Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements
May 24, 2023
"I've been up on the mountain this week, fasting and praying," Bea told me. We were waiting outside the immigration court before her second asylum hearing. She seemed peaceful and prepared.
Bea arrived at Jonathan House in 2019. Throughout the years, it has been an honor to witness her trusting in Jesus for strength and hope in a long and difficult asylum journey.
At Bea’s first hearing months before, the US government lawyer proclaimed that Bea should not be eligible for asylum. The judge ended that court session mid-trial. Still, Bea’s reliance on prayer was evident. Once, when we prayed about her upcoming trial, she declared, "Jesus, you are the Judge. You are the Lawyer. You are the Witness. You are the One who speaks."
Her attitude of surrendered faith struck me again in the waiting room. "I've been up on the mountain. I fasted and prayed to prepare myself. Physically and spiritually." Bea didn't pray to try to win God’s favor; she prayed to remind herself that God was already lovingly and faithfully present with her.
So this is how we stepped into the courtroom: expecting to see Jesus.
The change in the government lawyer's demeanor was immediately recognizable. Instead of the aggressive, accusatory tone of the previous trial, her questions were straightforward and respectful.
"If you have an argument for why asylum should not be granted, will you tell us your grounds for denial?" the judge asked the government lawyer. There was a pause, then the lawyer said. "I will defer to the judge."
Bea closed her eyes and pressed her hands to her face when the judge spoke. "Asylum granted." Tears coursed down her cheeks (and mine). He continued, "As you can imagine, ma'am, sometimes I have to deliver bad news. Today I get to deliver good news. And I wish you the best."
On our car ride from the courthouse, Bea yelled the story joyously into the phone to friends and family. "Jesus has done it!" she exclaimed, "The Holy Spirit has done it!" She recounted the surprising change in the government lawyer's attitude and the moment the judge spoke.
Years ago, when Bea’s asylum hearing kept being delayed and rescheduled, she told me, "I can only trust that God has a greater plan in mind and that this will be for His glory." After the judge granted asylum, the lawyer explained the policy she'd originally cited as grounds for denying Bea asylum had recently expired. If Bea had had her asylum ruling at any previous time, the policy would have applied to her. The judge would have been legally-bound to deny her claim. I suddenly recalled "God's plan" that Bea had trusted in all these years; He took that pain and waiting and worked it in her favor to gain her asylum.
I am deeply challenged and encouraged by the faith-filled hope of refugee friends like Bea. Witnessing her journey reminds me of God’s undeniable love and justice for His forcibly-displaced children.
CLICK HERE to learn more about our Jonathan House Ministry!
- SJ Holsteen with Rachael LofgrenBack to the Blog