Field Story: Balloon Animals and Gospel Conversations
An East-West short-term mission team in Southern Europe visited a park one afternoon to engage in spiritual conversations. This park is a hub for immigrants and refugees—specifically refugees from Afghanistan.
Many of these refugees had fled Afghanistan as the Taliban began to take control of the country. They had left behind families, friends, jobs, and homes in an effort to find safety. Most were still reeling from the trauma of fleeing their country.
Jocelyn*, one of the short-term team members, kept this in mind as she sat next to an Afghan woman on a park bench. As Jocelyn spoke to the woman with the help of a translator, the woman’s daughter curiously peeked her head around her mother.
Jocelyn came prepared to engage with children who needed a chance to smile. She pulled a long, slender balloon out of her bag and began to blow it up. Within a few seconds, Jocelyn had twisted the balloon into the shape of a puppy, and the little girl’s face beamed with amusement. The balloon caught people’s attention, and soon, other mothers and their children wandered over to the bench to see Jocelyn transform more balloons into animals. This gave Jocelyn an opening to share the gospel.
Across the park, two of Jocelyn’s teammates, Ron* and David*, were attempting to have gospel conversations with some of the men in the area. But the men that day didn’t seem very receptive. As Ron and David watched Jocelyn make more balloon animals, David told Ron not to get discouraged. A husband would make his way over the park bench eventually to see what all the excitement was about, and then the two short-term team members could find someone to talk to.
Sure enough, an Afghan couple strolled over to the bench, and Ron and David made their way over to engage with them. As the wife talked to Jocelyn and the translator, the husband, Emad*, talked to Ron and David. Emad explained that he once served alongside the U.S. Army at an air base in Afghanistan. He and his family fled Afghanistan for fear the Taliban would harm him because of his service with the U.S. Army. As Ron and David began discussing Scripture with Emad, it was clear that the Holy Spirit had been working in this family because both Emad and his wife were very interested in learning more about Jesus.
Over the next two days, the short-term team members met with Emad and his wife, sharing Scripture and answering their questions about Jesus. Before the team members returned home, they connected Emad and his family with a local believer, who is also a refugee. Today, the family is still meeting with the local believer to study the Bible together.
Refugees experience incomprehensible stress and heartbreak over fleeing their home country. When believers meet refugees, showing them love and compassion can lead to life-changing encounters.
Pray for believers worldwide who are reaching out to refugee communities. Learn more about how to pray for the mission by becoming a prayer partner with East-West.
*Names changed for security purposes.
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