For a vivid account of the refugee crisis, look no further than Kate Kleinsasser. She and her husband, Eric, are two dynamic Christians serving with i58 Greece on the island of Lesvos.
One of my friends, a 23-year-old African girl, has a signature story. She was sold to a madam at 15 years old when her mother died (she never knew her father). In Africa, the girls are subjected to demonic ritual abuse. A voodoo curse is put on them so that, if they ever think of leaving, the curse will come upon them. It’s very effective. Most of the girls end up just staying in the trafficking community. My friend lived an extremely hard life; she stopped counting the number of abortions after 18. Because she had a very deep love for God, she desperately wanted to come out of it. A local church tried to help her, but her madam found out, took her to a tattoo shop, and branded her arm.
On down the road, she decided there was no hope – she drank kerosene. But it didn’t touch her body. She says now that “God told me not to fear those who can kill the body, but him who can kill the body and the soul.”
From there, she ended up in the Middle East – a living hell on earth. She tried to escape one time; now she has scars across her back and circular scars on her wrists. Her stomach was also branded when she refused a client that God had warned her about. God had given her a dream about a man that was HIV positive. Sure enough, this same man came a couple of days later, so she slipped away. When the brothel owners found out, they slashed her stomach.
Later, she became pregnant again. Because she was anxious that the brothel owners might sell her baby, she ran. She actually made it away.
When we met her on Lesvos, she was in a group of about fifteen new arrivals and she spoke English well. Her head was high; she walked like somebody that’s conquered the world. But just two days ago, she tried to commit suicide. She feels like she’s done so much sin, so much nasty, so much trash that the blood of Jesus can’t forgive all of it. She thinks she just has to kill herself. She says the voices of all the babies she aborted are crying to her from the ground. And yet, her dream is to start a restoration home for other girls – she even drew a map of how this restoration home would look. “If there’s no story, there’s no glory,” she says. “A wounded lion is not a dead lion. It will roar again.” So she says those things and tries to keep her courage up.
What happens when they move on from Lesvos? Are there any long-term solutions? Where do these women go?
I’ll briefly tell you what our long-term goal is. Eric and I are preparing to be Destinations International workers – the proposal is going through in January, so we look forward to seeing the project approved. DNI is a long-term organization focused on church planting with unreached people groups. What they offer has fit what we need for Europe. Eric and I want to work with a team that’s dedicated – maybe even to a lifetime of working with refugees and women at risk. I am a nurse with my certificate in crisis and trauma care, but I am hoping to enroll into classes at Liberty for crisis counseling.
Right now, there are over 600 brothels in Athens and there’s very little support for refugees because of the mass amount moving through. It’s tremendously difficult to keep women out of the trafficking communities. Many of them end up dipping low, connecting with a trafficker, and being trafficked on throughout Europe.
So we are hoping to provide more long-term solutions. Our vision would be a safe place in Athens for the women. That could look different ways – a small camp or a hotel, job development, reintegration, and restoration programs. Also, long-term discipleship and church planting need to take place.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s easy for us to commit to a month or three months of working with refugees. You have the feeling of “We’re gonna go and save the world, we’re going to change Moria, we’re going to go take a selfie with the refugee babies.” But that’s not really going to change the statistics long-term.
I love what we’re doing with i58. I love how we have the opportunity to go in and do humanitarian aid. But if we lack the long-term dedication to help refugees and we lack that reckless abandon to the call of God, then there’s very little hope that a dent can be made in the crisis.
I like to think, “What if all this terror and unrest could be counteracted with the good that we know overcomes all evil?” There’s so much darkness flooding into Europe, and I believe it’s the will of God that light counteracts that darkness. As the church arises to engage in the crisis, that can happen. But it’s going to take people who dedicate their lives to the call of the Gospel in Europe and the Middle East.
What can we be doing now?
The refugee crisis is global; there are refugees in all of our major cities. So don’t think you have to go around the world to find a refugee! Volunteering in refugee welcome centers is something that I would love to see our young people do. In Moria, we get to meet the new arrivals and establish some connection with them. If we could do that here in the States, it would be so powerful.
In the Middle East and Europe, there are so many different ways to be actively involved – especially long term. i58 is a volunteer initiative that focuses primarily on humanitarian aid. CAM is going to have an active presence on the island. DNI is, Lord willing, going to become involved in the next year. If you have one month to three months, you can apply and work with i58. If you feel like you’re called to more of a long-term dedication to the work with refugees, CAM and DNI are really incredible opportunities to do that.
We can look at the statistics and become extremely overwhelmed. But if we truly believe we know a good and pure love that overcomes evil, we’ll pray in faith – nothing wavering. We need to be implanting that faith in our hearts, even if it’s as small as a mustard seed. As we do it faithfully, with abandon to the Cross in all our separate corners of the world, we’re going to see things changed. God works in an obedient heart that holds onto the faith that He will change hearts, He will change statistics, He will move mountains.
For more information, check out the following websites:
You can contact Kate personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Amanda Wenger is a reader. She reads the classics, the Bible, and the signs of the times. She’s probably read your Facebook page. But don’t read into that.|