Reflection on “Refugee Resettlement Ministry”
I will be talking today about our Refugee Resettlement.
Jennifer Wurst is our coordinator for this round of resettlement, but she
is at the Women’s Retreat, so I am happy to speak of this wonderful ministry.
I will share some thoughts from Patty Buchan, Jennifer and myself and
will begin with 2 snapshots from Patty Buchan.
Snapshot 1 is of
Mutaz, the Abtans' 2-year-old son
“The first week the Abtans were here we took them to the mosque in
“We found several classrooms but no play rooms – until
we found the room with all the shoes, hundreds of shoes lined up neatly along
the wall. Muslims remove their shoes
before praying. Mutaz arranged and
rearranged those shoes. Mutaz was
happy and Suhair was able to pray in peace.
“And then the service was over, way before I could put
all the shoes back where they belonged. Everyone
was very understanding, but I have never ventured back to the mosque, too
ashamed to show my face.”
Snapshot 2 is of
Suhair, the mom of this family
“The Abtans had only been here for a few days when they came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Suhair was quiet; she ate little and spoke even less. I didn’t know what the lovely woman from such a different culture, was feeling.
“After dinner, our daughter Jessie sat alone in the
dining room with our 10 year old grandson Brennan.
He has severe cerebral palsy, is in a wheel chair and cannot walk or
talk. Most strangers feel
understandably awkward around him. Alone,
Jess tried to feed Bren a little food.
“And then I noticed Suhair come into the dining room.
She got a chair and quietly pulled it up next to Brennan.
Suhair didn’t say a thing. Her tenderness and care did not need words.
“And this young woman, from a world far away, went
straight to my heart.”
Patty’s 2 snapshots exemplify our early days with the
Abtans. We and the Abtans were
struggling with language, cultural differences, strangeness, trust.
But there was laughter and understanding in it all and bonds were being
I would like to fast-forward to where we are today. My
snapshot is more of Nafie. As the
father of his Arabic family, much of the responsibility falls on his shoulders.
He is balancing working full time, going to school, taking a computer
class, handling the finances and driving. He
is at times tired and overwhelmed with it all, but it has not dampened his
humor, kindness, intelligence, or his determination.
And he is dealing with so many women – we must be very strange to him!
The Abtans are part of an Early Self Sufficiency program
where they must be self-sufficient within 6 months. That deadline is May 13th.
In just 5 weeks they must be able to pay their bills, provide their own
transportation, seek their own medical help, and keep track of their finances.
We are at that difficult phase where we
HAVE to stop helping and make
them do it themselves.
For the past several months we have filled the role of
helpers, and although that is challenging, it is also rewarding and feels good.
It not only feels good, but really – it’s easier.
Have you ever noticed that it is often easier to do something yourself
rather than teach someone else to do it? These next weeks will be emotionally
difficult on all of us as we try to separate and let them own their new lives. Somehow we will find a balance where our
friendship can grow along with their independence.
Jennifer Wurst sums up this ministry for us. These are
“Psalm 146 verse 9 says ‘the Lord watches over
strangers.’ In opening our doors and our hearts to refugees, we are indeed
carrying out the work of our Lord. This ministry is about helping a family
regain their independence that was lost by circumstances beyond their control.
“This experience has been challenging and joyful at the
same time. Think of the analogy of a mother bird waiting for her chick
to spread its wings to fly and at some point the mother just needs to push the
chick out of the nest – never really knowing if it is able to fly yet.... The
joy is having the honor of watching a family assimilate into our culture as if
we were watching a child take its first steps.
“This ministry has taught me not to sweat the small stuff
- in the grand scheme of things our life challenges aren't anything compared to
what the Abtans or other refugees have endured.
“Pastor Jen asked me how has this influenced my faith.
I now pray daily – I pray that peace finds its way to
This ends Jennifer’s words.
There is a saying, "think globally, act locally."
