Stories from the Field: Eastern Europe Crisis Pregnancy Center, Amy
Recently, our team at the Crisis Pregnancy Shelter received a phone call from a local pastor’s wife. Someone in her church had found a young migrant woman lying unconscious on the sidewalk, and they wanted to know how to help her. (This pastor’s wife knew that we had started a ministry to migrant women in crisis, which is why she called us for advice.) It turned out that the young woman, “Amy,” had been beaten by her drunk, common-law husband and thrown out in the street. Her arm was broken in the process. When he had learned that she was pregnant, he wanted her to get an abortion. She was reluctant as she had had one previously and did not want to repeat the experience. When we met Amy, she was terrified for herself and her 18-month old son, who was still with his father.
Our team made some quick phone calls to address Amy’s needs, praying fervently for wisdom about how best to help her. We soon found temporary housing for her with a local believing woman from Amy’s same people group.
Our shelter director, Maddie, counseled May, advising her of what next steps were possible. A woman in a crisis situation like Amy’s often feels that she has run out of options; part of our job is to help her discover what resources are available and to connect her to the help God is orchestrating to provide her. Since Amy’s desire was to return to her home country, we contacted a women’s shelter there and arranged for her acceptance into their program.
Meanwhile, the woman who took Amy into her home showered her with compassionate care. Through another believer, Amy heard the gospel and the truth about a Savior who loved her deeply. Amy’s heart was opened, and she made a decision to accept Christ as her Savior.
Soon after Amy’s decision to follow Christ, her son’s father agreed to release the child into her care. We purchased airline tickets and sent mother and son back to their home country, knowing they would be greeted by believers who would continue God’s work in their lives.
In our work with migrants, we are often only a small part of their story. We may not know what God has been doing in their lives before we’ve met them, and we often lose touch with them because of their very transient lifestyles. But we are committed to “write the chapter” God has given us in each migrant woman’s life with grace and wisdom—and then trust Him with the rest.
We look forward to reuniting someday with Amy in heaven and hopefully learn how God has used her to spread His Kingdom!
From Kosovo to Germany and Back: A Refugee Connection
Jeff Singfiel: (adapted from the Singfiel’s September 21, 2016 newsletter) Our Alliance regional director couple recently visited us in Kosovo for a couple of days. Shelly has invested a great deal of time in a refugee camp where many Kosovars are housed in Germany. One of the families in the camp was returned home to . . . wait for it . . . Gjilan [where our team is located]. During their visit, they and our team headed down to visit this family and their four young daughters. It was amazing to watch these young girls run and jump into Shelly’s arms. When they were in Germany the two older girls heard the gospel and attended church.
One of the first things one of the girls told Shelly with great sadness was, “Jesus isn’t in Kosovo.”
“Oh yes, he is! My friends know Him!” Shelly responded, referring to our team.
Pray that we can successfully connect this family to the Ringjallja church in Gjilan. We want these girls to be confident that Jesus is present in Kosovo.
Jen: Why you were compelled to be involved in this ministry in Germany?
Shelly: As Jerry and I traveled throughout our region during 2014 and 2015 we began hearing from our international workers that many people from the countries where they served were leaving and going to Germany. This was all prior to the big wave of refugees that arrived in Germany during the summer of 2015. The Lord stirred in my heart the desire to find refugees in Germany in hope that they would be from another area in our region. At that time, I knew that many were coming from Kosovo. The very first day I volunteered at a refugee camp near us, I met three families from Kosovo.
Jen: What was going through your mind when you discovered that some families in the refugee camp were from Gjilan?
Shelly: I was thrilled because I knew that I could get resources in their heart language to share Jesus with them. And I knew that if they were sent back to Kosovo, I would be able to connect them to our international workers and churches there! When I communicated with the refugees that I had been to Kosovo and had even been to Gjilan, where one family was from, they were encouraged.
Jen: How were you able to stay connected this family?
Shelly: We have kept in touch despite the distance because of an online app (smiles). We also have each other’s phone numbers. Shortly before Jerry and I left for our year in the United States, this family returned to Kosovo. We were able to sit with them in their room at the refugee center and pray for them. They let us pray for them, which is huge! And it was even during their religion’s holy month , although they were not practicing; this family is quite nominal in their faith.
Jen: Did you travel to Kosovo with the specific purpose to reconnect with them?
