A Problem Too Big to Solve-Part 2

Moria Refugee Camp

Moria camp 07-2019

Since my first post about the situation in the Moria Refugee Camp this past February, following my first trip there, I have spent additional time there in March, May, July and three weeks this past October.  One thing that is constant about the current refugee crisis in Greece is this:  everything changes–month to month, week to week, day to day and sometimes hour by hour.  When the camp was initially opened the plan was to house between 2,600 to about 3,000 people.  This last week the totals went over 16,000!

There are plans to move more people from the islands to the mainland in the next few weeks but the crisis itself is far from over.  With Turkey’s recent excursion into Syria there are threats from the Turkish government to release the 2.6 million official refugees in that country to go to Europe.  So, as you can see the problem is still there and growing despite the silence from the mainstream media.

Each time I have been to Moria and spent time visiting with those in the camp listening to their stories, my heart breaks.  It breaks because I realize the devastation they have been through in simply trying to find a safe place for their family.  It breaks because of the realization that sin literally kills people.  It breaks because of the separation of family members–husbands from wives, mothers and fathers from their children and the lack of knowledge of what happened to them.   Are they still alive or have they been killed, did they make the trip to Europe or die along the way?  It breaks because of a lack of hope that things will improve for them.  Will they ever have a place other than a summer tent large enough for two or an isobox shared with other families in an overcrowded refugee camp?  It breaks because they have become pawns sandwiched between governments, corrupt politicians and those who are making money off their suffering. It breaks because I know that without Jesus, there is no hope!

Here is a quick snapshot of hope on the faces of the refugees who have fled their home countries of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc., because of persecution, war and terrorism.  This group of refugees has just left Turkey in a rubber dinghy and is headed for what they think will be a safe haven in Europe.

 

What they haven’t realized yet is what awaits them once they land in “the promised land” of Europe.  One organization with which we are beginning to partner is EuroRelief.  Here is video which they have just released giving you a look inside the camp and at the lives of some refugee survivors.

EuroRelief Refugee stories

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” 

Psalm 9:18 says this. “But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.” 

For many years the church has been focusing its prayers on sending workers into the 10/40 window.  As the Joshua Project describes it, “The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt” and includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.”

1040window_map

 

Over the last several years God has been sending the peoples in the 10/40 window to us.  Unfortunately, we as the universal church, weren’t really ready.  They are still coming but the window may shut at any time.  We must be present with them–we must show by our lives and words that the only true hope lies in knowing Jesus Christ.

Will you be involved?  How?  By going–we need God’s people there demonstrating in person the love of Christ!  Talk to us about going as individuals or as a church group.  By praying–we need God’s strength daily to prepare us for the spiritual, physical and emotional battles of the day.  By giving–to support the ministries and people who are there.

Thank you in advance for engaging in the battle with us!

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A Problem Too Big to Solve?

This post will be the first in a series regarding refugees, primarily focusing on the situation Europe is facing. 

Over the past few years the numbers of people groups moving across the face of the globe has consistently been growing.  For Europe the peak numbers arriving was in 2015 when the continent took in over 1 million refugees.  In the years 2016-2018 the number of people fleeing to Europe was close to another million people.  People are still coming day after day now in 2019.

This past week I had the privilege and challenge of going to the Greek island of Lesbos where the Moria Refugee Camp is located.  The camp was erected in 2015 with the plan of housing up to 3,000 people temporarily before they would be relocated to another European country.  Unfortunately, that number grew as people continued to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey and an equal number were not being relocated to the mainland.   At one point the camp hosted close to 10,000 people!

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The entrance to the Moria Refugee Camp

There are five main islands in Greece, hotspots, where refugees are being held for processing.  This does not include camps on the mainland or in other European countries.  The map below gives an idea of the magnitude of the issue at hand in Greece alone.

Greece Refugee map

In early 2016 it was apparent that something had to be done to curtail the numbers of refugees coming into Europe.  On 18 March 2016, the EU and Turkey adopted a non-binding document commonly known as the EU-Turkey deal, designed with the sole purpose of deterring refugees from arriving to Europe.  It basically was a swap policy–the EU would pay Turkey up to 6 billion Euros for helping hold the flood of people back from coming across to European countries.  In politicians minds the deal has been a success but the situation on the ground tells a much different story:

“People are in absolute despair. The reception conditions are still catastrophic. People will end up living in tents or 25 people in one container, including children that are getting sick again and again and again because they don’t have enough fresh air and they are not protected. Parents can’t keep their children clean and healthy. Hundreds of people have to use the same toilets or shower that are not being adequately maintained. There have been some improvements, but we still have double or more the capacity of Moria,” according to Louise Roland Gosselin, Médecins Sans Frontières’ Head of Mission in Greece.

