The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Assisting people of African descent

Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy helps repatriate misled would-be immigrants

The ELCA-supported Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, an ecumenical ministry based out of St. Andrew's Anglican Church and St. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Moscow, specializes in sending people home.

Russia's capital is bursting at the seams with 16 million legal and illegal residents. Yet the country's trafficking mafia lures more people to Moscow with ads placed in sub-Saharan newspapers. The ads promise lucrative jobs and ready access to western Europe.

Matthew Laferty serves as chaplain
Matthew Laferty serves as chaplain of Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, an ELCA-supported ecumenical ministry in Moscow. He says many MPC members "are confronted daily with the problem of racism."

When the newcomers arrive at the airport on a 30-day tourist visa, greeters relieve them of their documents and cash and rush them off to their new "jobs" as prostitutes or unpaid laborers. They have joined the millions of people worldwide who are trafficked.

Those who protest this arrangement find themselves on the streets without passports or money. This, along with their foreign appearance, makes trafficked people from Africa prime candidates for interrogation and arrest — far from the employment and security they had hoped to find.

Since 2011, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy has worked with international nongovernmental organizations to repatriate the misled would-be immigrants. Already they have paid for 16 of Africa's deceived to return to their homelands.

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