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Update: World Race & Refugee Crisis

Watching the refugees wash up on the shores of Lesvos is heart-rending. Caitlin, one of our volunteers said,  I step out of the tent and survey the scene unfolding before me. Fifty or so people had just arrived at the camp and everyone was soaking wet and needing dry clothes. A commotion…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Watching the refugees wash up on the shores of Lesvos is heart-rending. Caitlin, one of our volunteers said, 

I step out of the tent and survey the scene unfolding before me. Fifty or so people had just arrived at the camp and everyone was soaking wet and needing dry clothes.

A commotion to my left caused me to turn, a group of people were rushing to the medical tent. They were carrying a woman whose arms were flapping around useless at her side. My heart skipped a beat and breath caught in my lungs,

is she dead?” I thought…

That’s one part of day two volunteering at the refugee camp. The whole 10hrs I was there we probably had 800 or so refugees come through, which is a lower number compared to last week. I was exhausted. But new energy would come every time I saw more people who needed help. Who just wanted to be warm, dry, and safe.

But as the day went on it got harder, we ran out of some clothing options and it was heart wrenching not being able to give them what they needed and turn them away empty handed, still in their wet clothes, or shoes. Especially the kids. They just look up at you and smile at you even though you’re a complete stranger.

A young boy came in, his whole body shivering and teeth chattering, but still smiling as I held him close to warm him up while he waited for his turn for a change of clothes. When you can help them in anyway, it’s wonderful and they’re so thankful. Their broken English and smiles are everything.

Rosie Schneider is with our team addressing the refugee crisis on Lesvos, Greece. Here is her report:

Here’s what we learned in our first 48 hours on the island.

The journey from Turkey to Lesvos, Greece is 9km. From where we are living/working, we can see Turkey. 

Over 90% of the refugees that are fleeing arrive on this beach in Lesvos, Greece. During the entirety of 2014, there were 44,000 refugees that came through this beach. In August of 2015, just one months time, 45,000 refugees came through. More people came through in August alone than in the entire year of 2014. 

As they reach the shore, they are filled with a sigh of relief. They made it. They are alive.

The gravity of the journey ahead hasn’t quite hit them yet, but arriving on shore, they have so much to celebrate.

Volunteers are waiting on the shore to receive them. To wrap them in blankets and foil in order to radiate body heat. To take care of the children and attend to immediate medical needs. From there, buses and vans take those that they can fit to the transition point. Those that can’t fit inside the vehicles, walk around 4-5 hours to get there.

Just a couple of days ago, a place that was only meant to hold 200-300 refugees was keeping up to 2,500 or more.

They were praying for more hands, they needed more volunteers in order to keep the transition point up and running.

And then Y Squad arrived. We are, quite truly, an answered prayer. 

Each team is working a different shift – some are working in the clothing tent and some are helping pass out bus tickets, to help the flow of people. 

My team is in charge of inventory. People and organizations all over the world want to send supplies for the refugees but in order to send those supplies, they need to know what to send. In order to know what to send, the people on the ground in Lesvos need to know what they don’t have.

We arrived to the site and the incredibly large, green US Army tent had collapsed. The main cross beam snapped in half and the tent was now covering the hundreds of boxes and bags containing all of the clothes, shoes, blankets, food, and who knows what else that we were supposed to be sorting.

We jumped right in to start fixing the tent. The ground was so muddy that every time we took a step, several pounds of mud came too (imagine snow shoes made out of mud). Not only was it muddy and slippery, the wind was out of control. The sides of the tent were flapping violently.

My heart breaks every day for what they are going through. I couldn’t imagine going through this situation without hope and faith in Jesus Christ.

The most amazing part about all of this? The first people that thousands of Muslims interact with are all Christians. 

What an opportunity to show the love of Christ. 

These people desperately need us. They need us to survive and they need us to get to their next destination.

And we, Y squad, need you. You may be thousands of miles away watching on the news, but you can still make a difference here in Lesvos, Greece. In partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, my squad has the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

We need your prayers. Prayers for the experiences we’ve had and the experiences to come. But most importantly, for God to protect our hearts and protect our minds. That we will be able to love these people like Jesus would through the process. 

If you would like to help the refugee crisis, please give here.

Comments (9)

  • Thanks for this report Seth. I’m hearing similar things in some work I’m doing with World Vision. Prayers for the people and those with a heart to help them.

  • Heartbreaking but great to see AIM team on the ground. Making a huge difference. Isn’t it crazy that God would allow simple followers the adventure of a lifetime. Their lives will never be the same! Keep updates flowing so we can pray and weep.

    • Michael and Butch – thank you both for your prayers. And thanks to all of you who are praying. Your prayers make a difference.

  • Shari Grayczyk (Joy-Y Squad “Embrace the Chaos” mom

    Thank you so very much for posting these updates, Seth. It helps to realize the gravity of the situation and exactly what to pray for. It makes my heart sing knowing AIM has taken this turn to aid ‘the least of these.’ You truly are the hands and feet of Jesus in this fallen world. And I am truly, truly grateful.

    • Shari

      It is a privilege. It is how I got started in ministry myself years ago during the Cambodian refugee crisis in 1980.

  • Thank you for this update Seth. My daughter is a squad leader with Y squad and I’m praying for all of them as they show theses folks the light of Jesus

    • Your daughter is awesome! Thanks for stewarding her well. Perhaps there is a ministry for you to other parents who struggle.

  • Seth, it has been comforting to read your updates – which I didn’t even realize to do until Y squad was on their way to Lesvos and Rosie sent us a link to your blog to read the details of their relocation. Thank you for loving and praying for our children.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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