14 June 2017 / Day 19
Muslim Refugees in Sweden
In 2015, over 161,000 asylum seekers crossed the border into Sweden – at one point there were 10000 refugees per week entering the country. With a population of only 9.5 million, that meant Sweden accepted more refugees in proportion to its population than any other nation in the developed world. This overstretched Sweden’s ability to process, house and integrate applicants – and by the end of the year, the country decided to try to close the doors for new arrivals.
Many churches and ministries have been helping to fill the gap. In Borl?nge, volunteers provided food and assistance at an emergency shelter where 50 people were accommodated in beds around the wall of a warehouse with two showers and portable toilets. Some families ended up in this shelter for up to 3 weeks before being moved to temporary housing, where many waited for 6-9 months for interviews with immigration officials that would confirm their status in Sweden and allow them to settle. During that time, the refugees have nothing to do, so volunteers began to organize an international café and other support. This has led to many refugees asking about the Christian faith, and responding to the love shown them by Swedish believers.
As is the case across western Europe, the church in Sweden has seen a dramatic decline in membership in recent years. However, this influx of Muslim refugees has brought more new believers to the church than they have seen in decades: One small, quiet town of 5000 people, had 1000 refugees, mostly Syrian and Afghan, move in and many of them began attending church. At a recent baptism for a whole Syrian family, one elderly Swedish member was very moved and commented that she had not seen a whole family baptised there since she was a small child at the end of the Swedish revival.
How to Pray
- As Sweden struggles to balance its resources with its desire to help, pray for just decisions on immigration and enthusiastic support from the Church for those who arrive.
- Many families are very lonely, waiting long months for visa interviews and the start of their new life. Pray for them to be encouraged and befriended.
- Sweden has a distinctive culture. Pray for refugees from very different backgrounds who are attempting to integrate.