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NIGERIA NATIONAL CONSULTATION 2021

MICAH NIGERIA NATIONAL CONSULTATION 2021

Date: 25th - 28th April, 2021

Venue: Carter Conlon Retreat Center, Jos, Plateau State

Theme: Integral Mission & Shalom (Addressing Poverty, Terrorism & Banditry)

Registration fee: N20, 000.

 Payable to: Global Relief & Development Mission.

 Account no: 1011120071.

 Bank: Zenith Bank plc.

  Contact details:

Akanimoh Peter :         Email: pakanimoh065 @gmail.com  (08024208145)

Benjamin Osawe:         Email: benjamin. osawe@Tearfund.org

Adeolu Olanrewaju :    Email: oadeoluwafelix@gmail.com

Workshop Tracks:

  1. Peace & Security: Towards a social justice agenda for Nigeria
  2. Corruption in Security management
  3. Gold, Guns and Graves:  Breaking the nexus of desolation, displacements

        and deaths in Nigeria

  1. COVID, Recession, Climate change and National Security.
  2. Demographic dividend versus demographic disaster: Engaging young

        people   in Transformative processes in Nigeria

  1.  Faith Communities and Peace: Crossing the dividing line of hostilities
  2. Leading in times of Crisis
  3. Emergency Preparedness & Response: Community Safety and Security Plan
  4. The Local Church & integral Mission Partnerships: Supporting

        Transition towards justice peaceful societies

  1. Theological training & Integral Mission: Contextualizing and connecting Theology

       of Integral Mission practice.

  1. Money & Entrepreneurship: Breaking the twin evil of unemployment &

        under employment towards productive Industry! 

  1. Education for Shalom: raising a responsive generation committed to peace

        & progress of the Nigerian State! 

 

  1. Peace & Security: Towards a social justice agenda for Nigeria

Nigeria has in the last 60years gone through challenging upheavals occasioned by cycles  of  low grade conflicts, ethno-religious conflicts, separatist agitations, banditry to  insurgency and threats  of civil war. The morphing of these conflicts over the last few years has not only created a sense of generalized insecurity and fear across the nation but also resulted in avoidable bloodletting, deaths and underdevelopment. This session among other things does not only look at the linkages between Peace, Security and justice but put forward a coherent social justice agenda  for the nation contributing to  creating conditions for  national development.

 

  1. Corruption in Security management

     The Nigeria Military historically has been applauded as one of the most professional militaries globally given the historic feat in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as in other peacekeeping missions. Similarly, the Nigeria Police Force has also been applauded as a professional force given the several ways officers of the force had distinguished themselves in various United Nations missions. However, in the last few years especially with the emergence of the Boko Haram Insurgency  and current challenges with banditry and kidnappings, the nation’s security forces have seemingly been  caught flat footed and  unable to address  the multidimensional security challenges  which constitute existential threats to the nation. This session among other issues examines the role corruption plays in security management and puts forward approaches that strengthen Nigeria security system transforming it to the path of  transparency not only generating confidence in the citizenry but also playing the statutory roles of securing the nation.

 

  1. Gold, Guns and Graves:  Breaking the nexus of desolation, displacements and deaths in Nigeria

The linkages between Gold and Guns have been identified in gold mining communities of Zamfara and BirninGwari in Kaduna state. Given the state of Nigeria’s porous borders, and several ungoverned spaces around these mining locations, external insurgency movements and their domestic franchises have been shown to be involved in Gold mining with a view to  not only exporting such ‘blood gold’  but also deploy guns as a medium of exchange  through an underground alternative economy.  This alliance between the trade in gold and the adoption of guns as a medium of exchange creates an ‘ecosystem of evil ‘turning the nation into a huge graveyard.This sessions looks at the 3Gs(Gold, Guns and Graves) with a view to putting forth practical pathways that enables the Nigerian nation break this ‘unholy trinity’ addressing fundamentally the current crisis.

 

  1. COVID-19, Recession, Climate change and National Security.

The convergence of three waves(COVID-19, recession and Climate Change have spurned tides akin to a ‘Tsunami’ precipitating crisis in Nigeria. Given Nigeria’s near total dependence on crude oil exports, COVID -19 resulted in the collapse in Oil prices, negative economic growth (-5.1% ),recession first in 25 years and contraction of GDP between 6.9% and 8%. The impacts of this has been that the nation has been reeling under a social crisis necessitating urgent interventions.

