SENT is part of a series of stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carly you recently spent several weeks in Greece serving Refugees during your winter break, how did that come about?
My school, Oklahoma Baptist University, has a department that facilitates GO trips. On these trips, groups of students are sent across the world to spread the Gospel. There were several different areas that I could choose from and after lots of prayer and deliberation and research I kept feeling like God was calling me to go to Greece. After an interview process, I was selected as one of the students to go on this life-changing trip. OBU has what is called J-term which is where the month of January is left open for students to take a short class, work from home, or travel abroad on a GO trip. So, for two and a half weeks in January I got the opportunity to work with refugees in Greece.
What were some of the things you and your team did while in Greece?
We were hosted and guided by an organization called Streetlights which was a community center in the neighborhood of Kypseli (on the outskirts of Athens). This area was home to more than 50 nationalities and the center was open most days of the week as a safe place for children to come and be loved on. Their mission was long-term and powered by prayer and dedication to investing in the lives of the children and families that walked through their doors. We worked alongside the people of Streetlights in serving many young refugee kids in the community. We also spent some time with an organization called The Good Samaritan. This place was a resource for refugee women and children – somewhere that they could go that provided clothing, medical services, child care, laundry facilities, English classes, Greek classes, and access to legal help, among other things. These people who we worked with in the organization were from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria – all of them brilliant and full of life. We fed people, talked to people, hosted events, and helped with childcare and community involvement throughout the two weeks.
What is something God showed you as a result of saying yes to the opportunity to go?
God showed me a piece of my heart that I had not been aware of. I had always sung the lyrics “break my heart for what breaks yours,” by Hillsong, but never did I actually understand what that would look like when God brought those lyrics to life for me. Before this trip, I could live in blissful ignorance. I could go about my day to day life studying, working, and playing, without a second thought of the plights of those across the world: because I didn’t know. I had heard about the refugee crisis and seen a picture or two here and there but it wasn’t real and tangible for me until I went to Greece. Going there opened a passion in my soul for refugees and seeing all those people that God loves so much living in so much brokenness broke my heart. As I was departing on this trip, I trusted God with what little I thought I had to offer. God took my inch and ran for miles. He captured my whole heart, mind, body, and soul on this trip and through the people that I met and worked with, my faith was challenged and consequently made stronger and I felt like I had a new purpose.
Where did you see God at work in Greece?
I thought that I knew what I was going to see and hear when we started working with the refugees, but let’s just say I seriously underestimated what I had prepared myself to experience. I expected to see heartbroken families that had given up on life due to the gravity of their situations. Instead I was confronted by people filled with an overwhelming amount of hope, joy, generosity, and imagination. I saw God in the faces of these people – in their hope and joy and optimism. God was working through the people at the organizations that we worked with that fought every day for the safety and well-being of these refugees. I saw God in the generosity and sacrifice of the refugees that had so little to offer yet gave without hesitation. I saw God in the smiles of the mothers and the hugs of their children. In a place that seems so lost and broken from the outside, it surprised me how God was working in the small moments and through unlikely people in Greece.
Anything else you want to share with us?
Yes, I wrote about my trip and some specific experiences that I had while in Greece.
Read more about my trip.
Carly is a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University. She grew up attending Pulpit Rock with her family, served in our Kids Ministry and helped start our annual Princess Party.