Liberty’s G5 2018-2019 initiative looks to serve refugees from Northern Africa
Liberty University’s LU Send department monitors global activity and looks for ways to involve students in providing aid and ministry in the United States and abroad.
So, when the department noticed a surge of refugees entering the country of Spain, they decided to designate the European nation as the focus of this year’s G5 initiative. The G5 initiative was born in 2017 and provides opportunities for students and faculty to serve in a particular nation and challenges the Liberty community domestically to uphold the nation in prayer.
Several factors have contributed to this influx of refugees, including poor job markets in Africa and political instability.
This year, students have the opportunity to travel with the G5 initiative to Spain to obtain course credit, internship credit or Christian Service credit. During their time in Spain, each student participating will have the opportunity to serve the North African refugees entering the country through the city of Malaga, Spain.
Director of Academic Operations for LU Send Audrey Hammond traveled to Spain this summer to meet with companies and the organization Christar. Christar works directly with the refugees in Malaga and helps the families affected get back on their feet after migrating from Africa.
“We’re coming alongside a bigger picture — that’s the most important thing,” Hammond said. “It’s not Liberty students going over there, saving the day and then coming back. It’s us coming alongside an organization committed to doing this for the next 10 years.”
Hammond explained that not many people realize the immense trauma a family can experience when resettling as refugees. She is looking forward to seeing how students will be able to impact the refugee community with the skills they’ve learned within their areas of study at Liberty. She hopes that the G5 initiative in Spain will open students’ eyes to the logistics of resettlement and show them specific ways they can provide aid within their area of study.
“You might not be the pastor on stage that’s getting thousands of people excited, but if you are somebody who just helps put kids into school, you know, so they can be successful, that makes a difference,” Hammond said.
Students participating in the G5 initiative will have the opportunity to work closely with the refugee community. Students will be helping refugees with their resettlement process in various ways, including helping them learn English, helping children catch up in school, working with global sports partners, aiding refugees in creating business plans and helping them find housing.
According to Hammond, the unemployment rate in Spain is currently 14 percent. Christar is mindful of the high unemployment rate in the nation, so the organization wants to help refugees create and execute their own business plans, which is an area where Liberty students can help. Outside of working with supporting refugees with the logistics of starting a new life, Hammond anticipates the impact students will have on the general community in Malaga.
“One of the things I love so much about this initiative is that a lot of the businesses and organizations that are saying, ‘Yeah, we want to help, (and) we want to work with Liberty students, (and) we want to help the refugee community,’ (are) not all Christian,” Hammond said. “Think about the impact that our students can have with these non-Christian business owners or these non-Christian incubators that care about the cause, but don’t necessarily care about our Christ.”
Sophomore Micah Cook was supposed to go on a summer missions trip to Haiti, but it was canceled. He decided to see opportunities to travel with LU Send during the school year and discovered the G5 initiative traveling to Spain.
He plans on making the trip in January and looks forward to experiencing a new culture, while having the chance to aid refugees in rebuilding their new lives.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what to expect from it, but I just think it will be incredible because I’ve heard and seen how God does incredible things through these situations, and I just really anticipate that God will use us in ways that can bless these people that are trying to find their way and get their family out of crisis,” Cook said.