First Things magazine had a nice article yesterday detailing the impact of the Gospel amongst the refugee community in Europe. Within the article there are links to other reputable sources discussing the phenomena from both the perspectives of the refugees and the ministers who are seeing the conversions. I would encourage you to check it out. Much of what I will be doing abroad will be similar to the work these churches and ministries are doing.
A quick reflection in regards to some of the contents of the story:
I few years ago, I remember a pastor telling me how he engages with the homeless when they ask him for money. Instead of being suspicious about what they might do with the money, he said, “Who am I to determine whether this person may use this money for good or bad or whether they are lying to me or not? I just know that Jesus calls me to love those who are broken, and I can do that — in this moment — by giving a few bucks in their time of need.”
Similarly, the many churches (not all) in Europe are doing the same thing. Instead of assuming the refugees are converting for the sole purpose of gaining asylum in Europe quicker, and therefore, withholding the hope and grace Christ offers through baptism and the eucharist, they are catechizing and trusting the Spirit is working in their lives to bring them into communion with the Father. I love that many of these churches are elevating their view of the Holy Spirit, trusting that the holy scriptures are the power of God for all people, and unleashing those things to those who need the hope of Christ — even at the risk of exploitation. If we believe God works through the church, scripture, prayer, and his spirit, shouldn’t we hold those things with open hands?
I’m encouraged that many are.