Being Christ to Refugees through Washing Machines

Women living in the overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos are delighted to have a place to do their laundry (seen through the door at the rear of the room pictured). The camp, built for 2,000 people, now holds 7,000—yet it has lacked this simple convenience we take for granted. Providing some washing machines in a building outside the camp, a safe place for the Syrian and Iraqi women and children to gather, is one way that Gateways2Life is being Christ to the refugees seeking safety and a new life.

TeachBeyond Borders, our ministry to refugees, is collaborating with Gateways2Life, a licensed non-governmental organization, to provide an educational program. “Gateways2Life is helping meet the refugees’ basic needs and providing trauma counseling, but they did not have an educational program at their center. Our partnership allows us to collaboratively provide for the educational needs of women and children,” said Elizabeth Steggall-Lewis, coordinator of TeachBeyond Borders.

The educational program begins this coming summer when about 40 people, mainly from North America, will be conducting research for the design of TeachBeyond Borders’ year-round educational program, as well as launching a 10-day English camp and Children’s Educational Day Camp. Two members will remain on Lesvos to establish the learning center in collaboration with Gateways2Life.

This long-range children’s program is already in the works. The Educational Day Camp for ages 5 to 10 will offer English, art, music, and STEM classes, along with the Godly Play program, led by TeachBeyond members Helen and Nigel Spencer. Godly Play is a Christian education program that helps children become aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives. The program introduces Bible stories to children, but in this context, they are called “stories of old.”

TeachBeyond Borders is gaining momentum, Elizabeth said. Meeting refugees’ educational and practical needs opens the door to share the gospel with them. She imagines what could happen if masses of refugees turn to Christ, as refugees and displaced persons in Germany did in post-World War II Germany where the Janz brothers first began their ministry; they could then carry their Christian faith into Europe where they become a witness for the gospel to a spiritually cold continent.

Elizabeth has seen God creating partnerships with registered NGOs so our ministry can gain entrance into many countries.

  • We will be working with The Justice Project  in Germany and Italy to support its efforts to combat human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. They have asked us to provide classes in literacy, numeracy, life skills, and the Bible. Many of the women are lured from Africa and speak English, so that will be the language of instruction.
  • We will be providing curriculum support to SAT 7, a satellite broadcasting company covering the Middle East with Arabic language programs focused on education, family, health, and other topics, including Bible lessons and church services.
  • We hope to collaborate with Brook Hills Development Organization to provide educational programs to the Korah community in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. Known as the trash-dump community because of its location beside the city landfill, it was established as a lepers’ colony about 95 years ago. The population of Korah is estimated at over 100,000 people living within two square miles.

These plans are dependent on God to provide the teams and funds to carry and implement them. We are asking teachers, writers, translators, fundraisers, counselors, children’s ministry workers, and administrators to join TeachBeyond as Associates to serve on short-term projects like these as time allows. For more information about TeachBeyond Borders, write to Elizabeth at
esteggall-lewis@teachbeyond.org.

photos by Tammy Peters

Refugee children

These children in the refugee camp have no school. TeachBeyond plans to provide an educational program for them, including English, art, music, STEM classes, and Bible stories.