- My Local
- My Reach
- My Self
Jill Collins serves the refugee population in the urban area of Tampa, Florida.
A refugee is a person fleeing from danger or persecution. For those entering America, there are many long screening processes before they are accepted. Once the refugees are finally accepted and arrive in the United States, they are often discriminated against, looked down on, and struggle to live in American society.
Refugees in Tampa are most commonly Congolese, Burmese, and Haitian. The apartment complexes where these families reside are often unsafe and run down, and many know very little English. Each refugee and family is different, and needs specialized attention and teaching to best assimilate to life in the United States.
There are several specific needs for the refugees in Tampa. One of the most important is teaching adults English, which in turn provides better chances for them to obtain a job and support their families. They often need help with meeting basic needs, like grocery shopping or opening a bank account. Refugee children are also in need of mentoring, and providing activities for them to participate in helps keep them off the streets.
After seeing the need in her community, Jill began reaching out to the Tampa refugee community through a number of programs. Each program has been designed to help the refugees with basic needs while creating an atmosphere for the love of Christ to be seen and shared. “God is bringing people and families from all over the world right to our backyards, and we have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ and reach them with the gospel.”
Many of these ministries are geared toward refugee children. An AWANA club meets weekly during the school year, and creates a safe place for the children to play games, memorize scripture, pray together, sing songs, and learn about our great God. Jill is also involved in a tutoring program to help children who are struggling in school or need help with homework. Transportation for these outreaches is provided, and parents are invited to join an adult prayer time as well. Jill and her team serve meals to the families when they attend a club or event, and clothing donations and household items are also provided for those in need.
During the summer, Jill also serves through a summer camp, offering tutoring, computer classes, arts and crafts, discipleship, and worship. Jill is involved in a Bible study and discipleship program for middle and high school students, which provides a space for small group discussions and deep faith conversations. A soccer club with weekly practices and games is also available for the kids.
“The opportunity is here, and I trust God will provide and stir up just the right people who have a heart to love on this marginalized group of people,” Jill writes. “I would love to see volunteers from churches all over Tampa serving the refugees on a weekly basis and experience the passion of wanting them to know Jesus in a personal way.”
Jill became an approved candidate with InFaith in 2016.
Jill grew up in a Christian home, but did not fully commit her life to Jesus until age twenty. Since then, she committed her life to passionately pursuing knowing God deeper and sharing His love with those around her.
Jill felt a distinct call to missions. She completed a degree in cross-cultural ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary in December 2016, and in May 2016 she started Love is Ministry - Tampa, a ministry that reaches out to refugees with the love of Christ.
“I couldn’t be more excited as God has clearly placed this specific community on my heart,” Jill writes. “I want to spend the rest of my life pouring myself out for the sake of the gospel, and I can’t wait to see how God moves in Tampa.”
Jill married her husband, Jake, in January 2017.