Friday, February 17, 2017

Sitting Face to Face with a Refugee

I sat face to face with a refugee the other day.......

     Actually, I sat in a room filled with many refugees; Syrian, Pakistani, Iranian, Palestinian, Iraqi....and many others. I shook their hands and said "hello". I watched some sleep, and others pace, and some sit quietly and attentive. I watched mother's love on children who were not their own, and father's struggle to calm crying babies. I sat on a make-shift couch of crates and cushions while a middle-aged, middle-eastern man with a kind face and a sweet smile, served me a meal of spaghetti and Syrian bread. I watched as they ripped the bread and scooped up the spaghetti like a mini tortilla, devouring every last drop, not knowing when they would eat again.
     I heard stories of pain and heartache, loss and betrayal. I observed weary faces and tired bodies; sun-parched skin and furrowed brows. I saw the look of fear and dread in some, and of hope and love in others. I rode past condemned apartments which many of them are calling home, with broken windows and partial doors, wondering how they stayed warm at night. I saw others huddled under blankets on public sidewalks, oblivious to the passers-by.
    I saw humanity at it's worst, and yet, humanity at it's best. As I stood in the middle of a city in Greece, half way across the world, I observed the outcome of the atrocities that others in the human race have had to endure. Their flight from the terror and inhuman behavior have led them to this place. Their desperation for safety and freedom, for love and acceptance has not gone unnoticed. A small group of people in a large city of Greece, operating out of a small store-front are attempting to change the lives of refugees from around the world. Daily, this small group of people, wander the city streets seeking and searching for those the world has forgotten and tossed aside. They offer them food and clothing, love and acceptance, but also hope and forgiveness. One by one, they come to this tiny store-front. At first, with fear and trepidation, but it isn't long before they realize that this is the safest place they've ever been. Some spend weeks and months frequenting this place, while others spend years, but all are offered the same opportunities and experiences.
     It is in this same tiny place that the love and salvation of Jesus Christ is shared with them. Many accept this offer of salvation, turning from their only known religion and realizing they can be killed for that decision. While there, I saw faces of joy and hope. I watched as they said "good-bye" to those who gained approval to move on to other countries to start a better life. The excitement on their faces gave way to sorrow for having to leave the safety and security of those who had become family to them. I watched as others gathered round to pray for them, love on them and wish them well, hoping and praying that they would be the next recipients.
     I wish you could see the sights that I saw. I wish you could hear the stories I heard. I wish you could feel the emotions I felt. I wish your heart could break like mine broke.

I wish you could sit face to face with a refugee........