The beauty of pain lies in its redemptive purpose
On his third attempt to reach Europe in 2015, Javad first set foot on Lesvos, Greece.
7 years a refugee already. He had crossed many borders and lived in many countries. He had not yet found the country that he could call his home, but he had found his Heavenly Home and his place in the Family of God and knew that his future was in His hands. Yet, the feeling of isolation, worthlessness, uncertainty tried to stick to him like tar. He felt it everyday when walking this island. He felt many eyes on him telling him he did not belong here, at the same time, he experienced helping hands reaching out to him, showing him the way, handing him Oranges for the journey onward…
In 2015 Lesvos was just a short stop on the journey to the European mainland. Just a little while later Javad had reached Austria, where the Police – or as he might say today: God – stopped him. As he started building his new life in Austria, learning the language, training for a profession as salesclerk, getting married, having children, serving in the local church, memories of his journey through Lesvos faded, and the pain and trauma of being a homeless, vulnerable, disoriented refugee got buried deep below, just surfacing sometimes in nightmares.
2021 reports from the desperate conditions within the refugee camp on Lesvos started catching Javad’s attention and he felt something pulling his heart towards that direction. At the same time we as a couple also heard about the amazing stories of God touching and transforming many lives in the midst of this tragedy. We needed to see for ourselves and had a deep conviction that we wanted to be part of a movement like that.
So, June 2021 we used our week of holidays to go on our first mission trip as a couple to visit a ministry working nearby the refugee camp on Lesvos, observing and serving, working with the team and helping as much as we could in one week. It was everything from amazing to heart wrenching, we experienced intense work days with stories after stories about suffering and trauma as well as beautiful calm mornings at the harbour or orange-sunset-skies in the evenings at the beach. And as we had hoped we could truly witness the transforming power of the Love and the Word of God in many of these refugee’s lives who have been stranded and stuck on the island for months and years.
We spent our days in the ministry centre, where people could just come and hang out, talk with someone from the team, find a little distraction from hard camp life, receive comfort, encouragement, a good meal, spiritual food and also practical help.
Whenever kids were around I would play with them, we would sing worship songs with the young believers, and Javad would use his gift of teaching to do a Bible study everyday for those who had already come to faith in Jesus or those who were searching for answers in the Bible. Countless times he could share his own story of being a refugee for many many years, experiencing similar traumata and hardships and how God had turned it all around for His Glory.
We returned home to our children, whom we had missed dearly, after one week. Our hearts were full with impressions and memories, and we knew that this was the start of something new in our lives. We would not be able to go back to “business as usual”. God had shown us something and a still small voice was calling us out onto deep waters.
One of the most precious moments being back on Lesvos was sitting at the harbour looking over to the refugee camp across the bay. It showed me so clearly how God had redeemed my pain as a refugee throughout the years. I once was there on the other side, anxious and not knowing what was lying ahead. Since then I have seen His Hand beautifully writing my story. What he did for me He can do for anyone. This was my message of Hope that I wanted to bring back to my people.Javad