to survive, so he had to risk everything – including his life – to reach Italy, or as some called it, ‘the promised land.’
With nearly 5,000 miles to go, Teddy was determined to protect the phone he had bargained for in the streets of Monrovia. Even if he lost everything else along the way, the small second-hand device would allow him to connect with his family and Christina, his ‘American friend’ who had been sending him intriguing messages of hope from the Bible. Could God provide joy for him when everything seemed so dire?
The crashing waves of the Mediterranean Sea against the Italian shore were a welcome sound to Teddy. His odyssey had finally come to an end. Hitchhiking and walking across three countries was tough enough, but it would never compare to crossing a rocky ocean on a small, overcrowded boat. Teddy knew he was lucky to be alive.
As immigration officers returned his few belongings, he smiled for the first time in months. His phone had made the journey as well. “I am so, so sorry for the longer time that I have been of not replied.” Teddy messaged Christina after weeks of silence, “I have a limited Internet connection.” As Teddy settled into life at the camp in Taranto, Italy, he found it incredibly difficult to share his space with people from all walks of life.
On the other hand, Christina made it her purpose to fill Teddy’s inbox with Biblical content, a free Bible app and many other online resources to feed and nurture his budding relationship with Jesus. Christina’s emails gave Teddy an understanding of God’s love and his trust in the Lord and became his source of strength amidst the chaos.
“Thanks for your encouragement. Words cannot express how you are helping me spiritually,” Teddy replied, “I will make use of the scripture you give me.” Little did Teddy know how much he would need these scriptures in the days to come.
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, yet Teddy still had no word on his asylum status. To be able to get out of the refugee camp, Teddy had one final hurdle: getting the Italian government to approve his paperwork.
Insecurities and fear began to brew within Teddy during the process. By the work of the Holy Spirit, Christina sent a bible study on Romans 8:38 just when he needed it and shared information on a church he could connect to when he got out of the camp. “Christ is everything to my life,” Teddy reassured Christina. “I admit I can’t do anything without Jesus. Please keep me in your prayers.”
Teddy’s journey didn’t end when he walked to Libya or when he crossed the Mediterranean Sea; it’s still going. And because of your support, the Gospel travels with him wherever he – and his phone – go.