Danish Clowns and Refugee Centers – Oh the things we see.

Words could never describe to you the things we see. Video likely won’t do it, nor will photos. Our lives are being impacted every day by the often bizzare work we are allowed to do as we go into the world. I wish you could be with us. I think one of the hardest things about what we do is coming back home. Where everybody asks how our last trip was… because, we can barely put into words what we’ve seen. We sometimes can’t even process it in our own heads.

I will describe for you one brief evening in an attempt to invite you into our travels. (You can also see a video below that Douglas put together from some of the footage we’ve collected this last week.)

Last night we were scheduled to play at a refugee center. There are many of them spread across Denmark that temporarily house the thousands of people waiting to either have their request for asylum granted or denied. This particular evening we were headed to one that was closing. Many of them are. I’m not sure of the reason why, nor am I sure of exactly what happens to the thousands of people living in them, but these particular people are being redistributed around the country to locations that are remaining open. Many of them are run by the Red Cross, and the staff we have met there have been top notch.

Here was our evening:

  • We arrived at the center, found our way inside, and arrived just in time to see a Danish clown entertaining about 25 children.
  • After the clown, we loaded in our gear and began to meet the refugees.
  • Once the gear was in the building, it was time to eat. Imagine 300+ people from probably more than 10 countries, all lining up to get some pasta salad, some rice, a pita, and whatever else was on that huge table. (Probably 90% or more of the group was muslim, so foods were also reflective of their religious and dietary needs). People sat on blankets as a family to eat, or at a table full of rowdy people.
  • After we ate, we began to set up our gear while trying to keep 15 children from running around and hitting the drums.
  • About this time, Sarah (my wife) was pulled into a Kurdish dance. She was dancing in a slow moving circle, swinging a sweaty flag while Doug and Sam setup cables.
  • “We have a fire alarm. Everybody out of the building!” That was the next part of the evening.
  • 300+ people of various languages then commenced on the slowest evacuation I’ve ever seen.
  • We waited outside until the fire department arrived and told us we could return back inside.
  • Once everyone was back, we began our concert. Nobody really understood English, nor our Danish. So we just played song after song. They danced for well over an hour.
  • At the end of the concert, we took about 1,000 selfies with the refugees.
  • As they departed, there was tears and hugging. Many of them were not sure if they would see their friends again. Some of them have been waiting for well over a year for news of their application for asylum. In a day or a year, they could get either a yes or a no. They may be sent to another country, or they will be given a visa and the opportunity to integrate into Danish society. It’s all up in the air.
  • We packed out our gear and climbed into our tour bus to drive the two hours back to the school we are sleeping at. They gave us two large garbage bags full of pasta salad. I suppose we won’t be hungry this week.

I tell you the story of this evening to invite you into what it is we are doing over here. Some days, we are sharing the Gospel directly with people, speaking the good news from a stage to be heard and processed in languages we can speak. Other days, we just hang out with people. last night, we could barely have conversations with the people we were hanging out with. But between their English, our Danish, a few French words, some Russian, some Farsi, and some Arabic – we communicated something.

As we go on a Jesus mission – it never looks the same. Sometimes we share with others, and sometimes our hearts are stirred as we observe, grow in perspective, and have our hearts broken for people. The reality is this: It’s hard to walk away from a night like last night the same. I’ve never been hugged by so many muslim people in one evening as I was last night.

Sometimes we play a concert, sometimes we eat pasta salad with people we can’t talk to.
ALWAYS we aim to love those we are encountering. Love is always relevant. God’s love is revealed to us by action. What Jesus did on the cross showcases for us the love of God. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Our response should be to love those we encounter. If we can communicate with them or not.

Thank you for reading this highly unorganized post. It’s hard to put into words what we see every day. But I wanted to share something with you. I wanted you to have at least a small visual of what we are doing this week.

THANK YOU for your prayers and support. We can GO because you help send.
~Andy

 

** Here is a brief video with footage from the last week. Mostly from some concerts and Danish “Confirmation Camps”:

Andy Ziesemer

Author Andy Ziesemer

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