Today’s post is written by Anya Holcomb, a CAMA worker in Kosovo.
We live three hours away from the main camp where refugees enter Macedonia from Greece on their journey to Western Europe.
Currently, there are approximately 7,000 refugees passing through this camp each day. CAMA is partnering with a Christian NGO that meets these refugees every day distributing food, water, blankets, and clothing while sharing the love and hope of Jesus.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a day at the camp working alongside our partners. Everything on the news suddenly came to life: real faces, tired eyes, tragic stories, and courageous determination. I met a man from Afghanistan who, after working for the coalition forces, was fleeing for his life due to threats from extremists. He started to cry as I asked him about his aging parents, whom he had to leave behind.
I met two high school girls hoping to live in a place with access to good education. One dreams of becoming a teacher; the other a doctor. I met a family with two young children, almost the same ages as mine, who had been traveling for 21 days. For several nights, they had slept outside on the cold forest floor without warm clothing or blankets. I heard numerous stories about the perilous journey crossing the sea to Greece on small rafts. Only the day before, four children had died while crossing. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming as I heard story after story.
As I listened, though, I began to hear the stories not mentioned on the news. One man was in the middle of the sea headed towards Greece, with about 35 other people, when the boat’s motor stopped working. They tried fixing it for hours to no avail. The waves were getting larger, and night was coming. People began to lose hope, fearing certain death.
This particular man had heard if you pray in the name of Jesus he will answer. He decided to give it a try and prayed in the name of Jesus that the motor would start. Immediately, it began to hum. This man made a vow to himself that as soon as he met a Christian he would ask them to tell him more about this Jesus.
Days later, as he was getting off a train in Macedonia, a woman from our partner NGO approached him. She told him that she was a Christian and asked if she could pray for him. (This woman told us that in the crowded train station, with hundreds of people, God specifically told her to talk to him.) He asked her to tell him about Jesus, which she did, and that day he invited Jesus into his life.
Another story was about a 7-year-old refugee boy with a broken arm, badly bruised in a make-shift sling. When his family entered the camp, several of our partners asked if they could pray for healing. As they laid hands on him and prayed in the name of Jesus, his arm was instantly healed. The bones were back in place, and the bruising gone. The boy began to run around the dusty, barren camp shouting, “Jesus healed me! Jesus healed me!” A man from the boy’s group who witnessed what had happened prayed to receive Jesus on the spot.
As we neared the end of our day, a woman from Iran came up to me, frantic because she could not find her refugee papers. These are essential for passing from country to country. I helped her search, and in the end, the papers were in her bag all along. She was so relieved and gave me a huge hug. About 20 minutes later, I saw this same woman praying with one of our partners. When they finished, she turned to me and shared with joy in her eyes how she had just made a decision to follow Jesus. She found much more than her papers that day!
She and multiple others shared that Christians have helped them time after time along their journeys. Followers of Jesus have been meeting their practical needs, showing them love, and demonstrating care. Their hearts are opening to the Good News!
As I left the camp that day, it was not with a heavy heart—despite the difficulty, pain, and hardship I had witnessed. It was with a heart full of hope because Jesus is on the move!!! He is using this tragic situation to draw his children to Himself in radical ways.