This session examines the linkages between COVID-19, Recession, Climate change and National Security and puts forth clear headed practical proposals that enables Nigeria navigate these murky waters.

 

  1. Demographic dividend versus demographic disaster: Engaging young people in Transformative processes in Nigeria

 The Endsars protest drew attention to  one of the nation’s contradictions  that have hitherto been ignored. Nigeria’s 200milion+ population is a Youth population, however many of these youth belong to a category called ‘NEET’(Not Educated, Not unemployed and Not engaged). Given the high level of youth exclusion from the development process, poverty and unemployment which have thrown up a mas of disillusioned youth, it is not surprising that the nation confronted a youth revolt  in October 2020. The question for Nigeria at this historic moment is whether or not the nation will deploy youth energies, creativity and inventiveness towards reaping national dividends or maintaining the current status quo leading to demographic disaster. This session puts forward concrete proposals enabling the nation engage the youth and creating a template for deploying youth in transformation processes in the nation serving to reap huge national dividends.

 

  1. Faith Communities and Peace: Crossing the dividing line of hostilities

Faith serves as an instrument of common societal good, However, given manipulation of faith conditions are created leading to hate and conflicts as categories defined as ‘other’ are created. This session explores approaches going beyond the rhetoric of ‘interfaith dialogues’ to truthful conversations contributing to sustainable peace as faith communities cross the dividing lines of hostilities.

 

  1. Leading in times of Crisis

Everything rises and falls on leadership’(John Maxwell).  Crisis presents unusual context and challenges to leadership. An attempt to ‘switch to autopilot’ in the midst of turbulence thrown up by crisis faced whether at organizational or national level invites disaster. This session puts forth-innovative approaches enabling leaders navigate turbulence during crisis.

 

  1. 8.Emergency Preparedness & Response: Community Safety and Security Plan

 

Emergency Preparedness & Response skills have been found to be deficient in Churches, Communities, towns and nationally. The implication has been that the onset of Emergencies and disasters results in disproportionately high casualty figures. This session puts forth-practical approaches that enables organizations and in particular communities develop and operationalize their safety and security plans within a challenging external context.

 

  1. The Local Church & integral Mission Partnerships: Supporting transition towards just and peaceful societies.

 The Local Church given its spiritual, physical and human infrastructure is in a position to drive the nation towards justice, peace and security. In order to achieve this however, it is critical for local churches to pursue integral mission partnerships.  This session enables the local Churches to understand how to access capacity building, resources and Integral mission platforms that puts them on the path of playing their strategic roles at this moment in Nigeria’s national history.

 

  1. Theological training & Integral Mission: Contextualizing and connecting Theology of Integral Mission practice.

Theology has been described rightly as the ‘Queen of the sciences’. In order for theology to stay true to this description there is the necessity for it to transition from debates which though needed as part of reflections in interrogating issues to enabling theology  engage the ‘big issues’ in the context.  In other words, given current flux and disruptions within the national and global context and in particular the broad range of multidisciplinary issues that confront individuals and nations, it’s imperative that theology connects with the diversity of issues serving to input into reflections and conversations around contemporary issues.This session makes a robust contribution to understanding how theological training can shape the training of leaders such that the Church not only promotes whole life transformation but also shepherds the nation providing prophetic and focused thought leadership.

 

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Contact us: info@micahglobal.org
Registered Charity: 1103048
Registered Company: 4669640
Registered in the United Kingdom

© 2020 Micah Global

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Our Missional Calling

Do you remember a time when you felt God calling you to a specific type of work or ministry? I do! It happened about 20 years ago and, whilst that calling has expanded and developed over time, it has not fundamentally changed. At the start of 2021, I feel it would be good for all of us, as individuals and organisations, to revisit the calling that we feel we are pursuing into the new year. And with this in mind, I would like to share some thoughts on calling. When thinking about calling as a Christian, I like to think in terms of missional calling, that is, the calling on all Christians to be active participants in God’s holistic mission.  Chris Wright, in his books The Mission of God (2006) and The Mission of God’s People (2010) helps us to understand our missional calling in three ways.

