All is well here. We are thankful.
The Refugee Crisis in Europe... one perspective
Much has been seen or read in the news about the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. One of the countries most deeply impacted has been Germany - taking in over a million refugees in the last year. Many have questioned the wisdom of such a decision - even more so after the Paris shootings and Cologne attacks. How well do we know those coming to live amongst us? Do they mean us harm? Are they here to better their lives or are they truly escaping certain death from a common enemy that has arisen over the years in the Middle East? Take a walk around one of the hundreds of refugee camps recently setup in Germany and look at the people there and it's very difficult to tell which ones are fleeing war, which are coming for a better life and which ones are here to take advantage or plan to cause some sort of harm. So why do they come? Don't they want to return home one day or is it that there is no home left to return to? An interview with a Syrian couple gave this picture that can not be properly felt in written words. You should see the man as he spoke - his eyes red and swollen from tears, his wife barely controlling her grief. Their words:
"When we talk about the past, I almost lose my mind.
Damascus is one of the most beautiful and oldest cities.
We pursued our work and in our free-time
we visited family and friends.
We walked through the old neighborhoods
with its narrow streets and smells.
The people there live simply.
We enjoyed the ease of life.
I prayed to God that he would spare this town.
Because the whole of Syria has been destroyed.
Syria is now a country of the past.
I pray for the preservation of this city.
We have the most beautiful memories.
We have the most beautiful flowers - it smells like Jasmin.
The children sing.
My land, my land Where is my land now?
Forgive me In my heart there is deep sadness
We apologize - the injury is large
The loss of one's homeland is very difficult."
Most of us will never know or truly understand the hearts of our new neighbors or what they have gone through and experienced. A refugee friend from Iraq who has two young boys and arrived about three months ago said every day in Iraq his boys would come home from school and say to him, “Daddy, we have to leave or ISIS will kill us.” So that is what they did. They took what few possessions they could carry along with their 9 and 4 year old sons and they walked for days and days to reach Turkey and then Greece by boat and then more walking and trains to Germany. Most of the way the father had to carry his youngest son on his back. People reportedly die all the time on these boats and along the way. They saw people die. These men, women and children are courageous and they are fighting for a better life for their families.
While Germans for the most part have welcomed refugees and migrants in with open arms, there have been reservations. There’s the open question as to how many is too many? Who will bear the costs? Where can they be housed? In the area around Heidelberg where we serve, there are over 35 camps – some in old army barracks, some in converted hospitals, hotels or apartments. Even sports halls are being used. Some parts of Germany are seeing conversions to Christianity en masse. The Jesus film was shown at an Arab’s men’s meeting here in Heidelberg and afterwards a dozen men stayed behind to ask questions - ten of which gave their lives to Jesus before leaving. Praise God for his faithfulness.
What an unprecedented time in history. God has literally brought the Arab world to Germany and to Europe and it is our job as Christians to be the hands and feet of Christ to them all. Please join us in praying that God would send more workers into his harvest fields for the harvest is ripe!