Five million Venezuelans have made journeys, by canoe and foot through dangerous terrain, to flee the economic and political crisis that’s devastated their country. Nearly 2 million of them fled to neighbouring Colombia. Instead of being welcomed, many have been met with discrimination and abuse. But the local church is working to change that.
Over the last few years, as part of our As born among us campaign, Tearfund has been working alongside local churches to explore how God calls us to welcome migrants and refugees (Leviticus 19:33-34).
And the response from churches has been incredible.
A God of love
We recently held online training sessions with more than 300 church leaders to explore how they can provide a place of support for Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
‘What struck me the most in what I saw of the training was the need of the migrants, and it has taught me to love them more,’ shares Pastor Oscar René Guevara Rodríguez, who attended the Tearfund training. ‘We see the hand of God working through us with the help that we can give them, spiritually, physically and materially.
‘The challenge that we have with migrant families is to be able to offer them better support – to welcome them. The hope that we have in the church is to create a place of shelter for migrant families.’
‘Through the training we received with Tearfund, we found a God of love, a God who loves the migrant,’ says Pastor Jaime Alonso Silva Rincón, who also attended. ‘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.