Firstly, missional calling is about being called to be the people of God. In the Old Testament, this call was given to Israel, for them to be set apart from the other nations, witnessing to the nature of God, in a loving, worship-full relationship and living according to God’s commands. In the New Testament, where there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28), the call to be the people of God is given to the Church, the ekklesia, the called out or summoned ones:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

The people of God are those who have experienced God’s grace and are “called to live in response to that grace, with lives that represent God to the world and that show the difference between the holinessof the living God, seen especially in the face of Jesus Christ, and the degraded ugliness and impotence of the false gods that surround us” (Wright, 2010:127).

Secondly, missional calling is a calling to ethical living by walking in the way of the Lord. God told Abraham that he and his descendants should “keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Gen 18:19) and this theme, of an ethical and compassionate calling given to the people of God, is a major theme in the Old Testament and continues centrally in the New Testament in the ministry and teachings of Jesus and the writings of the apostles. It is the way of compassion, righteousness and justice arising from God’s love for the world and refers to both the imitation of God (seeking to be holy as he is holy) and following him as guide and example, obeying instructions given by him. The way of the Lord that we follow is worked out in relationship between God and God’s people, worked out in the direct experiences of life. Walking in the way of the Lord is the active following of Christ. It is about seeking to live out of an ethic of a kingdom which has a king. It is a call to obediently follow the God who is at once King and Father.

Thirdly, missional calling is a calling to be a blessing to all people. Chris Wright suggests that Christian calling is well expressed by the word blessing. He describes blessing as a “richly life-affirming word” (2010: 68) present throughout the Bible. Being the people of God and walking in his ways, so that God’s mission of extending his blessing to all people takes place, summarises the missional calling on all Christians. Indeed, as Wright observes, the very motivation for God’s people to live by God’s law is to bless the nations, thus, making mission and ethics inseparable.

Within this threefold understanding of our general missional calling, we also often receive a specific calling that fits with who God created each one of us to be, and the contexts and places in which we find ourselves to be living. I pray for each one of you that as you take time individually and organisationally to consider both the general and specific calling you have received, that you will again hear the Lord saying, with great love and excitement, “Come! Follow me!”

Deborah Hancox International Coordinator, Micah Global
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Micah Malaysia

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Introducing Micah Malaysia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia that is blessed with a multitude of ethnicities and cultures. It draws a rich heritage from its Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Indigenous peoples. Straddling the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, its geographic importance and rich biodiversity brought Dutch and British influence in the 18th century. These colonials also spread Christianity throughout the country, with a steady 10% of the 32-million population nation keeping the faith throughout the years, with many residing in the eastern island of Borneo. A middle-income country, Malaysians share a love of food and badminton. 

However, issues of poverty and injustice are present. Racial, religious, and political tensions have bloomed, and a reliance on foreign workers and migrants in local industries, as well as refugees fleeing persecution, have added pressure to Malaysia's society. As needs rise and grow, it is all the more necessary that justice, mercy, and love come to the fore.

Micah Malaysia is a growing network of local Christian agencies desiring to put integral mission into practice. Through social action, advocacy, teaching, and evangelism, Micah Malaysia seeks to live out the words in Micah 6:8: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. In doing so, we seek to be a transforming force for our nation.  We call upon the Malaysian Church to create a more just and compassionate society for the poor and powerless, to build a flourishing Malaysia, and to engage in the realisation of the Kingdom of God. 

Micah Malaysia is affiliated with Micah Global, a thriving and effective global network of 89 countries, united together for integral mission. Among the organisations within the local network are Malaysian CARE, Kuala Lumpur International Friends Fellowship (KLIFF), Theos Leadership and Asia CMS. If you share a passion for integral mission in Malaysia, do reach out to us!

Connect to Micah Malaysia

Facebook

Instagram

Website

YouTube

Upcoming events More Information Event Registration

Members in Micah Malaysia

Full MembersFocal Person
Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC)Sophy Lim
Malaysian CareMelanie Yong
Theos Leadership NetworkSami Muthu Arulandu
Associate MemberFocal Person
Interserve International Bijoy Koshy
Individual Member 
Samuel Low

Country Contact

Please email the Micah Malaysia team if you want to contact them.

E-mail:           micah.malaysia@gmail.com

Contact us: info@micahglobal.org
Registered Charity: 1103048
Registered Company: 4669640
Registered in the United Kingdom

© 2020 Micah Global

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Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Micah Data Protection, Security and Privacy

Who is Micah?

