By Andy McNeely
Today was filled with emotions as so much of the trip has been. Sorrow for the plight of the homeless refugees, joy with our new Syrian friends, and shock at the ability of people to survive. The most recurring emotion I have had over the duration of our trip has been that of amazement at the generosity of the poor. Somehow, these people live lives which repeatedly, without hesitation or concern for their own well-being, pour out what little they have into the laps of others.
The Syrian and Afghani refugees have told us harrowing tales of their months-long journeys, some 3,500 miles on foot, during which they left behind so much of their earthly possessions and later were forced to leave EVERYTHING except the clothes on their backs to take onboard crowded and sinking rafts. A people who have seemingly lost everything, it would seem, should be a people who fully comprehend scarcity. Today, as we approached the port of Piraeus where thousands have squatted for months in makeshift tents, we had expectations as to what it would be like. We were prepared to encounter begging, pick-pockets trying to survive, and fights incited by jealousy over meager possessions. Instead, we were warmly greeted with smiles, hugs, picture taking and juice boxes!
As we fought back tears and accepted their hospitality, I looked up. Just beyond where our hosts are staying, I could see the massive ferry they rode to get to Greece and I was reminded, again, of the incredible hospitality of the Greeks. Greece is in the midst of their own struggles with incredible financial ruin eroding the infrastructure of their homeland and stripping their young of jobs and hope. Yet, the Greek tradition of hospitality remains prominently at the forefront of their culture as they welcome with meals, and open their homes the hopeless refugees.
This is really a beautiful, modern-day picture of an encounter Jesus had with a widow in in the book of Mark, chapter 12. Sitting in the Temple watching with His disciples, as folks were bringing their offerings to the church, Jesus watched the widow quietly give a gift that was generous beyond my comprehension. Jesus had this to say, “This poor widow has given more than all the others who gave large gifts. The others gave out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on.”
The Greeks and the refugees are teaching me what it means to live a life characterized by a posture of abundance, not scarcity. Rather than tightly grasping the possessions they have that might help them survive, their hands are open and extended to others, offering with a smile whatever they have left to give.
Consider what you have been given by the gracious hand of God. And ask yourself, “Am I living in a posture of scarcity or abundance?”
“Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” -Isaiah 58:7
This post was originally at https://seedsandwaterblog.com and is used with permission. Read more posts there about this team’s trips to Greece with Servant Group International.