I wanted to share an update I got out of Athens, Greece written by a German friend of mine who has dedicated this time of her life to serving, training, and loving both the massive Afghani refugee population and the volunteers who come from all over the world to join her. As a “short-termer” myself, I can definitely understand how exhausting it must be to have a consistent influx of short-term volunteers who bring absolutely zero cultural, religious, or language-speaking experience with them to Athens, whether with the Greeks or the Afghanis.
In this short story, I hope you’ll see that even when the task at hand feels unconquerable, there is a simple beauty in a conversation held between two shepherds who recognize their shared weakness, despite the fact that every feeling that comes with being a shepherd makes you think that being a shepherd requires strength you don’t have.
I met her in church. She was standing next to the big tea pot, holding her plastic plate with couscous, salad, and Greek yogurt.
I had seen her before. And we had nodded at each other.
I walked over. And asked for her name and where she was from. She told me that she was leaving in six days.
I asked if she was willing to meet me for coffee. She was.
While I was waiting Mamma Eleni told me that she was an angel and how sad she was that she was leaving. That the man sitting next to her had accepted Jesus on Sunday morning and was baptized on the same evening. A man, who had lost his wife and child in the war and who wished with all his heart that they could be alive to join him on this joyful day. This man found Jesus because she started teaching him. Because she was there. Every day. Consistently.
She is not from Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Or Syria.
She is from Colorado.
She is not a refugee (the reason I came the first time to Greece), but a volunteer (the reason I am still here).
And meeting her had been the highlight of my week.
While sitting in a coffee shop close to Victoria Square we shared for hours how God had been leading us, how living in Athens and serving in this crisis had been challenging. I listened to her story, how God was shaping and forming her more and more into a mature and wise woman (even if she was just 21). Sometimes I had to shake my head because she reminded me so much of my time when I was trying to find my place in this world. When she told me that she couldn’t even enjoy watching movies because the Holy Spirit was convicting her to use her time wisely.
Being two hours the big sister and being reminded and encouraged through this 21-year old volunteer from the States had been the highlight of my week.
Yes, it would be great if Athens would be full of skilled workers, who had served with Muslims in the past, who speak Arabic and Farsi and have a vast knowledge about crisis relief and development. Yes, that would be great.
But I have seen over and over that God doesn’t care about how skilled we are. He uses the ones who are willing. The young. The shy. The introverts. The people whose first language isn’t English. The ones who don’t know what to do with their life.
God is only asking us to be obedient. And to go. And to love. And then it happens that a Syrian man asks: This church is full of people who love me. How can you love me without knowing me? And his question is answered in one person: Jesus.
We don’t need to have everything figured out. We don’t need to be perfect. But when we pursue God with everything we have then He is using us in tremendous ways. And then He is using us to bring comfort and hope to the world.
And she reminded me of that.
Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Sarah for sharing this moment in time.