The Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP) conference was held from 5-10 February 2017 in Budapest. The event gathered about 200 representatives of different organisations and refugee ministries around Europe. It has been an intensive week of learning, discussing and praying together.
A personal report, by Coralie Diebold
As the representative of the EEA and The Refugee Campaign for this special time, I had the pleasure to participate in a pre-conference workshop on refugee children with a fabulous ladies’ team composed of Jenn Brown from OneHope, Kaylee Kolditz and Whitney Gerdes from IAFR. We had a great day discussing initiatives to protect children on the move and especially unaccompanied minors.
I also had the opportunity to give a workshop on resources for churches regarding the refugee crisis. I shared the methods to plan an effective awareness/advocacy campaign. My hope is to see churches and ministries empowered and able to engage in advocacy.
The RHP roundtable was the occasion to finally meet face to face people I’ve been working with through skype! We heard many stories from ministries on the ground: in Hungary with refugees, in northern Serbia where the Croatian Baptist Aid has been working since November 2015, in Germany about evangelism ministry in Arabic (the Evangelical Alliance of Arabic speakers in Europe) and from converts: refugees of Iran and Afghanistan in Hungary who discovered faith in Jesus-Christ and are now ministering to new comers.
The Prayer tour in the city of Budapest helped us to understand Hungarian sentiment and their specific positions on the refugee crisis. We visited many historic sites, listened to their history and prayed. We asked God to help the people of Hungary to truly forgive the sufferings of the past, the oppression of the Turks in the 16th-17th centuries, the holocaust of the Jews in the 20th, and the domination of the Soviet Union.
The tour finished at the Golgotha church, just in front the famous New York café in Budapest. Our guide explained the wonderful projects the church has been doing with refugees: humanitarian assistance, language and culture classes, evangelism, Bible studies and since recently a translation of the Sunday evening service into Arabic and Farsi. How encouraging is this testimony!
A small group of participants went to the Serbian border. We visited two refugee camps: one official and one unofficial called ‘The Jungle’. Due to its illegal status, the inhabitants of ‘The Jungle’ don’t receive anything from the Serbian government. The refugees camping there regularly are mistreated by the police. The Croatian Baptist Aid is the only group that keeps visiting and helping the people from the camp with food and warm clothes. If you want to donate, see details attached.
On the way home a story kept echoing in my head. The 70 years old story of the persecution of the Hungarian Jews. The Hungarians were not particularly anti-Semite. Jews were well integrated in the society. Only the indifference to the fate of the other could explain what has happened.
Today we admire the courage of people around Europe who helped Jewish people and took a stance in the face of evil. Probably they were also afraid and often didn’t understand Jewish traditions. Perhaps they were also frightened that living with so many Jews could change the European way of life, and the values of their society. Just like us today, while welcoming significant numbers of refugees in Europe. Let me ask you some questions: would our society give the same response? Will we show indifference, or rejection? What will our children and grandchildren remember of us Christians in 50 years? Will we be called the “Righteous among the nations” for refugees?