A room with more than a view
Last Monday, our team visited with our partners from a refugee ministry in Athens, Greece. Earlier this year we were able to provide them with Arabic and Farsi Bibles to use in their daily work. What we saw deeply moved us and gave us great assurance that the Lord is manifesting Himself through their faithful love and service. One of our team members, Jaro, shares his testimony.
It’s seven o’clock and in a room with a panoramic view of the Parthenon today’s speaker, Larry, takes the stage. With the help of a Farsi translator, he delivers a message on human sinfulness and God’s saving grace in Jesus to an auditorium full of refugees from Muslim countries. At one point, he picks up a Farsi Bible that EEM has donated to this—and many similar—ministries.
The room is vibrant with anticipation. The long tables arranged in the center of the room, as well as the round ones along the windows, seat no less than two hundred people by my count. The tables will soon be laden with bowls of spaghetti and bread that volunteers start to bring out when the message is over and the prayer for the meal and those receiving it has been delivered.
It’s an unusual scene for those like myself who are unaccustomed to the sight. As Middle Eastern music and the aroma of spaghetti sauce fill the room, all who have come will be fed. There might even be another shift of diners—there usually is. Many have brought their families, friends, and kids. It’s a fellowship of a rare breed in Europe with its traditional heritage of nation-states and rampant anti-immigrant sentiments. It is noisy and messy—and beautiful.
It’s the first day of Ramadan, so the attendance won’t reach the weekly average of 500. Still, as the first wave finishes their dinner, volunteers clean up the tables and set them for another group of hungry souls. They’re ready to serve all—none should be left to go hungry. But what really matters the most is that not only empty stomachs are filled—it’s also about the message of God’s love, exemplified by the dozens of volunteers who have come to serve. They don’t just share God’s Word with the refugees—they live it.
As we get back to our hotel rooms, all of us think of those we’ve seen today as we kneel down to pray. Above all, our hearts go out to the Christian converts. In the security of our own repose, we remember the fear and anxiety they often experience. We gave them Bibles. They gave their lives over to Christ. But that is not the end of their story—their struggle is for daily existence, safety amidst those who denounce them as traitors, as well as for acceptance among their host nations and cultures.
It is no easy struggle, but they remain hopeful and rejoice in their new-found freedom in Christ. I am reminded of Paul’s words: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We often hear these words preached. They are living them.