Four go mad in Austria – CBC Support to Oasis ministry to Refugees

  Filed under: Mission and Ministries, Overseas Mission 

Outside the Oasis with the van
Ready for the off

Traiskirchen Austria – 18th -25th Feb 2018

Whilst Lesley and Neal were serving at the Oasis, Neal wondered if CBC could send a team to help with shower and toilet refurbishment works. In response, four members of CBC congregations, Martin S, Paul G, Chris D & me (Stuart L), took up the challenge and spent a week in Austria.

Setting of at 4am on Sunday 18th we drove to Calais and took the ferry to Dunkirk carrying a boot full of tools. We shared the driving through France, Belgium and Germany arriving at the Oasis centre at half past midnight on Monday the 19th. We were met by Steph and Jeremy, two members of the team, who had stayed up to welcome us and show us our accommodation in the centre. The car had held up, apart from the exhaust that had blown and would need some attention before driving back home.

The objective of the visit was to refresh somewhat dated short term accommodation facilities used in emergency by refugees. [For example some arrive at times when they are not able to register in the neighbouring camp]. In advance of our visit the Oasis team paid to replace the entire hot & cold-water systems in the building as they had suffered from several leaks in recent years due to corroded iron pipes. This work was only possible due to the financial gift CBC had made to the centre at Christmas and the team were very grateful.

Martin fitting the base for the shower tray

Martin fitting the base for the shower tray

After a briefing from Steph and Christoph on Monday morning we were off. Martin took charge of the shower tray and its support frame, Paul filling the holes in floors and walls where the new pipework had been installed. Chris assembled the sink unit and wall cabinet and I stood around and thought. Any instructions leaflets were in German, but Chris had an app on his phone that could translate simply by viewing the instructions via the camera, weird. We developed a plan on a massive piece of cardboard and referred to it a lot. Most days we worked between ten and twelve hours and we always had the support of Christoph and Rick to make many of the decisions.

The Oasis team provided us with some cooked meals and a fridge full of food, so we didn’t have to buy much for ourselves which was a real blessing. In the evenings Chris led us in a time of bible study that focused on our identity in Jesus. On Wednesday evening we took time to join in with one of the sessions attended by the refugees and sat through Bible study translated into German and Farsi. We also glimpsed refugee stories and soon realised that some were on a real journey discovering Jesus hearing the gospel at the Oasis.

Martin, Chris and Stuart enjoying pizza

Pizza never tasted better

On Thursday evening it became clear that we would not complete our task no matter how many hours we worked, so on the Friday we completed as much tiling as time would allow before joining the Oasis team in a meal. This left the local team with a final wall to tile and fit the basin, toilet and shower screen. This they did in a few days after we had left and some photos were sent to show us the completed work.

Paul with large saucepan

Paul’s cooking up a storm

Chris assembling cabinets with instructions in German

Chris assembling cabinets with instructions in German

With the exhaust patched up, we started back for home early Saturday morning and drove through the day arriving at the ferry minutes before our ferry was due to sail at 8pm and were told we had missed boarding and been transferred to the 6:30 am ferry. The gates were shut and red crosses barred our way. We prayed for a miracle and we were waved through at the last minute with the lorries.

On reflection one of the highlights of the week was Chris’s attendance with us. He would be first to admit he doesn’t have many DIY skills, but he helped out and kept the team grounded in building the Kingdom, CBC alongside the Oasis staff, all working together. Without this it would have been easy to think the trip was about a toilet and shower.

It wasn’t, it was about Jesus.

Martin surveys the render drying
Left: toilet room, right: shower room