The Refugee Situation in Paris
@home: a place of refuge
@home leader, Samir Salibi, has an answer to this crisis. And it is the church!
Samir calls @home, “the church in action and on the ground.”
@home engages with refugees in four ways:
Integration: aiding refugees with integration into French culture
Evangelization: going to camps and apartments where refugees live and sharing the hope of Christ
Kids Bible Clubs: reaching the kids of refugees
Biblical Counseling: being an emotional support to refugees and Christians engaging in refugee work
As Samir and his team have engaged with over 100 refugees, a common message come to the fore. Samir says, “The majority of the refugees stated to us that they have a need to learn French, that their days are basically free with very little to do and they are in need of friendships. Basically, their main need is to integrate into the French culture and get their immigration documents.”
In order to meet this need, @home has a certified French-Arabic interpreter who volunteers to teach French to the refugees wishing to learn.
They also plan to take weekend church retreats to explore France with refugees for integration. Their team that doesn’t speak Arabic will also learn Arabic. They hope to open an official French-language learning school specifically geared toward refugees in 2018
Evangelization is done in at least two different ways: evangelization with refugees in Paris as well as those in refugee camps in Greece.
In Paris, @home teams go to refugee housing units around Paris to build relationships and share the gospel. They have done this already in Telegraph and they plan to replicate it in other locations.
They have also done missions trips to Arabic-speaking refugee camps in Greece to begin connection even before they reach France. These trips consist of evangelism as well as teaching English.
The @home teams invites kids to the monthly Bible club and they advertise the event in all the main train stations. This is an opportunity for the team to share the message of Christ with kids who can in turn share it with their parents. In simple ways, they share the foundations of the faith and care for kids who have often experienced trauma.
On top of monthly meetings, they also have Christmas celebrations and praise & worship events.
The @home teams offers counseling to both refugees and to the Christians who engage in ministry to the refugees. They doing continual training of their team in Biblical counseling as well as offering theme weekends around issues like suffering, couples, and parent and child relationships.
They hope to open a school dedicated to Biblical counseling in 2019.
@home will have a central location with other sites. They will share other things as well:
Patrick Nachtigall writes of a recent trip to Paris,
“The impact that @home is having has been swift and dramatic. What began as an outreach to youth and children of immigrants has snowballed into a large ministry that shares the gospel, has a club for kids, has regular evangelism meetings for refugees, gives out charity, and helps the refugees learn French in order to better integrate into their new country. We enjoyed meeting the refugees and hearing their dramatic stories of survival. We passed out food and clothes on a street in Paris where many of them have been living under a bridge.”