Our Life in Sweden

Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Category: Community (page 1 of 6)

The Day We Woke Up

Yesterday Europe woke up to the reality of what’s happening in our waters.

The sight of a little boy washed up on Turkish shores, captured our attention in a way that a million high detail articles never could.

It was a moment even the most right wing newspapers sobered up from their racist stupors and saw the international refugee crisis for what it is.

People.

It’s little boys and little girls and mums and dads, grannies and grandpas, forced to leave homes and jobs and schools and friends and the entire sense of security they’ve always known.

And they don’t know what’s ahead of them.

Someone offers them the opportunity to leave the dusty refugee camps, to take their kids somewhere that has decent schools and job prospects, and they take it.

“It has to be better than this,” they think.


The Syrian refugee families we know all have friends or family members who are considering this perilous journey.

We tell them about the news articles, the risks, the many people who drown and never make it.

They say, “we know it’s dangerous, but what other option do they have?”

How do you answer that question?

After a while the idea of getting in a boat that stands some chance of getting to somewhere that just might be better than here starts to sound good.

“Sweden is beautiful. I’ve heard it’s the most beautiful place in the world. Almost as nice as Syria used to be.” 

“I hear the people are so friendly in Britain. I have an uncle there.” 

“I want Ahmed to be able to go to a good school, and to have a future.”

The mythology around the countries in Europe builds. People without hope look for every shred that they can find. For many, Europe or America, Canada or Australia seem like the closest chance.

For many, right now, these countries really are the closest chance at a future that’s safe and far away from their crumbling homes.


Our governments and NGOs can’t manage this immense task by themselves. They need us as ordinary citizens to get involved.

So, What can I do today?

We thought we would compile a list of ways that we can take action. It’s not exhaustive, but it should get you started…

World Wide

Anyone can make a donation to the UNHCR, or smaller organisations like Hope & Trust, who work with assisting refugees in the resettlement process.

At the moment the UNHCR budget is running so low that many of the refugee families we’ve met outside of the camps have had their food budgets cut.

For those of us who pray, the 24-7 Prayer network have organised a week of prayer. You can sign up for a 1 hour time slot on their website.

In the UK

Before today’s good news that Britain will be receiving ‘thousands’ more refugees, we were going to ask you to sign a petition. Instead we’ll look at some more practical ways that you can be involved with these amazing people.

Get in touch with UK based organisations like Bridges for Communities, who work at building understanding between people of different cultures.

Check out this extensive set of links on the Independent Online.

IN SWEDEN

This list gives some good suggestions of  NGOs that help refugees and have a connection to Sweden.

Among them are Medicines Sans Frontiers who do sea rescue missions, as well as working in the ports, where the refugees arrive first. you can donate here.


Please feel free to contact us if you want to discuss this more.

Things we’ve learned

This year we have some big changes ahead of us, which we’ll fill you in on in another blog post. All this talk of change got us reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned in the two and a half years since we left Europe. Here are some of the big ones:

Coaching vs Handouts

One of the big assumptions that we westerners make about the majority world is that they just need more stuff (money, clothes, etc). Oftentimes these places are rich in resources but poor in education and good leadership. Coaching encourages people to ask ‘what do I have’ instead of ‘what do I lack?’ and sets them on a course towards seeing themselves as agents of change.

Work yourself out of a job

It’s challenging to be surrounded by so much need and it’s easy to start to think that you are the answer, especially when you might have been privileged with education, experience and skills. We’ve learned that if you want to see lasting change, it’s better to go slow and make sure you pass on your knowledge to someone who’s going to be around long after your visa expires. Preferably someone from the community who speaks the language and knows the culture.

Never stop learning

When working in a culture that’s not our own we’ve realized it’s important to have the attitude of a learner. That means asking questions more than you try to give answers. It also means spending a lot of time hanging out with people, although it doesn’t always feel “productive.” One of the things we wish we’d done from day 1 is to have learned one of the local languages. Doing this would have helped us build deeper relationships and understand the culture better.

Bottom-up change

The best, most long lasting change is bottom-up, rather than top-down. It’s when people and communities take responsibility for the neighbours and circumstances around them. Top-down change is about coercion, about doing something because there’s a rule that says “you must…” Bottom-up change encourages communities to grow. It draws out leaders on a micro level.

Servant leadership

We’ve already touched on it a little, but our favourite type of leadership is servant leadership. It’s no mistake that Jesus told his disciples that the one who wants to be first should be the servant of all. He knew that leading through humility, through putting others first, has power. It speaks into people’s hearts rather than just their sense of obligation.

