Project 047 - Maj-Lis' Ministry

Maj-Lis Johansson

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

The ministry of Maj-Lis Johansson among the poor in Portugal

Dear 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.

People 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

Maj-Lis Johansson

P.S If you would like to know more about my ministry, please contact me by my personal e-mail: maj-lis@johansson.com

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