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World Race Helping Refugees in Lesvos, Greece

Taylor Slagh arrived yesterday with the World Race on the island of Lesvos, Greece. Today she reports, “When I was holding a crying, naked, cold, wet toddler that just got off a boat while others were trying to find him warm clothes that’s when my heart first shattered.” She went on, “My hear…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Taylor Slagh arrived yesterday with the World Race on the island of Lesvos, Greece.

Today she reports, “When I was holding a crying, naked, cold, wet toddler that just got off a boat while others were trying to find him warm clothes that’s when my heart first shattered.”

She went on, “My heart shattered for these thousands of people arriving by boat and the only thing I could do for them was find dry clothes that they could wear.”

Another racer, Joy Grayczyk said, “Two rafts flipped over while in the water and not everyone was recovered. We learned that a 4 year old boy went missing while on the water and could not be found…”

The World Race is filled with 20-somethings like Taylor and Joy who want follow Jesus wherever he would send them around the world. They were thrilled to respond to the refugee crisis on Lesvos.

Felicia Pena, a teammate, adds, “It’s a very difficult sight to see when these people arrive at the camp. They’re soaked, many are in tears and the babies are freezing. It’s emotionally difficult, but I can’t describe how happy I am to be here.”

World Racer Andrea Burrow, gives the details:

Friday morning we arrived in Lesvos, Greece to help with the mass influx of refugees. Multiple times, yesterday and today, all the volunteers have thanked us for coming. “You are an answer to prayer.”

A few days before we arrived, roughly 15 volunteers were taking in over 2,000 refugees in a tent that holds 200-300 people. Volunteers were nearing burnout and the workers were going to have to shut down the tent because there wasn’t enough people to handle the mass amounts of refugees.

Our group of 45 racers was a God-send.

Here’s how it works. Once refugees are smuggled into Turkey, they are then smuggled across the sea to Lesvos, a 4 mile boat ride. (You can see Turkey from the shore we are working at.) Smugglers charge each person 1,000 euros (or a discount rate of 700 on rainy days) for the ride. It’s basically a raft with an engine (that may or may not work) that holds 12 people with 40-60 people crammed in it. Not everyone survives the journey. Those who do arrive are wet, cold, and very close to hypothermia.

Refugees are met on the shore by Samaritan’s Purse, EuroRelief, and the United Nations. The boats are pulled in, medical treatment is given, and refugees are bused or walk to the first assembly point.

This is where our squad comes in. Inside a tent, water, snacks, and dry clothes are distributed. We put them on a bus to another assembly point, eventually leading them to registration to prepare them to leave Greece and began another long journey to their desired destination (Germany, Sweden, etc.), where they may or may not be given asylum.

People all over have the world have been very generous in sending supplies to help. Because the volunteers have been operating in survival mode, organization and administration has been virtually non-existent.

My team (6 people) has been given the assignment of taking inventory of the supplies. Although we are not working directly with the refugees, this is no easy or less important task. The supplies are useless if we do not know what we have or what we need.

It has been raining non-stop for several days now. When we arrived at the supplies tent, it had been majorly damaged by the rain and wind. 

We spend the day setting up a new tent; a military tent with instruction in Dutch. Thankfully we found a lady who spoke Dutch, and 3 girls and 4 guys set up the tent.

Tomorrow we will move into our new tent, organize and assess our supplies, and create a system for the supplies to be able to better serve and help the refugees.

We need your prayers!! Please join us in prayer for the safety of the refugees as they make the dangerous journey, for us to be effective in organizing the supplies to be able to get it into the hands of those who need it, and for the refugees to feel the love of Jesus through our smiles and helping hands.

Today, Kevin, our contact on Lesvos, wrote and said, “Thank you for your encouragement.  I cannot begin to tell you the life and sweet peace that has followed in the wake of the World Race arriving.  We were literally 24 hours away from probably having the camp close down or being given to different agency. God is faithful.”

I’ll continue to keep you abreast of what God is doing on Lesvos. If you’re interested in helping, let us know and we’ll try to plug you in.

Comments (22)

  • I am so pleased that a World Race squad has arrived in Greece. Their young, strong bodies, disciplined minds and prayerful spirits will be of great assistance. Prayers coming.

  • Praise God you all are there to assist. Clearly the timing for your arrival was a divine appointment. Praying for all involved.

  • Thanks for posting these updates Seth.
    So cool how God has orchestrated getting that squad there.
    Praying for sure. And I really like the very firsthand accounts.

  • Seth, it’s such a blessing to see the racers’ willingness and eagerness to jump in and do whatever needs to be done! Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this! To this point, all the work has been in miserable wind and rain, and still everyone did their part with great attitudes! Thankfully, the bad weather broke and this morning we can see blue sky. This does mean a likelihood of a drastically increased flood of refugees coming in today and over the next few days,though. Praying that God allows us to meet the needs!

    • Cindy, thanks for being available to go and Shepard so many young arts as they engage in life and death work. If you and Matt are heroes to many!

  • Thank you for this update, Seth! I would love to know how I could possibly connect and serve in Lesvos! I am a Wr alum!

    • Hi Beth – I see you checked out the WR alumni page. Just keep checking it – or get in touch with Rachel Eddy – she is gathering details.

  • May God bless you, your hands, your heart, mind, body and spirit with the strength, patience, and perseverance to bless others. Thank you for your service!

  • Hey Seth, thanks for sharing this story of faith. You don’t know me very well but I’m actually preparing to launch as a full time missionary, am a former world racer, and have done some other stuff with your organization. I’m actually meeting with your son in January and believe The Lord has had me on a faith journey for three years that is leading me to work in your organization. Of course, y’all have to make those decisions but I’m trusting God and walking by faith.

    The reason I am writing on this post is to ask how do y’all need help? I just sensed God possibly asking me to go to Lesvos to help the world race teams. I would still need to pray more into this and was wondering if y’all are sending more people to partner with your world race teams in helping with this crisis?

  • My daughter is one of the squad leaders of this group and I’m so grateful that AIM was able to send them to help these people. What a blessing that these young people can be there to assist Samaritan’s Purse and the other agencies to show the light of Jesus to these folks as they come ashore. Thank you, Seth for all you do and thank you for the update! Praying continually for Y Squad and all the squads.

    Mary Roush

  • I have shared this blog on Facebook hoping to touch more hearts to help. I could only sob as I read these accounts of how WR teams are serving this month and the needs that are so huge still! I have no idea how I could help, but I am WILLING!

  • MamaNobles, 2015 WR parent, p squad

    Thank you for sending this squad of racers to help in this dire situation. I’ve been reading their blogs and I know they are making a difference for the refugees and the volunteers. It seems they need supplies…clothes, blankets, socks and shoes. Would you suggest people donate to Samaritans Purse?
    Thanks again for your vision for the Kingdom. My family has been impacted greatly by AIM.
    Kathryn Nobles

    • You’re welcome, Kathryn. I’m told that Samaritan’s Purse has plenty of money. On the other hand, I can tell you that we at AIM do not. We just heard a few weeks ago about the need for helping hands on the ground and responded without looking for funding. We welcome your gifts!

  • Seth, I am so grateful the WR made the choice to follow need and God’s prompting. I continue to pray daily for Y squad and also for more doors to open for the Race in Greece.

  • Thank you for answering God’s calling and bringing us here. It was hard to leave George and the farm, but this is clearly where the dire need was. This ministry is possibly the most meaningful thing I’ve ever been a part of.

    • Lindsay – we’ve come along way since you first commented on my blog header! So glad you are there to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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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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