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A willingness to obey

By Amy Durrant
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    Experienced Interserve Partners Allen and Liz recently moved to a European city to serve refugees and asylum seekers with the ‘Peace House’:

    The hospitality spaces looked lovely. In the midst of autumn, we had decorated with hues of gold, copper, tangerine and rustic brown. Tables were set, games prepared, coffee made and volunteers were waiting, ready for whoever walked through the door. The Peace House is a refurbished tavern, located about twenty minutes walk from a large refugee camp. It is managed by our partner organisation—a group that has set up similar facilities throughout this nation in response to the massive influx of asylum seekers. Decorated in Middle Eastern style, there are plush cushions scattered around the walls, Persian carpets, and plenty of treats to please Eastern palates.

    We are newcomers to the Peace House, although our association with it began more than a year ago. It started with a ‘Macedonian call’ we heard at an international conference: The number of refugees in this country is more than we can handle. Can you come and help? Initially we thought, “What a marvellous opportunity for Interserve! Surely there are experienced Partners who will jump at this!” Yet it soon became evident that, actually, it’s people just like us that are needed at the Peace House: people who can be mums and dads, aunties and uncles, and brothers and sisters to refugees. And so, step by step over the past twelve months, we have made the decision to stay at the Peace House for the next two years.

    During our years of serving God overseas, we’ve learned that responsiveness to His voice requires an ear tuned to the Holy Spirit and a willingness to obey without delay. Lengthy forethought and careful preplanning can easily become synonyms for procrastination, and procrastination is a recipe for lost opportunities. From the outside, responsiveness may look flighty — “Why can’t they just settle in one place?!” — but to be responsive means to be available and open to change.

    it soon became evident that, actually, it’s people just like us that are needed at the Peace House: people who can be mums and dads, aunties and uncles, and brothers and sisters to refugees.

    Our first group of three Iranian men entered the Peace House door just a few minutes after opening time. They were closely followed by four more Iranians, three Afghans, a Moroccan man, then husband and with their two boys. The volunteers rushed into action, offering tea, coffee and snacks, pulling out chess and other games, offering colouring and art activities. At one point, an Afghan man was teaching two Iranians how to do calligraphy! Someone took three guys into the kitchen where they learned together how to make scones. At dinner time, eighteen people sat around the table giving thanks to God for His abundant provision. Five different languages were being spoken, yet everyone had a marvellous time, joking, laughing and gesticulating! At the end of the meal, the Parable of the Sower was shared in simple English while one refugee translated it into Persian and another into Arabic.

    At one point during the evening, looking across a room full of engaged and animated people, I found myself smiling broadly. This is why we’re here. This is what being responsive to the Holy Spirit has done. It has given these harassed and helpless people the opportunity to experience homelife again; a chance to eat a family meal with friends; a chance to share hospitality together and receive Christian love. These simple joys, that are so often taken for granted, are being soaked up by our refugee friends. And in the process, they see and experience Jesus in action. What a privilege!

    This article was first published in GO Magazine, February 2024.

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