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Good news on the refugee front

by | Nov 30, 2015 | Missions Articles

God is up to something. My roommate and I sat on the underground with tears filling our eyes. “You know how there is always talk of an Islamic Spring?” She said to me with a hushed and shaky voice. “Well, I think they are wrong… I think we are on the edge of an Islamic Awakening.” I nodded my head and the floodgates opened. Her words pinpointed a feeling that the Lord was pressing on us in a heavy way. It was the unshakeable knowledge that He is on the move and up to something.

For months we had been praying as a community about what to do in response to the refugee crisis that was growing just beyond our borders. And for months, all we could do was wait. Then two phone calls came and changed everything.

“ Hello?! This is Stephan*, I am pastor to a Syrian church here in the city and I need your help. I have been visiting the intake camps around the city and preaching the love of God and people are coming to the Kingdom! I have been walking alongside them and growing them in their faith, but I have a problem, they are so on fire that their new-found zeal for Jesus is putting them in danger amongst their Muslim brothers and sisters. Would it be possible for a few of these new friends to come and take refuge with you? Maybe 6 or so?” “We can’t offer them much, but yes, of course they can come. We will make room for them immediately.” A day or two later we received a second phone call from the head of what is the equivalent to Child Protective Services here in our region, also asking for our help. They were overwhelmed with the amount of refugees flooding in as unaccompanied minors and were struggling to provide safe environments for them all. They needed to outsource quickly but didn’t know who to call. The solution, as it presented itself, was us.

Later that day we, as a community already weary from the business of pioneering and running a new discipleship school, sat in a staff meeting where these things were presented to us. There were, understandably, a mixture of emotions but as I sat there and listened, I became overwhelmed by anticipation. I knew in my spirit that God was up to something, and I HAD to be a part of it, no matter what the cost.

Saying yes, has a price. A lesson that, especially as a pioneering community, we are so painfully aware of. But the things that we pay out are so much less valuable than the things we believe, in faith, to come flooding in as a result. Immediately, we had our new believer brothers living alongside our Discipleship Training School men. Our students gave up their beds and sacrificed comfortable amounts of living space in order to give our weary friends a place of safety and rest. The spirit of generosity was so thick and tangible, I can’t actually put it into words. But what I do know, is that it translated something about the nature and character of God in a way that our limited overlap of languages could not. There was a fire lit that could only be explained by the living and active love of the Father. And I don’t think that any of us expected the overflow that came next.

At the same time that we were housing our new believer friends, we were also in the midst of setting up a group home for 30 teenage boy refugees. They came to us from all over. Syria, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia and Eritrea… and we had absolutely no idea what to do except for to love them the way that Jesus would, without condition and enduring all things. (I can tell you now, that this has been hard. Painful mostly, because the business of loving people always is. But none of it has been in vain.) Almost immediately, we noticed that the older believers started coming around and forming conversation with our boys. We were extremely thankful because they could draw out conversation that we simply could not. These radical hearts began to take authority in Jesus over the grasp of Islam that bound their new little brothers hearts and chipped away at the lies in ways that only they could. And you know what, it’s working.

Over the last weeks we have seen two of our young men get totally flattened by the radical love of Jesus. And it is changing the atmosphere. The love of God is permeating in ways that darkness only wishes that it could. It is dissolving hatred, trauma, hurt, and circumstance and opening eyes to the glory of new life. Discussions of Grace abiding in Ha-ram (what is forbidden) and Halal (what is approved) and the reality of the Mesiah who was, and is, and is still to come.

What we are seeing is an awakening… because the presence of God commands dry bones to walk, to breath, to live. The nature of God calls to the ancient ruins, the places long devastated, and promises restoration and redemption. The love of God sees the weary son far off in the distance and runs, headlong and with complete abandon, to meet him and celebrate him home.

And over the weeks, as these things have become more and more real in the lives of the people I am surrounded by every day, I become more and more aware of what God was speaking that day on the underground. That revelation, the knowledge that God is up to something, gives me hope and strength new every day. It gives me the authority to smash fear and ignorance with truth. But most of all it leaves me in awe of a God who uses yielded hearts and feeble “yes’s” to bring darkness into Light.

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