James and Debra Kelsey Portrait
Debbie and Jim assist the Evangelical Christian Baptist Union of Italy in ministry to English-speaking immigrant, particularly African, congregations. This includes local church ministry and theological and ministerial training of leaders. They work to welcome new arrivals to Italy who are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They also work with the immigrant churches and train immigrant pastors to strengthen their fellowships and broaden their ministries.
Debbie and Jim assist with the theological training in the migrant churches and provides pastoral care where needed. They help in training Italian congregations in multicultural matters and missions. Debbie also ministers to young women at-risk or victimized by human trafficking and prostitution.
She tells of Emma, a young woman in the church they attend in Italy who was missing.
She writes: The nightmare of young people without residency papers has hit our little congregation. Having finished work, Emma was waiting for her bus when she was arrested for being in Italy without residency papers and taken to jail.
I was able to visit Emma yesterday at the Center for Identification and Expulsion, and I was thankful for her positive attitude. She said that maybe this is a chance for a fresh start for her. She said she knows God does not want her to be doing “that work” anymore. Despite her hopes to be released with residency and work papers in Italy, she will probably be sent back to her home country. How do you send a person back: As a letter marked “Return to Sender”? Like "postage-due” box?
In her home country, Emma faces a high likelihood of being trafficked again. Having been in Italy for a period of time, many will correctly assume what sort of work she did here, and she will be shunned. With no education, her work opportunities are very limited.
If Emma gets the word that she is going to be deported, I will put her in touch with a Catholic sister here in Italy who has connections with a shelter for trafficking victims in Emma’s home country. If she can get into that shelter, she has a better chance of a fresh start.
• Please pray for Emma. Pray for good legal counsel and the courage to tell authorities her whole story. Thank God for her ministry to her fellow detainees.
• Pray for others still working the streets. Pray that their exploiters will not succeed in hiding them in order to protect “their investment and profit centers”.
• Pray for authorities to be merciful to the young women they arrest.
• Pray for Emma’s friends within the church to have the courage and long-term vision to enter the social protection program for victims of trafficking and to denounce their exploiters.
• Pray also for the Kelsey’s sons: Luke (14) and Ben (12).