Our ministry center (Athens Refugee Center – or ARC) has been open for three weeks now. It’s been fantastic to have a central place to invite our refugee friends, to provide a bit of respite from the pressure (and at times, abuse) of the streets. A few snapshots:
* Yesterday, at any given time, you could count five to ten young Afghan men with their heads down on a table, trying desperately to secure a few minutes of rest – something so elusive when you’re forced to make your home in a busy urban park. Despite the noise and activities of the ARC, it offered these refugees a safe and peaceful place to rest, to forget the perils of refugee life in Athens, even if just for a few minutes. Pray for these young men!
* Walking into the Kids’ Room, you can see the kids’ artwork hanging proudly from the walls. Paper and paint… but so much more. It’s a lesson in self-confidence; a lesson in what is possible. Many of the kids we work with have only known crisis; they were born as refugees; they were born into trauma. This room provides an environment of love and safety – a kid-centered and Christ-centered place. Please pray for these children!
* In one corner of the room, you can see a teammate paging through the Bible with a refugee (from Azerbaijan) who has questions about Jesus. Their conversation continues for twenty minutes. At the same time, an Afghan refugee is sharing the hope that he has found in Jesus with a newly arrived Afghan. A seed is planted. Please pray for the spiritually curious, those with questions about Jesus and the Bible! Pray for understanding, faith, and courage.
* Our teammate Susie wrote about another scene that she witnessed recently: “There were two ladies that were sitting at one of the tables near the back wall. I had never seen them before. The thing that was remarkable about these women was that they were glued to the TV set that was showing the Jesus film in Farsi. I spoke to them a bit and they responded to me, but would then turn away and look back at the TV. So I left them alone to watch the movie. At one point my teammate Tasha came to me and said, “those ladies are crying.” She realize that they were so moved by the Jesus film that they were in tears. Near the end of the film I went back to sit with them. They said it was the first time they saw this movie. They were surprised that Jesus was raised from the dead. It brought me to tears just about as I sat with them and “watched” the movie through their eyes. Please pray for these ladies.”