It was just supposed to be a short meeting during a long first day on the mission field. We climbed to the third floor and walked into the small apartment that was home to two refugee families who’d just arrived in Athens. Near the beginning of our time together, one of the men pulled a book down from the shelf and kissed it. It was a beautiful sign of allegiance and thankfulness. Before he went any further, we knew this meeting wouldn’t be short or ordinary. This Iraqi refugee shared his family’s story with us in a slow, soft, and careful way, like you would tell a bedtime story to your child.
Imagine taking your family on a vacation away from home. You take some of your belongings, but not everything. Now imagine that a war overtakes your hometown while you’re gone, and you can never go back. That became reality for these families. They fled their homeland two years ago because of ISIS and have been on the run ever since.
When asked about what caused them to turn from Islam and turn to Christ, our new friend responded with one word: love. His family and his new friends’ family had heard of love and peace coming from a deity, but they actually experienced it with the Christians ministering to them. They said they had never heard of such a love that someone would die to save them. They finally heard about that love at a refugee house in northern Greece. Up to 30 refugees there are ministered to each week, and there are plans to increase that number to 60. Volunteers from that ministry also go over to a nearby camp to assist with food distribution, which helps about 400 people each week. These efforts are partially supported through Virginia Global Response and your gifts to Vision Virginia. (To learn more about Virginia Global Response, go to sbcv.org/vgr)
This husband and father of two children went on to share that the book he kissed wasn’t just any book—it was a Bible, which was signed on the inside cover by a mission team from First Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA. He told us that because of the witness of that team and other SBCV teams, he and his wife realized what true love is and later asked for someone to lead them to faith in the one true God—the Lord Jesus Christ! They were then discipled and baptized.
This salvation scene has been miraculously repeated over and over along the refugee road. SBC of Virginia churches have been right there to share the hope and love of God face to face. Sometimes these teams can only share a quick word of hope along with some humanitarian act. Sometimes they get to know a person or family over time so that their words and actions build trust— a trust that leads to a life change.
God is moving in places like Greece, Nepal, Barcelona, and even in Virginia. To find out how you and your church can be involved in this and other life-changing mission opportunities, go to sbcv.org/vgr or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Watch and learn what happened when Sky View Missionary Baptist Church from Fancy Gap, VA took a mission team along the refugee road. You’ll see how they helped, what they learned, and why they will never be the same: sbcv.org/skyview
Before this edition went to print, we received an update on the family in this story. They were moved to a refugee camp, and their condition has gone from bad to worse. They are now living as a persecuted minority in a filthy and cold environment, where illness and corruption run rampant. Our Southern Baptist network has been able to connect them with a local body of believers there who continue to minister to them.