You are looking up close at the front of a smuggler's boat used to bring refugees to the Island of Lesvos. You can see that the boat has been completely stripped of everything to maximize the load of passengers.
This unstable shell makes the crossing from Turkey very dangerous. The motor attached was only a few horsepower not sufficient to get the heavy load there safely. Some of the motors had a false shell over the engine to make it appear more powerful.
One refugee from Iraq told me he had to swim after the unstable boat capsized at the first wave they hit. The Coast Guard is patrolling in an attempt to save some of those who flounder in the middle of the channel.
On Sunday we met a family from Syria who had just made the harrowing journey the night before. They had been walking for six weeks and spend $700 a person to ride the boat from Turkey. They were laying on some jackets trying to warm in the sun. I noticed them and walked over. He immediately stood up and greeted me with his hand over his heart. He offered me some sunflower seeds he had in his hand.
We attempted to talk but he understood no English and of course we don't understand any Arabic. The atmosphere changed when I saw a very small cross around his neck made from a lanyard. I pointed and said, Christian? He nodded his head and hugged my neck.
We sought an interpreter who could help us converse. Amir introduced his wife, daughter, son and mother. He had come from a town in Syria where radical Muslims were destroying the churches, homes and killing anyone Christian. He made the motion of a knife cutting off his head. They were Coptic Orthodox Christians. Then he startled me by asking for prayer. Would you pray and thank God that we made it here safely!
We embraced as a group and prayed to our heavenly father together. When we finished they made the symbol of the cross and kissed our cheeks. Their thankfulness was clearly evident!
I don't fully understand the human tragedy that is going on in the Middle East and Europe but I can clearly see how desperate someone becomes to save their family and lives. Their smiles brought tears to our eyes.
This camp was built for 1,500 and today there is over 3,500 here. There are missionaries from various organizations and volunteers from dozens of countries to help. They could use more as they serve people fleeing from over 38 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Cathy and I leave Lesvos on Sunday for our return back to Memphis. We pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving in America. Cathy and I will visit Turkey tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Funny, going to Turkey for Turkey Day.
What an experience we have had with Kim and Jenny Garrity. Please pray as they also leave in three weeks and return to Germany for the holidays.
Cathy and Danny
Report from Lesvos, Greece
A world crisis!
You are looking at a hidden landfill on a hilltop in Greece. You are seeing the debris from hundreds of boats and over 500,000 life jackets used by refugees escaping the Middle East.
Cathy and I were escorted around the island by Kim Garrity of Greater Europe Mission and given the opportunity to see where this flood of human beings have been landing for the last year. The stories were riveting.
Then we met two refugees who have come in the past few months. Rami and Yogi are from Damascus, Syria and Mosul, Iraq respectively. These two men were well educated and very articulate.
Rami looked at me and told his story about the war in Syria. His brother was shot on his way to work back in the beginning of the war. Rami worked on Syrian television. A graphic artist by trade he said he left Syria because of the shooting. He used his fingers and arms to demonstrate how the government forces shot down people. It was too dangerous and I had to leave. he said.
Each refugee must pay one thousand Euros to cross the four mile channel between Turkey and Greece. The smugglers strip each boat to its basic shell and put a small engine on the rear. The young smuggler got the boat started and taught the nearest person how to guide the boat. Then he rolled out of the overloaded shell and was picked up by a speed boat.
Rami said the water was very calm on the Turkish side. But when we reached the middle of the channel heavy waves began to hit the boat. The second one tipped it over and I was trapped under the boat. I didn't have a life jacket so I was able to get out from under the boat. Many of the people drowned!
I came to the surface and struggled to grab the bottom of the boat. There was a family next to me and the parents drowned. I grabbed their daughter who was about the age of eight. He rolled up his left sleeve and showed me a dark bruise where he held the girl.
I worked hard to try and swim but the weight was overwhelming. I felt something plastic with my right arm and realized someone had tossed me a life jacket. He showed a deep impression on his bicep where the jacket entangled his arm.
He could see the shore of Greece in the distance but his strength began to tire. All of a sudden the Greek Coast Guard came along side and dropped a rope and ladder to help me. I was so cold I could not move my arms. They took the girl from my left arm and helped me with the other arm. Unfortunately the girl was dead by the time the help had arrived.
You could see the trauma he felt in his eyes. Talking helped him process his horrible experience and we built an instant bond of friendship.
Pray as we spend some additional time on the Island and meet refugees from over thirty-five countries. Next week we will send you a report on the camps where these people are now living in anticipation of moving into other countries in Europe.
Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.