After a wonderful morning at the center with the children, we visited some of their families yesterday afternoon. Their homes are very simple and many live with multiple families in one or two rooms. We were warmly welcomed and when we asked if they could share their stories with us, they said they were thankful we wanted to hear what they have lived.
Our first visit took us to the home of two women. One told how she had fled with her family to Egypt but her fiancee crossed the border into Turkey. Because he didn't have his paperwork with him, he asked her to join him in Turkey where they were married. They soon realized they needed to immigrate to a western country, but because of his missing paperwork, they were stuck. He decided to go back to get his paperwork. So after 3 months and 17 days of being married, he left. For a very long time, she heard nothing. Then, her sister told her she had seen on FB that he had been killed. She began calling her country's government for answers. Eventually she heard the horrible news that he had been captured by the enemy, tortured, burned and killed. Her sister, who lives in Canada, told her to seek help from the faith community. Though she didn't know where to go, and the weather was cold and rainy, she searched. Finally she found the group we visited on Sunday. Since then, she has been transformed, and though she is very sad, joy is kissing sorrow in her heart.
Her friend told us her story next. Her husband had been captured two times and forced to fight for the enemy. Both times he escaped after much suffering. They were able to make their way across the border to the town where we are visiting and they, too, eventually made their way to the place we visited on Sunday. Their decision to change their identifying religion was tested by the group. But after much conversation and teaching, they convinced the leaders that they really did believe and desired to go through the ceremony of identification as followers. This caused him to be unemployable. After 8 months, they paid a smuggler to take him across the water to Greece and from there he walked 21 days to Germany. There he joined 48,000 people waiting for paperwork to bring their families to join them.
There were two women and their children living in the 2nd home we visited. Before the war they lived a very nice life, with homes and good employment. One had her own store and one worked in a hospital. They lost their homes and work places and have found it hard to find work here. One of their husband's has been killed by a bomb. A son was captured by the enemy, escaped and now, they believe, fights for the army. They haven't heard from him for 4 years. The teen-age children with them, left school 4 years ago and work in construction, clothing factories and restaurants. It takes all of them working to be able to afford the rent where they live. These families also come to the faith center and are seeking and learning about the God of love.
We were able to speak to the Father when we were in each home. Over and over again, we were thanked for coming and listening to them.
In the evening, some of our team visited with a U student who told us that she, like many young people in this country, resented the newcomers because they receive some benefits they feel belong to local students. But, after graduation, she began working at the center we are visiting. As she got to know the students, her heart changed. She told us,
"If people would just get to know them, they would want to help them, too."