As we sit here on our comfortable couches in the land of the free, home of the brave, the only access we have to the story of a refugee is what we see on TV. The media gives us their version, the public comments on their view, but in reality we are not accessing the best source of information—the actual people who are known as refugees and their stories.
How would you define a refugee? What is your current perception of a person who would be considered a refugee? One of the biggest “a-ha” moments during our time in Greece was the realization that a refugee is someone with education and skills established in their home country. Many of the people we met had thriving jobs with college degrees or specialized training. Some were homeowners or business owners just like you and me. These are men and women that have faced violence, torture, persecution and even potential death for worshipping God.
During our time in Greece, we met countless refugees who were able to share their personal stories and victories of escaping persecution. With these stories of victory also came details of despair. Many escaped on foot, a dangerous journey that took months. Others piled onto overcrowded rafts. Some did not make it to tell their story.
One of the most notable people we met was S—a gentleman I came to know very well from all of our time spent in the kitchen preparing meals for the refugees who came to Voice of Truth. S arrived in Greece by raft, coming before his wife and two children who he had to leave in their home country. S was one of the lucky ones who made the journey safely. Many others were not so lucky. S witnessed people being thrown overboard on the raft from violent waves, drowning at sea. He watched families lose loved ones instantly, in an effort to pursue religious freedom and escape persecution.
You would never know these stories unless you pursued the people we met. The warmth and joy that they showed us was something to be admired. Every day they wake up with a sincere appreciation for where they are in the current moment. They were truly an encouragement to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Written by Marissa Cifarelli
Mission Posts Editor: Betsy Abraham