Micah is a global network and movement, with members in 93 countries currently, and mailing contacts in over 100 countries.

How does Micah collect information, contact details?

Member information:
  • An interested organisation or individual contacts Micah either via the web site, email or through attendance of an event. They complete a membership application form that asks for their organisation information and seeks permission to  retain the information to use in mailings and network connections.
  • The general information of the members (see below) is stored on the Micah web site (contact details are only accessible via a member log in), so as to allow the network to search and connect with one another.
    • Name
    • Contact Details
    • Web site
    • Introductory paragraph
    • Logo
  • Member contact details and correspondence information is stored on the Micah CRM online database (called KEPLA), which is a secure programme only accessible through log in. Only members of the Micah staff team have access to this information.
  • Members may ask to be connected to other members within their county or country of work. This is part of the network role and responsibility.
  • Each member appoints a focal person who is tasked with being the conduit of information flow between the member organisation and Micah. The focal person forwards relevant mailings to the wider staff pool and partners. Staff and partners of the organisation may choose to sign up directly for mailings as well.
  • In some larger organisations, the focal person sends Micah a list of all staff who would like to receive the Micah mailings.
Contact Information:
  • Micah staff and members may meet with many organisations and individuals during the course of their work. This can be at:
    • Micah events, member events or strategic events Micah is invited to attend
    • Onsite meetings
    • Email and/or virtual meetings
  • Whenever a business card exchange is undertaken, Micah confirms with the contact that they will be included in the monthly newsletter mailing.
  • Whenever an email is received requesting to be linked to Micah, a confirmation email is returned informing the contact that they have been linked to the monthly newsletter and that they can unsubscribe directly off the mailing list if they no longer wish to receive it.
  • At Micah events, all participants are registered formally and requested on site to sign a registration confirmation form that will sign them up to the Micah newsletter.  They are invited to opt out if they so wish, either by not signing the form or by unsubscribing online.

How does Micah use information collected?

Micah never shares information with any third party. All information is strictly held within the network for networking enrichment, and internal information sharing.

Members can update their own information via a password protect log-in service on the Micah web site or via the mailing update option at the bottom of all Micah mailings.

Members can opt to remove any visible evidence of their membership for any reason. On application they are required to confirm whether they should be visible or not on the Micah site.

Event registration information is only available to the event manager.

Compliance to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): 25th May 2018

Micah has invited all members and contacts on our database to opt out if they no longer wish to receive mailings. A full information notice has been sent in May 2018, informing all of the new GDPR, and their rights and our responsibilities.

Micah commitment to data security

Micah has a secure CRM database called Kepla and uses MailChimp services to ensure all contacts can opt out (unsubscribe) at any time.

How to contact us

Should you have any queries or concerns about our privacy and security protocols please contact us by e-mail: info  at micahglobal.org

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Contact us: info@micahglobal.org
Registered Charity: 1103048
Registered Company: 4669640
Registered in the United Kingdom

© 2020 Micah Global

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Global Consultation 2021

Global Consultation 2021

The 8th Micah Global Consultation will take place online in September 2021.

More details to follow soon.

If you would like to be added to the Global 8th mailing list, please email events@micahglobal.org

 

 

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Contact us: info@micahglobal.org
Registered Charity: 1103048
Registered Company: 4669640
Registered in the United Kingdom

© 2020 Micah Global

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Annual Financial Contribution

Annual Financial Contribution

Thank you for making your annual financial contribution as a member of Micah

Your support is crucial and will enable us to together impact leaders and communities around the world. There are various ways to make financial contributions:

 Direct Transfer to Micah's Bank Account:

You can make a transfer directly to Micah’s GBP bank account.
The Co-operative Bank PLC
IBAN Number: GB81CPBK 089299 65114559
Swift code: CPBKGB22
Business Direct, P O Box 250
Skelmersdale WN8 6WT, UK
Sort Code: 08-92-99
Account number: 65114559
Account name: The Micah Network

Note: For regular monthly, quarterly or annual contributions please ensure to let us know your pledge and schedule. This will help us plan and acknowledge promptly.

 Western Union

You can also use this process for other Cash Transfer Options:

Email: info@micahglobal.org with the following information so we can collect the funds:
·       Full name of the sender (as written on the transfer request)
·       The 8-digit MTCN number
·       Sending Country
·       Exact amount sent (in currency) and amount to be received (in GBP)
To enable collection, you will need to include the Micah Treasurer's Name: Arnold David Boul - Country : United Kingdom

 Payment by Credit Card or PayPal Account:

You can make a payment via PayPal using a) your credit card or b) your PayPal account.
Note: PayPal offers the service of doing a regular monthly standing order.

