Have you ever been the outsider? The new guy? The one who is coming in to an already established situation? You know – when you started a new job and everything was new and different and you didn’t know what you were doing. Or when you moved to a new town or new neighborhood and you didn’t know anyone. When you went to a new church and you were the ‘visitor’. Or when you changed schools and you didn’t know where to sit or who the other kids were or where to go or what the rules were. Guess what… if you said yes to any of those scenarios, you have been an immigrant. An outsider. The least, the lost, the left out.
I know you’ve been there. I’ve been there, too. In fact, I spend my life there. I’m an immigrant.
Immigrants, displaced people, aliens in a foreign land. Outside their home culture, outside their native language, separated from family and friends and all of their emotional support systems. Nothing is familiar. Away from home. Away from community. Away from any sense of belonging. Lost.
Living in a new world, a new situation, a world where the church is non-existent or dying. A world void of believers, a world without a church family, without a Body to call “Family”.
All of this brings on heightened stress, transition shock, culture shock, financial struggles, family stressors, marriage and relational stress, frequent misunderstandings and conflicts. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Depression.
We minister to the least, the lost, and the left out. We love them, because we are one of them. We are immigrants. That’s us.
In our work, the least, the lost, and the left out have many faces.
Part of our work is to minister to immigrants in Spain – immigrants from all over the world find themselves here for a variety of reasons – fleeing abusive situations in their home countries, political unrest, economic hardships, running away from something, running to something. Everyone has a story. And every one of these people is away from family and home, in transition, in stress, lonely and struggling and looking for friends and belonging and community.
Another part of our work is to minister to cross-cultural workers, missionaries and people who work in humanitarian aid. The list of characteristics for the least, the lost, and the left out applies to them, as well. They are immigrants and aliens in a foreign land. They are away from home, away from their culture, away from family and friends. They have left their communities and friendship support circles and churches to go and serve in places that are unfamiliar and difficult. They are often in risky situations and under security guidelines. They live in places where the church is not, or cannot be, their support system. They are lonely and exhausted and stressed. Sometimes they are experiencing depression. The only difference between them and other immigrants is that they pour out their hearts and their souls for others all day long, working long hours to minister to others and help others know the joy and love of Christ. But who takes care of them? Who pours in to them? Who feeds them and nourishes their souls after they pour it all out for others and are empty and exhausted?
That’s what we do. We come alongside the least, the lost, and the left out. The immigrants. The displaced. The lonely. The exhausted. We help them find a way to be healthy spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. We are their safe place – the place where they can be vulnerable, where they can be open with their struggles and fears and stress, where they can cry and be held and heard. We are “home” for those who no longer have one.
It has been said that To be heard is to be healed. That is a big part of what we do. Listening, coaching, counseling, mentoring, praying, loving, caring, and speaking into the lives of those who need us. A place to debrief, to decompress, to relax and refuel. A place to find a friend, to find laughter again, to find hope and joy and love. Creating home and family and community and Kingdom for all who are suddenly without. That is what we are about.