Serving Refugees, Post #1

This is probably going to be the first in a series of posts on World Relief

Last Saturday, Cason & I attended a training, run by World Relief on how to help teach English to refugees. World Relief is an organization that helps resettle refugees into the area. These are individuals/families that are escaping their homelands generally due to persecution – political, religious, ethnic, etc – or wars/conflicts. Many have faced unspeakable terror. They are looking for a place that they can be safe and where they can raise their children without fear of being attacked.

It was during our church’s annual “Great Day of Service” last May that we discovered World Relief. I had started volunteering at Siloam medical clinic a few months prior to this. They are a group of doctors and nurses that give care to the uninsured and underinsured. I came to learn that most of their patients are refugees. Every Monday they would welcome dozens of refugees who had just arrived in the US within the last 7-10 days for the first check-ups & shots. I always wanted to take off work to be there on a Monday, but never did. Once I learned though about World Relief, the organization responsible for helping the refugees in all aspects, I was excited…

So last May, our Sunday School class signed up to set up apartments for two incoming refugee families from Iran. It turned out to be such a wonderful experience and Cason & I both finally found one of the places we are meant to serve. It was a bit of a mini revelation that we don’t have to cross an ocean or make a long journey to serve those in the international community. There are so many arriving every day right here in our backyard. The nations are right here. They are coming to us. And they need people to love and support them.

We learned so much that day and heard stories of different families – some funny (a family from Africa that had tried to plant and water a garden on the carpet of their 2nd story apartment), some sad (families where parent or sibling had been murdered and they were fleeing for their lives; or others where an entire generation has grown up in a refugee camp and they’ve never really known true freedom and independence), and some really touching (getting off the bus after their first day in school ever, two children were frightened by the other children because the others were running and laughing and smiling and they didn’t understand this happiness; they had never experienced that before).

One of the highlights of that apartment set up day was when we were leaving. A family pulled up in their car, and must have figured out who we were with. The man driving stopped us and asked “are you going to airport?” He knew we were with World Relief. We learned he was the brother of one of the families that was arriving and he couldn’t wait to see his sister and her family! They probably hadn’t seen each other in years. Separated by so much distance and probably traumatic circumstances. That brief conversation and the smile on his face made the whole day so worth it.

I will post more on this soon…

There are World Relief offices all across the US if you are interested in getting involved in serving refugees. Click here to go to the national site.

Proverbs 31:8: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.


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