We help asylum-seekers and refugees survive and recover from forced displacement. In cooperation with the local association, Friends of Exiles, we offer a safe place for a holistic response to the needs of integration.
We encourage supportive relationships between refugees, volunteers and local associations. We love to reflect together with asylum seekers on their experiences, life goals and decisions as they prepare for the next stage of their epic journey. Our activities build resilience and strengthen faith.
We work especially with church communities in our aim to love God and the stranger and to show this in practical ways.
“One of my aims in ministry is to see myself in others and the greatest joy for me is when others see themselves in God’s love.” -Paul Sydnor, Lille Ministry Leader
France is one of the top destinations in Europe for Asylum seekers. The number of applicants in France has doubled in the last several years, and a portion of these end up in Lille. The refugees and asylum seekers come from most every crisis area of the world, but a large number come from French-speaking countries.
Most of the people arriving in France have been on the asylum path for several years or more. A portion of these have already applied in other countries and been rejected. They have very few options.
The lack of infra-structure such as housing makes the asylum path especially difficult in France. Men, women and children are forced to rely on their own networks and local associations to help them to survive. Everyday needs increase their vulnerability and take a toll on personal and spiritual well-being.
“Applying for asylum is a fulltime job, yet it also takes all my energy just to find where to sleep and eat each day, or how to stay dry and warm. I have no life left and I don’t know how much longer I can continue.” –Asylum seeker from West Africa
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We opened the ministry centre in early March 2020, only to have it shut down two days later in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We follow all of the sanitary rules and regulations, and despite three confinements in 2020, we have continued to offer a reduced program.
Our activities have included: language courses, access to computers/internet, computer training, phone repairs, trauma healing groups, and prayer times.
The centre is based in a local church and offers a link between asylum communities and church communities. It is a rare safe place in which refugees, asylum seekers, volunteers and IAFR teammates can all connect in ways that both encourage and benefit one another.
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