Sunday, March 18, 2018

“I Cried and Cried for Hours”

Alan Cutting with some new friends in Serbia.

A disaster response team member in Europe describes what he's seeing on the ground.

This week Samaritan’s Purse has teams on the ground in several different European countries working in partnership with local church networks to deliver emergency relief to thousands of refugees currently making their further north into Europe.

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Official statistics estimate a daily throughput (arrival and departure) of 2,500-3,000 people at this well publicized location in Serbia on the present refugee trail north. This is the point at which the road runs out and where the Hungarian border can only be accessed along an old railway track. Some arrive here having already walked the length of the country. But for others—those who have had the means to pay for a vehicle thus far—it is where they must exit and begin walking.

Help Refugees in Europe

From a steady stream of taxis and coaches spill hundreds (yes, up to 150 people are crammed into some of the buses) of young men, older men, and families. This afternoon two police cars, a local church presence, and the Samaritan’s Purse distribution point were the only markers on this crucial point in the refugees’ journey. People don’t stay here long. They don’t stay anywhere long. On and on and on they go. With a local Baptist church pastor, we distributed food and non-food items carefully selected by our partners on the ground. As expected, hygiene items were snapped up with particularly grateful thanks.

Watching the steady stream of people passing our simple distribution point was mesmerizing. Overwhelming. Whenever I saw a family with infants and toddlers, I was reminded of Matthew 2, and the journey south that Jesus made as a baby. Once again these days, weeping and great mourning is heard; mothers weeping for their children and refusing to be comforted, because some of them are no more. But this time they are fleeing north. North into what? North into where? Wherever I could find English speakers I abandoned my post and walked a little way with them.

A Syrian Family’s Story

Farid (not his real name) is a father of four. This family tumbled out of a taxi they had shared with another family, and he gathered his children together, a young son and two teenage girls.

“We are from Aleppo (Syria),” he said. “I am an engineer and an interior designer.”

I was not surprised. There was a creative style and dignity about him, even in these conditions.

“I know Europe well. I have travelled to several European countries. My sister lives in London and my brother in Paris. But I’d never even thought of leaving Syria,” he said, “and even now, I’m waiting for the day I can return.”

“But what could I do? We firstly went to Istanbul and I looked for work, but you have to speak Turkish to have any chance. My wife was exhausted so we agreed she would stay there and rest awhile, and I would bring the family into Europe.”

His 16-year-old daughter took up the story with an openness, an innocence, and a trust in her voice that, considering her circumstances, seemed to me extraordinary.

“We crossed a huge river and then the sea. It was at night. I was so scared. I cried and cried for hours. We’ve been travelling now for two weeks,” she said.

“I cried and cried for hours.”

“Where are you heading for?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Where do you think we should go?” she asked me, before adding, “I like the sound of Holland, but my father thinks maybe Finland.”

In truth, they had no idea. I’ve never before had a complete stranger ask me with total sincerity where she should spend the rest of her life.

Turning back to her father, I commented on just how many people I’d met today who were from Aleppo.

“I know,” he replied, “we keep seeing people we knew from our neighborhood.”

I asked him what he’d left behind in Aleppo.

“Nothing,” he said. “Everything was bombed. My house, my new car, my land, my father…”

It was then that his voice cracked, and he swung his head down and away, taking a few steps out of reach of our conversation, completely unable to say any more.

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44 Comments on "“I Cried and Cried for Hours”"

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Eva, we aren’t taking any volunteers right now. You could contact us at to find out more about becoming part of our disaster assistance response team.


I’m a family physician and my friend s public health nurse wondering if we could go to Greece and help?

The U.S. has agreed to allow entry to 10,000 refugees, but most of them are settling in Germany and Sweden.


Are any refugees coming to the U.S.?

Esthela Benitez

Vivo tan lejos de Europa, soy de Ecuador al otro lado del mundo. Pero la situación de los hermanos sirios, afganos y de otros pueblos me conmueve. Ojalá miraran a América, no tenemos el desarrollo de Europa, pero tenemos un gran corazón para recibirlos.

Hi Adrienne, we aren’t currently accepting volunteers for our Eastern European response.

The most important thing you can do is pray. Thank you for your prayers.

Sheryl Leong
My heart is in agony every time I see the refugees.. If only I have wings I will fly to where you are and comfort you with my hug… If only I get a chance to serve you all. The only means I have and I can give is my fervent prayer.. I pray for you all everyday.. I have asked my whole family to continue to pray for all the refugees especially the children… the innocent children who knows nothing about hardship… I will never stop praying for everyone of you. May the Lord be with you all to… Read more »
glenn tanala tibre

i love you people….i”ll always pray for your health and safety……

glenn tanala tibre

every time i read, i watched about this refugees…….i’m always trying my tears not to drop in my cheeks but i can’t help it not to fall!!!!… heart breaks every moment i read and hear their story…..i can’t stop until i cry every time i see especially those children………i always giving thanks to the LORD that there are people like all of you helped this refugee…i will pray for you…for your safety…for your health all of you there……i will pray for you…..