The PETRA31 cooperative derives its name from the “rock of refuge” in Psalm 31. We are committed to making this refuge a living reality among Christian asylum seekers.
Read more below about the background, who we are and what we do.
PETRA31 in a Nutshell
For years, Finnish Christians have been doing valuable work among immigrants who have converted to Christianity. The lengthy and stressful nature of the processes has created a need for increasingly broad-based cooperation and the provision of specialised expertise equally for all. PETRA31 responds to this need.
Some asylum seekers who have arrived in Finland have converted to Christianity in their country of origin, others in Finland. In order to obtain protection and to avoid being returned to face probable persecution and danger of death, they must, among other things, prove their Christian faith. PETRA31 experts help in this process so that their cases can be properly handled and their human rights respected as well.
How a person is able to express his or her deepest being and convictions depends on many things. It is influenced by factors such as the ability to produce speech, mental stress and tension, the choice of questions and how they are understood, and the interpreter’s ability to convey the message. In recent years, the authorities have on several occasions come to question the conviction of asylum seekers in our churches, even in cases where expert statements from the churches have proven the authenticity of the applicant’s Christian faith on the basis of a faith lived out in everyday life.
For a former Muslim who has openly professed to be a follower of Jesus, holding to the Christian faith leads to a real risk of persecution and death. Being sent back to his Islamic country of origin leaves him unprotected in the face of threats in a context where religious and clan law supersedes other legislation, allowing acts of violence and even the death penalty to be carried out without consequences.
This danger has not been properly understood in the processes, as many of our Christian converts have been forcibly repatriated and have faced persecution in their home countries by their families or the state. Some have been able to flee again. Unfortunately, there have also been instances where communication with friends has come to a sudden end after their forced repatriation and the silence that has followed is a frightening signal of their possible fate.
We are working to ensure that this does not happen in the future. Assessing and proving the authenticity of a conviction requires expertise from both the immigrant’s helper and the authorities. We offer this through our network of lawyers and experts from various churches and Christian organisations.
The cooperative derives its name from Psalm 31: “In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.”
Join with us in prayer that together we may be instrumental in making this refuge a reality.
Kaisa Huhtala, vicar of the parish of Teljä in Pori. Pastor of the Archdiocese of Turku Cathedral Chapter. Involved in work among immigrants since 2015.Member of the human rights association Zonta since 1991.
Director of Global Refugee Ministries (Youth With a Mission, YWAM). Various leadership positions for almost 40 years in the field of migrant and refugee ministry. Member of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Mission Commission.