Jacob – Director of Mobilization
This past Christmas, my family and I had the privilege of helping to provide Christmas gifts to a Muslim refugee family for the Adopt-a-family program. This family has lived in America for approximately two and a half years. They come from a war torn country that currently has large swaths of land controlled by ISIS. The family has four young boys, with both the mom and dad present at home. Unfortunately, the mother is fighting cancer. The cancer is in her jaw, brain and spine. She is fighting for her life. The father is helping take care of her. To add to the challenges they are facing, the father knows very little English. Not only does he have to navigate American culture with limited English skills, he also has to navigate the healthcare field with the medical staff that is treating her cancer. Both of these tasks can be daunting for someone from a very different culture. I am still trying to get to know the journey they have taken to get here to the U.S. I can only imagine the difficulties and trials they have faced fleeing their home country and coming here to start a new life.
The welcoming and settling of refugees is one of the challenges currently facing our nation, state and city. The challenge needs to be considered thoughtfully and carefully. That said, I would like to now look at it from a different angle. Please put yourself in their shoes. For example, can you imagine being forced to leave your home without your belongings? Or imagine being separated from one of your loved ones as you were fleeing the country you lived in and are now trying to be reunited? Or try to imagine coming to a new country to live and the credentials that you had in regards to your job and profession are not accepted here in America. You could no longer work as a doctor, lawyer, nurse or teacher like you once did. These examples are realities that refugees face in coming to the U.S. They also face the challenge of integrating into a culture that is vastly different than their own, learning a new language, getting a job, helping their children adjust to life in American schools, just to name a few.
One of the things I love about Central Christian Church is that we are willing to tackle the hard challenges that face our communities and the world. Here at Central, we have a ministry to help settle refugees that are coming here. We help set up apartments, greet them at the airport and also help them adjust to a new life in America. We encourage Life Groups to help settle the refugee families to help decrease the responsibility on any one person.
The sad reality is, 92% of refugees coming into the Phoenix area do not have a church sponsorship that welcomes them and helps them assimilate into American culture. In turn, many of them really struggle to make a new life. They struggle learning the English language; they struggle getting a job, etc. Over time many do eventually thrive and do incredibly well in our culture. Many of them go on to get their education and good jobs.
With refugees being in the news and headlines a lot more since the Syrian war and the Paris shootings, our challenge as followers of Jesus is to hold onto the compassion and mercy that demonstrates Christ’s love. We truly do have a great opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by welcoming the strangers that are coming to the Phoenix metropolitan area. So the question is, will we be obedient to the Scriptures that command us to welcome them?
My family’s recent experience with the Muslim refugee family we have befriended has been nothing short of joyful, fun and exciting. They are very thankful for the time we have spent with them, the gifts we gave and the compassion we have shown. They also allowed us to pray for the mother’s healing from cancer. We don’t know what’s ahead for this family or how it all will end, but one thing is for sure, we will be loving, compassionate and welcoming as they struggle to make a new life.