A Book for the Journey!
A short report and “thank you” from Upper Austria! "The Bible Society has provided us with small, beautiful, black Bibles that have become a refreshing part of the lives of refugees. This book goes with them on their journey of life."
It is Sunday morning in the Lutheran Church of Attersee, Upper Austria. The congregation is celebrating a church service. Everything is as usual. However, during the Reading of the Bible another interesting sound rings through the Church. The passage of the Gospel is read both in German and in Farsi.
Because people have come from far away. They fled terrible circumstances, hardship, and threat of violence. Many got to know Christianity in their home country or met people here who shared about their faith. Now they are interested. They want to know more. They come to Church because they were shown hospitality for example by retired pastor Siegfried Oberlerchner and his wife Hanna. They want to be baptized and want to come and celebrate a church service together. Five to ten Iranians sit in the back of the Church. They listen to the reading in Farsi and can follow in their own Bibles. The Bible Society has provided us with small, beautiful, black Bibles that have become a refreshing part of their lives. This book goes with them on their journey of life.
It is Saturday afternoon in the Lutheran Church in Timelkam. The Church is open. Inside a course in preparation for baptism is going on. Pastor Hans Hubmer is explaining the basics of Christian faith. Amir S. translates and explains. Again, the small black book is present in the circle. They look up the Bible passages and read them for themselves. Afterwards there is time to fellowship. There is coffee and cake. Margit Hubmer, the pastor’s wife, is there to listen and to help with the many concerns.
At the asylum seeker accommodation centre, M. is laying in his bed. His situation is uncertain. Where will his journey end? Is this country prepared to grant him asylum? Can he start a new life here? He takes the small, beautiful, black Bible into his hands and starts reading. The language (Farsi) and letters (Arabic) are familiar to him. However, what the book speaks about is new to him. The parable of the house that survives the storm because it is built on a rock speaks to him. He knows what a storm means and what damage it causes. And when he turns off his light in the night the small, beautiful and black book lays on his bedside table.
As the Right Reverend (auxiliary bishop) of the Lutheran diocese of Upper Austria I am very thankful to the Austrian Bible Society and to its director, Dr. Jutta Henner, and all donors who support this project, for supporting our work among refugees in such a generous way. Without your “know how”, without your knowledge of trustworthy translations and resources, without your willingness to help us fast and uncomplicated und supply us with all these beautiful Bibles for free an important part of our work would be missing. We would not be able to give the many refugees, who often are here only for a short time, anything meaningful that could accompany them on their further journey.
In this way, the Book goes with them - and the one who is spoken of in the Book.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Gerold Lehner
Lutheran diocese of Upper Austria