45 minutes in the clothing tent of a refugee camp

Every once in a while we get to go on what we call a "Pastoral Visit", which is where we get to spend a week with one of our DTS outreach teams to check in on the staff are and students to make sure everything is going well while on outreach. At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to visit our Ship DTS outreach team in Greece. The team was on the island of Lesvos working primarily in a refugee camp. In this post I wanted to share a story about one 45 minute conversation I had with a refugee. 

If you would like to hear more of the heart of this experience, I suggest you read the following blog post by the leader of the outreach team that I visited. Her name is Micah Madsen and she has an incredible way with words.


If you want to read about what has been happening in the camp since I was there, you can check out this blog about the recent riots


my favorite 45 minutes in Greece

I was in the clothing tent, where clothing is gathered and sorted. We'd go out in the morning and take clothing orders from mostly new arrivals but without fail as soon as you walk by someone would ask you for clothes or shoes. Once the orders are taken, we head back to the clothing tent to fulfill the orders and then take them back and deliver them to the people at their tents. On this particular day, we had the second shift (4pm-12am), so by the time we started most of the clothing tent activity is done for the day.

So we were in the clothing tent trying to stay busy, but slowly the last few groups of volunteers headed out to deliver clothing and one of the refugee translators pulls me aside and starts asking me questions. By this time I had told this particular translator that I am a full-time missionary with my family and that I have been doing it for close to 15 years. So his first question to me was... "So are you a high missionary?" To which I chuckled and said, no I'm just a missionary. Then he said, well I'd like to ask you some questions about Christianity and we began having a casual conversation. Before I knew it almost everyone was outside of the tent so he asked if we could sit on the floor and continue talking.

As this was taking place, one of our Mexican DTS students, Ernesto was nearby and I asked him if he wanted to join us. Ernesto being the evangelist that he is, jumped at the opportunity and almost immediately it felt like we were the last ones in the clothing tent. So our translator friend continued with the questions and the tables turned and I became the translator, mediating a conversation between these two young guys from completely different parts of the world, one from Syria, the other from Mexico. What unfolded in that 45 minute conversation in the clothing tent will stay with me forever. 

For me it was an honor to have someone who I had met only three days before reach out and ask me about the Gospel. It was an privilege to to help bridge the Gospel from Mexico to Syria by translating. In the conversation that ensued, Ernesto took our friend through pretty much the entire history of the church, answering questions that were asked. The conversation didn't end with our friend praying the sinners prayer, but as the volunteers mysteriously returned at the end of our conversation he was left with a clear understanding of the Gospel, no more questions and best of all no more excuses.

My prayer is that our friend will continue in his quest to find out who God is and that someone will pick up where we left off.