The greatest gift we could give was our time

Beginning of December 2021. My friend Danny and his team of soccer players came to Greece to spread some early Christmas joy in the refugee camps in the area around Thessaloniki. They brought many new soccer shoes and several outfits and had planned to organise a couple of football tournaments for teams from the various refugee camps in the area.

I got the chance to join them spontaneously because Austria had gone into lock-down again, so my place of work was closed.

Thessaloniki was familiar ground for me. 2008 I spent 5 months as a refugee myself in this city (see picture below). Little did I know then, what dramatic turn my life would take and that one day my way would lead me back here as a changed person.

Thessaloniki 2008. My brother and I searching for a life and future

With the help of our friend Ali who was connecting us with the different camps we could bring joy to many refugees with our soccer program, we were able to hang out, talk and pray with many of them personally and just share the hope of Christmas with them. We also cooperated with a local ministry of an Afghan brother who would be able to take care of those people who got connected with us through this outreach and wanted to know more about the message we shared with them.

Christmas joy also includes gifts, so many of the refugee soccer teams got brand-new shoes and outfits from us. A team of Bible school students from Germany also helped buy and pack 200 winter shoes for children, that we would hand out as Christmas gifts in one of the camps as well.

When asking our new friends from the camps, what was the best thing of this week for them, the football matches, the shoes, the food, the gifts… the answer was always:

“Your time.”

This is, what Jesus did. He left the comfort of His Heavenly Home to be with us. He came to us, because He knew, we would never be able to come to Him. So when I returned home after this week in Greece, it was even clearer to me, that I would have to come out of my job and also give more than just my spare time to my people. Now I knew how to show Jesus to them.