Basir the Pilot
The first time I entered the refugee camp at Sikamineas there were already a number of people there. In a space about the size of a tennis court (chain link fence included), men, women and children were bustling about looking for dry clothes, food, medical attention and information about what was going to happen next. After being given a brief tour, I wandered around the outside of the compound. I looked up for a moment and saw a young man waving at me. I moved toward him and we struck up a conversation.
Basir was his name. He was a 17 year old from Afghanistan. He was excited to talk to me, but I imagine he would have been excited to talk to anyone at that point. We talked about the journey he had just taken. About the scary boat ride that took him from Turkey to Lesvos. Basir then began to talk about his life back in his home country. The only word he used over and over was “bad.” It was very “bad” there he would say, with a certain look on his face that made me think he was playing back every “bad” moment he had experienced in his life.
You know that moment when men are emotional, are maybe ready to cry, but hold it back because they think showing that kind of sentiment is inappropriate? Basir was there for five or ten seconds. His eyes were glassy like a marble. His thoughts had seemingly taken him to a place of reflection and hurt.
Without letting a tear fall, Basir continued on to another topic. We talked about what would be next for him. His thought was he would find a home in Germany (like so many refugees right now). What would he do? He didn’t know. I asked him what he dreamed about doing one day. If he could do anything, what would it be? Basir’s response back was quick. He wanted to be a pilot. As that sentence came out of his mouth, he was as energetic and passionate as I had seen him. Clearly this was something he had thought of for a while. He then said, with a straight face, that he wasn’t sure that could ever happen now. I could sense he was already somewhat aware of the difficult things he would face in the months and years to come.
Oh how I wanted to say to him, “Don’t give up! That dream could come true one day. Just believe.” Those seemed to be pretty empty words spoken from the guy on the outside of the chain link fence.
At that moment I was called away to attend to something different, so I had to end my chat with Basir. We high fived each other thru the chain link and smiled at one another.
I had about a 20 second walk to where I was headed next with no one close to me at that time. I, like Basir, had a glassy-eyed marble moment.
Though Basir and I may never see each other again, his face has been tattooed in the imagination of my mind. For Basir, I now pray. I pray for hope, for a place to settle, and for a better life than the one he left. Most of all I pray he would meet Jesus. Wherever he ends up calling “home” now, that he would have visions and dreams of Jesus that lead him to a place of salvation. I actually believe our heavenly Father loves Basir enough to do that.
And who knows. Maybe one day, in five or ten or fifteen years from now, I will make my way through a German airport again. I will pass by a tall, slender, confident 35 year old man with a pilot’s cap on. Maybe I will be close enough to see the name “Basir” on his ID tag. In that moment, I will remember that our Father in heaven heard the dreams of this young Afghan teenager. I think our God is big enough to accomplish that!