Since the war started in Syria, five million Syrians have fled to other countries.
On Tuesday, May 16th, Crown College sent five students and one staff member to Berlin, Germany to partner with Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) missionaries. There, the team helped serve the needs of Syrian refugees as well as a Spanish speaking church plant.
When the team arrived in Berlin, the CMA missionaries brought them to a community center where Syrian refugees gather for an opportunity to learn about cooking, culture, and other necessities of life.They chose to come alongside the missionaries to help them with their work in German language lessons, cooking classes, and hosting game nights.
“Seeing the intentionality of the missionaries despite the difficulties facing them was truly inspiring,” explains Liz Blancke, the Director of International Service Learning at Crown.
Like many short term mission trips, the team struggled with a language barrier. This did not stop the Berlin team. No one on the team could speak Arabic. The missionaries could translate for the team, but one of the Arabic youth spoke German. The team found it extremely helpful to have two of the team members speak German: as well as one team member who spoke Spanish.
On the first night of arrival, students Katie and Anna taught German lessons to the refugees. Other nights the team hosted cooking lessons and a game night. The team could not believe how God equipped each of them so differently. Together they gloried Him in different ways.
A theme verse of their trip was Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
It was very evident to the team that God had a purpose for every member. God used everyone for a certain plan.
The Berlin team continued to partner with the missionaries throughout the week. The team had an opportunity to work with a Spanish church plant that also met in the community center.
Making an impact in the community center
While preparing for all of these events, the team also prayed for some new believers who were a part of the Spanish church.
Lydia Detweiler, a student leader from Crown College, described this praying opportunity for new believers as her favorite memory. The Spanish church had been meeting on Thursday evenings for a Bible study. The Berlin team assisted with childcare for the group. Detweiler says these children were the most adorable, creative, and energetic kids she had ever seen.
As the team and children returned from the playground — and the Spanish church meeting came to an end — the church members invited the team to join in prayer over a family of new believers. As everyone prayed together, the team could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. This family had gone through so much hurt and loss. No one could explain how their journey led them there, but everyone knew it was God’s timing.
“It was such a beautiful moment to have believers of all walks gather around a family who had recently accepted Christ into their lives and pray, wholeheartedly, for them,” says Detweiler. “There was such a tangible love present in that moment.”
Throughout the trip the entire team noticed that God works in many ways.
The team continued to work with the Syrian refugees and everything went smoothly. They participated in a variety of opportunities: seeing the city, making lattes, helping with childcare and Sunday school, leading Lighthouse staff worship and devotions, playing countless games, buying the Lighthouse a guitar, and praying with different people in different places.
“The Berlin trip was an amazing time to see God use our Crown student’s gifting to come alongside career missionaries and assist them with outreach opportunities for Syrian refugees as well as a Spanish speaking church plant,” says Blancke.
Overall, the experience of the Syrian refugees and the dedication of the Spanish church inspired the Berlin team to strive to do more back home. The Spanish family that accepted Christ demonstrated a love the team could never forget. The Spanish family knew God is their only “refuge and strength, an is ever-present help in any trouble.” (Psalms 46:1-3)