DONATE VIA PAYPAL

 Pay by Credit Card through Stewardship

You can set up a direct debit or one off gift via Stewardship. For those working in the United Kingdom, by working through Stewardship Miah receives Gift Aid, so we encourage you to use this method if you are a tax payer.

DONATE VIA STEWARDSHIP

 Other Options

For several countries, it is difficult to send money internationally. If this is the case, please contact Micah Global and let’s discuss options as there is always a solution.

Thank you for taking the time to walk with Micah Financially.

Please email info@micahglobal.org if you have any queries.

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Spiritual Care Team Blesses Beirut

Spiritual Care Team Blesses Beirut

Spiritual Care Team Blesses Beirut - a Story of Kairos Opportunities By Dr. Jeff Hammond, Abbalove Ministries, Jakarta, Indonesia

At the WEA Conference in Jakarta last year, Spiritual Care Teams, consisting of people from many countries, prayed with delegates and speakers. These teams believed in the power of prayer to positively change situations, attitudes and to prepare delegates and speakers to have an even more dynamic encounter with the Lord, His Word and His people at the Conference.

From early in the Covid-19 crisis and the ensuing lockdowns, the Abbalove Church, saw the need to expand the role of Spiritual Care Teams to be an active element of the church’s ministry to make sure that no church member was left alone. Teams were organized to make sure that every member of the church was contacted, encouraged with Scripture and prayer, and their needs recorded and supplied. It was both powerful and effective. The fruit of this loving care was that teams expanded their care to the unreached. They sanitized homes, provided emergency food relief, prayed with the stressed and saw many coming to faith in Christ.

Today, after the massive bomb and destruction in Beirut, Lebanon, we have a new and exciting development of Spiritual Care Teams as they mobilize teams to minister to the people of the city of Beirut.

Let me introduce you to Pastor Chady El Aouad, the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Abundant Life Church and Ministries, Beirut, Lebanon. I have witnessed the ministry of this church over a number of years and seen how they have cared for the suffering. I was invited to speak at a conference there during the Syrian crisis. It was moving to see the number of pastors who came from extremely dangerous situations and townships in Syria and Iraq that were being bombed. I asked one pastor where he would be staying after escaping Syria, and he replied, “No, I’m going back. The church needs their shepherds and the people need Christ more than ever.” These pastors were inspired by the love and commitment of Pastor Chady, and so they endured the dangers to come and willing to face the dangers in returning again to Syria.

Now, a new crisis has emerged. This time not in Syria, but just two minutes drive from Pastor Chady’s Church. By God’s grace, Pastor Chady was not in his office when the bomb exploded. The devastating blast blew through his church causing extensive damage throughout the building. His office, where normally he would have been working was filled with flying glass that could easily have killed him. But it was his birthday so he had taken the day off. Thank the Lord for birthdays!!!

Pastor Chady immediately began mobilizing his members to minister to a devastated city. Two weeks before the blast Abbalove had decided to stand with and support Pastor Chady as they ministered to the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, massive corruption and the economic collapse of the nation. Immediately after the bomb, Abbalove doubled our support for Pastor Chady and the Abundant Life Church. We believed in his integrity, passion, commitment and ability to mobilize in the face of this horrific disaster.

Pastor Chady sent me a report of what had happened and how the church was responding:

“On the afternoon of the 4th August 2020, two explosions occurred at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The second explosion was extremely powerful, and caused at least 210 deaths, 6,000 injuries, US$30 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. 

The event was linked to about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. The explosion was detected by The United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3; and was felt in Turkey, Syria, Israel and parts of Europe. The explosion was even heard in Cyprus, more than 250 km (160 miles) away. It is considered to be one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history.

The Abundant Life Church building, being close to the explosion (2 minutes driving distance, around 4 km away) and our Church families’ homes and properties suffered horrific destruction. Nevertheless, we decided that our first priority was to reach out and respond to the needs of our city.

