The recent headlines have been full of shocking news about people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean and the break up of the Jungle refugee camp at Calais. Some arenas appear to be deliberately aiming to create animosity towards these desperate and dispossessed people but the Lord Jesus teaches us to love one another and to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Here Sophia tells her story after spending three weeks in Ragusa Sicily – At the Frontiers.
“Sicily was an amazing humbling and enriching experience. I felt many moments of joy and peace. God was working in me and through me. This experience will stay with me for a long time. I went to give but I came away receiving so much more. I grew to love some of the guests (migrants/refugees from Africa). I will carry them in my heart and prayers.
“I worked alongside a Spanish volunteer. We were a good team working in a refugee centre with around 15 young men from Africa. The kind of things we did with our guests varied from playing games, cards, painting boxes, planting plants, visiting the beach and the old part of the city of Ragusa, talking about different things from our culture, faith, and future dreams. It was about building up a connection and relationship with them, spending time getting to know them. They appreciated passing the time with us as many of their days are filled up with doing nothing.
“The guests left tough lives in Africa but are facing tough times in Sicily, with the long wait of receiving documents, living in limbo, away from their families, culture, familiar food, trying to fill their days of boredom. A few of the guests opened up and shared some stories of the hardships they left behind, but they preferred not talking too much about the past. The guests’ faith and devotion to God was so inspirational to see, they were always thanking God for their lives despite all the hardships they had endured. During activities they would go to pray and come back (the majority were Muslims). Their bravery, big hearts, lovely smiles filled me with joy, peace and hope.
“On the last day, me and the other volunteer performed a rap for the guests. The lyrics touched them to the point of some of the guys having tears in their eyes (The last few lines was taken from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament, the blessing God gave Moses). Saying good-bye was from very difficult from both sides.
“I really loved being part of a Christian community. Starting the day together in prayer really made all the difference. Having faith and serving at the centre, is what I want to be part of. This is what makes me thrive and fulfils me – growing in love, growing spiritually.
“Living a life for the service of others is one of the greatest rewarding and precious gifts you could do, it enables you to have a fulfilling and blessed life!”