The Next Step

   
 
Above are nighttime images of Moria Camp. This is the place where the refugees come after the boat has landed and they’ve received care on the beach at Lighthouse Camp. They are loaded onto large buses and driven here. The next step. 

Two nights ago, New Years Eve,  Elizabeth and I worked the midnight shift at Moria. Because the seas were still rough no buses arrived. We spent the first part of the evening welcoming in the New Year with refugees already there from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Iran, Syria and Iraq, as well as volunteers from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, and fellow Americans from California, New York and Illinois. 

We learned that night that the inherent hope that accompanies a new year truly knows no boundaries. We are one in that hope for a new day. 

Later in the night we worked hard picking up and sorting blankets and cleaning the camp, preparing for the eventual, inevitable arrival of new refugees once the seas were more favorable. The next step. 

The next night, last night, Cathy, Kim and I were back for the midnight shift. The seas were calmer, it was a new year,and the boats came. Thus the buses came. In our shift alone a dozen large buses arrived. By the time the evening was over, Moria will filled with 1500 refugees. 

We worked hard again, Cathy distributing dry clothes to those who were still wet underneath their UN blankets. Kim and I were responsible for walking the refugees who were ready for bed to the family compound. We had to walk these men, women, and many children up a large hill and then through a gate where dry beds and heat awaited them. They were exhausted and yet in the midst found ways to communicate thanks, joy and profound hope.

I know when our team returns they will have many more specific stories to tell about our time at the Lighthouse beach, Lighthouse Camp, and Moria. For now, it is enough to say these were next steps for them in what had already been a journey from their home countries filled with danger and heartache. But now they are here, taking the next step, and the next, and the next, toward healing and freedom. They were already drinking in the hope and joy that accompanies such steps. We are grateful to be able to take a few of those steps alongside them. 

It is not a bad question to ask ourselves in the new year as individuals and congregations who bear the name of Christ. What will be our next step in discipleship, in mission, in solidarity not only with these refugees, but with all human beings who suffer and yet hope, who are cut down and yet rise up, who long for a new day and companions to walk beside them into it? 

It is a new year, time to take the next step. I look forward to doing so, led by the Spirit into a broken world beloved by God.  

Prayer Based on Psalm 46 by Kim Joiner

A prayer for a new year using Psalm 46 During the dark night I recall that God is a mighty fortress and always ready to help in times of trouble. I am in prayer for my brothers and sisters traveling through a stormy sea to a better life. 

I know they must be very afraid. I pray they can feel God’s presence and the fear will subside. 

Oh the earth is trembling and the mountains and rocks are being stormed with high gusty winds and treacherous waves. The Aegean Sea is roaring. The temperatures have dropped dangerously low. It is dreary and dark. Nations are raging. Cities are destroyed. Families are separated and loved ones are dying. 

The image of a calm river and flowing streams are calling to a new home. There will be joy again. I pray it will be so. I know it will come. Joy comes in the morning. 

God will help at dawn. I long for the sunrise over the horizon. The powerful sun will show Gods light. The wars will end. I long for peace on earth. I pray these refugees will find solace of a new home.

God commands us: Be still and know that I am God! 

The Light shines forth. I am still. I know God is always present. I will share the light of Christ with all I meet today. 

I pray this from a new day: January 1.2016. I pray this in a new place: Lesvos, Greece. I pray this for a new year: a peaceful time for all God’s children. 
  (Photo by Cathy McCall) 
When the sun arose the boats came. We carried babies and children. We assisted mothers and fathers and grandparents. We offered dry clothes, hot tea and soup. We offered the hands and feet of Christ.