Hester Roos has served with OM in Greece for one year as the communications facilitator and as part of the refugee ministries. Here she shares about OM’s initiatives in the refugee camps and a start-up sports ministry for refugees in the Athens area.
I am joining my colleagues for a day in their ministry in one of the refugee camps around Athens. One of them shares that she started working there in 2016, and right from the start, she prayed that God would let Himself be known in the area.
“God sends us to places, and He will let His name be heard. Other organisations had to leave because funds ran out. But we were able to stay, and that made all the difference. People know who we are now and know we can be trusted,” she said.
Last summer she came to a camp for the first time. “We started to get to know the leader, and God paved the way for a relationship to start. Even when I could not help them with something they needed, I still came to visit.”
Recently, my colleagues started a soccer team. It is my first experience with sports ministry, and it is wonderful to see the positive effects.
While I was there, the boys tried out their new sport shirts and soccer shoes that OM donated. Most of the boys had been playing with bare feet on the hard rubber field. The boys were proud to have their own outfit; and, of course, a professional soccer team photo needed to be taken. After playing for a while, one of the boys got angry because he never got the ball from his teammate. This was a good opportunity to talk about teamwork.
Now that the sport ministry has proven its potential, my colleagues will follow up training with the aim of being able to have fruitful fellowship time with the boys. They also hope to set up friendly matches with other refugee teams and church teams. This sports ministry is a beautiful combination of having fun together and learning valuable lessons about teamwork and discipline.
Our prayer is that, with the boys knowing that we are all Christians, we can show and share with them how God loves them.
While the boys are practising their soccer skills, my colleague shares more with me about her time in the camps: “We don’t want to help as an aid organisation alone. We want to help as one family helps another family. So instead of handing out just food, we gave them ingredients and organised a big dinner with volunteers and refugees together. This was such a wonderful time of sharing that we have done it many times since then.”
The leader of the camp expresses his gratitude: "They [OM] are with us in the big and in the small things. They sit with us, eat with us, make jokes with us, and they hear our frustration and our cries. This makes us one family.”
Simple things that start to build community—and community that reflects God's love.