Based on an update by an Alliance worker couple in the Middle East
Many Alliance workers in the Europe and Middle East Region minister to refugees by building friendships, meeting needs, and preaching the gospel. And yet, working with displaced people often means their time together is cut short as these families seek better places to make their homes.
Last year, while distributing Christmas gifts among refugees, Jeremy* and Renee met Nasir, his wife, and his three children. When Jeremy delivered their presents, he discovered the family lived in a moldy basement room and couldn’t afford gas to heat their water.
Sometime later, Jeremy learned that Nasir had become a believer. He was fed up with the culture of death that many in his religion preach. He saw new life in Jesus, and he wanted that.
This past summer Jeremy began to disciple Nasir, and as families, they began to get together on an almost weekly basis. Nasir’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage, Fayruz, also expressed some openness to the gospel, and Jeremy and Renee began to hope for the whole family’s redemption.
Then one evening, Fayruz called and said her father was leaving. He would be flying to Turkey and from there board a smuggler’s boat to Greece. He hoped to ultimately arrive in Sweden.
“On one hand, this wasn’t completely unexpected,” Jeremy and Renee write. “We had heard Nasir say many times that he was thinking of joining the mass migration of refugees seeking a better life in Europe. We tried to reason with him, talking about the dangers of the journey and the difficulties of life in a new country, and we had hoped that he would listen. But he chose to go for the sake of his children.
“They have no hope for the future in this country: no legal employment, no higher education. And even the public school they attend is full of trouble. Nasir’s son often came home from religion class with talk of killing himself in order to go to paradise. Nasir risked it all to leave the culture of death behind and find a hope in this life for his children.”
Journey of Hope
Less than a week later, Jeremy brought Nasir to the airport. He made it safely to Turkey via plane and to Greece via boat. Nasir is now in Germany, still attempting to reach Sweden. In the meantime, Jeremy and Renee are trying to help his family with odd jobs, and they are exploring alternatives for the children’s schooling.
“We feel very much like the sower in the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:26–29); a seed has been thrown to the wind, and we have no control on how it sprouts and grows,” Jeremy and Renee report. “But we are full of trusting hope that the harvest will come.
“Please ask the Lord of the harvest for the salvation of Nasir’s family: his wife Rania, his two daughters (ages 16 and 6) and his son (age 7). Plead for Nasir’s physical and spiritual protection as he travels throughout Europe into the winter and for the family’s speedy reunification. And remember us—that we might sow in faithful obedience and await the harvest in trusting hope.”
Watch how an Alliance church in Syria is caring for refugees who have been displaced by civil war and the advance of radical extremists.