In October we traveled to Italy with IAFR (International Association for Refugees) to visit with several ministries and churches who work with refugees. This was a vision trip to help us discern how God is calling us and others to help. Please read our trip report as we’d love to share the journey with you! We will also continue to update the blog with Italy information and refugee stories.
Why serve refugees? Honestly, in addition to God giving us a passion for working with people from around the globe, He broke Kaylee’s heart five years ago for refugees and she can’t seem to help but work with them. John has a heart for social justice and a gift for connecting people with needed resources -- a natural fit for working with refugees.
Why go elsewhere? Great question. There is need here. And, we have served here. But God has made us aware of global needs we cannot ignore. And He has made us with a desire to travel. So, off we go…
Why Italy? With 44 million forcibly displaced people in our world, how do we know where we are to go to serve? The honest answer is that God told us. Four years ago, we both sensed a call to plant a church in Italy. But, we didn’t know what that meant or what God’s timing would be. So, we’ve waited, served locally, worked with God and in community on our own brokenness, prayed, and trained to be prepared to lead others in ministry.
That’s why Italy matters to us, but why should it matter to you? Italy has been a location on the Refugee Highway for a long time. But this last year in particular, it has become a major hub. 50,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa among other locations in the Middle East, have arrived on the shores of Italy in desperate need of help over the last 8 months alone. And too much of our world is saying, “Not our problem.” While we can’t personally get access into the camps in Kenya, and, honestly, we’re not sure we’d be much good if we could, and we certainly aren’t prepared to enter into many of the war-torn or famine-stricken countries of origin these refugees flee, Italy is very accessible.
We know that God calls us into community on this mission. As a body, we all have our part and we cannot do this alone. We ask you to pray and discern your part. Visit the Support the Mission page for details.
Our goal is to come back full of stories not only of need but also of the hope and the work that the Church is doing. Ultimately, we seek to share a vision of the difference we, together, can make.
Italy has become a hub for people fleeing persecution and starvation from areas such as Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Afghanistan, and more. Many literally die during their journey to get there. And, from what we’re seeing in the press, not only is Italy not equipped to handle the influx, they are not getting much support from other countries, and, quite frankly, it appears that for a variety of reasons they’d rather not have these people on their shores.
The result is tens of thousands of lost and hurting foreigners (James 1:27, Leviticus 19:34) without resources and desperate for community. Many live in parks and on benches while they await their paperwork to be approved (this can take at least a year) so that they can legally work and access services.
It’s all so big, how can we have an impact? As the church, we are a global body. What hurts our neighbor here hurts us. And, what hurts our neighbor in Italy hurts us. So, we must respond. Our goal for this initial vision trip is to better understand the needs, to learn how the local and refugee churches are responding, and assess what God might be calling us to do. We honestly don’t yet know what that will be. Which is why we go. Read our trip report to find out more.
Who will we meet and where will we go?
The map above shows the 4 areas we will be during our 9 days. In Rome we will meet with an International Teams family that is working with local churches and also with a representative from the Evangelical Alliance (EA) who represents that group with several refugee ministries in Italy. In Pescara, we will meet with a local couple who is finding creative ways to assist the refugees in their area. In Puglia, we will have an opportunity to visit a government facility that houses refugees upon arrival until they are sent to other cities. And in Sicily we will get to spend a few days visiting and serving with the GiM group (at the formere Youth with a Mission base) there and learn how they work with refugees.