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:
- works across all the countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region providing content for the entire migrant journey, including information on legal rights in each country
- provides access to support offered by churches, alongside that of civil society and public organisations
- addresses both the practical and spiritual needs of people who are migrating, including spiritual encouragement through Bible reflections and audio clips.
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.’