Christian Peacemaker Team Reflection: St Paul and St Luke on Lesvos

Annelies Klinefelter, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team working with refugees in the Mediterranean writes:

In 56 AD, Luke the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul and their companions stopped on Lesvos briefly on the return trip of Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km away). From Mytilini they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15).

In 2016, Luke and Paul would have been picked up by coastguard ships and denied entry. Paul was a Turk and Luke a Palestinian. European governments now associate both of these nationalities with terrorism.

In the many thousands of refugees now on the island there may be many Pauls and many Lukes. They would have to go through many months or years of applying and waiting in order to enter. The authorities would see the message they were bringing as revolutionary and unwelcome. The religious authorities and even the populace would not be happy with them or their comments. "Love your enemy as yourself" and "treat others as you would like to be treated" are not economically viable and practically not possible. In today's world, Luke and Paul would have been sent back as illegal immigrants, perhaps even tried as human smugglers.

The so-called Christian communities in Europe support the closing of the borders to keep refugees out of their own countries. They let Greece, France and Italy take the burden. They wash their hands in innocent blood.

Is this the Europe I want and love?

Heck NO! I love Europe with all its diversity, but this political business I find terribly hurtful and dehumanizing - for the refugees, for myself and for my own community.

In their own time, Luke and Paul were welcomed as strangers with all the geniality Eastern hospitality accords strangers.

Western hospitality does NOT exist.

The more I think and feel about this the more I am ashamed to be a Christian in this world at this time. I know; Jesus says you will always have the enemies around you. Still, I hoped that after 2000 years we humans would have found a way to be human to each other, support each other's talents and give each other the opportunities to develop and share them.

As I see centers like Moria, and to a lesser degree PIKPA, I cry my eyes out and my warm heart feels cold as ice. How else can I deal with this contradiction?

Jesus says: "Love your enemy and turn the other cheek." Does this mean I must find a way to deal with the oppressing individuals and structures? That I must go on, knowing that in my lifetime this problem will not be solved?

Pharaoh dealt with the refugee problem by letting the Israelites go under protest.

Will we find a Christian way to let the refugees from today enter our communities and welcome their talents and gifts? Will we heal the sick and feed the hungry and visit those in jail? Will we clothe the naked and let them marry our sons and daughters?

In the present reality, European forces seem to say "no."

But I will not give up - I will continue to go the extra mile as long as I can with the grace of God and the help of my companions.

May peace prevail on Earth.

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Tags: Annelies Klinefelter, Christian Peacemaker Team, Lesvos, Mediterranean, refugees

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