This April, Dan Vorm lead a group from Fellowship Bible Church and Good Shepherd (Oregon) to Lesvos, Greece to serve the refugee community living there. I asked Dan to share with us a little about this trip. The picture he paints shows how our prayers are needed and how much this team was appreciated.
While on break from setting up tents under an unrelenting sun, a Greek volunteer turned and offered some necessary perspective: “Don’t let anyone fool you…these people are thrilled to be here. As tough as things are, things are a lot worse where they came from”.
That was saying something, but I knew it was true.
Refugees had shown me cell phone pictures of bomb-flattened apartment buildings and told of losing loved-ones while running from war. Some talked of rape and abuse at the hands of Turkish authorities before finally boarding rubber rafts for the shores of Greece. Nearly all spoke of smugglers who over-promised for sake of greedy gain.
Still…worse than Moria? I knew it was true, but it was a harsh truth; Moria is no picnic.
Recently, a small team from Fellowship—in tandem with a team from Good Shepherd Community Church in Oregon—spent a week at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, serving with EuroRelief, a Christian organization tasked with providing logistics for the camp.
Inside its concrete walls and razor-wire fences now live some 7,000 people, inhabiting a space made for one third that many. Facilities are pressed beyond limits—toilets and showers are often out of order, sleeping quarters are past capacity, and food and water are given at a bare minimum. And then there’s the hot Greek sun, it’s heat magnified by the camp’s concrete roads and walls.
When I visited last summer, when Moria had half its current population, it was the heat and boredom that demoralized its inhabitants. Now it’s the crushing number of people that weighs down their spirits. And still the boats keep coming….
We set up tents for families, served tea to new arrivals, and helped guard areas set aside for the most vulnerable of the camp’s population. The long hot days left us physically and emotionally undone. Yet we felt honored to serve these precious refugees and to hear their stories firsthand—stories of heartache and loss, yet filled with hope for the future.
The asylum process can be long—some will spend two years in Moria before learning if they’ll remain in Europe or be sent home. Tensions run high and violence is common, especially between ethnic groups that bear centuries-old grievances.
Yet, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the Spirit of the Living God can be found decisively at work. The Lord is moving through each EuroRelief volunteer, through gentle acts of service, through burgeoning church services and ministry centers accessible outside of camp, and in the refugees who notice Him and quietly ask, “There’s something different about you…what is it”?
A narrow slip of water, just eight kilometers wide, separates the Middle East from Europe. That millions have braved its crossing is one of the pressing stories of our time.
Yet for us, the greater story is this: the same stretch of water, for some, has become a birth canal to new life in Jesus.
And still they keep coming…