Our refugee ministry allows us to experience the world from our
doorsteps. It allows us to share our
resources and our hearts. We have
grown along with the Abtans. They
are no longer strangers, but a part of our family. May this ministry be
contagious! Others have heard of
what we are doing and are excited to become involved in their own churches.
May God be with us all, and with all strangers who are in need of God’s
love and care.
Reflection on Junior Youth Fellowship Heifer Project
Good morning. My name is Kathy Taylor, and I am new to this church. My family and I have been attending since last year, and I am delighted that we will be joining as members next month.
As a special education teacher I have a great passion for children and their challenges, so I have in the past been very active with youth groups and their activities. While attending some of our junior and senior youth group meetings my daughters and others have been discussing the concept of those that "have" and those who "have not." Those discussions proved to be valuable to all of us, not just the kids.
I'd like to share with you a great experience I had with our junior youth group. In mid-March, the youth group packed up and took off to Rutland, MA to take part in the Heifer International Project. I, along with three other chaperones and 16 wonderful youth, learned quite a bit about what is available for the "haves" to do for the "have not's" in our community and around the world.
The Heifer International Project is a non-profit humanitarian organization that is working to end world poverty and care for the earth. Their mission is to provide livestock, trees, training and other resources to struggling families in many areas of the world. The agreement of those who receive the gift is to "Pass It On" to other families, and that is the key to their sustainable approach.
Our youth saw on film real life examples of struggles that children of other nations and their families have. The kids also witnessed what the living loans of animals can do for those who have limited resources and hope. All of this information that the kids and I received was inspiring to us and helped us see that any one of us can make a difference in our world.
When we keep the mission simple in nature, using land, animals, and resources -- we that have can help those that have not, and many others like them -- giving them hope for their future. The light of hope in the eyes and voices of the young instructors leading us at Heifer was passed on to our youth within minutes of our arrival. The joy in our kids' smiles while working on chores with animals, meeting and listening to the stories of a woman from Kenya , and caring for newborn goats filled me up with hope and determination to work hard for others.
This small part of heaven in Rutland, MA that drips with kindness, compassion and hope for the future is something that people of all ages should experience. During this experience I felt closer to God and filled with his spirit. Our mission trip was extremely humbling at time, educational, a lot of fun, and we all came home filled to the brim with God's love and the spirit of hope for communities in our nation and around the world. Amen.
Reflection on Mission Time in Africa
During my time in
There was one child, Ken, who died while I
was there, from complications from tuberculosis, and because he had not started
any treatment for HIV until he was 12. This
affected all the kids deeply because they know how lucky they are to be living
at the home with free care. They are
mostly energetic kids and love having volunteers there, since our job is mainly
to play with them, read to them, and help with homework.
It amazed me that even kids like Justin, my favorite, who was 4 and had
been abused, neglected and malnourished by his remaining family before being
admitted to Nyumbani, within four months was happy, healthy, and even pudgy. The
kids are so resilient—they just need the medicine and social support in order
to give them the same opportunities as other Kenyan kids.
After my work at Nyumbani, I went with a
team of international volunteers to live and work with a small-scale farmers’
cooperative. We mostly worked on the passion fruit farm or in the peanut fields,
wherever our hosts needed an extra few hands.
We also led a discussion about HIV at the secondary school, which was an
incredible experience, and the questions the kids asked were so telling of the
lack of truthful information available to them, and the myths surrounding the
disease that affects nearly family in some way.
These three ministries were very different,
in their populations, their goals, and in the amount of outside help they
receive—but all three of them were great examples of two things:
The first is people working to help the
poorest in their own communities. Almost
all the staff members of the Children’s Home in
Besides seeing people working to help the
poorest in their own local communities, I saw people from all over the world
working to help the poorest in their global community.
Seeing other volunteers and donors from so many countries taught me a lot
about worldwide concern for developing countries.
It also showed the responsibility and commitment people feel when they
are able to help those they see in need. For
me, this responsibility comes with belief in the church.
By supporting my work in
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