He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Imagine you had to flee your country because you and your family were in real danger. You are resettled in a new country but you don’t speak the language, you don’t know the customs, and nothing seems familiar. Even the simplest of tasks which previously required no thought now seem so complicated. Everywhere you go you have trouble communicating and you are constantly misunderstood.
Where will you live? How will you earn money? How and where will you buy food? How will you get around town? What happens if you get sick and need medical treatment? Where will your children go to school and how will they be able to learn since they don’t speak the language? These are but a few of the challenges that face the twenty or so refugees that are re-settled every month in Colorado Springs. These refugees come from such diverse and far-flung places as Iraq, Bhutan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Cuba.
God tells us in His Word that He exercises special care for the refugee and He calls us to love and care for them too (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). The Bible tells us we are to love our neighbor (Galatians 5:14), and especially those neighbors who are most vulnerable and are counted among the 'least' (Matthew 25:35-40). In light of these truths, our church has sought recently to take a more active role in reaching out to local refugees with the love of Jesus Christ.
Working closely with local refugee resettlement agencies, ABEFC’s Refugee Outreach Team seeks to serve as cultural mentors to local refugee families. This involves helping them in a of host practical ways including practicing English, learning how to budget and shop cheaply, helping them learn the bus system, driving them to medical appointments, and teaching them about our culture and customs.
It was through this outreach that I first met Joseph. Joseph and his family of seven were re-settled here just a few months ago. Joseph is from Burundi, a country just to the south of Rwanda, and like Rwanda, a country torn apart by civil war and genocide. After his first wife was killed in the fighting, Joseph fled with his children to Tanzania where they lived in a refugee camp for the next ten years. While in the camp, Joseph met a woman and married her and together they had children of their own. After a very lengthy process, Joseph and his family were approved as refugees for resettlement in the U.S. They arrived in the U.S. with next to nothing and began the long process of building a new life here.
Joseph is grateful for the opportunity to live in the U.S., and while life here is filled with new challenges and difficulties, they are seeking to learn and grow. We as a church have the privilege of loving and serving this dear family who have experienced so much loss and suffering and to extend to them a welcoming and helping hand in the name of Jesus. It has been my great joy to build a friendship with Joseph and his family over the last few months and I have been blessed by this family’s quiet courage and joyful humility.
The great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) calls us to go into the world and preach the gospel so that people from every tribe and tongue and nation can know that Jesus is Lord. The Lord, in His kind providence, is bringing people from all over the world to us, right here in Colorado Springs. What will we do with this opportunity to reach out to the nations, right here from our own back yard?