For decades, OM has prayed for Syria. Since civil war began in the country four years ago, Syrians have fled en mass, first to neighboring countries in the Near East and now to Europe and elsewhere. Although the need for food, blankets and shelter cannot be neglected, OM also uses these dire circumstances to share the good news of God’s love.
According to Robert Strong*, leader of OM Netherlands who is coordinating OM Europe’s refugee response, this is an open window to reach out to Syrians.
“In these months, when people are coming and crying out, having lost everything and searching for purpose, this is a time when God gives us an opportunity to share,” he stated. “We cannot look away when these things happen on our doorstep.”
Reports of the refugees arriving in Europe have crescendoed in the past weeks—thousands of people crowding into a Hungarian train station, spilling onto Grecian shores, crawling through Macedonian and Serbian processing points. OM teams on site, like the rest of the world, have been surprised by the sheer number of refugees, as well as their sudden visibility. They’ve also seen it as an opportunity to share God’s love.
“With those things happening right at the borders and places where OM members are, we cannot look away,” Robert reiterated.
The international news spotlight on refugees demands present action; however, many OM workers in Europe simply seek to continue long-term initiatives, both official and unofficial, among refugees and asylum seekers. Of course, a handful of OM teams, including those in Hungary, Macedonia and Montenegro, have catalysed immediate responses to the current crisis. And a developing project, OM Europe’s Safe Passage, will focus on meeting refugees at their initial entry points, providing information as well as water, food and essentials.
“They all want to move on,” Robert explained. “We can give them love, some basic needs, a listening ear, some attention… We want to make their entry a little bit softer and more pleasant than it is now.”
With thousands of refugees immigrating around the world, and various governments accepting pleas to open their borders, OM seeks to respond, individually and corporately.
“Like us, these displaced people are created in the image of God,” said OM International Director Lawrence Tong. “As Christians we have both a spiritual and moral obligation to help them. Their issues are our issues. I urge you to pray for them and their plight, and act with extraordinary courage and generosity to help these people settle into their new societies.”
To give to the OM ministries reaching out to refugees in Europe, or for information about how to get involved, please contact your local OM office.