The people who helped Ali organise his illegal entry into Europe carefully opened the door of the car and said: “Now go!” They advised Ali to go to the police in the neighbouring village and to report himself as a refugee. After a long journey of several weeks and much insecurity, Ali had finally reached Austria. He had spent more than half of his savings on the trip. Ali’s original idea was to go to Germany, but God had different plans for Ali.
The hardships in Austria
Ali lived in a refugee camp for ten months. There he received visits from Christians, who gave him a Bible. Ali was a Muslim and did not intend to change his religion. He only wanted to find work, save some money and then continue on to Germany. Ali found some unpleasant and unsatisfying work, and sometimes he was unemployed. After three years he came to his physical and emotional limits. Ali tried to go to another country, but when he heard how much he would have to pay for this service, he calculated that he would have to save for months to pay for it. He did not want to live as a refugee any longer.
During 2003, more than 25,000 people asked for asylum in Austria. Most asylum seekers in Austria live in refugee reception camps. Others find places to live and search for work to earn money. More than half of these people are Muslims; they come from about 24 countries. People from all over the world are at home in the middle of Europe.
Friendship in Austria saved Ali
In Austria, disciples of Christ have many opportunities to meet these “strangers” in their own country. In the Bible we find many examples of God getting involved in the lives of refugees (Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David and also Jesus). The Bible tells us to love our neighbour: “The stranger who resides with you … you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).
Eventually, through the friendship of Christians, Ali gave his life to Jesus Christ. He found work in a larger town and moved there. Since then he meets with other Christians for Bible study and prayer. This group is continually growing, and other former Muslims have put their trust in Jesus Christ. God achieved what He had had in mind for Ali.
Pray for the Muslims in Austria:
* God is building His Church among Muslims from many backgrounds in Austria. He calls His disciples to bring in the harvest. The foundation of everything is good personal relationships, so that Muslims may put their trust in Jesus. Hospitality, practical help, listening and prayer are also important. The Austrian government cares for the refugees as far as lodging, food and clothes are concerned. But the refugees also have worries, fears and spiritual questions. When a team of Christians visits a home of refugees with tea, coffee and games, there is much joy, because for most of the refugees they are the first visitors who care for them. Pray for these things.
Background on Austria (World Factbook)
Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies in 1945, Austria’s status remained unclear for a decade. A State Treaty signed in 1955 ended the occupation, recognized Austria’s independence, and forbade unification with Germany. A constitutional law that same year declared the country’s “perpetual neutrality” as a condition for Soviet military withdrawal. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and Austria’s entry into the European Union in 1995, some Austrians have called into question this neutrality. A prosperous, democratic country, Austria entered the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. In January 2009, Austria assumed a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Economy of Austria
Austria, with its well-developed market economy and high standard of living, is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany’s. The Austrian economy also benefits greatly from strong commercial relations, especially in the banking and insurance sectors, with central, eastern, and southeastern Europe. The economy features a large service sector, a sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector.
Statistics on Austria
Population: 8,219,743 (July 2012 est.) World rank #94
Life Expectancy at Birth: 79.91 years. World rank #33
Ethnic groups: Austrians 91.1%, former Yugoslavs 4% (includes Croatians, Slovenes, Serbs, and Bosniaks), Turks 1.6%, German 0.9%, other or unspecified 2.4%
Religions: Roman Catholic 73.6%, Protestant 4.7%, Muslim 4.2%, other 3.5%, unspecified 2%, none 12%
Languages: German (official nationwide), Slovene (official in Carinthia), Croatian (official in Burgenland), Hungarian (official in Burgenland)
School life expectancy: 15 years
About Austria – Video
A short documentary about the city of Vienna, Austria.