Moria is the most crowded hotspot in the Greek islands of the Aegean. In total, the islands currently hold more than 13,500 refugees, while their capacity, in hotspots and other facilities, is less than 9000. Lesbos hosts more than 7,400 people, 5,400 of whom live in the hotspot of Moria which has a capacity of up to 3000.  Outside the official camp is the unofficial “jungle” of Moria where people have erected makeshift living situations from tarps, tents, pallets and cardboard. According to the website OpenMigration, “Riots and violence are constant in almost every hotspot of the Greek islands, but mainly to those that are way over their capacity. After a riot broke out recently in Moria, MSF, who keep an emergency clinic outside the camp, treated 20 people including a six month-old baby who suffered from tear gas inflammation and panic attacks. But riots is only one side of what is happening to Moria. The most devastating consequence of the deal is the effect it has on people’s mental stability: MSF have characterised the conditions on the Greek islands as a mental health emergency.”

So, these are just some of the complex issues involved in the current refugee crisis at Moria and other locations.  What are the avenues to address these problems?  Are they too big to solve?  In a word, for today’s governments, YES!  Between prejudice, corruption and the overwhelming issues it is impossible for man.  However, with every challenge there is an opportunity.

This is where the CHURCH must step in!  We learn throughout history that God uses four main ways to get His “good news” to people:

  • People go voluntarily to another people group (missionaries)
  • People go involuntarily to another people group (job transfer, service in the military, etc.)
  • People come voluntarily to us (student exchange, immigration, etc.)
  • People come involuntarily to us (refugee, war, etc.)

At the present time God is allowing those who have never had a chance to hear the gospel flee to places where the gospel can be heard.  The CHURCH must be present in these locations to serve, love, express hope and comfort those who have suffered so much!  It’s not a question anymore of access…they are here, now!  They are in distress and only the CHURCH has the people and resources to give what is necessary!  The CHURCH must act–that means us, you and me and other members of the body of Christ.  Look for ways to become involved, advocate for the “stranger” and mobilize others to do the same.  We have a choice to obey…or not…but the Scriptures are clear about what our Lord wants from each of us.

Matthew 25:34-46

Galatians 6:2

James 1:27

Psalm 67:2

Acts 20:24

IMG-20190211-WA0116

Our team of two Americans, two Brits and 3 Romanians who served at Moria

 

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10 Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You Pt. 2

Here are numbers 2 & 3 in the article “10 Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You.”

Image result for images of loneliness

2. It is lonely being a missionary.

You won’t ever see this in a mission letter. We will tell stories of fun things and great times. We will be upbeat and happy and post photos of our family Christmas party.

You won’t see us posting videos of us crying or hear us complain about missing friends, but we do; and the harsh thing is that they do not always miss us. When we were planing on going to the mission field, we interviewed 10 different missionary families. We talked to people who were single, married, married with kids and older missionaries. I asked them a question: “What is the hardest part of being a missionary?” Their answer, all 10 of them at separate occasions without any knowledge of what others had said, replied, “Loneliness. After the first year people forget about you. Sometimes even your best friend will not continue communicating with you unless you initiate it first. ”

“The truth is that understanding why something happens does not mean that it doesn’t hurt.”

We decided to fight against this, and using Facebook and social media, along with monthly communications and blogs, we knew that we would stay in touch with our friends. What surprised us was how quickly they did not want to stay in touch with us. Oh, we understand that their lives are busy and we have moved. The truth is that understanding why something happens does not mean that it doesn’t hurt. This goes along with the first thing…not being part of the culture. We don’t feel like we have a home, but we do feel like those from our previous home have forgotten us.

3. We are normal people.  

Many people think that missionaries are some sort of super Christian. We are one step up from being a pastor, and if you are a missionary pastor then even the Apostle Paul envies your spirituality. :0) You won’t be reading in a missionary letter, “This week I did not spend hardly any time in the Word, got mad at my wife, yelled at my children and was jealous after seeing photos on Facebook.” We won’t report that, but it is the truth sometimes.  We are normal people seeking to honor Christ even though we are weak and fragile vessels. We sin, repent, sin, repent, and then repeat. We are like you.

So what are your thoughts on these two points?  Have you ever considered them before?  What is something that you might do differently now that you have this information?

Please comment and let us know!

Dave and Beth

 

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Ten Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You

Sorry for the long absence!  Sometimes I get bogged down or am simply uninspired.  However, I came across this fantastic article that I want to share with you.  It’s rather lengthy though, so I am going to break it down point by point.  There is so much to digest in it, that this will also allow some thoughts to percolate rather than trying to take a drink from the proverbial fire hose!

The whole article, by Joe Holman can be found here, as well as on my personal Facebook page here, if you’d like to read it all at once.  He said everything so well that I figure there is no sense in trying to do a rewrite.  I might add a few notes of my own, but I’ll put those in a different color and font.  So, without any further ado, here is the introduction and first point of “Ten Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You”.  

