As public debate rages about how to deal with the thousands of refugees trying to enter Europe each year, many of them drowning in the attempt, the Austrian Bible Society and its partners have been working for years to help care for those who end up in Austria.
“The situation of these people saddens me deeply,” says Father Albert Pongo, who regularly visits refugees in detention centres and prisons. He is originally from Ghana and gives the refugees Bibles in their own languages, supplied by the Bible Society.
“I know from personal experience how hard it is to leave your own country, how much energy and effort it takes. Those who do manage to arrive often have to go back to their home country and face the stigma of failure.
“If I could, I would give them the necessary documents, so that they can stay here in Austria. But I can’t. What I can do is to listen to them and to talk to them about their lives and their problems. We read and discuss the Bible together.”
Father Pongo helps the refugees, some of whom aren’t familiar with the Bible, read passages that comfort and strengthen them.
The story of Job, for instance, who lost all his wealth but kept his faith. When the detainees read about him, they see that everything will end well.
“Often we read the psalms together,” he comments. “Psalm 121, for instance, encourages many people. Some people read the whole Bible by themselves, but for others I recommend passages I find very helpful myself. The story of Job, for instance, who lost all his wealth but kept his faith. When the detainees read about him, they see that everything will end well.”
Father Pongo says that the refugees greatly value the Bibles they are given.
“I can see how excited they are when they get their Bible,” he smiles. “They immediately start to flip through and read. I am very happy that the Bible Society provides these Bibles.
“I’d like to ask all supporters of Bible work to pray for all refugees. We all need to do what we can to raise awareness of their situation and to offer as much support as we can.”
The Austrian Bible Society provides thousands of Scriptures in many different languages for free distribution among refugees each year. Please pray for funding for this vital work.