UN World Refugee Day: Reaching modern-day Hagars
By Soula Isch | International in Internacionales
The well-known story of Hagar in the book of Genesis is being repeated over and over again today. Hagar, as you may know, was a slave girl who fled from Sarah, her abusive mistress into the desert with her child - the child she conceived when given to Abraham, her master. Hagar had few rights and even fewer hopes for her future as a runaway slave.
In recent years, many women like Hagar have come to Europe after being expelled from their countries because of war or in an attempt to find a better future for the babies they hold in their arms and the children they try to keep close to them as they walk around in the cities, looking for help, for a shelter. They can't go back home, and yet they have nowhere else to go.
I have watched them in my home country of Greece and my heart goes out for them. Like Hagar in the Bible, we do not know their back story. We do not know what they are running from, what they have left behind.
These women are wandering here and there; they do not know where to go. They are led to the ports of Turkey and Libya, where sometimes people profit from their situation by promising them a great future if they give money so they can go to Europe. I have met many of them and asked them their story.
These refugees come from various countries, but especially from Syria and from West Africa. Many of them settle in refugee centres provided by the government. My home church in northern Greece has done a lot to help them practically and make their life easier while they are waiting to go to other European countries.
I am very proud of my fellow Greeks, both Christians and non-Christians. Although they still face their own economic crisis, Greek citizens have been doing all they can to help these refugees, especially single women with children. They have provided clothing and other essentials for these refugee women and their children. Even though the refugees do not speak the local language, Greek helpers have been able to connect with them and make them feel welcome.
I have visited the Day Care Centre in Thessaloniki, where refugees - both men and women - come to get material help but also have the opportunity to hear about God’s love with someone who speaks their language.
Free Christian literature and New Testaments are always available at places like the Day Care Center in different languages. A friend of mine has provided technical support for many of these centers, especially in the refugee camps in northern Greece, so that people in need can access the Internet through their phones.
This support allows refugees to communicate with their families back home or with family members who have already gone to other European countries. Having a way to connect has been a tremendous help and has also offered a unique way to share the gospel.
There are many ways you can help ease the pain of the Hagars of our time, men and women, young people and children who are homeless and strangers in foreign lands. In the story of Hagar in the Bible, God revealed himself and spoke to that frightened single mother with tenderness and compassion.
I am sure that God wants to use us today to show love and offer the gospel to the Hagars of our time so that they may continue their life’s journey with hope.
Contact SIM today to find out how you can help serve refugees and share the love of Christ with modern-day Hagars who need Him.