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The Spanish ministry serving prisoners, prostitutes and refugees

The evangelical association New Life, in northern Spain, served almost 4,000 last year.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 298/Jose_Dalberto_Vargas,5/Evangelical_Focus SANTANDER 12 DE JUNIO DE 2023 10:33 h
Team members of the New Life association in Santander. / Photo: [link]Protestante Digital[/link].

The Spanish evangelical association Nueva Vida (New Life) is making an increasing impact among vulnerable people in the regions of Cantabria, the Basque Country and the Balearic Islands.

Julio García Celorio, president of this NGO with Christian values, is happy that a growing team has led to “reach a greater number of people. Last year we had 113 professionals and 82 volunteers”. Over 20 students did their internship with New Life.

Under the motto “We all deserve a second chance”, the institution helped 312 inmates, 583 victims of prostitution and human trafficking, 166 migrants and refugees, 1,454 homeless people and 1,404 other people at risk of exclusion.

Of the almost 400 people who joined the NGO's employment and social insertion programs, 40% were able to enter the workplace.

On the other hand, Nueva Vida carried out over 480 tests for the detection and prevention of HIV in areas of prostitution. Legal and psychological care was offered to women in prostitution, as well as Spanish language classes where it was required.


The beginnings of New Life

Julio García Celorio was just a 23-year-old pastor when he received a visit of someone asking him to go to prison to see one of his relatives.

“The last thing I would want to do was to go there. I never saw it as a vision or felt it as a vocation. However, faced with the constant call of these people, I went to fulfil my responsibility”, he said in an interview with Spanish news website Protestante Digital.

[photo_footer]Julio García Celorio, president and founder of Nueva Vida.[/photo_footer] 

He took a Bible and the book The Cross and the Switchblade (David Wilkerson) with him when he went to visit the young inmate. “I talked and prayed with him, I did what was expected of me as a pastor. At the end he asked me if I would visit him next week and I said yes. When I came back, there were 14 more who also wanted to have meetings”.

That was just the beginning. Along with his wife and volunteers, they began to respond to the demands and requests of people who had relatives in prison, as well as helping people involved in prostitution.

“Girls who were running away from brothels started to come to our church. With no money, we started to build a shelter and to take care of them inside and outside the church, always with our faith in the Lord. I remember my wife was the first to go into a club as a health worker to do HIV testing”, he added.

A time came when “our ministry activities had to be taken to another level”. That was 25 years ago and since then, the NGO works with the local, regional and state administrations.


Asylum seekers, women in prostitution...

Each year, the association continues to diversify its activities.

The 2022 annual report highlights the raising of awareness among the educational, professional and business community, through the No+Trafficking and STOP hate programs, as well as promoting the New Life Textile workshop, which in less than a year, allowed the consolidation of seven jobs for people in a situation of social exclusion.

New Life has been recognised as one of the 24 associations in Spain authorised by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration to take on the management of humanitarian care programs for migrants directly.

This new agreement for the International Protection Reception System (SAPI) lasts four years and has meant a qualitative growth for the Christian organisation, both in terms of staff and capacity to care for people in vulnerable situations.

García Celorio thanks the public and private entities for trusting in the work of the association by financing the programs. He also congratulates the volunteers and staff of New Life for the achievements of 2022, but especially the users.

“Thank you for all your expressions of appreciation, affection and gratitude, which are undoubtedly the best reward for our work. Together, we move forward”.





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