We decided to move on as Elders, Pastors and Leaders of our Church and form teams with around 100 volunteers from our members as there was an urgent need to become the answer to the thousands of people that are affected by the explosion. Even now, many thousands are looking for help, answers, comfort, food, water and essentials for their daily life, after losing almost everything. For that reason we decided to move on four levels, prioritizing the needs of the people and valuing souls over our own Church Building devastation and catastrophe.

Level 1: The Devastated Community

We mobilized Spiritual Care Teams to go to the most devastated areas, with food, water and the New Testament, to comfort those families, give them food and water, pray with and for them and to see what other practical help we can provide them.

Level 2: Church Families

Another team began visiting our church families to help them repair their homes, properties, businesses and cars. Also, to pray with them and counsel them, especially as many are emotionally and mentally affected by the disaster.

Level 3: The Poor and Unemployed

We began to prepare boxes, parcels and hygiene that can sustain the poor and unemployed for one month,. So many were in poverty from the pandemic, corruption and economic collapse and after the bombing many more have lost their jobs and their means to support the lives of their families. 

 Level 4: The Church Building

After focusing on the above areas, we have also begun to clean our church building from all devastation and destruction and to seek to repair all the horrific damage and get the sanctuary ready again to be used. We want to restart our church services and ministries to be better able to be a blessing to our capital, our nation and the Middle East.

So far we are seeing tremendous results from the thousands of meals and bottles of water that we have distributed and the so many hundreds of boxes of parcels that our SCT’s have given away including thousands of New Testaments.

We are seeing so many coming to Jesus with tears, praying with us and asking for counseling. Many others even received healing once we prayed for them, and the amazing positive reports we are getting from our teams when they share the message of love and forgiveness with the most affected communities is so encouraging.

God is on the move and I really believe that Jesus is going to turn the aches into glory, the mourning into dancing, and the devastation into salvation. I am believing God for a spiritual awakening and a revival to be the result of this massive trauma and disaster. Jesus is still on the throne and I know He will make everything turn around for his glory, amen and amen.

Lebanon and the Middle East Shall be saved!”

Knowing Pastor Chady, I know these are not empty words. He has passion, compassion and faith that the Lord will continue to use them. He is a man of courage and vision with a great faith that their call is to share the Gospel throughout Lebanon and the Middle East.

Through this amazing ministry, and the mobilization of Spiritual Care Teams, many Lebanese are finding Christ. Let’s pray for them and stand with them in this kairos opportunity that has been thrust upon them.

Do not let them stand alone!

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The Unstoppable Spirit

The Unstoppable Spirit

The Unstoppable Spirit: Faith Communities on the Border Continue to Respond to Migrant Needs, No Matter What By Abara - August 2020

On Christmas Eve 2018, hundreds of migrants: men, women and children, who had fled violence, oppression, and hunger in their home countries were released on to the streets of El Paso, Texas, by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with nowhere to go. Hundreds more were released Christmas Day. And the day after that. And the day after that. The border was faced with a humanitarian crisis and faith communities had to decide how to respond.

Since the days of the Mexican Revolution, the border community of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, has been a crossroads for migrants and faith communities have always been an integral part of helping them find safe harbor. Casa del Migrante in Juarez and Annunciation House in El Paso, two of the longest serving shelters in the region, have received generations of migrants from Mexico, Central America and beyond fleeing violence, natural disasters, and economic hardship; however, in 2018, they found themselves stretched far beyond capacity. Congregations on both sides of the border worked together to create a system of temporary shelters to house migrants until they were able to arrange transportation to their immigration sponsors, typically located in other regions of the U.S. 

This network of temporary shelters and transportation, run primarily by faith communities worked well and served thousands of migrants until January 2019, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the “Remain in Mexico Policy” and overnight, thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the United States were stranded in Juarez while waiting for their day in court in the United States, as new migrants continued to arrive in Juarez daily also with nowhere to go. Shelters in El Paso were virtually empty and faith communities had to adapt quickly. Pastors and congregations in Juarez rose to meet the demands, sometimes at great personal cost, being threatened and attacked by groups that kidnapped, extorted, and murdered migrants.

For months, migrants camped out at international bridges and parks, while others sought out formal and informal shelters across the city. In Juarez, migrants are the target of discrimination, extortion, rape, and murder and a safe place to stay can be the difference between life and death. Blanca Castillo, a shelter resourcer at Abara Frontiers, who has been working on the ground in Juarez since 2018, described the response of pastors and churches to the crisis. “They really were the first-responders. They opened their spaces. They gave people a place to sleep and food to eat. They are on the ground day after day helping people get what they need.”

