Imagine sitting on a thin, nicely covered mattress on a cement floor in a cement blocked single-car garage sized room. A tarp-covered roof shades the room from the 95 degree temperature, and a small water cooler (portible AC) unit tries to pour in coolish air. After traveling 22 hours with a short night sleep, this was a wonderful way to start my first day on this Global Work trip.
This was my first visit to a Refugee Camp in the Middle East. The Global Worker, another volunteer and I were graciously invited into the homes of different families of 8 to 14 members, who have nothing to do all day except school for the children, is hard to describe unless if you see, hear, smell and touch it. We visited 3-4 families each morning and then another 3-4 families after lunch.
After introductions, the Global Worker focused on seeking to help them medically and physically. The Global Worker asked questions, made evaluations and then interpreted this information to me so I could type it into an ipad. I enjoyed taking people's blood pressures. After a thorough investigation on their physical condition, the Global Worker focused on the families' emotional and relational health. The walls were slowly coming down after they had been cared for medically and physically. The Global Worker sensitively asked those questions, "where are you from and why are you here in this camp?"
They responded with stories that no one would ever forget. In the past 2-5 years, ISIS had driven these Muslims from their homes either by warning that they are coming, or bombings or by bullets rittling the side of their nice homes. So, they fled. Some are missing their husbands and fathers either by death or not knowing where they are. Some with fathers and older sons with missing limbs and bullet wounds. Others mostly physically intact but emotionally scarred. Obviously, their homes are nothing worth going back to. And if there was something liveable, they would not move back because ISIS would probably show up again and remove them.
As I watched this care without knowing the language, I could physically see the unloved being loved, the rejected being accepted, the unwanted being wanted and the once strangers now becoming friends. What a gift these Global Workers are; being the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears and the love of Jesus.
As I sat there, praying, what could I do? It was at this time, I thought, since we have gotten to know them, it might be natural for them to get to know us. I pulled out my phone and showed them photos of my family. The Global Worker did the same. The Muslim family smiled and asked questions about our families, connecting us even more.
But, then the Global Worker offered another gift, spiritual care. It was at this point the Global Worker and I would be praying for a way to shift the conversation to the spiritual. I marveled at how God would give the Global Worker or even myself an idea on how to naturally shift the conversation toward Jesus. One time it was through family relationships. Another time it was through the topic of stress. Another, questions about Jesus like, "Have you ever read a story about Jesus?" Our Global Worker pulled out his smartphone and had them read a story about Jesus in their mother language, Arabic. Sometimes they would watch a video narrative of a story of Jesus in Arabic. For most, this was the first thing they have heard about Jesus other than from the Muslim perspective and teachings. There is always something so attractive about just reading one story about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. The goal, plant some seeds about Jesus. Help them to possibly desire to know more about Jesus. Then pray. Pray that Jesus would come to them in their dreams.
Ahhh... hearing the stories of Jesus showing up in their dreams was one of the best things about this Global trip.
Stay tuned until next week.
Amazed, humbled and deeply grateful,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.