Refugees seeking asylum in Greece are often traumatized, and not always from armed conflict in the Middle East and other areas; some are fleeing lifelong abuse, while others arrive shaken by the dangers of their journey.
Recently a traumatized mother who fled her home in an undisclosed country in the Middle East obtained an appointment with a psychologist through a Christian ministry based in Greece, but she also wanted to speak woman-to-woman with one of the ministry’s two directors.
The refugee had left her four children, ages 4 to 13, behind.
“She left her country running, trying to rescue herself,” the director said. “Her kids didn’t blame her. How could they? They were there when she was abused, and they themselves were and are victims of abuse by her husband who is back in her country with them, spending his life on drugs and no good thing.”
More than once her husband had beaten her unconscious. The daughter of a sheikh (Islamic teacher), she had been raped by her two brothers and another man while growing up, she told the director.
“She was looking for ways to get help and for ways to bring her children to be with her,” she said. “Her husband was blackmailing her into bringing him along to Greece.”
Pointing people toward the Lord is often the first step toward healing and starting life anew. Workers do all they can to meet the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of troubled refugees, but they know from experience that bringing them closer to the Lord helps resolve other matters.
When the director asked if she could pray for her, though, the abused mother indicated she didn’t understand what she meant; the concept of praying for another person was unknown to her.
“She was looking for answers, but how can people mend all the broken pieces in another person’s soul?” the director said. “Only God can do this! She was prayed over. We are looking forward to seeing God working a miracle in this woman’s life – a miracle of healing and restoration like only He can do.”
Another refugee had just survived a kidnapping attempt and a death threat when she called the director saying she needed help finding a place to live.
“She had gotten away and found some policemen down the road,” the director said.
The woman had obtained the ministry leader’s number from someone else living on the streets. In her home country she had been a model for a well-known clothing designer, but after fleeing abuse in her home – including her father inflicting burns on her mother – she found herself penniless and homeless in Greece, the director said.
“The policemen had arrested some Iraqis who had tried to kidnap her and took them to the police station,” she said. “Right there, the Iraqis started threatening her that if she didn’t stop what she was doing, they would kill her.”
One of the Iraqis told police he couldn’t have kidnapped her because he was her boyfriend, which the woman denied, asserting that she was a lesbian.
Hearing this, the director asked her when she first felt she was a lesbian. When she replied that at 17 she felt attracted to a girl but did not have relations with her, the director said, “I don’t believe you are a lesbian. I believe you are just saying this to keep men away.”
“That’s for sure,” the refugee told her. “I hate men. Do you know what Islam has done to women? I want to keep men away.”
When the ministry’s interpreter asked her if she was Christian or Muslim, she replied that her sister was a Christian and had told her about Christ being the Son of God and born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit. Uncommitted to any belief or tradition, she listened as the director told her more about Christ and the veracity of the Bible.
“The Bible says that you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” the director told her, and asked if she could pray for her.
“She said, ‘OK – pray,’” the director said. “After the prayer, she stood without moving. I asked, ‘So, how do you feel?’ She said, ‘I feel like I am flying!’ God is an awesome God.”
The Lord provides miraculous help to people still seeking His truth who do not yet fully understand His saving grace and mercy, the director said.
Wisdom and Grace
Daily dealing with messy lives and damaged souls, workers are asked to solve myriad problems from a constant stream of refugees.
A young refugee couple recently showed up with two small pieces of luggage and a newborn wrapped in blankets; they had slept outdoors on a bench the previous night. The number of refugees in Greece far outstrips availability of housing facilities, the director said.
The ministry leaders informed them where they could find a tent, she said.
“Fortunately, we managed to find a tent through another organization, and we made arrangements for them to go get it,” she said. “At least that night they were not going to sleep on the bench with their newborn.”
The couple was grateful for the opportunity to bring their newborn into a tent, she said.
“Heartbreaking – to think that for them to sleep out in the streets in a tent is the solution for which they are grateful makes us think about how can we make a bigger difference,” the director said. “In the face of human impossibilities, God is able. Let’s continue to pray and be led on how to handle each situation that comes our way with wisdom and grace, and for God’s provision to give us more options to offer.”
The local missionaries need spiritual strength and material assistance to meet deep needs. Please consider a donation today to help them bring the love of Christ to struggling refugees.