In addition to providing food and shelter, pastors, churches, and faith-based nonprofits have worked tirelessly to collaborate with international aid agencies like the UNHCR and International Organization on Migration and local, state and federal entities in Mexico, to connect migrants with medical care, education, employment opportunities and legal aid. Enrique Valenzuela, director of COESPO, a state agency in Chihuahua that has been at the forefront of migrant aid in Juarez, said, “We could not do what we do without the work of pastors, without the support of congregations, without people of faith. They are indispensable in this crisis.” 

Pastor Samuel, leader of the Frontera de Gracia congregation, and director of a migrant shelter with the same name, has been supporting migrants in Juarez since before the start of MPP. Unswayed by threats against his life, violent attacks, and now, COVID-19, Pastor Samuel continues to house, clothe, feed migrants in need. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pastor Samuel has organized deliveries of food to migrants who are unable to stay in shelters because of capacity and/or safety concerns. Pastor Samuel estimates that the majority of migrants in Juarez are not in official shelters. “It’s hard to know. There’s so many. We are always meeting new people and help how we can.”   

Gustavo de los Rios, shelter resourcer at Abara Frontiers, and close friend of Pastor Samuel, described how COVID-19 has impacted shelters’ ability to help migrants. “They’re receiving less money because of the pandemic. Their congregations are under a lot of strain, but they’re still there every day doing what they can. We’ve been asking for money to buy food and basic supplies. It takes $1,000 a week to make sure that all of the people Pastor Samuel delivers to receive the food the need. They’re doing their best with less. He’s out there every day and I help him however I can.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made life even more difficult for migrants, who were already precarious situations. Delays in the Mexican and United States court systems and tighter restrictions on border travel have left many migrants in limbo indefinitely. Juarez, which has been under National Code Red and Code Orange shutdown, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is especially dangerous for migrants who have been deported from the U.S. who have to quarantine for 14 days before being allowed entrance into another shelter or to travel back home. To mitigate these increased dangers, the Mexican government has created new quarantine shelters and has designated certain existing shelters to also serve as quarantine shelters, known as “albergues filtros.” One of these shelters is Espiritu Santo, run by an Episcopalian congregation.  At Espiritu Santo, migrants are connected with medical care and COVID-19 testing while they quarantine and decide what steps to take next during this difficult time. 

Though they are not under as tight a lockdown as migrants living at filter shelters, migrants living at the Buen Pastor Shelter, run by a local Methodist congregation, have been severely impacted by COVID-19. In response, the shelter has taken a creative approach to helping migrant women earn money for their families during COVID-19 by launching a sewing workshop. 

Blanca Castillo, who helped launch the workshop reflected on its impact, “Right now, we have the capacity to work with about 10 women at a time, but we are looking to expand. The women we are working with right now are from a variety of backgrounds: Brazilians, Cubans, Venezuelans, Guatemalans, women who have migrated from other parts of Mexico. Some of them are under MPP and are waiting for their court dates and some of them are waiting until it’s safe to return to their countries. They’ve been making beautiful tote bags and we’re going to start making masks to sell at a store in El Paso. It’s really been a place for them to come together and heal. We’ve also had psychologists and social workers come and use this space to do therapy with people living in the shelter. Recently, we were able to do a spa self-care day with the ladies. We brought in a hairstylist, Keisha [Branch] who also works at Abara Frontiers, who gave everyone haircuts and we had stations for make-up and nails. It was something small, but they had so much fun and it lifted their spirits. It was a mini-getaway from shelter life. We could host classes in there and have legal aid and other resources present in there. There are so many opportunities and I’m excited to see what we can do in this space.”

In the midst of hardship, unspeakable violence, and now a pandemic, faith communities in El Paso and Juarez continue to seek ways to support and walk alongside migrant men, women and children who are so far from home with no end in sight. In the face of this uncertainty, we can draw inspiration from dedicated people like Pastor Samuel and church shelters, like Frontera de Gracia, Espiritu Santo, and Buen Pastor, and countless others, who propelled by faith, are out there on ground, every day, seeking to help others, no matter what.

