Tihomir Kukolja is the Executive Director of the Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation (FLR) and directs their Renewing Our Minds (ROM) initiative. FLR seeks to develop leaders transformed by the person of Jesus in a divided world, and to build communities through transformative leadership.

Posts By This Author

I’ve Worked On The Syrian Refugee Trail in Europe. Here’s What We’re Getting Wrong.

by Tihomir Kukolja 11-17-2015

Image via /Shutterstock.com

As we stand together around the world, shocked and mourning with the thousands who lost their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, relatives, and friends in France, Lebanon, and Iraq, one thing bothers me most about the narrative around the terrorist attacks in Paris.

From the moment first reports started streaming in from France, even when the details surrounding the tragedy were very scarce, mainstream media pundits were far too eager to bring Syrian refugees into the story of the Paris massacre. They planted the seeds of doubt into the minds of millions that somehow Syrian refugees shared responsibility for the massacre.

Two months ago I worked on the last several miles of the refugee trail from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to the Croatian border. I helped drive nearly 100 refugees to the border, and distributed food, water, clothes, and shoes to at least 2,000 more.

I still remember the stories of some who did not hesitate to tell my team why they left Syria or Iraq. 

Meeting Jesus on the Refugee Trail

by Tihomir Kukolja 09-30-2015

Image via Tihomir Kukolja

Many of the refugees are well-educated people who speak English fluently, so it was not difficult for us to communicate with them. Some of them reported their experiences of walking for weeks and months since they left Syria. Their feet were hurting, and many walked with crutches or were assisted by wheelchairs. The most moving moments were the scenes of small children walking with their parents on the dusty dirt road through the cornfields leading into Croatia during the blistering heat of late summer.

In two days, with our four cars, we drove nearly 100 children, mothers, and people with walking difficulties the last miles to the Croatian border, and even farther when approved by the Croatian border police. All of us on the team had frequent moments when we could not hide our tears.

As we distributed food, water, clothes, and shoes to at least 2,000 refugees in three days and offered warm hugs and handshakes, we heard the refugees saying in a number of different ways: “Our people have forgotten us, but you Christians love us.”