Mikael Stjernberg is public relations manager for the Christian Council of Sweden, which visited Malta in October to meet with churches and organizations to hear how they worked to produce the material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and to see how they work with refugees.
What was most enriching about the experience for you?
Stjernberg: Here in Sweden we meet many immigrants who have migrated from the Mediterranean to northern Europe. It was interesting to meet churches and organizations meeting migrants in the first step. Although Sweden and Malta are far away from each other and different in many ways, the attitude towards immigrants was similar, both from the churches but also to society at large. It is also always fantastic to meet Christian brothers and sisters who are fighting for the same goal - in this case, vulnerable people fleeing war and oppression.
What was the most challenging aspect of your job?
Stjernberg: The biggest challenge is to produce materials that are really used by the churches in Sweden. How do we make the Week of Prayer and its theme relevant to churches and individual members? This year we have invested in producing a number of short films (13), such as devotions (which we filmed in Malta) that we publish on social media and on our website. We have also provided Christian press with pictures and facts to enable them to write about the Week of Prayer.
Do the churches in Sweden and the churches in Malta have a deeper sense of church unity than before?
Stjernberg: I think that all knowledge gives a deeper understanding. For me, it was interesting and important to directly meet refugees in Malta who came directly from countries in the Middle East. What were their dreams; how did they feel received?
Examples of material prepared for the Week of Prayer (in Swedish)