The Salvation Army in Leipzig, Germany, has set up a small 'light-build' warehouse to run as a base for its work with refugees.
Help has been provided by the European Refugee Response Taskforce, territorial and divisional headquarters and also by Torsten Huebner, a manager with logistics company UPS, whose services were offered without charge. The construction was funded by the Salvation Army World Services Office, based in the USA.
The new facility, built on land donated by the town of Leipzig, opened on 24 November. The lack of storage capacity at a pre-existing thrift store meant that only small items such as clothes, shoes, toys and household items could be offered to refugees settling in flats in the town. The new warehouse allows The Salvation Army to collect and supply larger items such as furniture to the 60 clients who have registered so far.
Major Mark Backhaus, the corps officer (Salvation Army minister) in Leipzig, explains: 'Most of the refugees come into completely empty flats after living some time in different styles of camps in Germany. We offer everything for token prices to finance electricity, a small truck and heating.' Significant extra funding is still needed to enable the project to reach its potential. The major hopes to be able to pay for a manager for the warehouse because, at the moment, it is his responsibility – on top of his usual ministry.
Among the volunteers helping to run the project are refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Serbia and other countries. They support with translation, manual handling and cleaning. Major Backhaus is grateful for their help, and also to the government departments which 'helped us with approximately 12,734 permissions and encouraged us not to give up hope'!
He concludes: 'God was and is using some visionary ground staff to help people in need - what a privilege to see a living God in action! All glory to Jesus! You should see the joy in the refugees' eyes, hear their happiness and taste their thankfulness. We are blessed with this extraordinary possibility to serve and to become family with a lot of people from other cultures.'