the humanitarian crisis in Szeged
with all the has been going on in the world (the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage in the US, establishment of an Embassy in Cuba, Greece defaulting on it’s loan payment to the European Central Bank / IMF) not much, if any attention has been given to the growing humanitarian crisis happening here in Szeged.
For weeks now, refugees have been fleeing Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and making their way to Europe. For the first time in the 16 years I’ve lived in Szeged, these refugees have been flooding into Europe through Szeged like never before. A friend of mine, who is a policeman, told me that 52,000 people entered Hungary illegally last year seeking refugee status. Because of the situation in the Middle East the flood gates have opened and thousands of people everyday are crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary in the hopes of obtaining refugee status in the EU.
Szeged does not have any refugee camps, so when people get here they find their way to the train station and board trains to the refugee camps in places like Debrecen (where some of refugees are coming to know Jesus). These refugees arrive in Szeged completely exhausted from traveling thousands of miles on foot and squeezed in inhumane conditions in cars & vans. A group of people started to meet these refugees at the train station to offer them help, food, water, hygiene products, etc. This small volunteer movement has caught fire and has been highlighted in the Hungarian news.
On the news today, I heard an interview with a sociologist who talked to some of these refugees. One thing they told him was that the way they were treated here in Szeged was the first time in a long time that someone treated them as people, not as cash cows.
As this situation has been unfolding, I’ve felt that it’s our Christian duty to help these people who are the foreigners & outcasts of society. Jesus taught us is Matthew 25, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Tonight, after church, we took our first carload of humanitarian aid to these refugees. While at the train station, we asked if we could talk with one of the organizers. Fortunately, we were able to talk with a very kind woman. I told her that I’m a pastor of a church and we, and other churches, want to help. She said, that during the night, there has recently been tension among the refugees. And she said it would be great to have a pastor there to help deal with the spiritual issues of the refugees. So in the coming days / weeks, as I can I will be out at the train station ministering to refugees. As a church, we are doing what we can to add supplies to help those in need. A heat wave will hit Hungary this weekend, so we’re going to be buying lots of water to keep people hydrated.
I know that we might not ever see these people again, but that isn’t the point, the point is we must obey Jesus and care for those who are in need. So, I’m excited about what the Lord is going to do through Golgota Szeged, and though the other churches in Szeged, as we seek to just minister to Jesus as we minister to the refugees.
Please pray for us, for Golgota Szeged & all the churches in Szeged, as we seek to minister the love of Jesus to people who are in such dire need.