I don’t know anything about refugees. That’s what came to my mind as I sat looking at the airline tickets that would take me to visit All Nations church planters working with Syrian refugees in the Middle East. My church had given money toward relief packages of food and household supplies. The pastors wanted someone to go in person. In ten days I would be meeting the missionaries and visiting refugees.
But, what did I know about refugees? I knew they had lost family and friends and had to leave their homes. I knew they had lost community and had come to a place where they were foreigners and were not allowed to work.
The church body came to the rescue! A member who is a psychologist told me that refugees were very resilient and did not need my sympathy. What did they need? Another friend shared an article with me. The author spoke about the importance of being creative and productive, of being around beauty and laughter.
My church family rallied. They gave beautiful fabric, warm fleece, and plenty of sewing supplies. A quilter friend helped me piece a simple top and cut pieces for several other tops and off I went!
During one of my first visits with a refugee family a visitor passed out kazoos. We all laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks. And, after hearing the Christmas story for the very first time, the missionary asked, “What did you learn about God in this story?” The widow and mother of four leaned forward and said, “I never knew Jesus came for everyone.” Yes, Jesus came for everyone.
And, Stories of Hope was born. This group of ladies meets weekly to sew. They have become a community. They are creative and productive. The items they make are sent out of the country to be sold. This helps them earn a small income. Every week they learn a new Jesus story. On a recent visit, one of the Syrian women shared the story of the last supper with the group – who are now all Jesus followers. She brought out tea and bread and we shared communion together.
Now I know something about refugees. They need Jesus just like the rest of us.