Feras & Mohamed
Two brothers and their mother's escape from certain death
Just in one month 104 thousand refugees crossed the border of Hungary illegally. This represents an enormous challenge to a country which's population is 9.5 million. The flow of refugees doesn't seem to slow down in the near future.
The Story of Feras and Mohamed (on the picture above with me) gives some personal glimpse of the horror in the war in Syria. Feras is a 5th year university student studying dentistry, his younger brother is a 3rd year university student studying business and economy. They've lived in the beautiful ancient city of Damascus with their mother, father and 11 year old sister. They had a beautiful house. Their father was building a house for each of his sons. Then the war came. They've lost everything and still didn't want to leave Syria, they've managed to stay and survive. Then Mohamed's school was bombed and his classmates were killed - he has survived. Yet, they still stayed. But now, the army wanted to enlist Feras and that means he would have to take part in murdering innocent people. He didn't want to do that. But if he disobeys the command than he himself will be killed. So the family decided that the two older boys start the dangerous journey with their mother and when they are settled somewhere in Europe, they will unite the family and the father and their younger sister will join them. These two young guys with their mother managed to survive the dangerous trip across the sea, than they've walked 5 weeks before we met at the "Keleti" train station in Budapest. This family had a life and now everything turned upside down, they've lost all their wealth, education, jobs, family members.
After helping with their physical needs we've started to a great discussion. I've shared with them that I know a famous refugee who has changed the world. They were curious to know who is that. I said, Jesus, he had to run for his life with his parents to Egypt. He has compassion for refugees because he himself was one. I showed him on my phone the Jesus film app, selected the specific arabic language he speaks and encouraged him to watch it on his way to Germany. When I've learned about his city, I've asked him if he has heard about the famous story of Paul in the city of Damaskus. He didn't, so I shared with him that, too. We've exchanged emails and became Facebook friends.
Jesus at the Railway Station
When we've started to feed these exhausted children who spent nights on the floor at the railway station and started to play with them suddenly the passage of Mt 25:40 hit me with an overwhelming emotional force: "as you did it to ONE OF THE LEAST of these my brothers, you did it to me." These little children didn't do anything to deserve to loose their home, parents, country. They didn't wanted to end up being here. Playing with them, clothing them, feeding them, is like doing it to Jesus himself. Jesus showed up at the railway station so we could host him, feed him, wash him, cloth him! As I was walking among these refugees who are laying on the concrete floor I only could see the tremendous opportunity God gave us to show the love of Christ. God brought nations to us we could have never reach with the gospel otherwise.
Is God in the Refugee Crises?
The refugee crisis may be one of the biggest challenges for Hungary and Europe in the past decades. However, we are not left without divine guidance, encouragement and hope in these hard days. The followings truths may help us put the events in an eternal perspective:
1. God controls history and He is above the nations, He commands and they arise, He brings them from distant islands. He has not finished His works in history. We may prefer things going as they used to and what we are used to, but this is not the pattern we see in the Bible and since then. Here are some verses about this:
Psalms 96:10 - God will judge the peoples with equity
Psalms 47:9-10 - for the kings of the earth belong to God
Isa 14:26-27 - This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? – God makes the decisions on the fate of nations, including our country, Europe and all other peoples.
Isa 60:9 - Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar – movements of the nations are in His hand
Isa 60:12 - For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.
Since God is the Lord of history, this situation in our times is also under His power and supervision. He has never lost control.
2. The Cross is the central event and message of history. God sees the existence of the whole world and history in and from the perspective of His Son. Before the beginning of the world and history He had decided that He would do everything by His Son, through His Son, in His Son and for His Son. Jesus Christ is the essence, center, origin and aim of all existence. There is nothing that was not created for Him and in respect to Him. God’s motivation in creation and in history is centered around the person and works of Christ. Therefore the purpose of history is nothing but enhancing the knowledge of Christ’s person and works, and history is a means in God’s hands to fulfill the Great Commission. Ephesians chapter 1 beautifully describes how from the eternal past to the eternal future He did and does everything for Christ.
3. God’s purpose with all what is happening is the spreading of the gospel. Challenges of history are the moments of grace for those who place themselves under God’s kingship, and the moments of judgment for those who reject grace. These days are representing a huge opportunity of repentance for nations that we could never reach otherwise. Christians could not go or were not willing to go to these nations, so God has brought the nations to us. If we are afraid that the “Christian” Europe is becoming Muslim then we underestimate the power of the gospel, of the Word and of the Spirit; or, we are afraid of facing the sufferings, the conflicts and the sacrifices that proclamation of the gospel always required whenever it advanced. The gospel has always made progress amidst suffering and persecution. The Church has never been defeated by outer enemies. The gospel message has never been broken down by persecution. On the contrary. Jesus said that not even the gates of Hades can win over the Church (Mt 16:18). The Church and the cause of the gospel could have been significantly weakened only from the inside by the lukewarm, uncommitted, closed minded, passive believers, who are paralyzed by their fears and who are not appropriating the power of the Holy Spirit. They are the real roadblocks for the gospel. Suffering and hardships separate wheat and chaff, real and fake, and they always enhance the progress of the gospel. Our current situation also serves God’s purposes and the cause of the gospel.
4. We have no reasons to be afraid. On the one hand, because being in God’s will is the safest place even if everything changes and the world we used to know disappears. On the other hand, perfect love drives out fear (1John 4:18).
5. Jesus will keep us accountable on what He has commanded to us. Here are some of them:
- Love our enemies and do good to them – Mt 5:44-48. The one who fears is not made perfect in love – 1John 4:18.
- Help the needy, because it is like doing it to Jesus – Mt 25:35-40.
- Share the gospel with all nations – Mk 16:15. The nations are here now.
- Pray for our leaders – 1Tim 2:2.
- Respect the governments’ efforts to maintain order and obey its rules – Rm 13:1-4 – except if those are in conflict with God’s commands – Acts 5:29.
6. It is only God’s grace that we are not in their shoes. If we had been born in their land we would be like them and would be doing exactly what they are doing. We are not better than they are. It is the sheer grace of God that we are not refugees and were not born in a Muslim country. We did nothing for being born here and being raised in this culture, we did nothing for getting to know Him and possessing all that He has given to us. All this is His free gift: our country, our culture, our circumstances, our skills, etc.. We are among the luckiest few percents of the world. We should embrace this grace with great thankfulness, humility and joy knowing that it also comes with lot of responsibilities and obligations.
Advancing the Kingdom of God together:
Gabor and Edina
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