As a child, we would often drive to Florida on our family vacations. As you cross from Georgia into Florida, you are greeted by signs welcoming you to the Sunshine State and a large reception center. In addition to bathrooms, maps, and picnic areas (roadside staples), the Florida reception center offers fresh Florida Orange Juice. Good memories!
In Greece, they are also staffing reception centers for refugees seeking asylum in Europe. As families and young men – even unaccompanied minors – flee the Taliban (or other repressive regimes) they enter Europe as unwelcomed guests. Risking their lives for freedom and opportunity, they cross the boarder from Turkey into Greece and are “welcomed” at a reception center. However, there is no fresh orange juice, no picnic areas, and no information center offering maps or other travel advice. Rather, in the local vernacular, reception center has come to mean jail.
Although these reception-prisons were designed to house 250 or so refugees, they now house easily double that figure. At least in the minds of refugees, cruelty and brutality are the norm at such centers. The situation at these centers is an affront to God’s desire to see justice among the nations. It is too easy to pick on Greece – to condemn the conditions at these reception centers. That’s not my point. The problems aren’t that simple, nor are the solutions. However, this is not to suggest that we should do nothing. Let’s begin with prayer.
Below is a video from a “reception center” on the Greek island of Lesvos: