Sharing Hope Through Hospitality

September 30 2015

Over the last couple of weeks, I have thought about a class that my wife, Kristen, and I took together at seminary called The Ministry of Hospitality. One of my former graduate professors, Dr. Christine Pohl, shares in one of her writings:

“In ancient times, hospitality was viewed as a pillar on which the moral structure of the world rested. It was a highly valued moral practice, seen as an important expression of kindness, mutual aid, neighborliness, and a response to the life of faith. Hospitality addressed the physical needs of strangers for food, shelter, and protection, but also included recognition of their worth and common humanity. It almost always involved shared meals; table fellowship was historically an important way of acknowledging the equal value and dignity of people.”

I recently heard an older Syrian woman say, “We are treated like animals!” I witnessed with my own eyes a few Hungarian people throwing firecrackers at innocent (“resting”) refugees – mainly women and children – at the railway station. I had the privilege to help other Christian brothers and sisters to be able to serve those who were in need. My wife and I also helped at the Serbian border to clean up the makeshift camp and remove trash, with the help of the Hungarian authorities. I was able to travel to Croatia with a group of missionaries to take some aid for the needy, working through a church in Croatia. These are some of the highlights of the help that we were able to show to those who are without hope.

As Christians, we have a great message to those who are without hope. We have Jesus Christ in our lives and hundreds of years of Christian heritage of the ministry of hospitality. Christians in Europe and the Christian world altogether have some serious decisions to make. We can decide to respond out of obligation and show our neighbors what it means to be bad hosts. Or we can choose to respond with hospitality because of our love for others, celebrating them as they are coming under the protection, care, and love of Christians in Europe. This will create an environment of equality where we can share love in a vulnerable way – sharing life together – so that others can see spiritual vitality and heritage in every action that is done in the name of Jesus Christ.

You may wonder, “How does cleaning up trash show hospitality?” Well, as Kristen and I worked with the rest of our team to remove trash, we created a place for people to have a clean environment. It helped reduce the potential for further sickness to break out in the camp because of the various germs it might produce. Perhaps you've wondered, “How does taking aid to Croatia help us, as missionaries in Hungary, show hospitality?” People have physical needs. Especially these days, when Europe is having colder weather and a rainier season. When we lend a hand in the name of Jesus, his name is exalted.

These are just some of the small ways that can show that each person matters and that they are loved as they pass through these European border countries for 24-48 hours. Every good action gives hope to the people who have traveled countless days and survived various perils. As we respond with love and vulnerability toward the refugees, they realize they are God’s creation and feel hope for the future. So many of the refugees are leaving countries that did not allow for freedom of religion. With our various acts hospitality, we became the extended hands and feet of Jesus. When we rub shoulders with the refugees, they rub shoulders with Jesus. When we love and care for them, they see the love and care of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They then have the freedom to respond to the message of hope the first time in centuries without serious ramifications.

But be ye warned, they are precious in the sight of the Father. He has sent his only Son for those who believe in him (John 3:16-21). We need to be diligent in our preparation to reach them with the message of hope in action and in words. This is not only a moral obligation, but it is a Christian obligation of the church. The kingdom of God is open and ready to receive those who want to come. We are mere vessels in the work of the Holy Spirit to lead them to a living relationship with the one, true God. Let us all seek our part in it! Let us be diligent in our supplication for their situation! Let us keep our Christian brothers and sisters in prayer who receive them and show them the light and hope of God while they are transitioning to a new world! Let us keep the refugees in our prayers as they have serious obstacles and difficulties that they can only overcome with the help of God! Let us beg for mercy that we do not miss the proper response in every interaction so that these people, who are loved by God, will see Jesus and the hope he can provide to them in this new world.

By Viktor Rozsa, OMS Hungary Missionary

Tags: refugees, europe, hope for hopeless, hospitality, migration crisis,

Refugees Seek Their Own "Promised Land"

September 25 2015

I’ve heard it said that the job of a missionary is one of the most unpredictable jobs. The truth is I am blessed with the flexibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus whenever and wherever. Over the past three weeks, I’ve lived in a breaking news story. That’s an honor as well as a responsibility, especially when an international crisis is on your doorstep.

I am a photographer, but in the moment of a destitute refugee camp, a picture cannot fully express the reality of what is happening.

I took this photo September 8 on our initial visit to Röszke, Hungary. This boy looks incredibly desperate and hopeless. It appears that his eyes are prepared to gush tears. What you cannot see is the joy that he experienced moments before. We were dancing while his sister was watching and eating a banana, and his laughter was so contagious that I couldn’t help from laughing. You see, the photographers want to tell a story; they want to tell a story that sells, rather than a story that is real. It’s totally different when you actually enter into the story. I have made it my personal intent to share the stories that are real in the midst of this crisis.

Later that day, I walked up the train tracks and spoke with a man who shared a bit of his story, which began in Iraq and by the time we talked, he and his family had walked for 50 days. While this same story has been told many times along this route, my heart broke as he lifted his shirt to show me a catheter with which he had been walking this whole time. He had cancer, and they were hoping to arrive in Switzerland for a better life.

Saturday, things had changed for us, just as they had for the refugees. The borders closed in Hungary, and the camp we had worked in was now an empty field. The routes to freedom needed to change. We traveled to the border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia with the OMS van full of volunteers and resources. While the stories were different, the hearts were the same: we want freedom, safety, and HOPE.

Not only did we serve soup, fruit, and water, but we kicked a soccer ball, smiled when people asked for selfies, and listened to their stories and their expressions of gratitude to us for being there. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m prone to judgment, but every time I asked questions or heard a real story from a refugee, my walls were broken down, and I saw that they are just normal people.

