You're receiving this email because your congregation supports Paul's work
View this email in your browser
A refugee and her child land on the Greek island of Lesbos.


                                                                                   November 12, 2015

Dear friends in my supporting congregations:

When he landed on the Greek island of Lesbos early the morning of October 30, Nabil Minas, a refugee from Syria, carried his children through the water and left them on the shore, then fell on his face and kissed the ground. A Christian, he crossed himself and covered his face with his hands, weeping with joy. He then stood up and went around hugging everyone. He embraced me as well, leaving the front of me sopping wet, and kissed me heartily on the cheek. "Welcome," I said to him. "Thank you," he responded emotionally.

Here's a photo of Nabil unloading one of his children, then an image of him kneeling on the shore, which is covered with the black rubber of deflated refugee boats. 

Nabil Minas carries one of his daughters ashore on Lesbos.

Nabil kisses the ground, crosses himself, and then covers his face as he weeps.

Here’s an image of him embracing Lisbeth Svendsen, one of the Norwegian volunteers who assist the refugees as they land. She's already hugging his wife.
Lisbeth Svendsen, a volunteer from Norway, gets a hug from Nabil as she hugs his wife and daughter.
That scene on the beach on Lesbos was for me a reminder of the brokenness of creation, of a country so ravaged by war that people risk their lives and the lives of their children in order to flee to safety. But it was also a reminder of the graceful hospitality of strangers, of people who volunteer to leave their comfortable homes in order to provide succor to those who suffer.

In recent weeks I made two trips to Europe in order to report from Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Austria and Germany on the massive number of refugees and migrants moving toward northern Europe. Of all the people I encountered, one image I can’t get out of my head is that of a Syrian girl whose parents had taped pieces of Styrofoam to her body. In case the cheap inflatable vest provided by the Turkish traffickers didn't suffice in keeping her afloat in the event their boat capsized, the Styrofoam would supposedly help. Such measures underscored for me the desperate nature of this migration.

I was repeatedly impressed by the warm hospitality of volunteers I encountered all over Europe. Many had organized via Facebook or other social media, some just showed up at borders or urban train stations and asked how they could help. Although rightist politicians in Hungary and other places tried to characterize the crisis as a Muslim invasion, most Europeans rejected that notion and welcomed the refugees with open arms. Literally.

Zoya Hameed (right), a physician from the United Kingdom, hugs Hanin, a frightened Syrian refugee girl, on a beach near Molyvos, on the Greek island of Lesbos, on October 30, 2015.

The volunteer response was particularly important because more formal responses from governments and non-governmental organizations, including churches, were often too slow to take shape. In Greece, for example, where the government has been overwhelmed by the numbers of refugees, it was volunteer lifeguards from Spain who I photographed as they pulled drowning victims from the water. Across the continent, it has been ordinary folks who have responded with genuine hospitality, saving lives and making people feel loved. Here’s a short video interview I did with a United Methodist pastor in Germany who talks about how people in his small village responded.

What’s fascinating to me is how similar that is to how United Methodists and others across the United States have responded with solidarity and hospitality to refugees and migrants in our own midst, rejecting the xenophobic cries of politicians in favor of the quiet mercy of offering water in the desert and prayerful accompaniment in our communities.

Konstantina Koulouri, a volunteer with the Greek Red Cross, wraps an insulating blanket around Hajem, a 2-year old Syrian refugee who just arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos. The boy was sopping wet from transiting the Aegean sea in a small boat with his family.

Our duty to the migrant and refugee begins with God’s instruction to us that we remember that we were once strangers ourselves in the land of Egypt. Thanks to you for fleshing this out in your own neighborhoods, and for supporting the work of the church with migrants and refugees around the world. And thanks for your support for my work as a missionary. Your prayers and your financial support made possible my presence on that beach on Lesbos. When Nabil hugged and kissed me, he hugged and kissed all of you as well. You just didn’t get wet.


2016 Itineration
Paul is going to itinerate in October and November 2016. If you're one of his supporting churches, he'll be in touch next year to set up a visit when he can share personally his ministry with your congregation. Stay tuned for details.
Our mailing address is:
Paul Jeffrey
1685 Rosy Turn
Eugene, OR 97404

Add us to your address book

unsubscribe from this list   

update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp
A woman sets a floating candle lantern on the river on August 6, 2015, in Hiroshima, Japan.

Where can I see more

of Paul's photos?

Want to see some of the latest images? Check out Paul's online photo archive. If you're interested in using some of his photos in worship or other church settings, get in touch. And if you haven't put a link to Paul's blog or his Facebook page on your church website, you're missing an opportunity to provoke discussion among your web visitors!