Read how Frontline Community church in Germany used the power of an invitation to reach refugees, and offer new community and welcome to all.
According to the German government, Germany received just shy of a million asylum applications last year alone. As in the rest of Europe, the question of how to respond to the current refugee crisis is the cause of much debate and domestic political tension.
In the middle of all of this are millions of men, women, and children who have fled war and trauma that most of us can barely imagine.
Hope lives on
Frontline Community Church in Ramstein, Germany - a group of frontline ministers to the American military community in Germany - decided to do something different last month. Several of their members teach beginners' German language classes to refugees in the country to aid social integration.
As Christmas approached, they realised that many of their students would be lonely and as Christians, this didn't sit well with them.
"Would you like to come to our Christmas Party?" This is such an ordinary question for many of us and sometimes these invitations may be taken for granted. Yet, a simple invitation can be a wonderful gift and tool in the hands of God.
Frontline Community Church quickly got to work. They organised a Christmas party to invite refugees, planned festive activities, packaged gift bags and ordered copies of SGM Lifewords' resource An Invitation in German, Arabic and Persian languages.
More than 50 guests (mainly from Afghanistan and Syria) were in attendance and most were from a Muslim background. After singing songs, making crafts, playing games and enjoying snacks, they were surprised when they were given beautiful gift bags. "They loved the packages," said Pastor Gary and his wife Suzanne, "but they were particularly intrigued by their copies of An Invitation."
For that moment in time, they weren't refugees, asylum seekers or outsiders - they were family members of Frontline Community Church. They had been accepted and welcomed home.
Pastor Gary and Suzanne told us that, "Our new friends loved the party. They were smiling the entire time and had the opportunity to form new friendships."
Little did the guests know that the end of the party wouldn't be the end for them. This planted a seed in the hearts of Frontline Community Church and they are now starting up a special ministry for refugees and immigrants in Germany. This will help with social inclusion and integration as well as spreading the good news of the gospel.
And it all began with An Invitation.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
Photos by Lou Moreno