By Amanda Finnigan, Go Now missionary and student at Houston Baptist University
LESVOS, GREECEâ€”For 11 days over this past Christmas break, I had the opportunity to travel to Lesvos, Greece with a team of 10 to volunteer at a refugee camp. I have been on mission trips in the States and Colombia before, but this experience was completely new for me. I was expecting it to be out of my comfort zoneâ€”which it wasâ€”but it was also much different than my other mission experiences.
We worked seven 8-9 hour shifts at the camp, doing everything from passing out breakfast and handing out tickets for a blanket distribution, to sorting socks and taking a census in the living areas. It was exhausting and stretched my ability to persevere and deal with language and culture barriers. It was very heavy to be in a place with people in such broken situations.
I saw beauty and ugliness contrasted like never before. The weather is freezing and people are living in tents, while the organization we worked through provided a free blanket distribution. A drunk man shouted curse words and shook his fist at the camp, while a sweet child shouted hello and hugged me as I walked by. Hostility existed between families of different countries, while there was fellowship among unaccompanied minors who found themselves literally in the same boat. Religious literature was not allowed, while an organization ran events down the road where Bibles were given. Everyone stood in line after line for meals and amenities, while people generously invited others into their tents for hot tea and a meal. Many do not know or understand the truth of God yet, while a boy became a Christian in Turkey and is now sharing the Gospel with the other boys in the minors living section.
It is funny because God spent all of this past semester teaching me to trust when I do not understand. And right now I do not understand how God can be faithful to those people. I do not understand how He can use my service. I do not understand why He chose me of all people to experience that. I do not understand why I am sitting in my heated home in America typing this on my laptop while His other children are sitting in freezing tents in Greece wondering when they will get a stamp to go to the next camp. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my understanding is not necessary in order for His Kingdom to be triumphant. He is faithful. He does use my service. He chose me specifically to do the tasks I did. He knows why each person is in each place and is present in both.
Having my eyes opened as I worked in that camp was certainly meaningful. It means I will now be an advocate for refugees. It means I furthered the Kingdom of God in some way. It means I will continue to pray for the camp and its volunteers and inhabitants. It means I know the brokenness of our world. It means I do not understand it but I am okay with that. It means God is still God no matter what. It means the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).