To Give and Receive

My friends from a church in Canada, Abe and Shirley, had been visiting Germany for three months and had been of great encouragement to me personally.

It was shortly after three o´clock in the afternoon as we left the restaurant and, on our way to the car, Shirley commented that she would like to see the so-called Container Camp where many of our friends from Iran and Syria lived. We were actually not very far away and even though visitors were not allowed to go inside, we spontaneously decided to stop by the camp on our way home, to have a look at it from the outside.

Arriving at the camp, I introduced them to two men who attended our church. They were just finishing a soccer practice, but without hesitation they invited us for tea. As we were brought into the meeting room housed in a container opposite the camp I worried that we were inconveniencing my refugee friends, but they were insistent.

Before long we were enjoying tea and eagerly conversing in a beautiful mixture of English, Farsi and German. Then, in the middle of our conversation, some of the men suddenly announced that they were going to cook a traditional Persian dinner for us. I was again dismayed - surely this would be a burden? It was we who should be giving to them. But when they returned, with pots and pans full of food and their faces full of bright excitement, my concerns vanished.

Finishing off the meal with more tea, I thanked our Iranian friends over and over. They had given much more to me than a delicious meal. I had learned that it was hard for me to sit and be served, instead of serving. I wanted so much to bless them. But I remembered the verse in Acts 20:35 that says, “It is better to give than to receive,” and I realized that we had actually blessed our refugee friends by giving them an opportunity to be the ones who were giving to us! Since then our relationship has deepened, and we have had many opportunities to both give and receive, bless and be blessed, as friends do.

by Johanna Neudorf