January was cold. Too cold to be crammed into a leaking boat filled with dozens of other terrified refugees desperate to escape Africa and reach Europe’s shores. But Amadou and his two young daughters had no other choice. They couldn’t turn back now; they could only squint toward the horizon and hope for land. The water lapped at their ankles, freezing Amadou’s youngest daughter’s feet. It was a terrifying sign of what would happen to them if the boat sunk. Even worse horrors befell his older daughter, but Amadou was helpless to protect either of his children.
Most of the refugees arriving from Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa are traumatized, especially women and children, and a local ministry has a team of psychologists who care for them and help them re-integrate into society. “But the main work is of a spiritual order, because we understand that it is the greatest need they have,” the ministry leader said.
A ministry in Greece acts as a safe, welcoming haven for refugees who have fled their countries and arrive with nothing in a foreign country where they cannot even speak the language. Ministry workers share the gospel while offering humanitarian aid, counseling, legal information, and various social services. They help refugees find shelter in official camps and sometimes provide emergency accommodations, as in the case of a five-member family who had to wait weeks to get an appointment to apply for asylum.
Praise God for refugees coming to Christ as a local ministry provides them aid that creates occasions to share the gospel. Local missionaries went to a refugee camp to pray for one family and continued visiting them after they moved into a house. The parents put their faith in Christ. “We continue the church services where we can see more people get converted and grow in Jesus,” the ministry leader said.
A family of five fled war-torn Ukraine, arriving in Spain frightened and without hope. Local missionaries spent time developing trust with them, and the family began coming to meetings at the ministry’s refugee center and accepted Christ. “God made a radical change in their lives; now they have peace of mind,” the ministry leader said.
A refugee with a serious disease could not obtain critical blood transfusions because he didn’t have the legal papers that hospitals required. A local missionary found a way for him to receive Emergency Room care at a hospital, where doctors found his condition so critical that they treated him for nearly a week – enabling him to get medical documentation he needed to apply for asylum.
Refugees from Africa, the Middle East and other areas of conflict take life-threatening risks to migrate to European countries in desperate efforts to survive. Arriving at areas where local people are increasingly hostile toward migrants, the refugees frequently find that native Christian workers are the only ones offering them aid.
With many opportunities to share the gospel with refugees, native workers also bring the hope of Christ to nationals and their children. In a 10-week summer program for teenagers, workers presented Bible lessons using videos followed by interactive games of questions and answers. “There was a lot of laughter, sharing, games, snacks and the sowing of God’s seeds in the hearts of the children,” the ministry leader said.
In the course of starting 95 churches in Spain and elsewhere over a period of six months, native Christian workers shared the gospel with both refugees and Spaniards. Among the Spaniards was a young woman who was pregnant at 15 and whose parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Often beaten and abused, she was visiting her brother in prison when she met a ministry worker bringing the gospel to the inmates, and the worker invited her to a church service.
Refugees from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Ukraine and other areas of military conflict and danger risk their lives to flee and provide hope of survival for their children. The cost is high as they arrive in Europe traumatized and in deep physical need. Native Christian workers are often the only ones who help them with food, clothing, shelter and assistance in finding medical and legal help.