Uruguay immigrants are putting down New Roots
By Christy Mast | Uruguay in South America
New Roots ministry.
A group of student leaders, mentors, and supporters from several churches in Montevideo, Uruguay gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of Nuevas Raices (New Roots), a ministry SIM Uruguay has facilitated. Directors Paola Grecco and Antonia Becker reflected that it has been a year of seeing God at work, and He has surprised them with many divine appointments that have enabled the New Roots team to minister to mothers, kids, teens, and couples.
Uruguay has a large immigrant population, and students from the vocational programme at the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay, a partner of SIM, realised many foreigners were finding it difficult to adjust to their new home. The students formed the New Roots ministry to assist these newcomers - providing for basic needs, guiding them through the maze of paperwork, helping them access health care, informing families of their legal rights, and connecting them with organisations and churches that can continue to serve them.
Paola, Antonia, and the other student leaders see themselves as bridges, connecting those in need with resources for their physical and spiritual well-being. Many who come are escaping violence or other hardships in their home countries, and they see Uruguay as a refuge. They emigrate from Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and other nations. Through word-of-mouth and supernatural connections, the New Roots team identifies individuals and families they can help. After an initial interview, they create a plan to address the unique needs of each person.
Antonieta, a vulnerable mother, came from Venezuela with her children and needed support. Like many other immigrants, she was well-educated but did not have the appropriate licence to practice her profession in Uruguay. New Roots was able to give her legal and administrative help and guide her towards employment, while providing vouchers for clothing and food for the family’s immediate needs.
Daniel, a teenager who moved to Uruguay with his parents, found himself being bullied by other students because he was an immigrant. He was connected with a youth pastor for counselling and the New Roots team also came alongside his parents to provide practical assistance and community connections.
Another couple came to Uruguay as mission workers, along with their elderly diabetic father. The group helped him to access vital health care. In addition to providing physical and practical help, New Roots seeks to share the gospel in a respectful way and connect newcomers with a local church. The prayer team meets regularly, lifting up the needs of everyone they encounter and asking God to connect them with others they can serve.
The past year has been a difficult one for many ministries, especially new ones, but at their anniversary celebration in November 2021 the New Roots leaders talked of seeing the faithfulness of God through a challenging time. They see themselves following in the footsteps of the Good Samaritan, who showed God's love through practical care.
They are encouraged knowing that God is a God who loves the nations. He is a missional God who restores people and communities, and the New Roots team is joining God in that work in Uruguay. Psalm 67 encourages them in their purpose, declaring, “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67:3-4, NIV).
Pray with us
• Pray for the leaders of New Roots in Uruguay to continue to be salt and light in the midst of people who need a loving refuge.
• Pray for those who receive help to feel loved and welcomed in their new country and by the churches they are connected with.
• Thank God for his faithfulness through a difficult and challenging first year of ministry.