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The Journey Hasn’t Ended Yet

  “You must go this way,” the Greek officer said, motioning my friend towards the steep staircase. She looked confused. Everyone before her had used the escalator next to the stairs, but now the officer wouldn’t allow her and her family to. She started towards the escalator anyway- maybe she had misheard the first time? But he blocked her, shook his head and motioned to the stairs again. She smiled gracefully, gathered her bags, and followed his instructions.
     Everybody in line was staring at her. She wore a blue patterned hijab, a long black coat, and she was carrying several worn out bags along with a clear bag around her neck that held her important documents. Her three children were also carrying bags, one backpack on the front of their little bodies, and one on their backs. It was clear that they were not from Greece, by their appearance and by their language.
As I was watching this happen, the man checking tickets motioned for me to come forward. He briefly looked at my documents, and then waved me on. I started towards the stairs, wanting to walk with my friends, but the officer stopped me. He pointed towards the escalator and said, “this way.”


     The woman and her family had recently been released from Moria, a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos. They had fled from Syria months ago, from the bombs, from the guns, and from ISIS, in hopes of finding peace in the Western world. But because of the deal made in March between Turkey and the EU, she and her family had been stuck in Moria without much hope of making it to safety.
     Recently, however, they were granted “reunification,” meaning that because her husband is currently in Sweden, they were able to leave Moria to reunite. It is very common for the husband to go to Europe first so that he can find a job and secure a place for his family to live, and then have the rest of his family follow.
     We ran into her and her family as we were waiting for the ferry to Athens, and they immediately recognized us from working in Moria this past month. They greeted us with kisses and excitedly explained that they had been released from camp, and that they were soon going to Sweden. Their joy was absolutely contagious. They were laughing, teaching us games, searching for fish in the ocean, and taking picture after picture wth us. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but feel like it was exactly the closure that we needed after such a long month of uncertainty. That there is hope amidst this dark situation, and that the friends we have made this past month will see peace.
     We walked with them to the ferry, laughing as we stood in line, all of our hearts completely filled.
     But the reality is that their troubles have not ended, despite the fact that they have made it to the next step of their journey. The majority of the Western world does not want to take them in. There is so much fear, which stems from misunderstanding, which stems from the inability to recognize each other as human beings. I often feel like we have forgotten that God created all of mankind equally, and that he does not see countries or color or religion, but he sees his children of whom he loves desperately, and of whom he has given the capacity to love one another. But many of us have chosen to operate out of fear rather than love, and as a result we have stripped away the innate rights of our brothers and sisters.
     Sometimes this looks like a war that drives families to cross dangerous waters for safety, and sometimes it can look as simple as refusing somebody the right to take an escalator.

     So I chose to walk with my friends. Because in a battle against fear, love will always win. Because in the battle against fear, Jesus already won and he has given us the strength to stand up for the persecuted and the voiceless, and he calls us to do so.
     “If they take the stairs, we do too,” said Mary as she hoisted her bag over her shoulder. With her came Tiffany, and the three of us walked every single step in stride with our friends, because we love them deeply and wonderfully. We love them because God loves them, and because his love is what we have chose to operate out of. His love makes us fearless, and his love tramples all discrimination and all hatred in this world.

*photo by kelly ann broderick