Taking a Breath

Excerpt from an email to the English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna

Thank you for your perseverance and commitment to the ESUMC/Fünfhaus congregations’ emergency refugee shelter. We have hosted nearly 200 refugees in the church since we started the project last week. I have been moved by your generosity and hospitality.

Now it is time to take a breath, get some sleep, and take stock of what is happening around us. We will temporarily close the shelter in order to give our volunteers a break. With the border closures in Hungary and Croatia and the slowing of new arrivals in Vienna, the need for overflow shelters like ours is waning. We currently have one refugee family staying in the church; they will attempt a journey to Germany tomorrow.

We will take the break as an opportunity to clean and disinfect the church.

As before we do not know what the next days hold. However, we remain committed to sharing our building and what we have with refugees in our city. We are prepared to reopen at a moment’s notice. On Monday we will have a better sense of the refugee situation and can plan our work for the near future.

It has been a powerful experience to journey with, if only for a short time, the refugees who have come through our doors. We were a place of welcome for a family from Aleppo, Syria, a city where Assad government airplanes and ISIS terrorist fighters bombard the city; for an unaccompanied 15 year old young man from the Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan, a province that is a hotbed of Taliban activity; and for a group of refugees from eastern Iraq, a region controlled by ISIS. These are only a few people we have had the privilege of serving.

A special thanks to Pastor Stefan Schröckenfuchs for his leadership on the shelter project. He literally has been a tireless worker and leader.

We continue to pray for the refugee situation, for the places of conflict, and for the people transiting across the Middle East and Europe. May the Holy Spirit work within us as we share the love of Christ with the world.