Germany (MNN) — Germany has one of the more open refugee policies in Europe. But starting in mid-March, refugees migrating to Germany from Greece will be deported back to Greece to apply for asylum status.
It’s part of the European Union’s Dublin rule, which states refugees must seek asylum in the first port they enter within the bloc. Most refugees enter Europe through Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy. An interior ministry spokesman for Germany estimates they’ll be ready to re-enact the Dublin rule by March 15.
Meanwhile, for refugees already in Germany, the waiting period is excruciating to get formal asylum status and have the ability to start work. Matt Morrison with e3 Partners says they’re inviting believers to join several missions trips to Germany this year to minister to these refugee families.
“What’s really exciting about this trip is it just gives you a direct connection to this crisis. It is ground zero to the refugee crisis when you’re there. This is where all the refugees are trying to get to and they’re in a very vulnerable place in their life when they arrive. They’re waiting to find out if they get to stay or if they’re going to be sent somewhere else. So this is a great chance to hear their stories, minister to them, just demonstrate Christ’s love to them, and in many cases, you’ll even have a chance to share the Gospel with them.”
Thousands of refugees in Germany are currently living in old buildings — former hospitals, offices, and dormitories — which the government designated as refugee housing.
Morrison explains, “They’re very nondescript buildings. You’re walking around often not realizing that you’re standing right next to a refugee camp in a settlement area. On my latest trip when I was in Berlin, we were in a building that used to be a city hall, used to be a government center for that district in Berlin, and it was home to over 1,000 refugees who were now living in what used to be offices years ago.”
Asylum seekers are given government stipends and train passes. German NGOs and churches often provide meals, clothing, and play areas for the children.
But Morrison says many of those seeking asylum in Germany want to start contributing to society again and regain a sense of stability. “They’re completely dependent on government assistance, and many of them are so eager to get off of that way of life, to get out of that situation.”
Praying for and financially supporting refugees and refugee ministries is one thing; but why a mission trip?
“For one, it totally changes your perspective on who these people are. There’s a lot of stereotypes bouncing around out there about these people being dangerous, or these people being poor, or they’re just trying to get out of their country, or they’re somehow a drain on society — and they’re not. They’re great people who had very productive lives back at home that got disrupted. They were middle class citizens, in many cases, in their homes. Now they’ve been relegated to probably the worst status you could imagine in the world today.”
Morrison continues, “Secondly, it’s important definitely to pray and it’s important to give, I wouldn’t want to somehow discount that. But if you get the opportunity to go and you feel like that’s something God is calling you into, you’re going to get a personal chance to touch these people’s lives, and I don’t think there’s anything that quite compares to that…. These are people who have been through so much, are the center of so much controversy right now in our world; and just to get to speak into their lives, to hear their stories straight from their mouths about what’s happening at home and what they’ve been through, it’s an honor. And then to get to serve them, it’s just really exciting as well.”
E3 Partners also has several trips opening up to reach out to refugees in Greece! Check out the upcoming Greece mission trips here.
Morrison offers this challenge: “By all means, go, get out there, be a part of this. This is the moment for the Church in our generation to rise up, this is our moment to get involved.”