Anneliese Knoll teaches French at a secondary school in Innsbruck, and on Sundays she worships in a lively evangelical free church. She has supported the Austrian Bible Society for many years. More recently, she felt called to help refugees in her home town and is now playing a significant part in the Bible Society’s ongoing work among refugees. Her skills in French have helped her to build contacts with refugees from Francophone Africa in particular. This is her story.
“Three years ago a refugee from Congo came with her one-year-old daughter to our church. Through her I got to know some of the problems and needs of the African refugees. From then on, I began visiting refugees regularly in a hostel in Reichenau.
“I met many African believers with different Church backgrounds there. I invited them to our church, where we interpret the services, especially the sermons, into French through headphones and a microphone. Many refugees have told me during lunch afterwards how much it means to them to hear a sermon, to be able to read the Word of God and to talk about it. It helps them to cope with daily life in the hostel and with the insecurity during the time when they are seeking asylum.
Exploring God’s plan
“I am very happy and grateful that we can obtain free Bibles from the Bible Society in French and other languages for our friends from Africa. They are also glad to receive the brochure On the Road in French and English. Our African friends can identify with people in the Bible and learn that God is faithful in time of need and does not abandon his children. From our little French-speaking group a French Bible study group has emerged. We explore God’s plan for our lives, our responsibility towards others and how we can better serve our countries. We meet regularly in a Christian bookshop at Innsbruck for Bible study and prayer. Two of our African friends have gone back to their home countries: with our support they are trying to be salt and light in their communities back home.”