To read this story on Abara’s website, click here.

https://www.abarafrontiers.org/the-unstoppable-spirit-faith-communities-on-the-border-continue-to-respond-to-migrant-needs-no-matter-what/

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The Overlooked

The Overlooked

Merath, Lebanon

The anti-racism protests in the USA are strongly resonating in Lebanon. Local voices are now rising up to denounce the underlying racism in the Lebanese society, which has overlooked for decades the many abuses faced by migrant domestic workers in the country. There are over 250,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon – mostly women – coming from African and Asian countries and working full time in private households. Although many of these women have been among the most vulnerable and marginalized in the country for a long time, the financial crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak have made their situation even more desperate.

The root of all abuses

Migrant domestic workers have been among the most vulnerable and marginalized in Lebanon for a long time, and many local and international NGOs have repeatedly reported numerous cases of abuses. Among the most common abuses are “extreme working hours and lack of rest days, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and communication, food deprivation and lack of proper accommodation, verbal and psychological abuse, physical violence, forced labor.” The situation is so bad that two migrant domestic workers die in Lebanon every week, by botched escape attempts, or suicide.

Twenty-six-year-old Djajida’s story is only one of many:

The most difficult thing was not being able to talk to anybody. I felt so alone. I did not have a phone, and I could only call my mother once a month for a few minutes. But my employer never called my mother with her real number, to make sure she could not reach me. I spent all my alone time crying. Every day used to start with my employer yelling at me for one reason or another. You know, I wouldn’t even have minded the workload and the poor treatment, if only I was getting paid and I could have sent money to my family in Kenya.

At the root of all these abuses is the Kafala sponsorship system: migrant workers coming to Lebanon are under the legal sponsorship of their employers who get to keep workers’ papers and passports. Migrant domestic workers are not protected by national labor laws and have nowhere to turn to in case of abuse. The fate of these women depends only on the goodwill of their employers, the “Madams” and “Misters” with which they live around-the-clock.

Debora, a young Ethiopian national working in Lebanon since 2016, sums it up well: “If your ‘Madam’ is good, working in Lebanon is nice and you can send much-needed money to your family back home. This is the only reason why we came here in the first place. If your ‘Madam’ is not good, your life can quickly turn to hell.”

 Reaching rock bottom

In Lebanon, COVID-19 erupted in the middle of a severe economic and financial crisis which already caused many Lebanese families to lose their jobs and income. Three months of lockdown have made the situation even worse: unemployment has risen to 35%, and around 50% of the country’s population, if not more, is now projected to be below the poverty line.

Countless Lebanese families can no longer afford to pay their domestic workers, and most of the families who still do pay them in Lebanese pounds, which has depreciated heavily in the last couple of months. Domestic workers in Lebanon either haven’t been paid for months or are earning only the equivalent of $50 a month, much less than their original contractual amount. In the worst cases, some women have been abandoned in the streets by their employers[2], without pay, their belongings, or even their passports, at a time when the airport remains closed and shelters are unavailable.

The situation is equally precarious for domestic workers who previously ran away from abusive employers and survive by relying on day-to-day cleaning work. Both the economic downturn and the lockdown have made such work unavailable for months.

How can we help?

To help meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable migrant workers in Lebanon, MERATH initiated a partnership with a local Christian NGO that closely supports a network of six churches of domestic workers from various nationalities. In the context of our broader COVID-19 response, we have been able to reach about 200 migrant workers with hygiene supplies, and over 20 with reusable masks and emergency food assistance. It is just a beginning, but it is already making a difference in their lives. Djajida confirms:

We already used the voucher to buy rice, beans, tomatoes, fish, and many other things. It has helped us feed ourselves and our baby boy.  We are so grateful for the people who are behind this, because it is not easy to give to help others, especially in these difficult times for everyone. We believe that God has a plan for our life, and will not abandon us. He has been faithful to us so far. This food voucher we received from you is yet another proof of that!

Meeting some of these women and hearing their stories has been both emotionally challenging and incredibly inspiring. We grieved with them, for the many injustices and humiliations they have faced. We laughed with them, amazed by their sense of humor. And we prayed with them, for a better tomorrow for them and their children.

Help us give them chances of a brighter future. Partner with us so we can support many more vulnerable migrant workers in Lebanon, for as long as they will need.

To read this news story on the Merath website, click here.

https://merathlebanon.org/2020/06/17/the-overlooked/

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Donate via Paypal – ARC 2020

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