‘I am going out on a limb here, so I have to put some disclaimers up in advance.

Disclaimer number one…I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! This blog is pointing out the bad aspects that you will not normally hear us say. It does not mean that I am unhappy or unfulfilled.

Disclaimer number two…I am speaking of feelings and perceptions. I know what the Bible says and can give a counterpoint to each of these. For example, when I share how we feel about shortchanging my children, I know that there are 100 positive things that people can point out to me. I am sharing our heart, how we feel. I don’t need anyone to send me a Bible lesson. 🙂

A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog with this title. It was pretty good, and got me to thinking. So, no copying, but there is some overlapping. Here is what your missionary will not tell you in their newsletter or at your church mission conference. Here is a little of the dark side of missions.

1. Sometimes, most of the time, living in another culture is hard. 

Your missionary will talk about the joy of cross cultural missions and going into all the world. What they won’t tell you is that it isn’t fun most of the time. I was first exposed to this while on a short term trip to Ghana. I was invited to a missionary going away party. A nurse from Canada was returning to her home country after serving on the mission field…get this…for 40 years. She had come to Ghana as a 20-year-old and was now going ‘home.’ During the conversation I asked her how come she was saying that she was going, ‘home.’ If you have lived for all of your adult life, slightly over 40 years, in Ghana and only visited Canada every four years…then isn’t Ghana your home? She told me that no matter how incorporated you are into the culture, no matter how good your ministry, no matter how accepted that you are by the people…you are not one of ‘them.’

I have now been in Bolivia for eight years. I am fluent and have a great ministry here. I love what I do. But I am not at home. I am not a Bolivian. I do not share their cultural history or family ties. When I go to someone’s home to celebrate a birthday or wedding, I am the white guy. I am the stranger. I am the foreigner. When they begin to laugh about family memories or tell stories about relatives, I just smile at the right time. I do not belong. When I go to ‘La Cancha,’ our market place, children stare at me. I had a man visiting us from the States tell me when we were there, “This is weird, we are the only white people in sight.’

It gets old being a stranger. It is hard to not be in the group. It isn’t fun to always be noticed.”

Okay.  So there is point #1.  Let me know what you think about what he said in the comments!

 

 

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Six Lessons Learned from Six Years on the Mission Field

This is a special day for us.  Six years ago, to the day, we stepped out of the familiar to go live in Romania.  Granted, we’d been to RO many times in the previous 5 years or so, but going on a short term mission trip is quite different from moving there.

Jollys Going 091112 from Dave Jolly on Vimeo.

 

I have to say that the title of this post is rather misleading — we haven’t actually finished learning ANYTHING.  We will always be a work in progress, being confident along with Paul in Phil. 1:6 that “He who hath begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” So please understand that these are merely things that we have been learning and not mastered, by any means!

Missionary life turns a great many things into fun, albeit adventurously harsh lessons.Honestly, there are times I feel quite bruised from the learning and raw from the deep, soul-searching digging that goes on to discover heart motives and inner attitudes.

We can’t walk this journey and not have an attitude of learning. We can’t survive each day without the humble knowing that this lesson will spur us further on our faith journeys. We truly can’t grow without a willing bend of self will to the greater Heavenly will.

The life lessons become beneficial when we choose to follow, choose to grow. Choose to be weary in the learning. And these lessons learned, if embraced, are life changing and story altering.

1} Lesson 1: Choose Contentment

This is learned in letting go of comforts. Things like a dishwasher, dryer, garbage disposal or ice maker. No constant AC. Not being able to communicate well. Selling nearly everything. Flying away to a new place with just a few bins for each person. Landing in a new country with seemingly little to replace what was lost. Never feeling settled. Choosing contentment in a minimalist way of living.  Keeping very little to move every year or so with less stress and being truly content  right at this moment. Enjoying each day with just a few loved things.

2} Lesson 2: Slowing Down

Life on the mission field goes at a much slower pace than in the U.S. Days are doable only when you keep a realistic view of what could and should be done in a day. Learn to lower your expectations of yourself and others.  An acceptance of the cultural pauses, the odd business hours and the great amount of time it takes to accomplish just 1 thing. Learning to patiently build relationships and let go of the intense push to finish a task quickly. Changing your view of time in a way that makes time for people, life and conversations. Knowing that your worth is not dependent on the amount  of daily performance and production. Knowing you are valuable when all visible markers of worth and success are stripped away.

3} Lesson 3: Deep Dependence

The entire process of missions forces you into a new, deeper, beautiful dependence on God. Learning to depend on Him for every single minute of the day, every provision, every relationship, every trial, every hour of sleep and a million other things you might not have noticed before. Your way of independence is no longer viable. His way, His plan, His purpose for your heart is vitally necessary to survive. Dependence even when you wonder how and why you got on this life path and how God plans to work everything out for good.

