The House of Hope Welcome Centre is a place of acceptance and safety for refugees in Linz, Austria. A team of international workers has the passion to demonstrate God’s love in word and deed, helping to restore dignity and respect to refugees who have endured much. Austria receives refugees from many countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Every person is different and has their own unique story, but all people have one thing in common – they need HOPE! This is a hope that transcends culture, has no boundaries, and speaks into the very deepest pain and tragedy. At House of Hope, we believe that God has called us to be bearers of this hope.
The House of Hope welcomes the refugees of Austria with dignity, serving them in three key ways: hospitality that provides opportunities to socialize in community, practical assistance that meets material needs, and spiritual outreach that fosters Christian transformation. Each ministry provides a glimpse into the hope and healing available through God.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Hospitality and Community
A number of weekly activities help create an environment of hospitality and community at The House of Hope Welcome Centre so that refugees can feel loved and respected.
Once a week House of Hope also hosts a sports outing that alternates between games of soccer and volleyball at a local gym, primarily attended by men. On the same day, 4-12 women gather for a program specialized to meet their creative and social interests. When instructors are available, music classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays.
As for special events, in November the team led a group of ambitious House of Hope guests on a hike to Poestlingberg, a local tourist site. From this beautiful scenic view above the city they enjoyed elegant cakes and coffees in a spacious cafe. Then, ninety people gathered to celebrate Christmas with House of Hope at an exciting event in December. In addition to a hot meal of chicken and rice, a clear Gospel message was presented and well-received!
The House of Hope Welcome Centre also offers practical support to refugees who are adjusting to life in Austria. German classes are held five times per week, giving eighty refugees a sense of freedom through their new language abilities. Volunteers also provide translation at appointments and help with the translation of important documents.
In the past six months, House of Hope helped a refugee family move into their new home, and continued distributing hand-made baby bags, providing new mothers with practical items such as bottles, pacifiers, baby clothes, and hand crocheted blankets.
In the fall of 2016, twelve people finished a sewing course at House of Hope. Five new sewing machines were purchased in 2016, helping to expand the program. Volunteer instructors from the sewing course have continued to build on their relationships with participants who have completed the course by inviting the women to their homes to continue sewing and to practice German. As a result, these volunteers have had many opportunities to informally share the Gospel.
As a critical way of offering hope to refugees, House of Hope engages in consistent spiritual outreach to those who attend its programs. Two Bible studies are held regularly at House of Hope. Bible study participants often enjoy a meal together, prepared by the House of Hope staff or, at times, by the refugees themselves. Recently, they also ventured into the streets of Linz for a discipleship exercise involving street evangelism.
House of Hope often hosts screenings of the Jesus film for those guests who are interested following the International Cafe on Tuesdays.
Stories of Transformation
A young man from Afghanistan, like many others who attend the House of Hope’s programs, is showing impressive spiritual growth. He has begun to recognize sin in his life, admitting when he has been dishonest or in the wrong. He serves regularly alongside the team at House of Hope and engages with other refugees in the city, seeking practical ways to help others, and is always willing to share his faith and the hope he has found in Christ!
In 2016, ten refugees served by House of Hope confessed their faith in Christ and were baptized!
Canadian Program Champion Lisa Barber visited House of Hope in November 2016. One of her highlights was helping the International Teams women in Linz host a one-day retreat for 12 International Teams women serving refugees in different parts of Austria.
Lives are being changed in Austria because of your many years of support for House of Hope! Thank you!