“Never Lose Hope!” For the Strength of Youth, June 2021, 14–17.
Every now and then, it can seem like your whole world is crumbling around you.
And then catching on fire.
In a hurricane.
Sometimes life can feel so chaotic and discouraging that you might wonder if things will ever feel right again.
Muriel B., who spent time in a refugee camp as a child, has something to say about getting through tough situations: “Keep God by your side at all times and never lose hope. Bad times are really just temporary!”
This is someone who knows a thing or two about bad times.
And she knows how to get through them.
Muriel’s life started out normal enough. She was a young child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She had a happy family, a safe and comfy home, a warm bed, and plenty to eat.
Then war broke out.
After that, things got bad in a hurry. Her low point came when angry men dragged her loving father—“The strongest Christian I know”—away from the family at gunpoint.
Thankfully, her father was reunited with them later on. But life was no longer safe for Muriel or her family. They fled to a refugee camp in Uganda.
Refugee camps are temporary settlements for people who are forced to leave their home because of war or other reasons. They’re meant to offer safety, and this one did so, but life for Muriel and her family was still a long way from easy.
“We were grateful to be away from the war,” Muriel says. “And the people who ran the camp did the best they could to help us, but there wasn’t enough.”
Not enough food, not enough shelter, not enough medicine—not enough of anything.
“Insects would bite us at night,” she remembers. “And we would be without food for days at a time. There was also a lot of disease in the camp.”
Muriel and her family were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, but they were devoted and practicing Christians. They had rock-solid faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. “My parents kept telling me that I can always pray and fast.”
So that’s what she did. As a child in a refugee camp, at an age when many kids are learning to read and write, Muriel was praying every day for survival. She prayed for food. She prayed for safety. She prayed for the strength and courage to keep going.
And she saw God work miracles in their lives.
“God got us away from the war,” she says, “so I knew I could trust Him. Whenever we needed Him the most, like when we had nothing to eat for so long, He always blessed us. He worked small miracles that built up my faith in Him.”
After nearly two years in the refugee camp, her life took another turn. Muriel and the rest of her family moved to the United States to start a new chapter in a new land. For all she had seen and lived through, Muriel was still only eight years old.
That’s when her parents decided to find a new church to attend.
“My Mom and Dad always wanted to worship God and give thanks to Him,” Muriel says. “One Sunday, not long after we arrived in the United States, they said, ‘Let’s go look for a church.’”
They didn’t have to look far. While walking around town they came across two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the street.
Before long, Muriel was baptized along with her parents. Muriel’s younger siblings were baptized once they were old enough.
A lot of what she learned at church was familiar to Muriel, who’d been taught about God and Jesus Christ her whole life. Other topics were new. “I’d never heard of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or the Book of Mormon,” she said.
Those weren’t the only new things. There was a whole new culture to learn. Here, Church members made a big difference. They taught the family how to use some of the electronic devices and appliances that were different from back home. They helped with the language. And they helped most of all by simply being friends.
Muriel encourages youth today to do the same thing. “Refugees need friends too. Our family didn’t have any friends when we came to this country, but once we joined the Church, we had so many people visit us! Now we have many friends.”
Over the years, Muriel has been able to help serve those same friends who blessed her life early on.
After she entered Young Women, Muriel served in class presidencies and assisted with all kinds of youth activities. She served and taught and shared her testimony.
But one of the best ways she continues to help her friends is by lending her strength in the gospel and her faith in God.
“Some of my friends are struggling to find hope right now,” she says. “But I always tell them, nothing bad lasts forever. For me, I feel like there’s nothing God can’t get you through.
“Sometimes all I can pray for is courage to hold on longer. To keep pushing on. God has always helped me find that courage. For the most part, the blessing of courage to keep pushing ahead is all you really need.”