Have fun

It felt as if we moved to Kommetjie just at the right time. A hectic work season, intense house situation as well as having lived in a township – where you can’t escape the harshness of poverty, all got too much for us. Our surfing friends here inspired us to enjoy life to it’s full and we realized that we couldn’t sustain our work if we didn’t have an outlet. Now we try to look for fun and adventure wherever we go.

Pray a lot

We’ve prayed a lot more this year for the things that have been on our hearts. It’s been a wild journey and we’ve re-learned that change happens when we pray with passion. Although we’ve seen many answered prayers, circumstances changed dramatically, the best lesson has been that we’ve experienced a change inside of ourselves – new perspectives, clarity, peace, hope and joy have all come as a result of praying. God is good!

 

The power of Vulnerability

A few friends of ours here in Kommetjie are learning about how to do community well together. How to have deeper friendships and how to grow in our faith.

The TED talk speaks of vulnerability as the pathway to belonging and creativity, and has really inspired us:

The Power of Vulnerability

Good News

Maria & Abdullaai Analog

So I realised we didn’t give you the full update of what happened to the Somalian family that we wrote about a while back. In 2008 there was xenophobic violence in Masiphumelele, and elsewhere in SA, that saw many Somalians and Ethiopians temporarily flee the townships. Our friends stayed with a couple in All Nations, with whom they became great friends. As a result of the violence, the UN decided that it was too dangerous for them to remain in Masiphumelele and helped them to secure asylum in the US.

In July this year they were finally approved asylum. They were nervous as they didn’t know where in the states they’d be placed. They knew they would be leaving family and friends who they may never see again. We all prayed that they would be placed somewhere where we would have friends to connect them with. Their friends from 2008 are now back in the states and kindly offered to fly to see them wherever they were placed.

Amazingly they ended up actually being placed in the same city, just 5 minutes away from this family! When we heard the news, none of us could really believe it! I remember Abdullaai (husband of the family) phoning us shouting with joy ‘It’s amazing, God is good! God is good!’

This is indeed good news!

* * *

För ett tag sedan skrev vi ett inlägg (klicka här för att läsa igen!). om våra vänner från Somalia och jag insåg precis att vi inte berättade för er hur det gick för dem tillslut. En bekant i All Nations hade denna familjen inneboende hos sig under några veckors tid 2008, i väntan på att de främlingsfientliga våldsamheterna, som spritt sig som en löpeld i flera av landets kåkstäder, skulle lugna ner sig. FN har beslutat att det inte är tillräckligt tryggt för dem att bo kvar i Sydafrikas kåkstäder och har försökt hjälpa dem få asyl i ett annat land.

I juli detta året fick de äntligen besked om att de fått uppehållstillstånd i USA! De var såklart överlyckliga men samtidigt nervösa och ledsna då de en en gång flyttar till ett främmande land och måste lämna nära familjemedlemmar som de kanske aldrig kommer träffa igen. Tillsammans bad vi att de skulle få bli placerade i en stad där vi känner någon som de kan lära känna och känna sig trygga med. Familjen de var inneboende hos 2008 har flyttat tillbaka till USA och lovade att flyga och välkomna dem, oavsett vilken stat de blev placerade i, för att se till att de blir väl bemötta och omhändertagna.

Otroligt nog blev våra vänner placerade i samma stad som denna familj, bara 5 minuter ifrån deras hus! Ingen av oss kunde riktigt tro att det var sant! Jag minns hur Abdullaai, maken i familjen, ringde oss så fort de fått beskedet och tjöt av glädje: ‘It’s amazing! God is good! God is good!’

 

 

The Three Loves

IMG_0571One of the ways that we measure if our community is being all it can be is to look at it alongside what we call The Three Loves:

  • Loving God
  • Loving each other
  • Loving the world

Sometimes a community of faith majors on one or two of these loves, and not all three. Here’s what happens if you leave out one:

Leave out Loving Each Other

We’ve had times in our community where we are really focussed on loving the world and loving God, but barely giving our community life any attention at all. Our relationships become shallow and collegial, rather than those of a loving family.

Leave out Loving The World

Other communities I know are great at loving God and loving each other, but they don’t want to go anywhere near the world. Some are afraid of the world and what it might do to them! When this happens, we open up the door to becoming super spiritual and inward. A church that doesn’t have an outward focus will soon be overrun with politics and infighting.

Leave out Loving God

Finally, some communities neglect the loving God part of the equation. They have great friendships and they serve the community around them energetically, but all their energy and vision comes from within themselves. Operating like this encourages burnout and spiritual shallowness.

At regular intervals we ask ourselves “how are we doing?” in relation to The Three Loves, to try and ensure that we don’t lose balance.

How’s your community doing? Have you experienced times when one of the Loves has been left out? What happened?

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