MALAWI (ANS) — “No one has ever cared for us the way the refugees do.”
These are the words of Pastor Chimwendo, a Malawian pastor who lives near Dzaleka refugee camp.
“He told how refugees have been a blessing to his country by planting churches and supporting Malawian communities in the surrounding hills and some as far as nine hours away from the camp! “ said Tom Albinson, President, International Association for Refugees (IAFR), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“The refugee camp has become a base for missions in Malawi!” Albinson said in a ministry update.
Albinson says refugees are more than people in need. “In this case, they are also missionaries, eager to share Jesus with the nation that has offered them refuge.”
Does this sound familiar to you? “They remind me of the story of Philip in the Bible. He was forced to flee persecution in Jerusalem and found refuge in Samaria. And while there he ‘proclaimed the Messiah to them.’ (Acts 8:4-8).”
“It is our joy to partner with refugee brothers and sisters as they follow Philip’s example and proclaim Christ in Malawi today,” Albinson said.
According to Albinson, the refugees also say: “The time you spend with us is more important than any projects we do together.”
“Our brothers and sisters in Dzaleka refugee camp told us again — our friendship is what matters most to them. We feel the same,” he said.
When IAFR first began visiting the camp, the ministry wasn’t sure what they had to offer beyond theur friendship.
“When people asked us, ‘What are you going to do in Dzaleka?’ We answered, ‘We’re going to break the isolation of our brothers and sisters by going to be with them.’
“And while we partner with refugee churches to build churches, offer pastoral training, provide Bibles, offer scholarships, invest in small businesses, etc,, we know that the most important thing we do is to show up and be present with our friends.”
Albinson said life in Dzaleka is tough. “Everything about the place seems bent on sucking hope out of people. While refugee churches are doing amazing things, they do so in spite of their circumstances.
“We are committed to strengthening the hope and faith of our friends in Dzaleka by visiting them on a regular basis and partnering with them as they further the kingdom of God both in and beyond the confines of the camp.”
He said the IAFR mission field is the ‘Refugee Highway’ — the well-worn routes people travel in search of safety. “It is there we find our fellow human beings, made in the image of God, spilling out of the deepest and darkest wounds in the world today.”
He concluded: “What a joy and privilege to participate in this global movement of God along the Refugee Highway! We can’t accomplish the mission of helping people survive and recover from forced displacement without you! It takes all of us — financial partners, intercessors, advocates and boots on the ground.”
Photos: J.Tornga and A.Palmbos/IAFR. All Rights Reserved.