Deported: Sierra’s Story
For the last three months of 2016, my daughter Sierra (a powerhouse White Ribbon Day vocalist) lived and worked on a YWAM base on the island of Lesvos, Greece. Her team’s mission was to share the love of Jesus by serving at a camp for Syrian refugees. The story that she shares in this blog is an incredible account of the faithfulness of God, and we hope it encourages you.
Here’s our quick White Ribbon Day update: next month we are scheduled to travel to Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia to share the incredible message of Jesus – that we’ve all separated ourselves from God by our sin, that Jesus paid the price for that sin with His life, and that anyone can experience forgiveness and freedom through Him. If you’d like to help, we are always grateful for your prayer and support. Click HERE to partner financially and follow us on FACEBOOK for daily prayer needs and updates from the field.
And now… here is Sierra’s story – God bless you and thanks for reading!
“You have overstayed your visa by 23 days, are you aware of the consequences of this?”
My heart dropped like a lead weight hitting the floor of my chest. The scariest words I had heard in a long time. The truth was, I was aware of the consequences – a massive fine and a possible 5-10 year ban from the European Union.
I stared in shock at the Greek police officer sitting behind the desk in front of me.
“Sir, how is this possible? I am well under my 90 day limit. Are you sure there’s no misunderstanding?”
He went on to explain: every traveler entering the EU without a special visa is automatically granted a temporary visa good for 90 days. However, the 90 day allowance includes ALL time spent in the EU within a six month period, and I had stayed in Switzerland for a few weeks several months ago.
I hadn’t mentally added the days to my total 90-day allowance, and he was right, I had overstayed my visa.
I was dumbfounded and left with no argument – I was now in the hands of the law.
“Ma’am, you are now an illegal immigrant and have only two options. You can either get on a boat to Turkey right now and have someone send your bags to you there or you can spend the night in the local prison and leave first thing in the morning. Either way, you may not be allowed to return to the EU for a long time.”
Neither of those options were real options… were they?
After talking it through with my friend and team leader who stood next to me, we decided that prison was the better option – at least there I might be able to negotiate with the police.
From there, I was escorted in the back of a police car to the station where, for the next 5 hours, multiple police officers bickered loudly in Greek over my papers. I had no clue what was going on and none of them spoke enough English to answer my questions.
They took my mug shot, my fingerprints, and made me write my name 10 times so that they had my signature. It was the real deal.
I couldn’t let myself think about what could happen if I actually were to be banned from the EU for the next 5-10 years. All of my plans for the foreseeable future had potential to be completely shattered. My circumstance felt close to hopeless.
I remembered the God that I love. The God that I want to follow with all that I have. The same God who has a crazy track record of doing the impossible in the lives of those who choose to follow Him. I did the only thing I knew how to do – I prayed.
“God, please, can you speak to me? Is there anything you can give me to hold onto while I wait? You’re bigger than this. Just a whisper?”
I waited, listened in the quiet of my heart for that familiar comforting voice…
And there it came. In amazement and disbelief I listened.
“You will go home to the boat tonight. You will leave when you originally planned, and you will be allowed back into Europe soon.”
It sounded too good to be true. Could I really let myself believe something that was so seemingly impossible?
“God, if it’s really you, I believe you can do all of that, but if not, please… PLEASE somehow help me to handle my confusion and disappointment.”
After several hours had passed, a policeman came up to me, handed me some papers and said, “You are free to go. You have a 30 day extended visa and are allowed back into Europe in 3 months.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me.” I thought to myself.
“You mean, I can come back?”
He chuckled, “Yes. Of course.”
I walked out of the building, shock and the weight of my freedom hitting me more deeply with each step that I took. Had God really just done that? He had.
The rest of my time on the island was amazing. The gratitude I felt in those last two weeks was one of the deeper things I have felt in my life.
It’s the scary stories, the situations where you come face to face with fear and cry out from the depths of your heart to the invisible God where you see His real power, strength and love. It’s these experiences that make your faith roots deepen.
I believe He’s waiting for hearts that look to Him, choosing to believe in the face of fear and disbelief. He’s still able to blow our minds, friends. Be amazed with me.
Thank you again for your love and support,
If you’d like to read more of Sierra’s beautiful accounts of her adventures around the world, you can check out her blog HERE. You can also listen to our latest CD, LOVE IS WIDE on ITUNES or SPOTIFY. God bless you, friends, and thanks for reading!CLICK TO PARTNER WITH US IN OUR MISSION TO SHARE THE LOVE OF JESUS WORLDWIDE