Rani and Tyler from the United States both spent time in Lesbos, Greece, helping refugees.
Rani had already served in Greece during November 2015; he had read lots of media stories about the refugee crisis and the overwhelmed camps and communities unable to cope, but the reality was still shocking. As a native Arabic-speaker, he found himself working directly with the migrants and refugees at all stages – from the shoreline right through to helping them rebuild in the camps.
In the words of Tyler, “no day is average” when serving in the refugee community. He learnt a few phrases of Arabic during his trip, despite knowing none beforehand.
Tyler’s main role was to be in charge of a floor in an overcrowded accommodation block. Each floor had five or six rooms, filled with 30-40 people on bunkbeds and mattresses. Everyone had to be fed – including the nursing mothers who were given baby formula for their children – and he handed out blankets and donated clothes to those who needed them.
‘Emotionally, what’s going on inside of you.. it’s a hurricane. It’s easier to shut down your heart during the day, focus on the task, flatten it out.’
The desparate situation in Lesbos is mirrored across southern Greece and Italy. The sheer numbers of people needing basic humanitarian and spiritual help led Tyler and Rani to become more focussed on handing out basic resources than on ministering to the individual needs of the people they were dealing with.
Wonderfully, God in his grace stirred their hearts again and helped them to take a step back and remember that they were not only there to give out bread and water, but also there to share the gospel of Jesus – the living water. For the rest of their time, they were able to be far more intentional about smiling, befriending and taking time to listen to the stories and lives of those they were serving.
Praise God for the many opportunities God presented them – and the other Christian aid workers – each day to show his love!
Story from our partners at GEM.