Safia* is in a refugee camp in Germany. She believes in Christ but is afraid. Our responder Habib* spoke with her about Ramadan (which came to an end at the beginning of July). He told her that she could dedicate her time of fasting to Jesus. She was afraid that if the Syrians in her camp discovered that she was a believer, they might tell someone in Syria and so the information might get to her family. Habib asked if she would like to meet Christian brothers and sisters in Germany. She hesitated at first. They prayed together. She said that she feels lonely and she really wants to meet someone. We’re seeking to put her in touch with an Arabic speaker.
Safia is just one of more than a million refugees that have made their way to Europe in the past year or so. Their arrival has brought a huge challenge to the people of these nations, but also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Empowering the church
As part of this year’s White it is Day initiative, Arab World Media has sought to empower the church to receive refugees and migrants – understanding that while many are concentrating on physical needs, emotional and spiritual needs desperately need to be addressed too.
We have provided culturally relevant resources for churches to use with refugees and migrants, and have promoted use of The Journey, an Arabic video-based Bible study that has been produced by Arab believers. We’ve also continued to build multi-agency co-operation, pooling resources to more effectively minister to refugees.
It is by strengthening and equipping the church, that we can ensure refugees will experience a culturally appropriate message of love steeped in God’s truth. This can ultimately lead to numbers of unreached Muslims coming to faith and beginning church-planting movements of their own.
A visit to Germany
A member of our team visited Germany in June. He writes…
I had the privilege of observing how caring and generous the German people have been in coping with the large influx of Muslim refugees.
I visited two small villages, where the government has refurbished old hotels to accommodate a couple of hundred refugees. Some of the villagers are actively participating in welcoming and helping them in various ways. I was told it was not easy, especially with a refugee influx of this scale, but it seems that many are motivated to make this work, giving time and money in partnership with the government.
At church on Sunday, I was told that a couple of local church members ran The Journey course in the village! I was really excited to see that this great tool was being used in the middle of nowhere, in the Black Forest of Germany. They also presented a video about a social evening that was organised for the refugees, and many seem to have enjoyed the evening.
I found those moments very precious as they rarely make the news. It’s amazing to see what can happen when the church works with a village community and the government.
Pray that all the issues that might arise in meeting the needs of so many refugees can be resolved and that the church will model the love of Christ across Europe.
Most refugees take their smart phones with them as they journey to a safer place, which means there are still opportunities to engage with them. From May to July our response team had conversations with people in Greece, Germany, Holland and Turkey.
Nazir* in Germany completed a form saying he would like to study the Bible in an online group. Habib contacted him via WhatsApp. In the conversation, Nazir told Habib that he had recently believed in Christ. He is from Syria. He asked about baptism for himself and his children and said he would like to have a Bible in Arabic. A German friend working among refugees has now contacted him.
Fayad* is in Turkey. He emailed asking to be contacted on Viber or WhatsApp, saying that he wanted to know more about the gospel. As the relationship developed, it became clear that he had probably become a believer about a year ago. Fayad is originally from Iraq. He has an Iraqi friend who has recently come to faith and who lives in the same town. Their faith is not yet known to their families, and they are fearful of persecution if their families find out. Fayad has recently been in touch again to say that he wants to be baptised and join a church.
An opportunity to respond
It goes without saying that we at Arab World Media need prayer as we minister to refugees. Please also lift up the church in Europe. Many are using this fantastic window of opportunity to engage effectively, despite the difficult circumstances. Praise God as you lift up the work of his Holy Spirit!
Consider becoming a financial supporter so that we can continue to be in touch with people like Safia, Nazir and Fayad. It is a wonderful privilege to serve God in this capacity and we hope you know how much we value your partnership.
*All names have been changed to protect people’s identities.