The Irony of Germany: Refugees and Concentration Camps

12112968_10154261590012571_38827719_oGermany is an interesting place to be right now.

The most recent German newspaper speculated that the country will end up receiving 1.5 MILLION refugees. This is in part due to the incredible influx of people, and that each person represents a family left behind, one who likely plans to follow.

A few weeks ago I was serving at a local Refugee Center. A woman and her three children had just arrived from Syria. She is a teacher and came from an area where teachers were being slaughtered.

The government has its own plans for education.

So she fled with her three young children, leaving behind her husband with his fragile mother.

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This sweet refugee is tiny in stature but a giant in puzzles. She is very bright.

Her children have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, cowering in the corners when an ambulance drives by, convinced they’ve left everything they know, their daddy, crossed many miles, only to land in another nation at war. Waiting for the bombs. And there’s no psychiatric help for them… only trauma.

And now waiting.

Just a few of the 1.5 million people.

I suppose in a country of 80 million, 1.5 seems like a drop in the bucket.

But our camps around the country are bursting at the seams.

And our nearest German camp has now had an outbreak of Scabies and no one is allowed in. (I’ve been around a Scabies outbreak and it’s awful. Please pray for the refugees dealing with this).

Ironically, I (Marcy) had the opportunity of going on the Sophomore class trip with BFA. Ninth through Twelfth graders have annual class trips. They each look forward to their turn. The 10th graders go to a concentration camp in France from World War 2.

12124200_10154261748302571_990224951_oAs Sophomore Class Sponsors, we participate in their trips, in their parties, and in their events. And we get to know the students better. We drove about 2 1/2 hours by bus to the Nazweiler Concentration Camp in France. It was very sobering. We know the stories, of course. We’ve seen the documentaries, watched the movies, read the books. But it’s a whole other thing to walk the ground where so much blood was spilled.

This particular camp reported 20,000 of the 52,000 prisoners were killed. While its name is lesser known, it’s actually considered among the most lethal of the camps. We walked an SS Barack (where the museum is), toured the “hospital” where medical experiments were performed. Saw the crematorium.

It was surreal. It was hard. And it was beautiful, in the kind of beauty that only the horrors and sorrow dancing with hope and remembrance and repentance can achieve.

A beauty beyond exteriors.

And now, a country that hosted such loss and death and pain, based on arbitrary differences is now welcoming 1.5 million people of every shade, language, and faith.

Did the irony slip by?

I’ve heard some speculate that this warm welcome is inspired by such a painful past.

A chance to right wrongs. Or even a chance to repay the favor for the many German refugees that fled to other countries during the war and post-war Germany.

In another plot twist, it appears that portions of some of the old concentration camps are now being used for housing of the refugees (under much different circumstances, of course).

While I know very little about political motivations, I know that they are coming.

I can’t tell you how many languages and forms of dress and stories I’ve witnessed and heard over the last couple of months. Never in my life have I had access to such people and their stories. It’s unbelievable, really.

It makes me suddenly feel like taking up Arabic, Kurdish, French, Farsi, and a slew of the other languages I’m hearing more frequently.

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Some of the art of the refugee kids. I can’t even read most of their names as they are written in a different script. Surreal.

What does all of this mean? I don’t think any of us can really know, yet. I realize that the repercussions of Germany’s decision are still a few years out. When the world-wide excitement dies down, these refugees will still be here, still trying to make their way in such a foreign place, learning a foreign language, cooking with foreign foods, figuring out foreign law…

Everything is different.

In my small way, I get it. We didn’t flee a war-torn country. We made a choice. Felt a calling. But we are walking a similar road of cross-cultural living.

And we have the hope of Jesus to offer.

Please continue to pray for the situation here. Pray for God to lead us in our part. I’m about to start visiting a new camp weekly to visit with the women and paint nails 🙂 I visit the camp in Basel and play with kids. Matt also loves going and is there every chance he’s given. His 3 years of French classes are coming in handy. We donate clothes and items as we’re able. Winter is coming and this will be a hard time for the people and the camps.

Please be praying.

Also, we are co-leading an effort to bring Christmas boxes (similar to Operation Christmas Child) to the many camps in our area. We have collected a few hundred boxes and will soon begin gathering items to fill them with. If you would like to contribute to the purchase of items in these boxes, let me know. You can send it directly to us and we will purchase the items.

Also, as you may have seen on Facebook, we have lost $50/month in support. We are currently about $800 short of what we need each month… so this $50 makes a difference. If you are able to step in and meet that need, we will be so grateful. Our ability to stay and do the work God has given depends on it. 

Thank you!

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