From the beginning of time, God has always been a rescuer and a redeemer. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God offering redemption to His people time and time again. God’s ultimate plan for rescue was sending His son so that all may be redeemed and know Him. Today God’s heart is the same and He desires that we as the church join in His plan for rescue both by sharing the redemption story of Jesus and by responding to needs when they arise. A massive need has arisen as millions of refugees are making their way across Europe in search for safety, a new life, and in search of hope in what seems to be a hopeless situation.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Frankfurt, Germany as part of an exploratory trip with a few other pastors from churches that we are partnering with to form a base camp in Frankfurt. It’s one thing to hear about the Refugee Crisis, to watch the news, and to read articles, but until I actually arrived in Germany and had the opportunity to talk to refugees, hear their stories, and see how this crisis has affected them, I really didn’t understand the reality of what is going on and what God is doing.
The refugees that I encountered shared about the scary and expensive journey they’ve made, including the loss of friends and family along the way, facing severe weather, sleeping on the streets, and lack of food or warmth. They are desperately seeking an escape from the oppression that is happening in their homes which is why they are willing to risk their lives for this journey. Because the West is viewed as predominately Christian, these refugees are expecting to hear about Jesus. They are hungry to learn about who He is; they are hungry for hope. We are in a unique time in history where entire nations are traveling to us! God is looking to offer rescue and redemption to these people and He wants to partner with us. Already, Muslims are coming to know Jesus in unprecedented numbers. While in Frankfurt, we had people ask us outright to tell them how to become a Christian, telling us they were tired of Islam and wanted something different. These people are looking for Jesus.
One of the things I saw so clearly on my trip is that prayer and intercession paves the way for God to move. One specific man we spoke with had left Afghanistan about a year ago. Before he left, the Taliban had cut off part of his finger just to instill fear in him. He told us that the boat he traveled on was only 5x3 meters but there were sixty people on board. Only half survived the journey. As my friend Colby was speaking to this man, the rest of us felt lead to stand about twenty feet away to pray over their conversation. After about an hour of listening to this man share his story, Colby asked him if they could pray together. The man agreed and Colby prayed, asking Jesus to reveal Himself. As they prayed, the man closed his eyes and said: “I see this beautiful light. I hear a voice saying, ‘You belong to me. Come and follow me.’” Before this moment, the man had seemed uninterested in hearing about Jesus, now he didn’t want to open his eyes because he was encountering the love and presence of Jesus in such a powerful way. Right then, this man gave his life to Jesus! Additionally, the whole day had been bleak and overcast, but when they asked Jesus to reveal Himself, the sun broke through the clouds! This alone was amazing, but what was also so powerful was that the things the man was seeing and experiencing, were the very things that we were asking God to do while we prayed twenty feet away. It was incredible to see how powerful prayer is.
This trip stirred my faith in so many ways. It showed me again that God is the same God yesterday, today and forever. He rescues us so that we can be part of rescuing cities, nations and the world. He desires for us to co-labor with him. I believe that we have to respond as a church to this crisis. Not all of our responses will look the same, but there are three things I want to call us to consider doing: to pray, to give, or to go. As a church, it is our turn to partner with God and respond to this need. We can be part by praying for the refugees, praying for the Gospel to be advanced, and praying for the people who are there ministering. We can give of our time or money. And lastly, we can go. This summer our church will be sending multiple trips to Frankfurt to be part of a base camp where many refugees are ending their long journey across Europe. If you are interested in one of these trips, please visit www.engagethecrisis.com. I know that God has a part for all of us to play and I believe we will see great things as we step out in obedience.