A year ago I came to Europe to attend a conference as part of trying to figure out what was going on with my life! As with EVERY decision in my life I had an annoyingly difficult time committing one way or another. I wanted to go, or course, but there were, what seemed to be a million reasons I shouldn’t. Thankfully, God consistently puts people in my life that tell me what to do, often without realizing they are telling me what to do! Let’s be real…that is how we all want it! (Insert quote from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” here) So, smarter than me friends came alongside me and confirmed that it was important that I go. Thankfully, I did go. This trip included Vienna, where God lined it up so that I was able to be with my dear friend as she dealt with losing her dad, and other critical appointments there. Then to Sicily, the purpose of the trip, for the Refugee Highway Partnership conference where God made is VERY clear these were my people and this is what he had for me.
So, that was in February and I moved to Vienna at the end of July. I had ZERO idea what was actually going to happen, and I just took the step to go, and it is really fantastic to look back and actually see what God did!
Cut to a few weeks ago, in Budapest, where I attended the same conference that was so instrumental last year. This year I joined a couple incredible women in presenting a workshop specifically on the needs of refugee children and youth. I was NOT the smartest, or most qualified in the room to present, but God loves to just throw me out there like that. Super fun. It was so great to reconnect with those who I met last year, and several people from my organization. And, of course, as a flaming extrovert I loved meeting new people and networking with so many passionate people who are loving refugees and the Church in Europe.
Here are some things I want to share:
1) The “refugee situation” is far from solved, and far from over. Many borders have been closed, so countries like Austria, don’t see the thousands that are still desperate for a chance. Countries like Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Serbia are flooded with refugees who are just stuck. In some places all they have are make-shift camps and thankfully the winter is almost over, but the suffering isn’t. To appease those that stand with refugees ,countries have a quota of how many can cross the border each day. This number is usually around 5, when there are thousands waiting, and you can imagine the corruption that surrounds such slight chances. Heartbreakingly, with these conditions human trafficking is only increasing.
2) We are better together. One exciting thing is how much churches and organizations are working together. We need each other. From the people on the front lines in the camps, to those helping refugees resettle or journey on, to those creating resources and advocating for bigger tables not walls. To those who pray, who keep reading and learning, who refuse to close their eyes, and watch for opportunities to speak messages of hope in the midst of fear. We are better together!
3) There is hope. Great things are happening on small and big stages, and we simply can’t give up. Keep loving anyway.
I will leave you with a quote from a book I am loving, “Out of Sorts” by Sarah Bessey:
“ One soul is as valuable as thousands, millions. One soul is as important as ninety-nine. One soul is worth leaving behind everything to rescue. If there is one soul in your care one face in your loving gaze, one hand you are holding, then you are holding the world. The work you do today, the love you give and receive and lavish on the seemingly small people and tasks—-all of this “little” things tip the scales of justice and mercy in our world. Everything we do, from the mundane to the glamorous to the difficult and all points between, can testify.”