I carry their stories with me every day. Their eyes, full of so much heartache, are forever a part of my memory.
For their safety, I cannot post photos of them to help you see the human beings behind these stories. I have to keep details vague. I can’t tell you their names or the countries they fled from or even why they fled, because I want to take very seriously the reality that I could put their lives in danger by sharing too much. But I have to tell their stories as best I can. Stories like:
The man who invited us into his room and picked up his Bible, kissed it, and said, “This is the love of my life.”
The three women–an older mother and her two middle-aged daughters–who were alone in this new country. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to tell them they are not forgotten, and that they are special and loved. One of them rose from her seat on the floor (as they had given me, my teammate and our translator their futon to sit on) grabbed my face and kissed my cheeks over and over.
The man who first came up to me because he noticed me struggling to have a conversation with some women who didn’t speak English. After translating for awhile, he began to share his story with me, which led to me sharing mine and why I came on the trip: “To hear your stories so I can tell people back home, and to let you know that I love and care about you and so does Jesus.” He responded by asking, “Do you have a Bible in my language I can have?” The next day, I was able to give him one. Our conversation that day ended with “I’m going to read this whole Bible because I want to know who Jesus is.”
The man who had been repeatedly tortured before becoming a refugee, though you’d never know because he had one of the sweetest spirits I have ever seen. He doesn’t like to talk about the night terrors he suffers from regularly.
The family, ranging from children to a grandmother, who escaped by crawling under gunfire.
The man who admitted he knew Jesus was the answer to the emptiness in his life, yet struggled and asked for prayer because he knew his family would disown him if he chose to trust in Christ.
The young girls who had seen horrifying acts of violence, but yelled “CINDERELLA!” when they saw the Disney princesses blanket I brought to the park.
The man who cried as he shared his story, repeating over and over “My God now forgives” when he talked about how he turned from Islam and accepted Christ. The next day, he asked for permission to hug me after hugging my male teammate. It was one of the most genuine hugs I’ve ever experienced, followed by him saying something in his native tongue. I asked our translator what he said. “He says, ‘I love you, my sister.'”
These are just some of the people I was privileged to meet during my time in Germany. There are many more, and their stories inspire me every day to pray for them, to advocate for them, to love them the way Jesus loves them and other refugees.
These are the stories of real human beings, each one special and unique and in need of the hope only Jesus can give.