Just Where She Is: Lucy Rutledge

As God caught her attention and captured her heart, Lucy left her London life to live, love and work with refugee families. Discover all about her journey! 

"...By putting my trust in Jesus and discovering about how He so radically loves and cares for the least, last and lost, these desires started stirring up and overflowing into action."

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1. £10 treat: I’m a little too good at treating myself to junk food!  

2. Film you could watch on repeat: I’m not sure about a film but FRIENDS is currently on Netflix here which is a great switch off and they just keep rolling onto the next episode. ... 

3. Afternoon snack of choice: Nothing beats a cup of tea with marmite toast. 

4. Dream job when you were 5: I had to ask my Mum about this one…’probably a writer or teacher’

5. Most underrated virtue: Vulnerability. I always want to cover up my weaknesses and the messy brokenness but this has been my verse for the last year or so. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how you ended up in Athens.

I really never thought I would be living in Greece! I studied French and German so the language doesn’t match up -  and I’m more into winter and mountains than hot, sunny beaches. 

And yet: in my second year of working in London in the wine trade, after years of living life my way without any beliefs or faith, God caught my attention and captured my heart. 

Everything changed: how I spent my time, what I cared about in life. I wanted to immediately pack my bags and start afresh. It was another three years before I left London and started this chapter.

Looking back, I can see what God, in His infinite wisdom, grace, and gentleness, was doing during this time - although I was hungry and impatient to get moving sooner. Lots of redeeming and training needed to take place and then in God’s timing He started opening doors.

What is it like to be a refugee in Athens? What are conditions like, what injustices do they face each day and what’s the story behind how they found themselves in Athens? 

The best way to explain this is to tell you a little about a few friends of mine here. They have been on different unimaginable journeys and it is a privilege to have met them here and call them friends.

- One is a  graduate girl my age, who came from Syria after her house was bombed. She's here with her husband and brother. Her parents are still in Syria. Her quote is: ‘Athens is great for tourists, not for refugees”

- There's a family from a persecuted people group in Afghanistan who then became believers in Greece. They have two kids under 5 and the mother is currently undergoing chemotherapy for stomach cancer.

- There's also a  family from Iraq, who are waiting in limbo to know if they will be accepted somewhere. Two of the sons are disabled: one with Down’s Syndrome and the other with severe mental health problems and trauma-related stress.  

All three of these families are thankfully in apartments in Athens but many, many more are still in tents on the islands.

Here are some words I wrote one day when I was so disheartened and distraught by the injustices I was seeing around me:  

I am thankful I have never been treated like an animal. 
I am thankful at the age of 16 I never had to think about which sibling I should stay with or be separated from both and my parents. 
I am thankful I have never seriously had to think about marrying someone to escape a situation I am in. 
I am thankful my parents didn’t have to sell their house to help me escape war. 
I am thankful my school welcomed me and didn’t reject me telling me they had too many ‘people like me’.

When you look around at all these people that appear to be forgotten by so many around the world, how do you trust God to bring justice?

I think it is easy, when we have everything, to think we don’t need God. 

But God is not wishy-washy to people here. Yes, He is Love, but He is also Lord and Saviour. When we are praying for people to find a roof over their head, to be reunited with their family, to have enough money to buy their baby nappies… it would feel very hopeless if we didn’t actually believe that 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He is the light in the darkness. The spiritual needs are far greater than the physical ones.

Psalm 107 has come alive to me in this season :  

‘Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.’ 

I don’t know how this story ends but when we don’t know what to do, our eyes must be fixed on God and He is merciful and just.

What was it about working with refugees that made you take such a leap of faith, to leave your job and make such a radical change to your life? Was this what you always envisioned yourself doing?

I truly never thought myself ‘good’ enough to be doing something like this. What on earth do I have to offer? I’m too much of a mess, too soft, too weak. That is why I am certain it is all by God’s grace and strength. 

I think it was always a desire in my heart to reach out to the hurting but I had got distracted by life’s riches and pleasures which had still left me feeling empty. It was only when that hole was filled by putting my trust in Jesus and discovering about how He so radically loves and cares for the least, last and lost that these desires started stirring up and overflowing into action. 

I found an old letter to Father Christmas that I had written aged 7. Between asking for nail-varnish, high heeled shoes and some sweets (!), I wrote ‘I always want to give to people on the roads because I want to be kind… I do not want there to be poor. I want there to be healthy people because they could die and even if I did not know them I would probably cry.’ 

I think something in me has always been broken-hearted for the stranger, and I definitely shed many tears thinking about the suffering of people who were forced to flee their homes. I was so moved every time we prayed for the Middle East at church meetings and services, and I started exploring ways to do more than pray. 

That was really what triggered the move to quit my job. While sitting in meetings in London city boardrooms, all I longed for was to be sitting face-to-face with a refugee showing them that God cares and loves them. I cannot believe this is now my reality and that God answered my prayer and invited me to show His compassion. It is a true privilege and there is no place I’d rather be.     

What does a typical day look like for you?

There have been several chapters whilst here in Greece. I started off working behind the scenes doing HR and admin for a humanitarian organisation - so very much behind the desk learning the ropes. I started doing some outreach on the weekends and evenings because it was actually quite easy to live in this tourist city and forget the troubles all around us. After this role ended, for 3 months I was volunteering by visiting homes of mostly vulnerable refugee families and trying to connect them with lawyers, doctors etc… and shared a lot of great food! 

God is forever faithful and I am now hired again with the first organisation working in a teahouse which is an amazing ministry serving hot drinks and providing essential information to around 300-400 visitors every day alongside daily bible studies. God has a great sense of humour and I am also now teaching the women German! 

So a lot of time is sat on cosy cushions in our women’s space and kids space drinking tea and talking about life. Balanced out with reporting and telling the story of what God is doing here in excel format! It is far from glamorous work with lots of wiping snotty kids’ noses and cleaning toilets. Please pray for us as a team and for the guests who walk through the door.

During your time working with refugees, how have you seen lives changed?

I am continuously challenged by the truly tangible joy and hope the new believers have regardless of their ongoing tough circumstances and uncertainties.

Their lives have been so transformed coming from Muslim backgrounds and encountering Jesus in dreams and through miracles. They know what it means to be rescued and now be alive and set free. The local migrant churches here are so exciting and God is scattering people around Europe to continue to share His word and truth. 

Seeing refugees spend their evenings doing street outreach giving tea and sandwiches to homeless Greeks or refugees, desperate to share the difference Jesus has made in their life, praying for them and encouraging them does a whole lot of good to my heart.    

A Matter of the Heart

A Matter of the Heart

What Can I Give Him: Exodus 2

What Can I Give Him: Exodus 2