Christians in Europe say they won't stop welcoming refugees
As Berlin mourns after a terror attack, 'only the Gospel' will change Europe, minister says.
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Erik Tryggestad | The Christian Chronicle
Just weeks after Christians gathered in Athens, Greece, to discuss effective ways to serve refugees from the Middle East, a man driving a semi-truck plowed into a crowded public market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 56 more. 

A memorial of flowers and candles forms in the area where a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd, killing 12 and injuring 56 others, in Berlin. (PHOTO BY VENUSLUI, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

As police gathered evidence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans not to give in to fear — and to continue showing compassion to those fleeing violent conflicts.

Should the attacker be revealed as an asylum seeker, “this would be especially despicable toward the many, many Germans who are daily engaged in helping refugees,” Merkel said, “and toward the many, many people who truly need this protection and strive to integrate themselves into our country.”

Rudiger and Michaela Renken are among the Germans helping refugees from the Middle East. The longtime members of a Church of Christ in Bremen and their fellow Christians reach out to refugees who live in an informal settlement near their church building.

“We have started a language school, and some church members have already invited some refugees to their homes,” Rudiger Breman told The Christian Chronicle at the Athens conference. “Relationships are growing.” The Renkens came to the conference “to understand how to make the next step and introduce (the refugees) to Christ.”

Despite the revelation that the attacker, Anis Amri, was a Tunisian asylum seeker believed to be in touch with radical Islamists, members of Churches of Christ in Europe said they will continue to show Christ’s love to the refugees in their midst.

In Vienna, Austria, Reggy Hiller and fellow Christians have conducted Bible studies with refugees that have resulted in baptisms. Hiller asked for prayers for the new believers. After converting, some have been threatened with death by members of their own family, she said.

Jacob HaskewJacob Haskew works with the Danube Church of Christ in Vienna, another congregation helping refugees.

“We continue ahead,” he said, “not dismayed by the terror of evil.” He cited the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:10: “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

Across Europe, Christians also pray for the families of those lost in the attack — and for the Gospel of Christ to shine through the tragedy.

After the attack, Dino Roussos, minister for the Glyfada Church of Christ in Athens, posted the following message to social media:

“Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ — the message of peace, love and forgiveness — will change the situation.”
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