Spanish evangelicals issue guide on hosting refugees
The Spanish Evangelical Alliance “calls the evangelical people in our country to consider, before God, what is their responsibility towards those who arrive to our doors.”
Spanish Evangelical Alliance, Protestante Digital · BARCELONA · 23 SEPTEMBER 2015 · 16:06 CET
“Our society has been moved and shocked after seeing the suffering of thousands of people that are fleeing from war, persecution because of their faith, etc. The situation is overwhelming many governments, and they have difficulties to reach agreements about how the people seeking asylum should be welcomed. Meanwhile, thousands of European citizens are offering their houses, and approaching those arriving to their country…”
These are the first lines of a statement made public by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE).
In Spain, several local administrations have created a “network of shelter cities.”
Some think that “this is an opportunity for evangelical Christians to show God’s compassion towards the stranger, the poor and the widow.” This “readiness for sacrifice, the will to follow Jesus in the way of denying oneself, is a central characteristic of faith”, the text reads.
The Evangelical Alliance “calls the evangelical people in our country to consider, before God, what is their responsibility towards those who arrive to our doors.”
But the help offered needs to be “effective”, the AEE emphasises. This means that help should be “canalised through the local public administrations” and in coordination with the churches.
In the ‘guide’, Christians are called to offer premises, so that they can be used to give real solutions to refugees. The AEE also shares some recommendations.
Before taking a decision:
- Pray. Ask the Lord how he wants you to use your gifts, abilities and resources in a sensitive way.
- Appreciate what you are in Christ and what He has done for you. Recall how He gave himself and see which are your resources and your strength. Think if you would be able to share with others some of the things you have: money, time, material means, etc.
- Take interest to know the culture of the countries of origin. There are very specific aspects (like how people of different gender relate to each another), that need to be taken in account.
- Get informed and read about the traumas that refugees have suffered.
The role of the local church:
- There are cities preparing a list of available premises. Let’s offer our buildings as a practical way to accomplish God’s mission.
- Let’s do an inventory of our human and material resources. Help with resources that are actually needed, not with those we think might be useful.
- Let’s register in the list that many city councils are opening. We should think about the long term, not only about the first aid needs. Let’s reflect on how the churches can help to the social integration of these people.
If you are thinking about opening the doors of your home to one or several refugees:
- Once the emotion of the moving images in the news has gone, there is a long hard way to go. That is why we encourage you to reflect well on what you are committing to. Compassion is a feeling that God puts in our hearts and we should listen to it. But we should not be driven by feelings like guilt, anxiety, etc. Analise what is moving you to take action.
- Share and agree with other members of your family about the decision you are taking. Agree with those you are living with and those who are near you, so that it becomes a team work.
- Contact with you local church. Do not take action on your own, what is better than serving together with other believers?
- Understand that estimations are rough. Do not stick to the time they tell you a refugee will be in your home. Think that it will probably be longer.
- There could be children with no family. A good way of helping is being a Foster family. Think about this possibility, inform yourself about the requirements and contact with the Social Welfare Office in your region.
- Do not try to control the help you are giving. Give, lend, and host without expecting those you are serving to behave the way you think.
- Focus on mitigating their pain, wiping their tears, supplying their needs, and accompanying the people you serve. Let your hands speak about Jesus.
This material was produced by the authorization comitte of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, formed by several professionals (inlcuding a lawyer, a medical doctor, a social worker and a pscychiatrist).
You can download the full AEE statement and guide here (in Spanish)