I have reached a wall of sorts in my ability to describe what God is doing here. He revealed something in my heart that I did not recognize in coming to Athens.
Just 16 days ago, I walked with a mindset of this being an “us and them” situation. I knew that these people were real families with stories and children, but I thought that their circumstances and difference in culture would never enable us to be unified. Honestly, there was fear in my heart towards the refugees.
What God has shown me instead has been humbling and wonderful. In a place filled with so much pain and brokenness, I did not expect to find joy and acceptance. I have made real friends here – these people we call refugees are people with hopes, hobbies, families, and personalities. There are a few girls who remind me of my sisters, they have senses of humor, they have favorite songs, and many of them have college degrees. I know some couples who met each other in a university class just like my brother and his wife.
It’s a bit daunting to realize the person you’re teaching English to has been to graduate school for a degree you can hardly pronounce. Time and time again, we have found ourselves being served tea and dates on a dirty floor by our friends who have so little. I have played card games with them, been frustrated when the Google translate app fails us once again, heard their stories, cried with them, and realized I appreciate some of their customs over our own. I have found joy in my friendships with them and they have called me family. Realizing all of this, the thing that is truly fearful is that my own fear would prevent my heart from loving and investing in these people God has opened His heart to and instilled with His image.