We’re receiving updates from Dale Berry who’s with nearly two dozen American volunteers who are spending two weeks in Athens and on the Island of Lesvos to assist ministry partners with the ongoing refugee crisis. Here’s what he had to say about an experience on the Island.
“We spent part of the day in the largest city on the Island, Mytilini, and then traveled to the north coast where the rafts filled with refugees come ashore due to the shorter distance from Turkey to Greece there. As we crested the ridge, we saw a vast expanse of black and orange rubber in the small valley below. There were also complete boats left there in this graveyard of equipment, all designed for one journey over a three-mile-wide sea between Turkey and Greece.
There were many thousands of jackets and many hundreds of rafts. The height of the piles we walked between were approximately 6-10 feet tall. From another vantage point, the height of another section of the pile was a sobering 30 feet tall. Mixed in with the adult jackets were child jackets: some yellow, some pink, and even a Disney princess jacket. Some still had air in their inflatable compartments. Many of the jackets were counterfeits and were minimally useful in the event one would’ve fallen into the water.
The wind was blowing fiercely as we descended into the valley on foot. Large clouds of dust would fly down the slopes, lifted and caught in the wind. With a bulldozer, someone had made a path through the middle of the life jackets. We walked slowly through them – realizing that every jacket represented a human being who had made the decision to leave their home country and to cross those waters. Most of the refugees were totally unfamiliar with water like this and few know how to swim. If their equipment failed or their boat flipped, many lost their lives. You cannot help but be emotionally moved by the sight of what these jackets represent. As you look at an individual jacket, you wonder, ‘What has become of this person?’ Amazingly, God knows every one of them. The call to be present in this part of the world and to serve those who survived that passage grew stronger in our hearts. Though it is beyond my comprehension, our team is a part of God’s mercy to these people. We feel humbled to be a part of what He is doing to touch their lives. Thanks be to Him!”
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