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Modeling Love in a Climate of Fear

The refugee crisis is not over. In many ways, we are only just beginning to see the effects, and the fruit, of this global phenomenon.

Last year, we were involved in sending Johanna Neudorf to Neuwied, Germany to come alongside our churches and assist in their efforts to reach out to the huge influx of refugees there. Her commitment and persistence has been an inspiration to me. This is from one of Johanna’s latest newsletters:

“They did not need my help.

Still, I was determined not to give up, and by eight o’clock that morning I was once again standing in front of the elementary school near our church in Germany, making yet another attempt to volunteer with the young Arabic-speaking children of new immigrants and refugees. I had been visiting regularly, but it did not seem as if there was a place for me. The teachers I had met seemed uninterested, and distant. Would today be like every other day?

Then, shortly after eight, one of the German teachers beckoned for me to follow her. We stopped at the door of a grade two classroom, and a young, dark-haired girl was called to come with us. Seeing me in the hall, her face lit up with a smile.

‘Zara!’ I exclaimed. I was thrilled to see her, the daughter of a Syrian couple that had been attending our Arabic Bible study for the last few months. The little girl flung herself at me in the hallway and we hugged each other happily. The teacher seemed pleased. We went on to collect several other immigrant children, including Zara’s brother, and then made our way to the learning support classroom.

I spent the day helping the children finish the exercises in their books, playing games, and facilitating group conversations. The time went by quickly. By the end of the morning, the teacher invited me to stay for the remainder of the school year. God had answered my prayer and provided an open door at the school.

The following week, I visited Zara’s family in their home. I had been there once before, when they had just come to profess their faith in Jesus. Zara and her mother were eager to practice their German with me. We laughed often, even as we struggled to communicate. After I helped Zara with her homework and we began to put away the books, Zara’s mother invited me to stay and proceeded to teach me how to make a tabbouleh salad, a popular Middle Eastern dish. Despite the language barrier and our cultural differences, there was joy shared between us as we cooked together, ate together and prayed together.”

All over the world, the Holy Spirit is opening doors for his people to reach out to others in the midst of this crisis. God’s people are modeling sacrificial love in a climate of fear, anxiety and even anger. The needs continue to be staggering, but the love and care that is being expressed through the church and through our global workers are making a difference in people’s lives.

We are a part of a worldwide effort to engage refugees with compassion and hope. In Berlin, our workers are building friendships with young refugees through regular games of street hockey. In Austria, our churches are helping refugees obtain medical care and simply offering the gift of friendship to those who are struggling with culture shock. In Central Asia, Syrian refugees are meeting Jesus through our short-term teams and finding hope for the future. Likewise, in the Midwest of America, our mobilizers are hosting seminars to equip people with tools to reach out to newcomers, especially those from Muslim background. And in British Columbia, our Oasis team has opened the doors of a new welcome centre for refugees and immigrants that is focused on living out the message of the Gospel.

I am excited about working together to respond to the needs of refugees and others who are without hope in today’s world. Whether it is in Germany or elsewhere in the world, let’s continue to inspire and equip one another to embrace the least reached and give them an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus.

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