According to USAID, in 2011, Ali Addeh refugee camp in Djibouti supported approximately 17,000 refugees, most of them Somalis and most of them women and children. Traditionally, refugees born in Djibouti have not received identity cards. This means they are not Somali or Djiboutian. They are people without a nation, infants with no homeland.

No official birth certificate, no papers, means children can’t go further than the fifth year in school. They don’t have access to national health care. They are limited in their ability to defend their basic human rights, and struggle to participate in the cultural and social life of Djibouti, says an article in The Djibouti Post, Djibouti’s English newspaper.

April 2013 changed the future for more than one hundred of these children and launched an era of hope for other, unborn, second-generation refugees. With celebration and fanfare, and in partnership with the UNHCR, Djibouti has started to give these children, born between countries, Djiboutian birth certificates.

I picture the names of the kids: Aisha, Ahmed, Muna, Muhammed, now stamped on a piece of paper. I imagine their parents’ grief at the realization that in order to obtain this paper, they had to abandon their beloved Somalia. I imagine those same parents’ joy that now their child belongs someplace.

This name, on this paper, earns a child the right to immunizations, education, and a record of birth and eventual death. It earns them the increased chance to avoid child marriage, human trafficking, child labor, injustice in the court system, unwilling conscription into the military.

This is the reclaiming of identity, of nationality. This is the name of an infant on a piece of paper in a miniature nation in the Horn of Africa.

Do you know where my name is?

Isaiah 49:16 says my name is written on the hands of God. My name is engraved on the palms of the God who formed me in my mother’s womb. God doesn’t have physical hands. Are the names of everyone written on his hands, the hands that aren’t really there? How are names written on not-real hands?

So I don’t know what it means. But I know what it earns.

I belong to God. I am chosen, redeemed, forgiven, clothed in righteousness. I am loved, free from condemnation, a new creation. I am free from a spirit of fear and dead to the power of sin. I can approach the throne of grace with confidence. I am grafted into the branch and his fruitfulness is mine. I am a joint heir, sharing in the inheritance of the firstborn. I am a citizen of heaven, my visa stamped in blood.

I am my beloved’s.

And he is mine.

My name is written in the Book of Life.

I didn’t have to do anything to get my name there, on those hands or in that book. These promises are bestowed. Like an infant in a refugee camp, I have nothing to offer, nothing to point to that can prove my worth and value in God’s Kingdom. But out of his mercy, out of his character, because of what he has accomplished, I can reclaim with confidence what I have always been.

With your name engraved on his hands, what identity do you need to reclaim today?

Image Credit:  Raw (Flickr) + Design (Tina Francis)