Loving Refugees

March 9, 2016

Emily- Hillside Intern

Our office has recently partnered with local refugee relief agencies in order to meet the needs of refugees in Richmond. On Mondays, some interns go into the homes of these sweet women to help them review basic driving rules, so they can take their permit tests.

“Who wants to come?” Kendra, one of the other interns, asked.

“Not it…” Jessica whispered across from me.

I had no pressing tasks and no excuses. So when Kendra turned to me, I shrugged my shoulders and obliged. I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled to go. Sure, it sounded neat: teach refugees to drive. But I felt so incapable and under-qualified. I’m not that good at driving. I’m not that good with language barriers. Actually, I was entirely uncomfortable with entering the house of a family from another culture, knowing I’d represent Christ to people who may not know his Gospel; knowing our differences in culture and language and life experience would create a gap between myself and these people; knowing I’d love them immediately yet have difficulty expressing that as I sit on their couches and watch them recite driving rules.

But I’m training to become a missionary. Isn’t this what I’m working to do my entire life? An entire lifetime dedicated to overcoming linguistic and cultural boundaries, to loving and pursuing people even when it makes me uncomfortable, to being a representative of Christ Jesus to those who have not heard?

We tutored two women that day. They were hospitable, friendly, and altogether lovely. I observed as Kendra reviewed road signs with them both, and I realized this task wasn’t too difficult at all. To help my refugee neighbors, I didn’t need to be an expert, I just needed to be willing. The first woman spoke English well, but the second could hardly speak any. Yet both were eager to learn. I wasted no time acquainting myself with the kids, and I met three charming, cheerful children  who were soon shouting my name and showing me their stuffed animals. Kids have this incredible ability to demolish linguistic, cultural, and even age barriers with their toothy grins and pleas to play. So I played. That hour with the refugee children was one of the best hours I’ve spent in a while.

As we headed back to the office, my thoughts were frozen on their faces. In a mere sixty minutes, I’d established relationships with these kids that begged to be furthered. I was most confronted with my own revolting reluctance as I initially tagged along– too often we smile at the thought of helping those in need, but write ourselves off as inadequate when it comes to practically meeting their needs. Jesus often chooses the least-adequate to accomplish his purposes. And sometimes, accomplishing his purposes isn’t so big and scary after all. Sometimes it just means singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to overjoyed children and teaching their mother about stop signs.

 

Interested in joining us on our next #LoveYourCityProject adventure? Tell us!