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They Call Me Papa John

“You have to find the cards that you’ve got and learn how to play them. For me, in these cultures, there is such a high respect for older people.” –John Pappas

Thirty years ago, John and Becky Pappas planted a church in Aalen, Germany, where they continue to serve. Their focus has been largely on developing and mentoring the leaders of the next generation. However, with the emergence of the Refugee Crisis, an additional focus has emerged.

Attempting to engage the incoming refugee population, the Pappas and several others from their church have created a place of fellowship and learning called the ABC Café. Once a week, they set up some tables and chairs to imitate a coffee shop in their church building. During this time, the visiting refugees are exposed to the German language and other helpful customs. It is largely a time to get to know each other.

At the ABC Café, there is a large world map that helps the Pappas and their team understand the journey the refugees have made. Many of these people have traveled thousands of miles to get to the city of Aalen. So, John and Becky regularly ask new guests to draw on the map with their finger where they have traveled from start to finish.

The stories they have heard from these people have been unbelievable.

At the ABC Café, they have visiting refugees coming from places like Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and etc. It is amazing to see these nations represented in this little café! This type of ministry has proven to be great for fostering relationships with these people. However, one of the greatest platforms John has noticed is his age.

In all the cultures represented at the ABC Café, there is a deep respect for the elderly. Now, John may not be as old as the hills, but he has seen his 21st birthday a couple of times. He never imagined that this would give him such a voice among the refugees. But, once he realized this privilege, he played this card as much as he could. At the café, he is regularly called Papa John.

With this respect, he has been able to share the gospel and speak truth into the lives of these refugees. Also, really taking advantage of this opportunity to a whole other level, John could not resist wearing a Papa John’s Pizza T-shirt while he taught his new friends how to make pizza.