Critically acclaimed singer, songwriter and author Audrey Assad is passionate about the plight of refugees. In a video recently released by the creative director at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Blaine Hogan, following the recent news on immigration from the Trump administration, Assad shares her personal story as the daughter of a Syrian refugee who fled his home country to make a life in the US. Following its release, the video was subsequently embedded by RELEVANT Magazine online and shared on Facebook more than 1,000 times. It also sparked a The Blaze feature interview with Assad that hit the cover page February 8.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are 13.5 million Syrians in need, 6.3 million are displaced within the country, over 4 million have fled Syria with 2.7 million in Turkey alone. The UNHCR’s latest figures reveals the crisis as families are escaping across borders, fleeing the bombs and bullets that have devastated their homes.
“Most refugees are fleeing war or economic destruction and they have suffered a lot,” shares Audrey in the video. “And when we avoid not only our own suffering, but the suffering of others, I think what we are really avoiding is the cross. Embracing refugees and welcoming them is welcoming Jesus. And we are missing out on the opportunity to do that when we hold them at arm’s length. There is so much gift to be received in people who have suffered. I am the person that I am because I am the daughter of a Syrian refugee. What artists, engineers, architects are you going to miss out on if you don’t welcome refugees.”
Audrey’s father, Riad Assad, was born in Damascus, Syria. Divorce and subsequent homelessness drove his mother and siblings to Lebanon. Riad’s mother, a single woman in poverty, could not protect her children from danger at home while remaining in the Middle East. She was able to get refugee status and moved them all to the US. Riad has since become a proud US citizen, accomplished businessman and civil servant. In many ways, his drive and character have made Audrey the woman and the artist that she is today.
“Considering my heritage, I suppose my reason for carrying a spiritual and emotional burden for Syria and her people is a little more personal than it might be for many Americans,” writes Assad in her family’s story for We Welcome Refugees, “Dream, Believe, Do, Repeat.” “Still, I don’t believe this is meant for me to carry alone. I’m not a politician, nor do I consider myself so much as a lay student of politics. That is to say, my only goal in sharing our story is to help put a more human perspective on the concept of Syrian refugees, for those who don’t have a direct connection with these individuals.”
Assad, whose cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” was featured on the fall season opener of NBC’s hit show Timeless at 41:45 into the episode, embarks on “The Edge of Dawn Tour” with Andrew Peterson Feb. 25. During the tour, she will play songs from her five-star acclaimed and No. 1 selling Adult Contemporary (CMTA / SoundScan) album, Inheritance, which released last year on Fortunate Fall Records with Tone Tree Music distribution. The album, as well as the Inheritance Deluxe Edition released last fall, features a collection of hymns and original songs that both pay homage to her childhood heritage and to her Catholic faith and charismatic spirituality.