After walking 37 nights in the mountains of Greece, a Kurdish refugee’s feet had swollen so much that they no longer fit in her shoes. She also had a skin infection, as did one of her children.
The woman, her husband and their two children initially had fled to Turkey from Iran, where the government oppresses Kurds. Without legal documents of any kind, they had to leave Turkey and arrived at a native ministry’s offices in Greece hurting and exhausted, the ministry leader said.
“They had been walking at night and sleeping during the day, hiding in the mountains,” the leader said. “They were told that if they got arrested, they would be pushed back into Turkey.”
The children appeared to be about 10 or 11 years old, she said.
“The woman’s feet were swollen because of the walking,” she said. “Her husband while narrating their story broke down and, between sobs, said that he had to carry her in his arms many times because she had been exhausted during their long journey.”
Overcoming the Impossible
The mother had pustules on much of her skin, and her son had them on his back. One of the ministry’s interpreters, a former refugee, said the same infection formed on him when he had spent time in detention in Turkey.
Ministry workers made breakfast for the family, gave them clean clothes and provided food for them to cook at the house where they would cram into a single, rented room. Workers also managed to find a hospital with an emergency dermatologist, and the mother and son began taking medicines and receiving treatment, the leader said.
For continued medical care, housing and all other services, however, the refugees needed to register for asylum, and they didn’t have the necessary documents from border police to do that. Ministry workers told them their only hope was to seek help at a refugee camp – even though it accepted only registered asylum seekers.
A chance to start their lives anew seemed impossible. Noticing that the refugee mother was wearing a cross, the ministry leader asked if she was a Christian. When she replied that she had attended a church in Turkey because she was interested in Christianity, the leader asked if they could pray for their legal situation and ask God to resolve it.
“A big smile came to her face, and she said, ‘I would love to – my friend in Turkey used to pray for me, and I have missed this so much,’” the leader said. “So, the social workers and interpreters put their pens down, and we all prayed for her.”
The next day, as the family was discussing with workers how to get to the camp safely, another refugee mother who had received ministry help arrived, and the leader asked her if she could help the Iranian Kurds to settle in her refugee camp.
“Lately we have been going through personal Bible studies with her,” the ministry leader said. “She said, ‘As you have helped me, I will help them.’”
Miraculously, they were admitted to the camp and began living in their own clean and equipped shelter there, the leader said.
“They showed themselves to the camp manager, who started to work on their registration,” the leader said. “A week later, we called them to make sure they were doing well and were safe. The mother responded, “Because of the prayer you did and all of your help, we are doing well. Thank you. We shall come back to see you as soon as possible.’”
Sometimes ministry workers need to help refugees even in police matters.
This summer a young woman from Syria with three children gradually let the local missionaries in Greece know that her Egyptian husband was beating her, and that she didn’t know what to do.
“We explained her rights and what she could do, and to our amazement the next day she was back at the office asking us to help her go to the police,” the leader said.
Workers called police and interpreted for her during questioning. Afterward the woman was present when yet another refugee who had received help from the ministry arrived and asked the leader for prayer – explaining to the Syrian woman that she was Muslim, but that when the ministry workers prayed for her, God answered.
“She started naming all the times that God has answered our prayers,” the leader said. “After we prayed for her, I turned to the Syrian mother and asked if she wanted us to pray for her also. She answered with a big smile on her face, ‘I would love you to.’”
Opportunities to share the gospel are numerous as workers help such refugees with counseling, food and legal orientation.
“It is imperative that we have partners like you in prayer and in support, so that we are able to face volatile situations and needs that cannot be predicted,” the leader wrote to Christian Aid Mission.
Please consider a donation today to help native missionaries in Europe bring the love of Christ to traumatized refugees.