The Harvest Field of Refugees :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

The Harvest Field of Refugees

Theo van Reijn
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Meeting Our New Neighbors

My wife and I didn’t know what to expect when we knocked on the door. A modern-looking Middle Eastern woman (we’ll call her Amina) with a charming smile opened the door and invited us in. Her small room in the refugee center was furnished with only two beds, a closet, and a desk. Amina is from Syria, a country torn apart by civil war. She fled the country after her husband had been shot dead while she and her 11-year-old daughter were present.

After short periods of time in numerous countries she finally arrived in the Netherlands and was given permission to stay. We were given Amina’s name by a felloHarvestRefugeeCenter1.jpgw Christian minister because the government had assigned her to an apartment close to where we live. Our church helped her with basic needs such as flooring and furnishings, all the while sharing Jesus with her. Amina was curious about our church and in God’s providence visited on a day when our sermon series in Genesis covered Jacob and his journeys through what is now modern Syria. That was the day Amina’s daughter told her mother she wanted to become a Christian. Amina became quite upset since this would pose a real threat for her daughter if she would ever return to Syria. Her daughter replied that since Jesus died for her on the cross, she was more than willing to lay down her life for Him. 

One of Many

Amina’s story is one of many. There has been a massive increase in the number of refugees entering Europe in recent years. In 2015, at the peak of the immigration crisis, 1,256,210 refugees fled to the EU. In the last three years, those numbers have gone down but are still fairly steady around 700,000. On a color-coded map, it becomes immediately obvious that these refugees come primarily from the 10/40 window (the area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude).

This is incredibly significant for missions, because the 10/40 window is known as a closed area for missionary enterprise. We must not fail to recognize the great opportunities to reach these people who cannot be reached through traditional missions programs.

What’s more, these people are open. Some may have ulterior motives, believing conversion to Christianity may increase their chances of staying. Others finally feel free to openly cast off Islam, a system they have come to hate.

Spectacularly Converted

Several years ago, God brought an Iranian refugee to our church.  He was an atheist member of the Communist party in Iran, and he was spectacularly converted. God saved him by delivering a Persian Bible to his mailbox on the very day he was planning to commit suicide.

A string of providences led him to become a member of our church. Under the sponsorship and oversight of our church, he now leads multiple Bible studies in Persian through online platforms. Every Saturday I send him a one-page summary of my Sunday sermon. He translates it into Persian and distributes it to thousands of Iranians through the World Wide Web. My sermon on Romans 8:28 two weeks ago was read by over 14,000 Iranians in countries all over the world. I tell you, the fields are white unto harvest!

In many ways, this man is to me what I am to my supporters. He has capacities to reach people I cannot reach, just as I have capacities to reach people whom my supporters cannot reach. The bottom line is that we all have a circle of individuals or people groups whom we are suited to reach or whom others cannot reach. They are our Great Commission calling. Can you identify your group? Are you reaching out to them?