Listening to refugees is a vital dimension of all JRS programmes in the efforts to serve, accompany and advocate on their behalf.
Our companioning project, launched in September 2010, aims to help people view their life from a spiritual perspective, one that is rarely referred to in the midst of interviews, filling in forms and adapting to customs of a new culture.
Faith, prayer and an intimate relationship with God are part of the rich inner resources that many refugees bring with them from their country of origin. Frequently this carries them through times of chaos and confusion. Meeting a companion in a safe environment allows the participants not only to tell the story of the unfolding of their lives, but to share their concerns and pray with others in similar circumstances.
Participants comment: “I like to pray here in the company of my brothers and sisters.” “I come because I like to talk to someone about my life and my faith.” “I come because I feel good when I talk with N… (the companion)”.
This ministry of compassionate listening, consoling and encouraging seeks to meet the deeper spiritual needs of the refugees. It can facilitate God’s grace of healing and reconciliation, and frequently opens up new ways of understanding life experiences in a faith context. It can bring new energies to face the on-going challenges of living in a different culture and help them to gather the courage and strength needed to fully engage in their new circumstances.
Each week, our women’s prayer circle meets for mutual support and encouragement. A men’s peer support group meets fortnightly. One to one sessions are offered and each year there is a day retreat in a restful and welcoming location.