For migrants, re-establishing lives and adjusting to a new environment can be overwhelming. Seeking to permanently settle in a new city is a tough experience and feeling safe and secure during the Covid-19 crisis is tougher still.
#HowWillTheyHear’s partner project in central Spain is providing huge support and comfort to migrants from North Africa, Bangladesh, Iran and Syria. The centre is helping to share the good news and build relationships with migrants by focusing on core areas of language teaching, sports and trauma counselling.
Over time, the Centre has built a good rapport and solid relations with the Bangladeshi and Moroccan communities in their diverse neighbourhood.
“But refugees from Iran and Syria are less visible and harder to connect with, and those contacts that come in are through God’s leading” Kim, a centre member explained.
Despite the sensitive context, workers at the centre have been able to run one to-one discipleship sessions with seekers and new believers, and share their faith with new contacts as they get to know them. Kim noticed that refugees carry huge burdens of PTSD from fleeing hardship and persecution in their home countries to seek safety in Europe, and many are haunted by painful memories, some even feeling suicidal.
According to a study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), based on 1,341 interviews with migrants and refugees, 48% suffered at least one out of the five indicators that the organization links to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse.
IOM noted that almost half of the migrants who arrived in Spain in the last three years reported at least one of the following: physical violence, kidnapping, forced labour, arranged marriage offers and jobs in which they weren’t paid what they were owed.
“Sometimes we get involved deeply in the lives of hurting people who desperately need to know that they are loved, as they have suddenly experienced the loss of their family and culture,” Kim lamented.
Their team is in the habit of working with these migrants on a personal and up close level to help them walk through some of these rough personal waters, and now to help them work through the impact of coronavirus.
“The centre needs more people willing to listen and be friends with these folks and share the gospel with them. All you need is resilience and a firm faith” says Kim.
HowWillTheyHear mobilises Christians and churches to share the gospel with migrants and refugees across Europe. The vision is to see the Christian church responding to the refugee situation by coming alongside some of the millions of migrants and refugees who have fled their homes due to war, violence and economic hardship, enduring dangerous and difficult journeys in search of hope and a better future.
Might God be calling you to Spain or another part of Europe to share the hope that you have in Christ? Check out our ministry opportunities here