‘Live with the opportunities’

05 Jan, 2017 | Hungary
Jessica Alyea
OM women attending a short-term missions forum in Budapest, Hungary, visited a refugee center for a day of outreach. The OMers led a sewing craft and worship songs, shared a testimony, served lunch, and spent time hearing the stories of the refugee women and children.
OMers from many countries in Europe as well as the U.S. and South Africa met in Hungary for the STM (Short-term Missions) Coordinators Forum in September and took part in a day of outreach, a customary part of the conference. The men and women divided to lead day programmes at two different centres for refugees in Budapest.

The OM women visited the Christian-volunteer-run Baptist Resettlement Centre, which provides a temporary home for refugee families hailing from parts of the world affected by war and persecution who are starting to build a new life in Hungary. Because the refugee women and young children are often available during the day, OM Hungary team members regularly visit to facilitate Hungarian, English, and German language classes and to lead day programmes like this one, in which the families can enjoy a break from the tasks of integration; an enjoyable, productive activity; a listening ear; and an opportunity to hear about the love of Christ.

The programme led by the OM women included singing worship songs, sharing a testimony, doing a sewing craft, providing and serving lunch, and hearing the stories of the families.

Three volunteers share a glimpse of the day and insights about refugee ministry through their eyes.

‘Don’t judge by your eyes’

“I’ve learned many things from serving refugees — one of them is, ‘Don’t judge by your eyes.’ God says He sees the heart and not what’s on the surface. So whatever the media says, I’ve experienced the opposite. [The refugees] are not cruel; they are nice, and they need help. This is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel because most of them are in desperate situations. That’s one thing I learned through them: to live with the opportunities. Don’t listen to what others say, but listen to your heart and what God says.”

– Anna Simon, a Hungarian who often partners with OM Hungary team members in refugee outreach. Anna led worship for the day’s programme.

A God-given passion for Arab people

“I was on the Logos Hope for two-and-a-half years. When we got into a port in Oman, we had a time where only women could come on board in the mornings, and in the afternoons, everyone else could come. So the first time we opened up the ship to the women, I came down. I worked in the coffee shop. I opened the door, and all these women covered in black came in — I cannot describe to you this experience. I think it was a really divine moment — there just came love for these women. I was very scared to meet these women because we don’t see them. ‘Do they smile?’ I was wondering, because I couldn’t see their faces. And when I opened this door, and I saw these women, (gasp) I had love for them. You know, I can’t describe this. It was very special to me. So since then, the Arab world is very special to me. And these refugees, coming to Europe, are very special to me. I just love hanging out with these people and sharing God’s love whenever the opportunity comes up.”

— Priska Hofmann of OM Switzerland, who attended the forum. Priska ministers to Arab tourists each year during OM Switzerland’s Interlaken outreach.

‘This is the God I want to serve’

“God opened my eyes to see how people are suffering. I realized that this is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross — because God is also crying for people who are suffering. This is the God I want to serve.”

— part of the personal testimony of Hensie van der Merwe of OM South Africa, who attended the forum. Hensie shared her testimony as part of the day’s programme.

Days like this help make a connection

“This is an opportunity to get to know these families a little bit better, to know their names, their stories, their background. To Muslims, it’s really important to first build a friendship. And then when you are friends, you can share your heart. You can share the gospel because they will receive it. If you’re not friends and you’re just a foreigner, they will not listen to you. I’ve learned this about that culture. So this, today, was a great opportunity to make friends with them, to know their families, their children, their stories. They know you, and next time they can open their heart. And I believe in the power of worship. Even though they might not understand the lyrics very clearly, there is power in worshiping the Lord. And I believe the Holy Spirit is here. So whatever we do, we represent God, even just to give a hug. That’s the reason why I’m here - is to get to know them better and make friendships with them and to share the gospel.”

— Anna Simon

Credit: Jessica Alyea · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM’s role in the Church is to mobilise people to share the knowledge of Jesus and His love with every generation in every nation. OM pioneers and leads initiatives to redeem lives, rebuild communities and restore hope in over 110 countries.

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