How Can You Welcome Refugees?
by Kristyn Komarnicki
Our little house church consists of four families dedicated to loving God, each other, and the world for all we're worth. By the grace of God, sometimes we do this well. We seek to grow in truth and grace; we help raise each other's kids; we buy Christmas gifts for prisoners' kids; we pray for peace and try to embody it in our personal and professional lives. We fail a lot; we learn a lot; we grieve a lot and celebrate a lot. This is our church, our tiny patch of Christ's body, and we love it.
But sometimes being tiny means feeling that we can't make much of a difference in the bigger issues. We can't gather thousands of petition signatures or offer healthcare clinics or run a food pantry the way big churches can. Sometimes the big issues can feel overwhelming to us, and the Syrian refugee crisis is one of those issues. We made donations to groups rescuing and caring for the refugees, but we wanted to do something hands-on, too.
So we decided that if we could provide a welcome for one family, whether they are here fleeing Syria or the Congo or any other nation that is hostile to their existence, we'd be making a huge difference for that one family. We contacted a local organization collecting household goods for arriving families and procured a list of most-needed items. We had a blast shopping for sheets, cleaning supplies, kitchen items. Then the kids in our church penned little welcome notes to include in the donations, and those notes reminded me that we are doing more than offering a comforting welcome to strangers; we are helping grow compassion in our children and giving them the chance to be the hands of Christ. Just as my 9-year-old friend Lauren hopes the refugees will "grow into" life in this country (see photo), may we all grow into a life of incarnating Christ.
Dec 13th is National Refugee Sunday. But every day is a good day to welcome the stranger among us. If you'd like to make a difference of any size in the life of a refugee, go to World Relief's We Welcome Refugees site to learn how you can volunteer, connect, host, donate, or more.
Let's follow Jesus' lead, together, not by arming ourselves against our enemies but by clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger. Let's grow into this God life, together.
Kristyn Komarnicki is ESA's director of communications.