4} Lesson 4: Always Be Willing to Learn

Every single day you must learn something new. You must learn new skills, new languages, new processes, new ways of doing things… even new ways to learn those new things. Life is one big lesson of learning. Embrace the learning. And it requires humbling yourself to be taught something new. Learning to laugh at yourself or repeatedly doing it wrong. Choose joy when everyone already knows it or has already learned it. Believe you can keep learning even when it is terribly hard and frustrating. Always be in a mindset of learning and give yourself the space, time and vision to see things completely differently than you ever have before.

5} Lesson 5: Accept Adventure

Missions greatly increases your sense of adventure. Every new experience, new place and new person will challenge and enchance your journey.  You will walk exciting paths, go on wild journeys, cross rivers and mountains and find yourself looking around and thinking, “How did I get here!?!”

“Adventure is out there!” (from Disney/Pixar’s movie Up), 

So grab a hold of it, jump in and grow, because you never know what God has in store for you. You might even find yourself asking for  new adventures and wonder where the “old you” went! You must accept the challenge of adventure and let God give you the ability to thrive in an everyday roller coaster ride of faith.

And I must add in a #6 – Risk is Right so Face Fear

Let’s face it, doing the above 5 things involves a lot of RISK. In John Piper’s amazing book, “Risk is Right”, he says,

“A choice lies before you: Either waste your life or live with risk. Either sit on the sidelines or get in the game. After all, life was no cakewalk for Jesus, and he didn’t promise it would be any easier for his followers. We shouldn’t be surprised by resistance and persecution.”  

Facing fear becomes a definite part of life, so face it head on. Walk towards it. Be brave, battle courageously and remember Whose you are.  Stand firm in your faith and fight the good fight. The best lessons are learned by real life circumstances and by opportunities to put on the full armor of God.

Life lessons learned……. and still learning.  They are chances to grow and live out boldly our relationship with Jesus.

What life lessons are you learning as you walk a journey through life?

Either for yourself or watching someone else? What is God teaching you through the process? Through the lessons learned?

 

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Schimbare! (skeem-bar’-ae)

According to an online thesaurus the word change (schimbare in Romanian) has several positive synonyms including: advance, innovation and transformation.  Yet change, again, according to the thesaurus can have some negative synonyms as well like reversal, about-face, revolution and turnover.  Thus, depending upon your perspective, change can be either a good and needed thing or a bad and disruptive force.

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Piaţa Seasons

You’ve probably heard me say before that one of my favorite places to go here in Romania is the piaţa (pee-yatza) or marketplace. It is a cultural norm and has been for centuries.  There are actually several piaţas in a city the size of Arad, but here are some pictures of the one I normally go to: Piaţa Mica.   Continue reading

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A House For Sarah Pt. 2

In the first post about our church’s desire to help a little girl and a lovely lady who had tragically lost their father and husband, I shared about a company from Germany who sent workers over to Romania to build a house for them in just 3 days. Below is a link to an article with lots of pictures about what happened. Look all the way to the end as the pictures show the special “reveal” they had for Sarah and her mom. It’s a happy tear jerker!

Click the link below to continue.

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Blessed to be a Blessing

I apologize right from the start. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be blowing up your feed with a lot of posts in the coming weeks. Perhaps it will make up for the lack thereof in the previous several months…?

I have to share a cool story with you. I went to my beloved piata mica this morning. That’s the AMAZING farmer’s market type thing here which is just ingrained into the culture. And joy of joys!Our apartment is within walking distance! Below are some of the strawberries I bought today!

Strawberries from the piata!

Anyhoo– as I was walking with my little wheeled cart, in front me was an old woman struggling to carry a heavy bag of something (found out later it was potatoes). She would walk a few steps, stop, set the bag down and rest — again and again.

Continue reading

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A House For Sarah

We attend church here in Romania at Harvest Arad.  It is a non-denominational church, which is unusual for this culture, but we love the worship, the preaching of the Word, the people and the spirit that is felt there so openly.  Another wonderful aspect of Harvest is the love shown for people, particularly those within the congregation who have an urgent need.

Last year, the church family came to the immediate aide of some members who had experienced a devastating fire in their home and lost everything.  There is no fire insurance in Romania — unless you count Harvest Arad!

casa-trasnet-arad-2  Everyone who was able pitched in to help not only rebuild the house in a matter of weeks, but supplied the family with more than they had lost!

incendiu-harvest-1-320x180   Pictured on the left are Harvest members at the house site, working to rebuild.

But this post isn’t actually about this particular family — I just wanted to establish a bit of a baseline for you, so you’d understand what this next story is about.  This post is about a little girl named Sarah. Continue reading

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