It was our first time at the makeshift refugee camp on the edge of the border between Greece and Macedonia. We parked at a gas station surrounded by thousands of refugees, all pitching tents and making small campfires in the dirt and gravel. As soon as we donned our yellow volunteer vests, anxious eyes began searching us out in the crowd, asking for information.
“When can we cross the border into Macedonia?”
“Is there any food for my family?”
“My baby needs a doctor. Is there a doctor?”
One at a time, we answered questions as best as we could, knowing little more than those who were asking. Our guide for the day (who had been there several times before) lead us to a supply tent to help with distribution. Soon I was placed outside of a food tent with a line of women and children stretching before me, who had all been waiting for hours. Eventually everything was ready and we began to let several people through the tent at a time.
The entire line began pushing each other forward, crushing the crowd of children who had massed in the front. I planted my feet firmly on each side of the small entrance to the tent, trying to somehow keep the mob from charging without being thrown to the ground, as volunteers around me began bracing my back and calling in Arabic and Farsi for people to stop shoving. Tensions mounted as larger children began trampling smaller ones, women started pushing as hard as they could, and volunteers from another organization began using physical force to try and establish order. I changed positions and clasped hands with others to form a human wall on both sides of the line to keep people from cutting in before others.
Everyone around me was yelling, and not knowing what else to do, I began to pray, trying to tune out the madness for a moment to focus on the Lord. I began to pray for peace and joy, and the attitudes of the people around me started changing.
Turning, I looked around and was amazed at what I saw.
The volunteer who was throwing people out of the line in anger just moments before now had a grin on his face. The stress had drained out of the volunteers’ faces, and they were laughing. I laughed too, joy bursting in my heart as it hit me that God was moving as I prayed. All around me the refugees that I smiled at started smiling back, and the line began to relax.
We fed each person that we could, but I know that the best gift I could give that day was the joy that only comes from a relationship with Jesus.
He is enough, even in the chaos.
Annette is one of our Fall 2015 Discipleship Training School graduates. She is full of compassion, which overflowed into the lives of the refugees she encountered during her outreach in Greece.