At a crudely constructed apartment in a remote area of Greece set aside for refugees, two families from Muslim countries shared living space for three months before they trusted each other enough to talk about their faith.
One family had been learning about Christianity before war drove them from their homes; the other family already believed in Christ after native missionaries in Greece shared their faith with them. The missionaries visit them regularly with food and other aid.
“After, we go in, they lock the door behind them, and they pull down a very thick curtain,” the leader of the native ministry said. “Every time that someone knocks, the owners ask who it is, unlock the door and then let them in.”
Most refugees in Greece today come from Afghanistan, and the families do not want to risk hard-line Muslim neighbors from Afghanistan and elsewhere finding out that they are learning about the Christ of the Bible.
Three years after Greece signed an agreement with Turkey to discourage Syrian and other refugees from trampolining off Turkey to Greece, Greek facilities for receiving them are still overwhelmed – prolonging the crisis for both officials and those seeking asylum. Many of the newcomers are disillusioned with Islam and open to the Gospel.
Besides increased societal discrimination, arriving refugees face long waits in foul living conditions.
Since Turkey and Greece signed the deal in March 2016, the number of refugees arriving in Greece declined from more than 861,000 at the height of the crisis in 2015 to a little over 50,000 last year. More than 170 of those trying to reach Greece were dead or missing in 2018.
The ongoing thousands of new arrivals are finding little welcome. As of May 19, another 12,668 refugees had arrived in Greece this year, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) figures – 8,431 by sea, 4,237 by land. In January alone, 2,652 people braved winter storms to cross the Aegean Sea in fragile dinghies.
Among those arriving by sea, nearly 40 percent are from Afghanistan; the next highest countries of origin among the refugees are Syria and Iraq at 13.5 percent and 13.1 percent respectively, according to the UNHCR.
Besides increased societal discrimination, arriving refugees face long waits in foul living conditions. Using plastic bags to carry their belongings, they get stuck in squalid camps on Greece’s islands while they await interviews to determine whether they will be sent to the mainland or back to Turkey. The 2016 pact calls for refugees arriving by boat to the Greek islands without permission to be returned to Turkey; European Union countries, in exchange, would then take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission