Tell us a bit about the people of Copenhagen, including immigrants.
In Copenhagen you can find all kinds of people and nationalities. There is much freedom to live out the life style you prefer. There are also many low income families with severe problems. Many of our immigrants have settled in well to our culture and their kids enjoy the benefits of free education for everyone. However, many new immigrants and refugees come with severe traumas and have a hard time finding their feet, finding a job and finding a place to call home. The children often suffer from this and have a hard time sorting out their identity as they juggle several cultures: their home culture (which has been uprooted and is undergoing changes), the Danish culture, and the everyday life on the street where they spend a lot of their time.
How did your ministry develop into an outreach to immigrant children?
When I joined the ministry, I had no particular vision for immigrant children. In fact, I was often annoyed at the noise and commotion they made at our children's events due to their different culture and values and because of the tension that the proclamation of the Gospel brought. However, as time went by, I learned to appreciate these kids more and more. They seemed to enjoy fellowship a lot and the girls often helped us practically. In 2010 I met "Ibrahim" who was 6 years old. He was the oldest of 4 kids and very overlooked by his parents who definitely were suffering a lot. Over the years, Ibrahim seemed to relate to me as a substitute mother even if we did not meet very often. The pain in his eyes grabbed my heart and created in me a burden for immigrant children. To this day, I am still in regular contact with Ibrahim and his siblings at a monthly Good News Club in their neighborhood. They listen to every word that comes out of my mouth, they can quote Scripture, and have a thorough knowledge of the Gospel. They have never revealed to me if they have accepted Jesus into their lives but I think they have.
You have a ministry that you call “the well.” What is your vision for this and how does it work practically?
In a heavily populated Muslim area of Copenhagen, I have a Good News Club every week. It began 2-3 years ago as I and some local believers started to hang out at a certain public table close to a playground. This place quickly became our well – inspired from Jesus who took time to linger at the well in Samaria with great results. We got in contact with kids and parents in the neighborhood and began a weekly club. When weather allows, we hang out around this table – our well. We play games, eat snacks and share stories from the Bible. We spend a lot of time building relationship and the kids love to hear stories about Jesus and from our own lives.
"Fatma" was one of the oldest girls caused much trouble. A lot of times she didn’t even want to hear the Bible lessons. One day she stole some sweets from me and ran off. I had just read that many Muslims never truly forgive. I wanted to let Fatma see that Christians are different and so I talked to Fatma the following week. She first refused admitting that she had taken the sweets, but I stood my ground and said, "Fatma, I forgive you and trust you. Next time when we share sweets, I’d like you to do it for me." I did not expect the unmistakable gratefulness in her eyes. The week after she came a little late saying, "Have you already told the Bible story?’" When we said no, she answered, “Good!” and she listened to the story very attentively and shortly after shared a prayer request with us for the first time. Later, she could state the spiritual meaning of a Bible lesson that we had read a year earlier.
Another girl was so afraid of the Bible that she covered her ears during a Bible story. After half a year in the club she asked if she could read my Bible. She opened the Bible to the death of Christ, read a portion and started to ask me a lot of questions. Finally she yelled to her friend, “Do you know who brought Isa (Jesus) back to life? It was Allah (God)!"
How can we pray for immigrant children and their families in Copenhagen?
1. That the Lord of the harvest will call more believers to reach out to the immigrant children and families of Copenhagen.
2. That the children will find meaningful relationships in Copenhagen and settle well into society.
3. That many will find Christ and be part of a wonderful Christian Fellowship.
4. For all the unaccompanied refugee children that have suffered the loss of their parents on the way to Europe and that come to Denmark at the moment - that they will find Christian spiritual parents who can bring them up in the Lord.