“He [Paul] knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Acts 20:36-38.
In July, I (Matt) had the privilege of taking another mission team back to Macedonia in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Half of Syria’s pre-war population have been killed or forced to flee their homes. There are now nearly 4 million Syrians scattered throughout the region, making them the world’s largest refugee population.
As with my previous trip, our team quickly fell in love with the refugees. Even just after our first full day serving in the refugee camp, Jack, a team member said, “It’s already hard to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made.” Another team member said, “I didn’t expect to find my family in Macedonia! I saw my little brother in the boy who asks for piggybacks, and my sisters in the giggling girls who kiss my cheek.”
Our friendships with the Syrian refugees continued to deepen as the days went by and the nights got later and later. We entered the refugee’s minimal living spaces, shared their food and laughs, we nearly sweat to death playing rousing games of ping pong, and some of us even started learning Arabic—all the while doing our best to communicate the love and message of Jesus Christ.
On our last night together we gathered our Syrian friends to pray a blessing over them. Our hearts were all moved as many wept and embraced each other before we said our final goodbyes. In just two weeks we had grown very close. God truly blessed us as we shared our lives with the Syrian refugees. Please continue to lift them up in prayer. Pray for peace in Syria and for the Holy Spirit to soften hearts.