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A lot of people ask: “What happens with all these people that say they believed in Jesus?” Our answer is that many of those who have truly accepted Jesus Christ in their life continue, like the first Christians, to talk about Him wherever they may be. For God’s glory and the encouragement of all those who support this ministry, we report some true stories of refugees who have accepted Jesus and talk about Him wherever they are.
“H” from Afghanistan… took the path of immigration and arrived in Athens. Searching for food, shelter, bath, clothes, company, he came to our center. There, he found food and company, but, above all, he had the opportunity for the first time in his life to hear about Jesus Christ. One day, he prayed with us asking for salvation, and continued learning about how to live like a Christian. He eventually gave his testimony publicly and got baptised.
After a while, he continued his journey into Europe and arrived in Belgium. There, he sought to find other Christians so that they could worship God together. At the church he found, he met another Afghan refugee who had also become a Christian at Helping Hands. That was when his faith grew and so he continued talking to others about Christ. In the meantime, the Belgian state granted him asylum and a Belgian passport, so he could travel legally. God then called him to preach the Gospel to his own ethnic group. Obeying Him, he left the safety and security that Belgium offered and returned to Turkey in order to preach the Gospel to thousands of Afghans who live there.
In October 2005, he started his first home gathering, to which 12 Afghan people came and heard about Christ for the first time. The Sunday after that, 13 Afghan people participated, one of whom prayed, with a crushed heart, for salvation. He was an Afghan judge. The Taliban had killed his whole family and, in order to escape, he fled to Europe. He was deported fifteen times from various countries, the last one being in February 2005. Two Turkish soldiers transported him to Iranian borders. Before leaving him there, one of the soldiers said to him: “Look around you. The snow is plenty and it’s extremely cold. The first Iranian village is 12 hours away. Even if you have the strength to walk, wolves will eat you up. You will surely die. On this side is Turkey. The first Turkish village is three kilometers away. We will leave you here because I am Christian and I will not be able to face my Savior, Jesus Christ, one day if I let you die”. And he continued after giving him 30 dollars: “Remember that today you are alive because of Jesus. So live for Him”.
Until that time, the Afghan judge knew nothing about Jesus. This experience was constantly in his mind for the next months to come, until someone invited him to the gathering the Afghan man from Belgium had organized. There, he met Jesus and started truly living for Him!
Will you look at that! A Muslim refugee comes to Athens and receives the love and care of God’s children at Helping Hands. He believes in God. He grows in faith and matures spiritually in Belgium. God then calls him to go to Turkey and, while risking his own life, preach to Afghan people. There, God sends another Afghan man, a judge, prepared by a Turkish Christian soldier, to listen to the former’s message and be born again! Isn’t that how it was done during the beginning of Christianity? One sows and another reaps… and God saves!
During one the Christmas programs in December 2015, we hosted over 170 refugees, men, women and children. When we opened our doors and the refugees started coming in, we saw an Iranian woman, who had arrived with her children, going straight towards our team member, who was at the time talking on the mic, offering instructions to the refugees about the night’s schedule. The Iranian woman asked for the mic in order to say something to her ethnic group. Our coworker didn’t quite understand what it was that she wanted, so she called me (Nikos) over to intervene.
I went up to her and asked her: “What is it that you want? How can I help you?” With very few English words and a lot of hand gestures, she said: “Me… Muslim, you… Protest… I want to be… you!” I then asked her: “ Do you mean that you are a Muslim and I am a Protestant?” With much enthusiasm, she answered: “Yes, yes… can I be like you?” With some disbelief, I asked her again: “Do you mean that I am Christian? And you want to become a Christian too?” Without much consideration to her surroundings, she yelled: “Yes! I want to be Christian! Can I become a Christian right now?… Can I?… Can I become a Christian?” I then called two women from our group to join her at the table and talk while eating dinner. But she did not want to eat. She insisted that she wanted to become a Christian· Our teammates invited her to a private room along with her children. The woman pointed to an Iranian couple that was sitting with them at the table and said: “Can they come too, because they also want to become Christians today! They had heard about Jesus at a home gathering in Iran, but they were afraid for their life and stopped going. But today, they want to be Christians!” During the conversation, the Iranian woman said: “We had heard about Jesus in Turkey, but we were in a rush for our journey to Europe and we didn’t have the time to learn more about Him. I have to become a Christian today!”
That day, four Iranian refugees accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord! As soon as they got out of the office and entered the main hall, the Iranian woman got hold of the mic and said to all the refugees: “Today I accepted Jesus into my heart and I know where I will go when I die. From this day on, I am a Christian!” How courageous and brave for a woman, alone, to publicly declare that she believes in Christ! You can go to the ‘News’ page and read more stories of refugees whose lives were changed by God.
Easter, we find, is the ultimate opportunity to share our faith, especially since it is a piece of our Greek culture and is nationally celebrated as a religious holiday. At Helping Hands we usually celebrate with large meals, however this year we creatively transformed our plans into a Passion Week Easter egg hunt at the National Park.
Over the course of four days, 12 families per day were individually invited in 30-minute intervals to experience the gospel story through games, snapshots of story-telling and a 3-minute video from the gospel of Matthew sharing the resurrection story using a www.Bible.is video. At the end of their scavenger hunt through the park, each person received a traditional Easter sweet bread and red egg which represents the blood of Christ shed for all, reminding us of His incredible grace and love. They were also sent home with a Bible in Farsi, an easter colouring book and colours for the children and an SD card containing 2 videos from the Bible Project on the Crucifixion & Resurrection.
As we later sat to talk about our experiences in the park, I was touched to hear about a family whom members of our team had met only weeks before in another park. The wife overheard them speaking of their faith and excitedly chimed in, wanting to share her newly found faith in Christ and gratefully sharing how her husband no longer beats her since they started following Christ.
Their journey led them to the island of Lesvos where they came to accept Christ as their savior and were baptised. They traveled to Thessaloniki and ended up in Athens where God’s sovereignty brought them to us. She had said she didn’t know very much about her new faith but was eager to join a Bible study as soon as they would be allowed to meet. Her family was invited to the Easter program and the couple had so many questions, intrigued by all the teaching. The woman was so touched when she heard Mary, Christ’s mother was a witness to His suffering.
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