The refugee who became a lawyer
How did one woman go from being a refugee to becoming a lawyer working with BMS World Mission in Mozambique? This is the inspiring story of Marie Joseé: a woman who held onto her faith and persevered despite the odds stacked against her
Marie’s difficult journey began in Rwanda in 1994. She and her family found themselves in the midst of one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century, where in the course of 100 days over 800,000 people were killed.
Marie and her family were desperate. They had no choice but to flee the country in search of safety. The family was forced to split up as they left Rwanda. Marie ended up in D R Congo, while her parents and siblings fled to Burundi. On top of that challenge, she was separated from her fiancé who moved to Tanzania.
Marie’s life as a refugee was extremely difficult. She lived in a camp in Congo. Relief organisations provided basic necessities like food, clothing and a tent, but Marie desired more for her life. She wanted to get a job, but there were no opportunities.
After 12 long months in Congo, God opened a new door for Marie. She moved to Zambia and was finally reunited with her fiancé. Determined to do something with her life, she started up a small café. Things were coming together, but she couldn’t forget her experience as a refugee. She knew God was calling her to do something more.
That something more turned out to be justice work in Mozambique. It was a combination of Marie’s faith and her experience as a refugee that led her down this road. She believed God hated injustice and she wanted to speak up for those who could not speak up for themselves.
Marie enrolled in a law course and pursued her dream to be a lawyer. It was no easy task, as she had to study in a language that was new to her and had the additional responsibilities of taking care of her husband and two children.
Yet, all the hard work paid off this June. Marie and BMS partner the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC) had reason to celebrate – Marie became AMAC’s newest employee and first qualified lawyer in the Maputo office.
“I am absolutely delighted that Marie will be working with us,” says BMS lawyer Kathy Russell, who also works at AMAC. “For a long time she’s been very involved with AMAC, taking on clients pro bono and doing things like community outreach, so I am very happy she will be working with us in a formal capacity.”
As Kathy and Marie work at AMAC, the main goal is to help Christian lawyers and law students understand justice from God’s point of view and put their faith into action as they practice law. The BMS partner also provides community legal education and direct representation to clients, especially those who are disadvantaged and are unable to afford a lawyer.
Kathy has no doubt that Marie is going to be an incredible lawyer and points to her faith as a source of strength, amazed at the way she sees Marie always put God first.
“Marie has been able to see God move in dire circumstances to protect her and keep her strong throughout her life,” says Kathy. “It’s incredible to think the journey that she’s been on, from escaping the Rwandan genocide to becoming a qualified lawyer and now helping the most vulnerable. She knows that God’s hand is always in the impossible because God saw her through her own impossible story.”
Pray for the board and staff that work at AMAC. Pray that God would protect them and give them wisdom and strength as they work in a challenging environment in Mozambique. Also pray specifically for Marie and Kathy. Pray that they are surrounded by God’s love and granted wisdom as they continue to do justice work.
Meet the BMS AMAC team: Annet and Damien, Beira and Kathy, Maputo
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.