We hold our refugee simulation events. A short-term team goes and returns from the much-reported refugee Camp Moriah on the island of Lesvos in Greece. Team members are profoundly moved and motivated to pray and do more for refugees. They come back and touch our hearts with their experience. But none of us live in a camp. We can go home again.
As we are in the midst of our "Refuge" missions festival, let's consider how God is at work in Camp Moriah. College Church missionaries Thad and Joy McAuley and Tim and Deanna Smith recently sent in updates about the refugee situation.
The McAuley family has been back in France for about two months now, and Thad describes the scene in France and Europe.
"A lot of police and military personnel in public places—schools, events, monuments, airports and train stations. Foiled bomb plots of young women. Knife attacks against police. Riots in refugee detention camps . . ."
Yeah, we've read that. Watched that on the news.
But then Thad goes a step further, beyond the news reports, "Muslim refugees coming to Christ, and then leading others to Christ. Discipleship groups starting. European churches re-energized as they respond to the needs around them."
A team, working at Camp Moriah, sent Thad this report last week.
Spiritually, people are incredibly open. All of our people are having significant conversations and were even before the riots. A random Somali guy stopped one of our guys on Sunday to talk about faith. Another had a 90-minute conversation with someone else his first day in [the refugee camp]. Naser, one of the translators injured [in the riots], had accepted Christ earlier in the day. It reminds us of the early days in Eastern Europe when incredible numbers of people came to Christ.
Tim and Deanna' Smith's recent report describe the riots and its impact on the camp.
"In September, the population of refugees had swelled to more than 5600 people in a camp designed for 3500. A peaceful protest against the crowded conditions had escalated into ethnic violence. Panic stricken, thousands of people fled the camp as fires burned uncontrollably. In the aftermath of the riot, Arnie declared, 'The fish are jumping in the boat.'"
"Arnie and his team are integrally involved in helping the refugees in Moria this year. Their most immediate task was to evacuate the unaccompanied minors to an olive grove. A team of six adults were responsible for 150 teenagers. They were able to move them to a children’s camp several hours later. Remarkably, there were no deaths. Arnie took three refugee translators who had been injured to the hospital, and the whole team returned to the camp to help clean up and set up new tents."
Tim and Deanna end their report with this: "People who have lost everything are meeting Jesus in record numbers."
Good words for followers of Jesus to take to heart, especially amidst all of the chatter and political perspectives on the refugee crisis.
People who have lost everything are meeting Jesus and finding refuge, a new home, in him.