Families on a journey, communities in flux, and volunteers in motion. The transient nature of refugee life is not all that different from our spiritual walk. I can’t help but think of the journey of the Israelites, not having a “home,” only the hope for the Promised Land.

By Lauren Pupillo, OMS Hungary Missionary

Tags: refugees, europe, hungary, croatia, missionary flexibility,

Home for the Desperate (Refugees)

September 15 2015

We drove through cornfields and Hungarian countryside for barely a kilometer before we started seeing the clusters of people walking toward bus stops and train stations. They were recognizable by their dirty, disheveled appearances, their small packs and their weary faces. We passed them and continued on toward the place from which they had eagerly departed. The poorly paved road suddenly was congested with buses and cars, news media vans, and police vehicles. And then we were there … the make-shift campsite where thousands of refugees were waiting to be processed by Hungarian officials and granted asylum.

I stepped out of my vehicle and stood a moment just taking it all in. Everywhere my eyes looked, there were tents, and trash, and people. All sorts of people: men, women-old and young, children, and infants-able-bodied and disabled. Everywhere I looked, there were people. I tried hard to get a sense of my surroundings and wondered where the best place to start was when I was startled by a man’s voice. So deep in thought, I did not see the middle-aged man that had walked up beside me. He spoke broken English, but the urgency in his voice was unmistakable.

“Shoes?” I quickly turned to face him, drawn back from my overwhelming thoughts to the reality in front of me. “I’m sorry?” I mumbled. He saw the confusion in my face and attempted again, “Do you have any shoes for me? I need shoes.” I quickly glanced down at his feet. Soiled feet in torn and flimsy sandals stood before my clean and nicely tied tennis shoes. “I’m sorry...” I managed to reply, “I don’t have any shoes today.” The man nodded and said, “Thank you,” and quickly disappeared back into the crowd of people.

The rest of the team had already begun cleaning and picking up trash as I reached for the box of M&M’s I had brought to pass out to some of the children. They were happy and full of smiles as I started to hand out the small bags of candy. In spite of their pleased faces, I couldn’t stop thinking about the man’s desperate plea for shoes. His was the first request I heard, but unfortunately it wasn’t the last. And a picture was quickly painted for me of the amount of desperation these people were feeling.

Yes, desperate for shoes, or clothes, or food, or blankets ... but also desperate to be able to stop running. Desperate for information or help or safety. Desperate for freedom and desperate for hope.

I realized as I returned home that night and gave our daughter a bath in a nice tub of warm, soapy water, and as I helped our boys finish their homework and pack their lunches for school the next day, that I don’t know the kind of desperate that these people do. I’ve never had to pack up my family because our street was blown apart by bombs or war. I’ve never left all my earthly possessions behind and lived out of a backpack for weeks with small children. I’ve never had to walk 18 hours a day, for more than 50 days straight, across foreign countries because I feared the border would be closed before my family reached freedom. But I am reassured by the One who knows this kind of desperate. Jesus helped desperate people. He healed. He fed. He gave hope. He calls us to show his love and his mercy to the least of these. He calls simply for us to offer what he himself would give. He calls us to be his hands and his feet and his mouth, showing his love to all people, bringing light to the darkness and hope for the desperate.

By Corinne Long, OMS Hungary missionary

Tags: refugees, europe, serbia, middle east, migration, migrants

One Mission Stories "After the Show" - Scott Murphy

June 27 2014

We hope you enjoyed last night's (Sunday, June 29) One Mission Stories, OMS' radio program, featuring OMS missionary in Spain and international regional director (IRD) for Europe and Central Asia, Scott Murphy. Scott shared about his call to missions, dealing with adolescent depression, growing up an MK (missionary kid) in Brazil, his relationship with Kathy (his wife), and their 31-year journey with OMS in missions.

Scott shared about their church planting ministry in Spain (Spain has less than 1% evangelical Christians), along with his responsibilities as IRD for Europe and Central Asia. He also shared about how God is using the team Across Europe as they build house churches and work a lot with immigrants.

Everyone has a story ... enjoy Scott's!

Here are our "After the Show" resources to better connect you with things you heard about on last night's program.

GO: Do you want to be a missionary, either short- or long-term with OMS? Check out the opportunities, including all the upcoming short-term trips with MFM.

Learn about the Loja (Ecuador) Challenge 2015!

GIVE: If you would like to donate to any OMS ministries, you can do so online.

PRAY: Pray for Scott and Kathy Murphy. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the many ministry decisions he must make. Also, pray for a spiritual breakthrough in Europe, that many would come to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

If you would like to pray for other OMS needs, visit our OMS prayer wall.

BOOKS/RESOURCES: You can purchase all OMS books through our OMS store on Amazon or by contacting the OMS World HQ... call or email Barb Sandoz at 317.888.3333, ext. 313, or email bsandoz@onemissionsociety.org.

Off the Shelf segment: to purchase the book mentioned on the show, A Good and Useful Man.

OMS Outreach magazine was also mentioned on the broadcast. If you'd like to view the magazine, you can see it online here.

To connect your kids to fun mission activities, check out our One Mission Kids website.

If you are interested in attending OMS' International Conference, click here for more information and registration.

INFO: Tune in to next week's One Mission Stories to hear the testimonies of short-term mission nurses in Ecuador. If you would like to know more about any of our ministries around the world, please email us at radio@onemissionsociety.org.

If you missed this program or any of our previous programs, click here to listen to the broadcast on podbean.

Each week, you can listen live on Freedom 95 at 95.9 FM or 950 AM or live streaming at www.freedom95.us. Our programs air every Sunday night from 7-8 p.m.

Tags: radio, spain, europe, depression, immigrants, missions in spain, missions in europe, church planting, evangelism,