You might have seen news stories about the refugee crisis in Macedonia amongst other countries. In November, together with Pastor Jeton, Drita and Nathan (a missionary from America), we went to visit the refugee camp in Gevgelija on the Macedonian border with Greece. We were there to support the work of a mission organisation which has been helping with the crisis for several months. Our visit happened just days after the Macedonian government passed a law limiting entry into Macedonia to people only from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Refugees from any other country were being held in no-mans-land between the Greek and Macedonian borders.
We spent some of our time preparing food bags for the refugees who entered the camp as well as buying extra food and sanitary items to donate to larger aid organisations who have been working there for months. You can’t just walk into the refugee camp and help, we had to have special permits and a police check to be able to go in so our time there was limited. We distributed food, sorted clothes and shoes with the Red Cross and cleaned the waiting area. In the video we prepared you can see a group from Bangladesh chanting “open the border” and other groups chanted things like “we all want peace, save us please”. A group of Christian refugees sewed their mouths shut on hunger strike because they weren’t allowed in.
As we were leaving we saw a rainbow that went across the entire camp and we were reminded of God’s promise that He is with us.
We are called to love our neighbour and we recognise that our neighbour is not always the person who lives next door, or even in the same town. In Kosova one of our neighbours is Macedonia so our visit was partly to show God’s love to the people there dealing with this crisis, but also to the refugees who are displaced and forced to leave their homes. We don’t know what impact if any we had on the situation or the people in Gevgelija but we acted on God’s command to love our neighbour.