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September 24, 2015

EMM seeks relief funds for refugees in Germany

Written by  Linda Moffett
Refugees and immigrants enjoy a fellowship meal together at Soli Deo Church in Halle, Germany. Founded in 1991 by EMM church planters, the church has had a longstanding ministry to international newcomers in the city. John* serves the daughter of EMM workers food from the Middle East. *A pseudonym has been used due to a growing backlash against newcomers in Germany. Refugees and immigrants enjoy a fellowship meal together at Soli Deo Church in Halle, Germany. Founded in 1991 by EMM church planters, the church has had a longstanding ministry to international newcomers in the city. John* serves the daughter of EMM workers food from the Middle East. *A pseudonym has been used due to a growing backlash against newcomers in Germany. Photo by an EMM worker.

HALLE, Germany -- “The flow of refugees into Germany, already very high, is expected to increase in a way we’ve never seen before,” said an EMM worker in Halle. To assist in this crisis, EMM is appealing for donations. Donors may give, with “Refugee crisis” noted, here or via check to EMM (P.O. Box 458, Salunga, PA 17538).

Funds received will assist with: emergency housing, utility costs, welcome packages, German language courses to integrate the refugees and help them qualify for the job market, and outreach to refugee children, among other items.

Germany expects one million refugees to apply for asylum this year alone, which is more than the entire European Union accepted in 2014 and four times more than last year, according to a recent article in The Economist. On one September Saturday, more than 10,000 immigrants arrived in Munich alone, the article stated.

The EMM worker, whose name is omitted due to a growing backlash against refugees and those assisting them, said the majority of the refugees are fleeing from Syria and Iraq. “Already homes for refugees in Halle are filled to capacity,” he said, “but now with the Leipzig/Halle airport becoming a new transportation hub for refugees coming to eastern Germany, it will exacerbate the problem.”

Two new administrative refugee centers are planned in Halle to receive refugees for the state of Sachsen Anhalt. “The refugees arrive in Halle for the first registration and then are given an apartment in the city or in other cities in the state. Additionally there will be at least three new shelters for more permanent refugees who will stay in Halle,” the EMM worker said. “We are facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions.”

EMM President Nelson Okanya said, “There is a strong EMM team of nine workers already serving in Halle, Berlin, and Kaiserslautern. EMM has been in Halle since 1991; two families are serving there now. One couple has served there for 15 years. EMM knows the needs and concerns of this area well. We have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ.”

EMM has already connected with Mennonitisches Hilfswerk (a Mennonite relief agency in Germany) to coordinate efforts.

“Germany is being stretched almost beyond its limits,” the worker said. “While Germany has welcomed more refugees per capita than any country in Europe, there has been a minority speaking out against the refugees who are arriving. Now is the time for the evangelical church to join together and welcome the tide of refugees in the name of Jesus.”

Amos Stoltzfus, partnership coach at EMM, said, “EMM is focusing on assisting Syrian refugees in Germany where we have workers and where we are connected. Mennonite Central Committee U.S. is already involved with Syrian refugees in the Middle East.”