Global Partners Europe Area Director Dave Horne recently sat down with Piotr Gasiorowski to understand more about the refugee crisis from a European perspective. Piotr leads a dynamic and growing Wesleyan church in Krakow, Poland.
As a Wesleyan European pastor how does your faith inform your perspective on the refugee crisis?
Honestly, I think it should be kind of obvious for people who declare themselves to be Christians. The Bible from the beginning to the end is very clear that God’s heart is with those who are alone, who are persecuted, and who have had to escape from their own land. He named us as those who are here for a moment. We all are refugees and have been accepted by God. So If I’ve been accepted and cared and loved, my faith tells me that what I have received for free I should give for free.
Many people in Europe are fearful of Muslims destroying European culture. What is your response to these fears?
Well, that’s right, there is a lot of fear and anger. I hear people say we need to be afraid and maybe they are right that among those who are coming are people whose intentions are not honest. However, we don’t know that and we can’t put our fear before love! I would say that the main reason we are afraid is that we don’t know who we are. Europe has lost its identity. We are not sure what our basic values and beliefs are.
For example, when I open my home to guests I want them to feel accepted and comfortable. However, if my guests want to change the color of my house or start rearranging the furniture then I let them know that’s not okay. I like my house and I don’t plan to change it. When I am secure in my beliefs it makes it easier for me to welcome others. We need to be sure of our own identity and grow in our faith, and not be afraid of what someone else believes.
There is one more thing. Jesus told us to go and make disciples. Wesley declared that the whole world is his parish. Today with refugees we don’t need to go anywhere. They are right outside our door. They want to visit and they are begging us for love, care, peace, understanding, and so on. Who if not the church? I believe God is giving us a great opportunity but we can’t give what we do not have! To give love we need to accept love, to give peace we need to accept peace, to give forgiveness and understanding we need to accept that. But our problem is that for many years we’ve been turning back from all what we need right now. My hope is that we will rediscover our faith. Jesus told us to not be afraid, and he promised that love conquers fear.
What would you like to communicate to your Wesleyan brothers and sisters in other parts of the world?
I would like all of us to remember our heritage and I believe that the most important part of our denomination is missions. We have many reasons to be thankful and proud. We have a lot to offer but being a European I can see how important it is not only to do missions, but we all need to BE missionaries. We need to take care of our own identity in Christ because missions is much more than charity, it is life-changing ministry and to change lives we need to give our life. We need to become his and we will have something to offer.
Specifically, how should we be praying?
I believe that the opposite of fear is trust, not courage. Courage is the result of trust, so I would like us to pray about trusting our God and trusting with what we have. Sure we need more, but we have enough to serve now. So pray that we will trust more in what we already have and who we can become with God’s Spirit at work in us.
Is there anything we can do to be involved in a tangible way?
Prayer is how we connect and talk with our Father, but it is not an excuse for not doing something tangible. We can give and support financially. We can organize groups of people who can go and serve in places where people are in desperate situations. But also in light of what I have said before–everyone needs to turn to God, to his Word. Everyone can be involved in making our churches more trusting and fearless.
Learn more about the Refugee Relief Fund and how you can help.