International (MNN) — A survey released on Tuesday, according to Reuters, states just one out of eight refugees in Germany are currently employed. Similar reports from the OECD on refugees in Sweden show only 22 percent of newly-arrived refugee men and eight percent of refugee women have found work.
There are several barriers that have led to these staggering unemployment numbers. First, the language barrier automatically makes several refugees ineligible for certain jobs. Also, because many refugee women and teens don’t have basic education, often due to lack of access after they fled their home country, it makes the job search more difficult for them.
Finally, when more refugees arrive in certain countries, there is greater competition for available jobs. And it doesn’t look like the flow of refugees from countries like Syria and Iraq is slowing down.
These high rates of unemployment among refugees lead to a lot of downtime. But Josh Newell with The Jesus Film Project says their ministry partners are taking advantage of refugees’ free time in a positive way…with movie nights!
“Downtime is something the refugee camp organizers have to deal with quite a bit. So folks who are displaced have a lot of time on their hands, and oftentimes movie nights are really well attended.”
Newell shares, “We were talking with a staff of ours who’s in Africa who organizes a refugee camp, and on a weekly basis he shows The Jesus Film to over 1,000 people, sometimes 2,000 people. He reports incredible movements of God throughout the audience. Sometimes 90 percent of the audience responds and indicates they want to follow Jesus as a result of seeing His life played out on film.”
The Jesus Film Project works with several other ministry organizations for this unique type of outreach. And with the greater reach, they’re seeing a greater impact for Christ among refugees.
“One of our hallmarks is we partner broadly across the Body of Christ. In refugee camps, in specific individual outreaches we provide the tools and the strategies to help people show the love of Christ in the midst of their compassion outreaches,” shares Newell.
“For instance, with the Syrian refugee crisis that most people are aware of, 4.8 million people are displaced and on the move. We have staff who have completely revamped their outreach strategies to minister to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq.”
So what is it that makes the story of Jesus so appealing to refugees? Newell says, when you think about it, they actually have a lot in common.
“Jesus himself was a refugee as a small child. There’s part of that life story that refugees can really resonate with. But because of Jesus’ love for the outcast, the downtrodden, and just His ability to speak out to the status quo, I think refugees really resonate with that in their own lives. They need people who can be advocates for them, and they need hope that goes beyond their circumstances…. Jesus offers the most incredible hope and the perfect hope.”
For the refugee or immigrant family you’ve met at your local school or down the street, you can share The Jesus Film with them as well! It’s especially relevant since it may be one of few movies translated into their heart language, depending on what it is. Just ask them what their native language is, pull out the Jesus Film app on your smartphone or tablet, find that language’s film, and hit play to see what they think!
“It’s incredible because The Jesus Film is available in over 1,500 different languages, so that makes it by far the most translated movie about the life of Jesus, or any movie for that matter in the world. That’s one of the unique calling cards to The Jesus Film is it enables anybody to share the love of Jesus in the heart language of so many other people.”
Newell reflects, “It’s a really amazing time we live in when you consider the historic movement of people that we’re in right now. Never before in history have we had quite the opportunity to minister to the nations because the nations are on the move. God is shaking the nations, quite literally.”
He challenges us to pray for refugees, especially in this season of political angst. “There’s a lot of political goings-on about refugees and immigrants here in the United States. I think I’m personally challenged to be praying more for people who are coming into this country and not be fearful. It really has to do with my own heart condition.”
Pray for refugees all over the world to find work and start to gain a sense of being “settled” in their new home. Ask God to make Himself known to those living displaced through The Jesus Film and the loving witness of Christians befriending them.
You can learn more about other various witnessing resources by visiting The Jesus Film Project’s website here!