This summer our church sent 15 interns to Frankfurt, Germany to be part of Engage the Crisis, a relief effort of the Antioch Movement, which was created to care for the large number of refugees currently entering Europe. The heart of ETC is to draw Muslims to Jesus and mobilize this generation to share the love of Christ with these refugees. Along with the interns, we also sent 8 teams from our church, totaling 120 people, to be part of ETC. Overall, it was a powerful summer, and we loved getting to hear some of the testimonies this past week at church.
Katie Mccolister, our associate college pastor, was a base leader in Frankfurt. On Sunday, she shared about some of the things our teams experienced while in Germany. Overall, we saw many healings, signs and wonders, and people being touched by the power of God. Our interns and teams were able to share the Gospel, pray with people, and listen to people's stories. The act of just listening was one of the most meaningful things we could offer, as many of the refugees needed an opportunity to process their experiences, which were traumatic and life altering. Over and over, our hearts were broken as we listened, but we were so thankful to be able to respond with compassion and love. We pray that people experienced the compassion and love of Jesus by our teams sitting with and listening to each person we encountered.
Another practical area of ministry, was getting to play with refugee kids. Soccer, bubbles, chalk, engaging with the kids was a practical way to love them as well as a blessing to their parents, providing opportunity to enter into conversation. Additionally, having kids on our ETC teams was a blessing and lead to opportunities to share the love of Jesus with parents. Matthew and Jillian Armstrong, our Young Adult Pastors, brought their one year old daughter, Hattie, to Germany. Everywhere they went, refugees loved to play with Hattie and affectionately pinch her cheeks. One afternoon, Jillian took Hattie to the park to play. While there, Jillian was able to engage in conversation with a mother from Afghanistan. She shared her story of crossing the sea on a raft, fearing for her life and the life of her children. In Afghanistan, she had experienced oppression, and was not allowed to teach because she was a woman. Jillian was able to share with this woman that she was created in the image of God, and that He specifically loved her and had gifted her as a woman. She also prayed over her, blessing her family and her desire to teach. It was powerful to see that God used children playing at the park to orchestrate this conversation.
On Sunday, Katie shared the story of Sarah, a woman who had been in a car accident and was in consistent pain on a daily basis. Katie met Sarah, and heard her story, listening to and loving her. A few days later, Katie was spending time with God in the morning and every time she closed her eyes, she saw a vision of Sarah being healed. To respond in faith, Katie invited a couple interns to join her to go pray with Sarah. One of the problems Sarah had was that one of her legs was longer than the other, causing much of her pain. As the girls prayed for her, they witnessed her leg grow! Sarah said she felt fire throughout her body, and that when they finished praying, all the pain was gone! The women all rejoiced and praised God together.
Another of our interns, Todd, had the opportunity to meet Jacob, an Iranian living in Frankfurt. Jacob is a Christian, and had to flee Iran because of his faith in Jesus. As they spent time together, Jacob shared that he battled great amounts of anxiety and depression, but as he hung out with Todd and other interns, talking about Jesus and praying together, his anxiety and depression went away! Another time because of the language barrier, Todd thought that Jacob said to him that he'd never washed his hair. Todd was confused, but brushed it off as a cultural difference. Later when they were studying the Bible together, Todd realized that Jacob had been trying to say that he'd never been baptized! Todd explained the meaning of baptism, and Jacob expressed his desire to proclaim his faith in Jesus in that way, so on one of his last days in Frankfurt, Todd got to baptize Jacob!
Hilary, who was part of the Young Adult trip, shared on Sunday that what impacted her most from her time in Frankfurt, was getting to interact with and hear the stories of the refugees. Her entire perspective and understanding of Muslims was altered because of the trip, and she was able to see them through the eyes of Jesus rather than in ways our culture and media portray. Many people on our teams had this same experience!
These are just some of the many stories that our interns and teams have of seeing God move in power. We are so thankful that we got to partner with God this summer, seeing people healed, give their lives to Jesus, and most of all extending the love of God to refugees in tangible ways.