How Movements Among Refugees in Europe Grow
In 2015, there were a million people who sought refuge, or what is called political asylum, in Europe1 This was called by many a “European refugee crisis.” A refugee is someone who fears persecution in their home country. This can be because of race, religion, politics, or because they are from a particular social group. Today, exciting Disciple Making Movements among refugees are taking place.
With the huge number of refugees pouring into Europe, their needs are hard to address. At the same time, there are amazing opportunities. The gospel is spreading, and new movements among refugees have begun. Thousands of people who come from unreached areas of the world are experiencing the transforming love of God! When disciples and disciple-makers learn to trust the Holy Spirit, growth becomes unstoppable.
Iranian Refugee Fellowships Begin
Steve’s* story goes back to 2001. A small team began working with Iranian refugees in the Netherlands. They wanted to see a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) take place.
Right away, people began to believe. Within one year, there were 30 believers. The movement grew, reproducing disciples and new fellowships. Within these new fellowships, large groups of Iranian believers received leadership training. After seven years, they numbered 500 baptized believers!
A Challenging Conversation
During this time, a young Iranian man named David* approached Steve. David was filled with bitterness and resentment against everyone he knew. In their first conversation, Steve talked with him about these issues. He shared the need for David to forgive everyone who had ever wronged him. The conversation ended and David left.
Steve wondered if he would ever see David again. Had he been too quick to confront him? Then the Lord gave him a revelation. He was to trust the Holy Spirit. He understood deep inside, “God is the One at work in the lives of new believers.”
Can You Help Me?
A few days later, they met a second time. The conversation moved toward the same issues of bitterness and the need to forgive. David then asked Steve, “Can you help me?”
Steve hesitated to answer “yes” to this question. He knew that David had lived as a refugee on the streets for over 9 years. He knew he might ask him about things Steve had never dealt with.
“What do you want help with?” Steve asked.
David responded, “I want God in my life and I need to know what to do.”
Wow! That was exciting! Steve explained how easy it was to talk to God. “Just tell Him what you need from Him.”
David then prayed, “God, I forgive.” He kept praying, naming each one that was responsible for his hurts and resentments. It was a long list. He ended his prayer with, “and God… please come into my life!”
First Visit to Church
Two days later, David showed up at the house church for the first time. As refugees have believed in Christ, they don’t meet in traditional churches. Instead, they meet in small groups in various homes. That day, in the house church, a very diverse group of Iranians had gathered. All kinds of people were there, including government defectors and criminals. When David suddenly asked Steve if he could share with the group, Steve was greatly concerned. He had only known David for a week and only met with him twice. What would this new believer say?
Again, the Holy Spirit told Steve to trust Him and allow David to share. David told the group, “If you want God to forgive you, you need to forgive others!” Though a brand new believer, David spoke directly to the hearts of all who listened. He knew very little, but he effectively passed on what he had learned!
Steve learned something important too. “David was learning to forgive. I was learning to trust the Holy Spirit,” he explained.
Key Lessons for Multiplying Disciples
Relying on the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of new believers is so important. It was a key to seeing the emerging Disciple Making Movement grow.
They adopted these vital practices:
1. Keep things simple so the new believers can easily apply it, copy it, and teach it to others.
2. Show trust and confidence. Believe in them and affirm them in taking the lead.
3. Everyone can share, participate, and help determine what needs to be done.
“…and each day the Lord added to their fellowship all those who were being saved” Acts 2:47 NLT.
From Crisis to Kingdom Growth
Today in this movement, more than 2,000 have been baptized and over 100 fellowships formed. Disciples and new fellowships are spreading rapidly across Belgium, France, and Germany. At the same time, when refugees return to their homelands, they share their faith and start fellowships. They are trusting the Holy Spirit, and He is bringing a supernatural increase in the harvest.
God has indeed used this refugee “crisis” and made it into an opportunity for His Kingdom to spread!
Refugee and Immigrant Opportunities
Are there refugees or immigrants in your area? Christians must take advantage of the great opportunity an immigration crisis brings. Instead of being upset by the problems, ask God how He could use you to share Christ with those from these nations.
Those coming to seek asylum are so often from unreached people groups. They are the least, last, and lost. And they have come to our doorsteps. Find out more about how to reach these unreached peoples in your own area. Fill out the form below to get training in how to reach people from other cultures around you. Let’s your turn refugee problems into opportunities!
*not his real name
Reported by: Nthevheleni
Edited by: C. Anderson