Current efforts are concentrated in the city of Giessen, a university town with a population of 80,000 about a one-hour drive north of Frankfurt, the location of the headquarters of our German national ministry and the site of the largest refugee arrival and process centre in Germany. Arriving refugees are housed on a decommissioned US army base as well as in tent cities in the region.
An existing warehouse of aid materials allows our Agape ministry in Germany (Campus für Christus) to cover most local needs. They are ready and able to pass on materials and to deliver them to distribution sites. Their teams respond promptly to all requests for materials and delivery is coordinated through the GAiN logistics team.
German staff are involved in offering a cultural training course in the refugee centre. Working with another organization – “Hand in Hand – Cultural Theatre of Giessen”, staff and volunteers are currently developing a series of skits and pantomimes to explain local cultural practices to new arrivals. The goal is to create a coherent series of simple skits, which volunteers can learn and present in other refugee centres throughout the country. (Topics include greetings and basic social interactions, grocery shopping and showing respect for others regardless of religious background or gender.) They are exploring the possibility of filming the skits and creating an accompanying handbook to encourage multiplication of the concept and involving more volunteers. Taking this project to the grass roots level will help dispel anxiety in the local population towards refugees and provide a real source of support and education for people who are not familiar with the local culture and customs.
Many volunteers in Germany are Christians who are in a unique position to share their faith and give information about the local church in the course of their interactions with refugees. Various resources are available to share with interested refugees.
• Jesus Film DVDs (in multiple Arabic languages, including information about the German ministry and instructions about where to download the Jesus Film smartphone app).
• Bi-Fold Business Cards listing Arabic-language Christian resources including Jesus.net websites and contact information of local churches.
• MiniMag - a small brochure in Arabic with inspirational stories from former refugees and an explanation of the basics of the Christian faith.
• The 4 Spiritual Laws booklets in Arabic.
• SD Cards for Smartphones in the Arabic language and containing the Bible and the Jesus Film. This gives refugees access to this material even without a DVD player.
• Bibles or New Testaments.
German staff are currently building two websites – one for helpers and one for refugees themselves. The goal of the refugee website Welcome Deutschland is to provide valuable informational links for refugees, who want to know more about life in Germany. It is currently available in three languages (German, English, Arabic) with the option of adding more. Content includes information from national authorities, an introduction to German culture, a link to KnowingGod websites in various languages, and the Jesus Film video.
A special page has been added to the German national ministry website to help local Christians better understand the refugee situation by providing information, suggestions and resources to engage and support people who have recently arrived in Germany, whether through simple acts of kindness or through spiritual discussions.
The German ministry opens its meeting rooms twice monthly to welcome representatives from other organizations as well as volunteers for a time of conversation and fellowship, spiritual encouragement and sharing, prayer for individuals and for our shared task, and to discuss current needs and available resources. This kind of coordination is the basis for sustainable partnership and mobilisation of volunteers.
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