To show practical love in a christian way means
getting close to the people. Maj-Lis has been active as a practical missionary
in Portugal since the early 1970s
ministry of Maj-Lis Johansson among the poor in Portugal
Siloam Friends and Christian Herald Readers
Each morning as I take a short cut through the 'Marianas' slum, I meet
many people in misery with tremendous problems that they cannot resolve
themselves. Most of these folk are resigned to their fate and destiny,
though a good number of them have been helped by our Foundation which
is registered in Portugal and Sweden. Just a few hundred metres from the
epicentre of this misery, beautifully polished cars vie for parking spaces
in every nook and cranny in an effort to park near the beach. Crowds of
people in swim suits seem blissfully unaware of the suffering that goes
on with up to a million returnados most of whom have fled the colonial
wars in Africa. Just in the middle of writing this article, I received
a telephone call from 'Cold Facts' a Swedish TV documentary programme
who want to interview me about the drugs situation on the streets of Lisbon.
They admit they have been shocked and shaken by what they have seen in
Portugal believing that these things did not exist in Europe today - but
sadly they do.
often ask me about my 'average' day so let me share an insight even though
every day will be completely different.
Brrrrrs ... the telephone rings again. This time it is a west African
lady from Angola with a child who have escaped the civil war and managed
somehow to get to Portugal with her three year old son. Her ten year old
daughter remains with a relative in Africa and her husband has disappeared
somewhere in the war.
We meet to discuss her problems and suggest how will she survive in Portugal
along with countless thousands of other impoverished people. I have to
advise her about resources and where to find a shelter so she can take
refuge from the winter rains. This family has been through so much misery
already caused by war, they are completely shattered. But, a roof over
her head is not her most urgent need right now. Aminta holds in her arm
a small bundle of rags containing a painfully thin child in need of urgent
medical attention. Aminta says her worst problem is with her little son
Mamadi. Sadly, he did not get out of the burning hut fast enough when
the terrorists plundered their village. She speaks with great emotion
and tells how the child tripped and fell over the fire and so became severely
burnt. The mother cries 'I have wept so much for him but I still want
to fight but in my country (Angola), they cannot help him'. Then suddenly
I see a face among the bundle of rags and I cautiously extend a couple
of fingers to a little hand sticking out. Immediately, the child grabs
them and two enormous eyes open and a line of white teeth appear as the
bundle of rages reveal a traumatised child suffering with severe burns.
The mother asks me, 'Can he have an operation? They keep making promises
saying maybe in a couple of years', the mother groans in her poor Portuguese.
She cries 'please help me, please help me, no one even wants to look at
my poor child'!
Of course, first of all we must check that the information the mother
has told me is correct and we have to see whether the family is in the
country legally but, in most cases the information I get is correct even
though some times even an illegal immigrant deserves help So events like
this make up my average day but really everyday is different, we are not
just statistics, we are talking about real people with real problems that
need help when there seems to be no help.
But, your gifts sent by Siloam make it possible to hold my door open so
help can be dispensed to the poor, the old and the sick and those who
are fleeing war and oppression in Africa.
It has been my privilege to help many refugees from Africa since the early
1970s. A truly immense number of people have been touched but that assistance
has only been possible because people like you have cared and help support
this ministry. Even though the summer time will shortly fade, our activities
will continue as usual because need and misery do not take holidays. With
the help of my co-workers, I endeavour to share the love of Jesus Christ
in a practical way with those folk who have sought previous refuge in
alcohol, drugs and prostitution. We have after all to love the unlovely
and to be salt and light in the location where God has called us to minister.
This month I am making a special appeal to you through Siloam so that
our support can be maintained to minister practical christian love in
the slums and shanty towns around Lisbon. A gift of £10 could pay for
the urgent food supplies required by a lone parent family living in the
nearby shanty town of Marianas. £20 could help provide medical supplies
for a mother from Angola with a sick child. £50 could help pay the fuel
bill for a Mozambique couple unable to find a place in an old age home.
Whatever you send will be very much appreciated and will be wisely used
with the aim of not just giving humanitarian aid but with the goal of
reaching the personÕs heart and mind and making them receptive and fertile
to the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Yours sincerely on behalf of those in need in Portugal
P.S If you would like to know more about my ministry, please contact me
by my personal e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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