Shelly: Our trip to Kosovo in September 2016 was part of our work. We regularly visit our teams and sites throughout the Europe and Middle East Region. Because I knew we were going to be there, I asked the family if we could meet. I really wanted to connect them to our workers there. I had given the father of the family some of our workers’ phone numbers, but he didn’t make the contact on his own. So this was the perfect opportunity to get everyone together in person. I was thankful that our international workers were willing to meet the family and help connect them with other believers in Gjilan.
Jen: Tell me more.
Shelly: In Germany, I had invested huge amounts of time in refugee families, and this family became very dear to me. I couldn’t wait to see them and get little girl hugs from them again! I really missed them. It felt so surreal, such a gift to be with them again. Many families at the camp came and went, and I lost connection with most of them. This just felt like such an answer to prayer that the dream planted in my heart—way back in 2014 and 2015—finally had become a reality. Because of the language barrier, the connection between the family and the church is now in the hands of our workers on the ground. The girls speak German, and that’s how I’m able to communicate so well with them. That’s how they have understood the gospel. The mother’s German is OK, but it’s a struggle to communicate with her. That’s why I’m thrilled she has Albanian speakers in her life.
Jen: Will you continue to keep in touch with them?
Shelly: Yes. In some ways I’ve released them to the international workers and church in Kosovo, but the relationship I have with them will continue.
On the day we all got together in Kosovo, I was wearing a bracelet that a friend had made for me that has a cross on it. The girls kept asking me about it and saying that they also wanted a “Jesus bracelet.” My friend just made three bracelets for the three older girls and is mailing them to me. I hope this will be another chance for them to connect—and another chance to open doors to talk about Jesus.
Jen: Perhaps you could comment about how God is moving people groups in this world for His purposes so that all peoples have the opportunity to learn of Him.
Shelly: This is a time like no other—the refugee crisis has opened doors like crazy! On our last trip to the region, we heard over and over again, phrases like: “We’ve never seen anything like this before! Muslims are questioning their faith, something that is forbidden in their religion.” “We are thankful for the war because of the people coming to Christ .”
The opportunities I have had to share with refugees have been amazing. [The refugee situation] also is causing the atheists of post-Christian Europe to wake up and question faith. It’s stirring the hearts of everyone in the Europe and Middle East Region. God is using what man intended for evil to bring about good and to build His Kingdom.
When we became regional leaders almost six years ago, we shared a presentation called “The Celebration of One.” We talked about how the Europe and Middle East Region was hard soil and that we rejoiced when we heard of one person coming to Christ. The faithfulness of our Alliance international workers and their placement where they are is now helping to usher in a spiritual harvest in most areas where we have Alliance work in Europe and the Middle East.
There’s nothing like another birth and a post-pregnancy body to remind me that I need exercise. Muscles need toning, the extra weight needs to be lost, and in general there is a level of stamina that needs to be rebuilt for the physical demands of keeping up with my kids. The lower back groans with each bend, I get winded when I climb the stairs to my friend’s 3rd floor apartment, and my arms beg for mercy when my baby’s 14 pound body is too much to bear. It’s this discomfort and pain that remind me that exercise is vital to my health.
In much the same way, our faith needs toning. And what is faith? It is a willful choice to act on what we know to be true despite what we see. It is this muscle of choice which must be exercised. If not, our faith will beflabby and unable to stand against the demands of our day. These days when terrorism is a normal word in conversation…. …when the countries of the world are mixing and mingling through immigration like never before in history. This is our day. This is our opportunity to exercise choice.
Dear friends, I beg you to respond to the events of our world with a choice to love, a choice to believe. Every terrorist plot, every dichotomy between Christianity and Islam, every advance of ISIS provides us with another reminder to exercise the muscle of our faith. It’s an opportunity to choose love over hate.
If the followers of Jesus will not respond in love, who will? If faith, hope and love do not mark the character of the church, what will? And if now is not the time to respond in love and to exercise this faith, then when?
When I was younger, I never imagined that I would bring three children into the world and send them to school next to a mosque. I didn’t know that I would live in Europe among Muslim immigrants. If my faith in Jesus Christ is real, than I can love – when I’m tempted to fear…when I doubt the intentions of the Muslims who know where we live. It is still a choice to love when I invite women into my home, when I encourage friendships between my daughters and their immigrant friends, and when I pass my newborn baby to my neighbors to hold and play with.
Every day holds new opportunities for all of us – in the US as well as here in Europe – to exercise our muscles of faith. Let’s choose to love, dear friends.
Choose to love.
Article by: An Alliance worker serving in Europe.