Europe (MNN) — If word is getting back to those in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan that Europe is no place to go, the message is falling on deaf ears. Numbers of refugees migrating to the North are expected to climb in 2016, despite the pitfalls.
Refugees continue to pour into Europe, according to *Andrew, an E3 Partners representative. People just trying to escape the violence in their own country travel to other countries and find refugee camps filled far beyond capacity.
“They are fleeing into neighboring countries where now, since the conflict has been going on for so long–over four years, the living conditions in the camps are so bad that they are either fleeing back into Syria to get to Turkey, or they’re trying to get to Europe,” Andrew explains.
He isn’t the only one expecting the numbers of immigrants to Europe to increase. The EU Executive Commission has projected up to 3 million refugees could migrate to Europe this year, despite the dangers most will face crossing the Mediterranean. Despite the numbers who die on the crossing, the cold, and the lack of certainty about their future, they keep coming.
“Do you really think we would take this dangerous journey and freeze out there if we were safe in Syria?” one traveler, Mahmoud, asked a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) worker. Mahmoud, his wife and their children–age four and four months–stood on a platform covered in ice and snow at the Presevo, Serbia, train station. Many of the refugees are ill equipped for the cold of the European winter.
E3 is looking for Christians willing to step out in faith and be part of that answer with short-term missions to Germany. There are 6 trips to Germany, beginning in March and running through the summer.
“We found a lot of momentum with one or two [trips], and they build on each other. Momentum overflows from one trip to the next as a new team comes in,” Andrew says.
Participants get training in how to share their story of salvation and how to bridge that to God’s story. Teams go out into the cities in the evenings to meet refugees and gather them together.
“Last summer we did some picnics where several hundred refugees would come together at one time and sit in small groups and start a conversation,” says Andrew. “Often times, there are people who want to do sports. We kicked around soccer balls with them. Lord willing, people come to faith and are then discipled.”
Andrew says they don’t expect volunteers to be trained going into trip or to speak a second language.
“We want people to be stretched, but you’ll have someone more experienced to go with you. It’s awesome if you know a second language, but we’re finding that a lot of these people know English or are at least trying to learn English,” he says.
* name changed for security purposes