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Indra, Alisha (eight) and Prakash (three) on the steps of their home in Nepal.

From: Home and hospitality – Footsteps 116

How hospitality, kindness and planning can reduce vulnerability and help communities to flourish

In recent years, millions of people across Latin America have been forced to abandon their homes due to political, economic and social turmoil in their countries. As they arrive in neighbouring countries, many face discrimination, racism and abuse.

In 2019, Tearfund founded the campaign Como nacido entre nosotros (‘As born among us’), which takes its name from God’s call for foreigners to be treated as native-born (Leviticus 19:33–34). The campaign encourages churches to welcome migrants and provide them with practical, spiritual and emotional support.

God of love

Training has been offered to hundreds of church leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean, including Pastor Jaime from Cúcuta in Colombia. He says, ‘Through the training, we found a God of love, a God who loves the migrant. The teachings that inspire us the most are compassion, mercy, the love of Christ – to know that Christ himself, as a child, was a foreigner.

‘The church must open its doors because they find in us a place of refuge and protection for all their rights. We give them psychosocial support, counselling and medical care.’

Yalitza had to beg for food when she and her family first arrived in Colombia after a difficult and dangerous journey from Venezuela. She says, ‘It is very, very hard to leave your country and go to another place… It is too hard… It is as if a little piece was torn away from you.

‘The church has supported me especially spiritually… and they have supported me with food. My son had no way to study, and they also supported me in that. I thank God.’

Mobile application (app)

Como nacido entre nosotros has launched a free-of-charge mobile phone app, in Spanish and Portuguese, that aims to connect migrants with churches and other organisations able to provide support.

Three core elements make this app different from others. The app:

One user of the app said, ‘When I arrived in Ecuador I did not know where to go, and when I got in touch with you through your website, you recommended the mobile phone app. I immediately made contact with a church in Quito and they supported me. I am now telling other people about this app.’

Pastor Jaime’s church is supporting families who have fled to Colombia from neighbouring countries.

Pastor Jaime’s church is supporting families who have fled to Colombia from neighbouring countries. Photo: Ferley Ospina/Tearfund

Advocacy

The churches and other organisations involved in the campaign are advocating for the rights of migrants and speaking up against racism, discrimination and exploitation.

In February 2021, a crucial public immigration policy was approved by the President of Colombia. The policy allows more than 1 million Venezuelans to legalise their status in Colombia, giving them access to healthcare, work, education and other rights. Como nacido entre nosotros played a key role in shaping this policy through working groups and promotion of the law.

Pastor Jaime says, ‘Our hope for the migrant population in our church is that they will find a better quality of life in all areas, which is what they long for.’

Diploma

Tearfund, the Fuller Theological Seminary of the United States and Como nacido entre nosotros are offering Christian leaders in Latin America the opportunity to complete an accredited diploma in ‘Response of the church to the migration crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

The purpose of the course is to strengthen the church’s ability to influence and mobilise communities of faith in favour of migrants. The course is made up of six modules and is being taught remotely.

For more information email loida.carriel@tearfund.org diplomadoscentrolatino.org

 

Written by

Written by  Loida Carriel

Loida Carriel is Tearfund’s Regional Advocacy Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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