'That’s not normal.' In recent days we have heard this sentence a lot in our home. This morning was no exception. Alina* looked at me worriedly and incredulously as we talked about the topic of rent for the umpteenth time.
Again, I explained to her that she doesn't have to pay anything while she doesn't have money and that it's fine the way it is. "I don't know this concept from where I come from," she tells me. In Ukraine, they were fine because she and her husband worked hard. The fact that she now must rely on help visibly bothers and overwhelms her. Accepting something may be harder for many, including us, than giving something. We don't like to be in someone else's debt, especially when we feel we can't repay that debt.
On the run
In 2015 and again today, we experienced what it looks like when people are fleeing. Destitute and penniless, they stand at the borders of Europe and seek protection, security and healing. All this happens with an anxious and uncertain view of the future. However, many more people know this state of a "refugee". It describes the state of the world after the Fall. Material security and prosperity do not protect us from the lostness within. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:7: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" (NIV).
Yes, "this is not normal"––it is divine. God richly gives us His grace. We receive something that we cannot even begin to repay. He prepares a dwelling place for us in heaven, accepts us and gives us comfort and confidence.
Bridges to God
In Graz, we work with people from many different countries. Language is always an issue. When explaining the gospel with words, you quickly reach your limits, no matter how simple you keep it. "One hour for one sentence," Alina once said. We were only able to clarify the open points concerning the design of our garden to a limited extent, even with a translation programme and a picture search on our cell phones. The "concept" of God's love for us humans, on the other hand, becomes best understandable when we live it. It does not need words. Jesus says in John 13:35: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (NIV). And thus, who Jesus Himself is.
At Building Bridges, we not only want to help build bridges between people and cultures but also between people and God. To make visible and tangible the One who is so different in His nature from us. So much so that sometimes we don't even perceive Him, even though He has long been at work in our lives.
"Perhaps it was prepared for me to come to you," says Alina* thoughtfully at the end of our conversation. We pray for her and the many other friends of ours in Graz––that they may find Him.