As the refugee crisis grows in countries around the world, the situation in Hungary continues. Teanna Sunberg is a missionary living in Hungary and serving the Central Europe Field. She has been leading the church’s ministry to families who have fled the violence in Syria. Here, she shares images she has captures and her reflections on what she has seen, both at the Keleti train station in Budapest and at a tent city in Roskze, on Hungary’s border with Serbia.
At the Keleti Train Station
My new friend, A,* speaks beautiful English. She arrived with her family at Keleti on Saturday. They have been traveling for 3 years. Afghanistan. Pakistan. India. Iran. Turkey. Greece. Macedonia. Serbia. Hungary. As a newlywed, she fled from religious extremists in her mountain village near the border of Pakistan and India. She has sojourned with her husband, mother-in-law, and two of her husband’s extended family, including a five year old nephew and a sister-in-law set to give birth in 5 days. “Why did you leave your home?” I ask, offering a starting point for her narrative.“It is terrible” she replies. “It’s very dangerous, especially for women. They make us stay in our homes and if we go out, we must cover ourselves completely. It is very difficult to see, you know, when you are covered.”
This current crisis is chaotic and complicated. There are a million different lenses through which you can analyze and predict the ramifications of a Middle Eastern surge into Europe and even North America. Some of those lenses are framed by logic. Many of them, even in the Church, are filtered by fear. Everybody chooses a lens. Though I am not Middle Eastern. Though I am not a refugee. Though I am not a man. I choose to see people through the eyes of a Middle Eastern refugee named Īsā. For Christians, he is called Yasūʿ (Jesus). And to his people, and for this day, he told us his story and he said, “A man reaps what he sows … Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the body of Christ.” You see, the man, Jesus, speaks those words with the memories of a childhood that began as a refugee. This issue is so complex. The question is, which lens is the Jesus lens?
On the Border of Hungary and Serbia
At the catching point, which is Roszke on the Hungarian / Serbian border, I was overwhelmed by the number of people and the needs. The basic needs—basic health care, hunger—and the aftermath of those needs—trash. We spent the day working together as a huge community—creating order. There were many, many volunteers from a plethora of organizations. It was beautiful to work together.
This is the tent city at the camp. We worked on creating order—a family section, a single section, a section for vulnerable people. It takes a community to do this thing. How many Germans and Spaniards and Swiss did I meet today? A ton. And that is the kingdom … even for those that do not know Jesus yet. This giving of ourselves is a transformational act of grace; of God’s grace.
New people continue coming through Serbia into Hungary. Where we volunteer at the camp, we watch them walk in as we are cleaning. The newcomers are then kept behind a line, where they wait. They are fed, thanks to volunteers. But there is a lot of waiting. To the rest of us: Where is the refugee among you today and how will you treat him? That is where your journey begins.