Amigos project: a door opened by God
Posted by Mission Catalyst at 09:27 on 27th May 2010
A church and community project reaching out to some of the UK's 300,000 Portuguese-speaking migrant workers was launched in Norfolk last year. As its leaders explain, the project is quickly meeting people's needs.
Jorge and Hermelinda Damasceno write:
In 2005, after serving in Albania for 14 years, we thought that our time as cross-cultural mission workers was over. We thought that God was calling us to be back in Brazil and take up a pastoral role there.
In coming to the Baptist World Alliance's centenary celebrations in Birmingham, in July 2005, we heard through BMS World Mission about the big door of opportunity that God was opening amongst the Portuguese-speaking community in East Anglia.
We became very excited about this and, after spending time in prayer and understanding God's will, we offered ourselves to this new adventure.
We arrived in the UK in July 2006. We could not believe that time went by so fast. We started to become aware of the needs of the Portuguese migrants very quickly.
These needs include:
- Services and Bible studies in Portuguese: Helping Portuguese speakers get to know and worship God in their own language and integrate into church life in the UK.
- Listening ear: Opportunities for people to come and share about their problems, difficulties and concerns.
- Food programme: Food parcels to help those who are facing financial problems as a result of debt, low income or just being new to the country. This programme aims to attend urgent needs rather than creating dependency.
- ESL programme: The Portuguese community needs to integrate and have a better quality of life. English as a second language (ESL) can be a powerful tool to achieve this objective.
The main purpose of the Amigos Project, as the project is called, is to help integrate the Portuguese community into the local society.
That's why we have been working through local Baptist churches that have significant numbers of Portuguese migrants in their community.
We are starting to reap the fruits. After one year the project is being run in five different Baptist churches, providing services for the Portuguese speakers and working closely with local authorities.
We have also had three baptisms - with another four to come in September. Thank God for the doors he opens!
Jorge and Hermelinda Damasceno are co-ordinators of the Amigos Unidos em Missao ('Friends - United in Mission') Project.
They are sponsored by the Eastern, Central and East Midlands Baptist Associations, in partnership with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, BMS World Mission and American and Brazilian Baptists.