“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 (NIV)
OM worker Kiet started life as a refugee. In 1980, his parents fled communist rule in Vietnam after the war, leaving two successful businesses and selling everything to buy passage on a boat. With no food on board, the TV148 circled the South China Sea before arriving at the Island of Bidong off the coast of Malaysia. Thousands of refugees camped there on one square kilometre of dry land. For nine months Kiet’s family was stranded, living in a makeshift shelter before resettling in the UK when Kiet was two years old.
“Lots of boats sank, just like what has been happening in Europe,” Kiet said. “While we were on our boat, my sister and I were ill and other children were dying; my mother thought we wouldn’t make it. It’s amazing we survived.”
During the past eighteen months, Kiet has been serving with OM’s EurAsia Support Team (OM EAST) at a time when thousands of refugees travelled through the Balkans and Eastern Europe, many of whom similarly survived a life-threatening journey.
A graphic designer with OM EAST’s media ministry, Kiet has been involved in designing a small card and website to help other OM teams and partners share the gospel with refugees. Written in six languages, the card asks, “Are you looking for hope?” In answer, it directs individuals to a new website, called Love4refugees, which provides links to Christian resources in the Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Kurdi, Pashto and Urdu languages.
“I see the hope card as a tool somebody can easily use to strike up conversation or offer even without a conversation,” Kiet explained. “You can give it to someone whom you want to communicate God with and they’ll know what to do.” Since most people own smart phones, they can easily access literature, talks and videos online, including the Jesus film.
“The question ‘are you looking for hope?’ connects with them,” Kiet emphasised. “They view each country they go to as a place that can offer them this hope, but we know it cannot give them that complete source of hope. The card directs them to a better place.”
Though too young to remember what his family went through, growing up Kiet often heard his mother and father talk about their experience with strong emotion. Their story helps Kiet grasp how difficult it was and to understand in some way what refugees are facing now. His family’s testimony reflects the important role local churches have in supporting individuals and families to resettle.
“We came to the UK with just what we were wearing,” Kiet stated. The local Chinese church responded to the needs of ethnic Chinese refugees, including Kiet’s family. “The biggest need for my parents was community,” Kiet said. “They found it in the local Chinese church. Meeting someone who spoke their language instantly connected them, and they felt cared for by those who visited them.” Through teaching English in their home and providing practical assistance to overcome fears, friendships deepened. The family of four started joining Sunday services where they heard about Jesus for the first time.
“We used to have a box hanging on the wall with a photo of my grandfather - a little altar for ancestral worship,” Kiet explained. “One day I noticed the box was gone. I didn’t realise the significance until later; it was then my parents decided to give their lives to Jesus and no longer worship other gods.”
Kiet too heard the Gospel at Sunday school and later at a youth camp he chose to follow Christ. Since then he recognises how God has guided decisions and challenged his life aspirations, recently leading him to a point of praying, “Lord, lead me to whatever you want me to do”.
“I never thought I would be here working with OM EAST in graphics,” Kiet reflected. “Looking back, I can see how God has placed me here.”
Within the past nine months, over 160,000 hope cards have been ordered by OM teams, other Christian organisations and churches throughout Europe and beyond.
“To have a response like that is awesome,” Kiet said, after hearing how an Arabic speaker in Austria gratefully accepted a card offered by another OM EAST worker. “It makes me think others can respond in the same way. Knowing it can instantly connect with somebody is great news.”
The commitment of believers to support refugees in a time of transition and uncertainty has lasting value. Just as Kiet’s family were pointed to a place where they discovered a new identity and home in Christ, God is using the Church today to bring refugees the message of true hope for the future, a hope which extends into eternity.
“I keep coming back to the verse, which talks about fixing our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen,” Kiet shared. “It reminds me that life is not just about this world. Life is so much more. We are strangers in this land, like refugees, where our home is ultimately in heaven.”
Please pray individuals receiving the cards will access resources online and find complete hope in Jesus Christ. Pray for wisdom and opportunities for churches to reach out in their community.
Feel free to share the link to the love4refugees website: www.love4refugees.com
To order hope cards contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Could you use your skills in graphic design or web development to help share the Gospel? See opportunities to serve: OM EurAsia Support Team.