Shirin has found her way to a refugee center in Europe run by Southern Baptist workers. A worker calls Shirin’s grown daughter in the U.S. — Shirin is desperate to reconnect.
Once a businesswoman in Kabul, Afghanistan, she also was a mom and a wife, married to a man with a prestigious government job. Then the Taliban showed up. They mercilessly killed her husband. Her children were taken from her and raised to hate her and the more culturally liberal way of life she embraced.
She eventually left Afghanistan, joining thousands of other refugees migrating through Iran, Turkey and Greece toward the hope of a better life.
Wandering is part of the nomadic history of many minority peoples of Central Asians. Sadly, running is part of it as well: running from war, persecution, discrimination, poverty.
Christian workers in a European city teach English to refugees who are trying to make new lives for themselves.
For a woman tired of running and longing for a home, the words strangle what little hope she has left.
She also is spiritually hungry. As she processes the news from her daughter, a Bible study begins at the refugee center. Suddenly breaking off a conversation, she moves toward the front of the room for a better seat.
The refugee center that welcomed Shirin has been open for six years. Each week, it provides meals for about 500 people and distributes approximately 150 bags of staple groceries to needy families. Other ministries at the center include clothes distributions, worship services, Bible studies and language classes.
The center used to provide showers but that ministry was cut as a result of Lottie Moon Christmas Offering budget shortfalls. The workers use some of their personal support funds received through the offering to maintain some of the other ministries.
Convinced of the strategic importance of refugee ministry, workers at the center are committed to making do with what funds they have. They saw 70 baptisms in one year as a result of their outreach, and they are witnessing the growth of a Persian church led by Persian believers in their midst.
Jesus made it possible for people to run into the arms of God, the pastor explains.
To learn more about Central Asian refugees, go to imb.org/wp/europeancity.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Beth Alexander is an IMB writer living in Central Asia.)