Guest Post: A Park, A Refugee, and A Great Ending

I am so excited to have my friend Laura from over at Sacred Story blogging today. Laura and I have worked together in Greece on two different occasions and will be working there again in June. Laura run’s the organization Sacred Story, a place for women of all walks of life to share their stories. Below is a story written by Laura about a Refugee she met in Greece. Enjoy!

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“How long are you going to be here? I want to talk to you.” Abdul* confided as we stood in a park in Athens, Greece surrounded by refugees huddled in groups, sleeping on benches, and children running in the grassy areas. Moments before I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my steps as I walked through the park; my eye catching Abdul handing out flyers to women dressed according to Islamic code.

Curious about the contents of the flyer and hopeful for an opportunity to speak with the women, I walk up to Abdul and inquire. He explains in well pronounced English the flyer describes language classes for refugees to learn Greek and English. As we talk I learn about his story. He grew up in Pakistan and when his family’s resources failed to sustain them including the ability for the family to save so his sister can be offered in marriage, he departed for Athens at his family’ request over six years ago to send money home.

Abdul’s and his family’s desire for a better life didn’t materialize. The language classes he offered to refugees took up a couple of days a week and helped meet his needs but didn’t make ends meet.  Like so many others in Athens he knows the despair of not being able to find work.

I broach the topic of spiritual things and Abdul shares about four books he currently reads- the Koran, the Bible and two others. Sensing the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I ask about his thoughts on Jesus. Abdul replies Jesus is a revered prophet.

“Jesus doesn’t give you the option to believe He is merely a prophet. He says ‘I and the Father are One. . . He who has seen Me has seen the Father also’” (John 10:30, 14:9) I reason with him as the Holy Spirit brings Scripture to mind.  My response propelled Abdul to fervently ask about the length of my stay and express his desire to meet.

The next day Alison* who also came to Greece to reach out joins me at a designated coffee shop to meet Abdul. We share with him the need for forgiveness and Jesus’ payment on the cross to make a way to enter heaven (or paradise for a Muslim mindset). Explaining the Gospel in a second language means Abdul doesn’t grasp all the concepts. He writes down the verse references we show him and at one point he looks up, almost pleading, “Please pray for me to understand.” My heart goes out to him.

Because tension exists between Muslim and Christian refugees, Abdul declined my original offer for a Pakistani friend Hakim* who lives in Athens and knows the Lord to join us for coffee. However, a couple of days later he agrees to meet Hakim and we connect in person. During the brief introduction, Abdul’s friend Salar who comes with him seems suspicious of us. He tells us they need to leave in order to go to the mosque for prayer.

Days later I leave Athens and pray for Abdul’s seed of curiosity to blossom. Hakim relays what happened in the following months:

“During the introduction with Laura I asked Abdul and Salar how they obtained a Bible. I found out they knew a brother from a Pakistani church so I contacted him. He told me to be careful because these two friends hold strong connections with political parties in Pakistan and the branch in Athens. He warned their behavior may mask a desire to find out more about how Christians deal with new believers more than a genuine interest in the Gospel.

When the team of Americans left I called Abdul and Salar to see if they can meet to talk further about Christianity. Abdul told me he wanted to meet but he is busy with his job and so is Salar. After almost two months of trying to meet and several calls, I met with them and discovered both begun to read the Bible after hearing more from short-term missionaries who I didn’t know.

Abdul and Salar expressed intrigue about the reason this foreign man and woman traveled to Athens and began sharing the Christian faith. They talked to their friends from mosque who advised them to gather more information so they can save their Muslim brothers and sisters in Athens from being influenced by Christian missionaries who work against Islam.

Abdul confessed to me during a one-on-one interaction that he initially had this mindset and intention but over time God changed his heart. He explained the reason it took him such a long time to trust me and meet again is because of his friend Salar who recently left for Austria. After sharing with me the truth, Abdul expressed his desire to follow Jesus with pure heart.  He also said he wanted to leave for Germany. Because he lived in Athens for a number of years and knew many people in the community, it will be very difficult for him to live in Athens as a believer in Jesus Christ.

I decided I could trust what Abdul confided in me. I asked him to repent and take the faithful step of baptism. He agreed and two days following his baptism he left for Germany where he now resides. We are connected by phone and Abdul actually met a German girl who he plans to marry.

Please pray for his spiritual growth and protection.”   ~ taken from Hakim’s email to me

*Names are changed to protect privacy

To read the original story posted at Sacred Story visit:

http://sacredstoryministries.org/story-from-athens-a-park-a-refugee-a-great-ending/

 

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