A Guest Post by gem partner, Don Waybright.
We encountered Ahmed at 4 am in the morning as he was chain-smoking his non-filtered cigarette outside the prefabbed building, a former Greek prison block, where he and his family were sleeping in the freezing night with about 100 other people in the same situation. He said he could not sleep because his 4-year-old daughter was sick with a fever. He arrived at the refugee camp the night before, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey with his 5-month pregnant wife and daughter, Fahouk. They braved the three-hour crossing in freezing temperatures, winds gusting at 40-50 MPH, his pregnant wife at the bow of the rickety boat provided by human-traffickers. Every wave seemed like the end of their perilous journey. (Over 400 people have drowned making this journey since January 2016.)
His journey began a month ago. “Bombs, bombs…that is all I can hear is bombs!” Ahmed stated, “Everyone was bombing us...Syrians, Russians, ISIS...Bombs…BOOM, BOOM!” his expression more agitated. “So we left one month ago by foot. We had to travel by night for fear of ISIS, and slept during the day. Then we entered Turkey and everyone wants our money. We ask a question and they want money. Give me money for everything. Everywhere we walk, I see dead people. Then we get on boat and we arrive here. No more bombs. My family is safe. My heart is filled with warmth.”
We are standing inside the refugee camp. A former Greek prison turned into a refuge of faith, hope, and love…the first taste of justice Ahmed and the 2,700 transient refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and the abused and exploited from around the world have ever received. Last month there were two women from Cuba who had escaped being sex-slaves in Turkey. Ahmed, and all the others, the moment they arrive on the shore of this Greek Island of Lesvos, they are greeted with a smile and a warm blanket. They are escorted to the camp where they are provided all the food, clothing, medical needs, warm shelter, hot chai, and unconditional love they can imagine. No one asking them for money, no more exploitation, no more bombs.
Ahmed said,”My heart is so warm and full from what I have experienced here”. We asked, “ Have you ever read the Injil (The New Testament) that describes the source of what you are experiencing. He said “Oh no! Very bad book…they would kill me in Syria if I looked at that book”. I said, “ Can I draw you a picture of what is inside the Injil?” Yes please! was his enthusiastic reply…and I present him the story of the Gospel of Grace using the 3-circles. He listened intently. I want this in my heart, I will study and work for this,” Ahmed assured us. We shared that this is a free gift, you just need to receive it. Isa (Jesus) is knocking on the door of your heart, just open the door and let him in and he will have fellowship with you and change you from the inside out…” He took the paper with the 3-circles, and said, “This warms my heart," opened his coat and placed it inside his shirt pocket and walked away to join his family.
The seed of Life was planted. The Living God is doing and will do the rest. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
To find more about GEM's ministry to refugees, visit www.gemission.org/refuge