The airport was crowded and noisy. The four year little girl old slumped over weak, with a high fever. The toddler threw his bottle on the floor and it shattered instantly. The two young boys were restless. The grandfather/professor tried to keep them contained while their father gathered belongings. They had just arrived at Chicago O’Hare after a ten hour flight from Poland. The family rode the escalator down one flight and then it happened. They were detained. Sent to an room with a glass window facing the passengers hurrying by. One more short flight before they were to their new home. One more hour on a plane and Mom and siblings would be at the other end. Officials looked at the passports, stamped Poland and asked questions.
This was my family. My new children. Fresh from Poland. Detained. My husband, exhausted from the long battle, months of paperwork, six weeks of waiting in the states after a five week stay in the orphanage with the whole family (four prospective siblings plus our three bios). We had jumped through every hoop. Dotted every ‘i’and ‘kept our papers in order’ as we told by our attorneys in Poland. The kids had gotten all their immunizations in one day to come to the states. They were a special kind of refugee, immigrants coming home to be part of a family of immigrants of Poland, two generations removed.
If you read my blog regularly, you know I have a heart for the orphan. God gave me that heart through life experience and an infusion of His character. I can’t take credit for it.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, -Isaiah 61:1
That is the character of Jesus. He came for the meek, the poor, the afflicted. He was sent to bind up and heal the brokenhearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives. That is His heart and should be ours too. If it were up to me, everyone would adopt or foster. Maybe you have a heart for refugees, not because you want to be political, but because you have had life experience with them. Two lovely ladies I know have a heart for the refugee. They staged a march at our local courthouse. Not a protest, a march.
One of these ladies is my niece-in-love, Carly. She said of the march, “The heart behind it was just to show love and solidarity for refugees. I genuinely believe that people are people, and no one is more important than another. I can’t imagine if we were in a time of crisis and were turned away by our neighbors, so I’m not going to do that to anyone else. I just was quietly standing up for something I believe in. I just read something that said “I… received both kind pushback and a chorus of glory hallelujahs. Trying hard not to consider either response more than I consider Christ.” That’s my response right now; that I put my God-given heart out there to represent Him in the world, and whether or not people were swayed one way or the other by what I stood up for is not my thing to worry about, but to keep my focus on Christ.” Isn’t she amazing?
“Whether you believe that refugees should come to the United States, whether we should make places for them in the other areas, all of us have to realize that there is a problem in our world, and as fellow humans, we’re responsible to solve it in some way,” march organizer Rachel Ellis said.
Rachel works as an ESL teacher in a university setting . She teaches grammar and composition classes, and has also lead the conversation partner group. She has taught students from China, South Korea, Haiti, Togo, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia, among other countries. She shared many stories with me about her students and what they mean to her. I don’t have room to share all of them, but I love this one, I’m sure you will too:
The first day I walked into the office to begin training, I met a young Muslim girl. Through our limited conversation, we learned that we are the same age, had been married the same month, and that our husbands share the same name, roughly translated. This encounter left me filled with hope, amazed at the divine encounter God had used to reassure me. This same girl is one of my most precious friends. She has invited me into her home, loved me, prayed for my son, and now, in a few short weeks, will give birth to her own son, a lifelong friend for my baby.
Rachel shared with me her purpose of the march-
“The march, for me, wasn’t about a political statement. I believe that in this age of social media and news bombardment, we so often lose sight of the concrete. In debating “issues” and “ideologies,” we often lose sight of the very real people affected by our arguments. I look at the example of Jesus in the Bible. The Pharisees were all about making sure that the ideology of Jewish law was followed. The law was given by God to the Jewish, and there were reasons it made society work well. Jesus said he hadn’t come to abolish the law and prophets, but to fulfil them. He obeyed the law, yet also didn’t lose sight of the real individuals affected by those laws. For me, this march was an opportunity to set aside political issues. To acknowledge that real people in various refugee situations around the world, Christian, Muslim, Jew and others, are in dire threat of death every day. It was an opportunity to say to the community, we may disagree on what to do about these people, but we all acknowledge their humanity and their dignity. We all agree they need our help. That’s why I was so focused on providing practical ways to help refugees, no matter how that help comes. My heart is that people would remember that the love of God through us does not run out. Just like my love for my husband did not diminish, but multiply with the birth of my child, I can love both the veteran on the street and the refugee in the Middle East. Compassion does not have to be an either/or issue. It is simply allowing the love of God to overflow into our lives, so we have more to give.”
There is a lot of controversy in our nation today. Well, that’s what we are shown. Or told. This quiet, peaceful march was on the local news in a totally different light. It was called a protest and the one sign that happened to be negative made the news. This greatly upset the organizers. We Americans are marchers. That’s what we do. We marched for freedom against the tyranny of Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. We women marched for the right to vote. We marched for Civil Rights. We march for life. And as Carly said, pro-life means every life has value.
I don’t have the answers to the refugee crisis. Rachel offered a pamphlet that gives some suggestions about what you can do. You may be surprised to hear that she says to start with your community. Love the people there. Serve them. The homeless. The foster child. I love her spirit and heart.
Practical Ways to Help Refugees
- Donate to organizations where you know the money will reach refugees. Make sure you know where your money goes! Check out: Preemptive Love Coalition, International Refugee Committee, Save the Children, World Relief
- Volunteer with organizations or agencies helping resettle refugees in the United States.
- Educate your families and friends about the refugee crises in various countries. Do RESEARCH and find out the FACTS.
- Befriend an international friend in your area. Invite them to dinner, offer to help practice English, learn about their culture.
- Advocate for refugees by speaking positively on their behalf to the government officials, clergymen, business owners, etc.. Try not to argue with people, but just provide facts and show your support.
- Plan a fundraiser.
- Pray for refugees. Pray for peace, for safety and for them to never give up hope.
If you need some balanced news on the refugee issue, check out Preemptive Love Coalition’s article here.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday, join us!