Germany (MNN) — Last week, three Syrian refugees in Germany helped capture a fellow refugee who was allegedly planning to bomb a Berlin airport. Investigators say the would-be bomber, Jaber al-Bakr, was likely an ISIS allegiant. His captors are being hailed as heroes.
Refugees Stand Against Terror
Al-Bakr had been on the run for two days. Security forces raided his apartment and circulated the suspect’s photo on social media. According to USA Today, al-Bakr approached three fellow Syrian refugees at a train station and asked if he could stay at their apartment.
One of the refugees, identified by German media as Mohamed A, said they took in al-Bakr because they recognized him and knew they had to turn him in.
Mohamed A told German press, “I was so angry at him. I won’t accept such a thing — especially here in Germany, the country that opened its door to us,”
The three friends trussed up al-Bakr on their couch, refused his monetary bribes, and turned him over to the police. German authorities have issued public gratitude to the three men for taking a stand against terrorism. The suspect committed suicide in jail later in the week.
Although Syrian refugees in Germany have left the war in Syria behind, the trauma still follows them. These ISIS-sympathetic attacks in Germany and the rest of Europe can be like reliving nightmares.
A Father’s Emotional Account
Matt Morrison with e3 Partners was just in Germany on one of the organization’s mission trips working with refugees. He says he witnessed first-hand the ongoing emotional wrestle in one particular conversation with a Syrian father.
“I got to meet a family in one of the refugee camps, and the father was showing me pictures on his cellphone of Aleppo, where they were from, and showing me what they had left behind. As he was flipping through, he just kind of stopped when he got to a picture of a dead body and it still had a cable tie around the man’s neck. He explained to me through Google translator that was his brother. The 18-year-old boy they were raising in their family was not his son, but was actually his nephew.
“He went on to explain how his wife had to be revived as they were crossing the Aegean Sea, how his children were sick, and how both his parents and his wife’s parents had been literally blown apart by the bombings there in Aleppo.”
Morrison says, “You could just see the turmoil in his face. They had been in Germany for nine months, but you could still just see the tears welling up his eyes, the fear, the sense of relief that finally they were safe, but just that desperation. And this coming from a man who used to build cell towers all over the Middle East and actually used to do men’s fashion design on the side as a hobby. And now this family is living in basically a room the size of a dorm room; just absolutely devastating.”
Spiritual Warfare in Refugee Camps
Morrison says, more than ever, the biggest needs he saw in the refugee homes and camps was a spiritual need.
“You would come into these nondescript looking buildings, and it may be a place where as much as 1,100 to 1,500 refugees live with their families. We would walk in and you could just feel the spiritual oppression as you went in there. You could feel this sense of darkness. Some of our team members really dealt with a lot of spiritual warfare just coming in and out of those places.”
But spiritual darkness could not keep out the message of deep truth and hope that Jesus Christ offers. In making relational connections and fostering conversations with refugee families, the team members were able to talk about the Gospel.
“It was amazing just how hungry they were to hear more about Jesus, to hear more about the hope we have in Christ,” Morrison shares. “It was this genuine sense that what they had always believed and what they had always followed had been letting them down in a big way. They were excited to hear about Christ and hear about the fact that this God they have always feared actually truly loves them.”
This is the second German city where e3 Partners has started refugee ministry, says Morrison. And it’s all part of a greater, long-term vision for missions there.
“We were basically breaking ground on some new ministry, which made this trip actually quite a bit more challenging. When we were there, we were working with a number of on-the-ground missionaries who are there long-term, helping them begin their new ministry to refugees. We were really blessed to have a connection with Muslim-background believers in the city, and they were able to start introducing us to their friends.”
As Muslim-background believers connected the team with other refugee families and friends, the team members invited people to connect with the local church.
“We were able to invite them to one of the local churches where we were able to feed them, actually worshiped with them, got to celebrate with them, and got to share Christ with them.”
A Revitalizing Spiritual Landscape
Morrison says God is miraculously changing the spiritual landscape among Syrians.
“There are a number of Muslims coming to faith, not because of some kind of spiritual witness by a Christian in their community (many of them don’t have access to Christian missionaries), but instead they’re having dreams and visions of Jesus. I can’t tell you how many Muslim-background believers I met who it wasn’t someone who led them to Christ, it was a dream, it was a vision, it was basically Jesus telling them about Himself. I met a guy who his mom had that vision and she ended up leading the whole family to Christ, and then they had to flee where they were from because she couldn’t stop talking about Him.”
One way you can encourage spiritual revival among Syrian war-survivors? Pray.
“Be praying that God will continue to reveal Himself to these men and these women and these children, because there’s only so much we can do. We’ve learned we can be there, we can be available, we can share what God puts on our hearts to share, but ultimately He’s the one who’s breaking into their hearts,” says Morrison.
“[Pray] that more Christians will rise up and see this horrible crisis as an opportunity to advance the Gospel and understand God is doing some really exciting, positive stuff in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis of the generation.”
The leadership at e3 Partners is now planning 27 more mission trips, particularly for the summer next year. Would you be interested in joining a mission trip to work with refugees in Germany and share Christ’s encouragement? The trips aren’t posted yet, but you can watch for trip listings on e3 Partners’ website here!
For Morrison, the trip was life-changing. “I’m still processing everything I experienced. I’ve been on a lot of mission trips before and I’ve never been a part of anything quite like this. I would just say if you’ve never been before, I really encourage it. This is a type of ministry that may not be available to us in five or ten years, but it is now and there is an opportunity to literally change the spiritual landscape of the 10/40 Window just by going to Germany.”