In a refugee camp in northern France, a Pashtun man from Pakistan was happy to hear the good news of Jesus in an audio-visual presentation in his own language.
It was an evangelistic audio-visual presentation by Global Recordings Network (GRN) giving an overview of the Bible story from creation to Christ and how to become a follower of Jesus.
“He sat there holding the player while I showed him the pictures,” recalls Graydon Colville, international director of GRN, who recently visited France to see the work GRN is doing in the refugee camps.
“He sat there for 30 or 40 minutes and watched this whole presentation. He’s a Muslim but very interested in the Christian message.”
“Despite the fear and anxiety and the social problems that are generated by the refugees being in northern France … the church there also recognises there’s a huge opportunity to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be reached and they are trying to do what they can.”
Colville was visiting the camp with GRN’s local director, Daniel, who has assembled a team of people to work with Muslims and Christians in refugee camps.
Colville says he found great openness to the gospel among Muslim refugees who have taken refuge in the two camps in northern France.
“We spoke with Kurds, Iranians and others and there was a lot of openness but there was also a lot of tension because not everybody is open,” he says.
“There was one Iranian-background believer who had been killed in one of the camps some months ago by people who were not happy with what he had done, so even those who are Christians or have become Christians have to be fairly circumspect.”
Daniel also found tremendous openness in a refugee centre in northern Greece.
Kurdish people of Muslim background came to him in their dozens saying: “Give us a Bible, give us a cross, tell us how to become followers of Jesus, we don’t want to have anything else to do with Islam.”
“He acknowledged that there were probably many different agendas and motivations, but it still demonstrates an openness and, as the opportunity for God’s Word to be shared is taken, who knows what God will do with it? There certainly seems to be evidence of people becoming followers of Jesus,” said Colville.
Daniel is encouraging other Christian organisations working in the camps to take advantage of the openness to Christian faith by doing gospel ministry.
“Daniel is trying to resource others and he’s tapping into networks there,” Colville says.
“We met with the guy in northern France, who was the coordinator of the equivalent of the Evangelical Alliance, who is now coordinating ministry to the refugee camps on behalf of a network of churches and organisations, so our guys are tapping into that.
“Despite the fear and anxiety and the social problems that are generated by the refugees being in northern France, the very small evangelical wing of the church there also recognises there’s a huge opportunity to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be reached and they are trying to do what they can.”
Colville repeats the comment made that, despite the evil that is being done, ISIS might yet prove to be one of the greatest gifts to evangelical Christian ministry across the world simply because of the disillusion with Islam it is causing in some Muslim communities.
“So it is on the one hand generating more fanaticism, on the other hand generating a great deal of questioning and potentially openness to other messages,” he says.
“For a lot of people who grow up in a religious environment, having no religion is hardly seen as an option. If they’re going to ditch Islam they’re looking around for options and that’s a great opportunity for the gospel.”