Monday, May 04, 2009

Echo Ranch Bible Camp, Alaska

My time in San Antonio was amazing! While there, in addition to speaking in two churches, I visited Iraq, Bhutan and Somalia!

You may wonder how this was possible!

Through many cultural things that are happening around the world...through tragedy, the Lord has brought the nations to US!

While I was in Africa a couple of months back, I visited Somali's at Kakuma's refugee camp in Kenya.

This time, while in Texas, I visited refugee families who have been relocated to San Antonio. These people have nothing.

Today I will tell you about Iraq.

I had the privilege of sitting down with two Iraqi families, in their homes. These people were precious!

Catholic Charities pays for housing and expenses for three to six months for the refugees who are moved to cities around the USA. There are many cities around our country who are home to these displaced peoples from around the world. While it is a privilege to have them, few are meeting their needs. For believers who have wanted to serve the Lord by serving the nations, here is a perfect opportunity!

The nations have come to us, and in loving them and serving them, Christ can be reflected into their lives.

First, I was in the home of Nadia. Nadia has a beautiful Iraqi family of five. There are two pictures on her wall. One of her and one of her husband. Shiite Muslims killed him, before they were relocated here. She is a widow who speaks an extremely small amount of English, trying to find work and trying to support her four beautiful children. Her two daughters, though small and young, look like Persian princesses. This woman who was of significant means in her own country, has nothing here. She works a morning job at a local motel, making beds. It is not enough hours and not enough money to support them. She expressed a strong desire to find better work so she could afford child care and to cover family costs.

Still, she served us orange juice in glass goblets. My friends Larry and Terry Singletary (I went with Larry to Africa) worked hard to communicate with Nadia. We were there in part, to let her know that in the morning, a test was being given in her neighborhood to determine what English skill she had, so she could plug into an ESL class at the appropriate skill level. The trouble was, this class was happening, and no one had been told. We were making rounds to try to get them to attend, so they could learn our language.

Imagine being deposited into a country with no money or means to make it, being given support for a few months, and told, "learn our language, find a job, and be able to make it on your own before the money provided runs out!" I don't know that I would make it.

These people are soo thrilled to be here! Their enthusiasm is contagious! Their outlook bleak. Their lostness, devastating.

At the end of our time with Nadia, we visited three other places. I'll skip the last family, as they were also Iraqi. Fahlee and his family of six, live in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor. All four of his children have Retinitis Pigmentosa. An eye disease common in the Middle East, from which there is no cure. His children will likely never drive.

They have been here for seven months, and their children were not in school! Larry had discovered this two days prior to our visit, on a previous visit. He was not there to see Fahlee or his family, he was visiting a Bhutanese family next door.

Upon leaving, Fahlee, who sat out in front of his place looked sad. Larry reached out to him. He soon discovered how long his family had been here and that his children were not in school. He vowed to assist him.

Two days later, upon our visit, all of the appropriate paperwork had been delivered by the heretofore, unhelpful caseworker. Larry had ignited the process and got things moving...just by his presence and asking questions.

Fahlee and his family surrounded us. They immediately brought out refreshments and the files of paperwork to enroll his children in school. The paperwork had been provided, but no assistance to fill it out. Fahlee speaks very broken English, his family, none.

The paperwork to be filled out was in English on one side, and Spanish on the other. This only makes sense for the region they are in, yet it makes no sense whatsoever that they received no instruction to complete the paperwork or assistance with translation.

Larry and Terry led them through each page, showing them where to sign. It was like a home closing...they signed their names about fifty times. Larry would return the next day with a copier to document their birth certificates.

I got to interact with the children...I had them crawling all over me. They are so beautiful. They are so lost!

This family, and Nadia's were so extremely grateful for this intervention...this building of friendship. I got to use a couple of Arabic phrases I learned while serving in North Africa a few years back. It brought glee and delight from this family to hear an American use their language...even a little bit!

Today, these four children begin school!

Bridges are being built by the Singletary's and those who work with them, to speak Christ into the lives of each refugee. They are very intentional in speaking about God and telling each family they are being prayed for. Some are more receptive than others. The point is, the Singletary's are being intentional in their faith and in their service. They are not paid to do this. They are believers, meeting the needs of those whom Christ loves.

We can go a do likewise! Find out where the refugees are in your area, and begin to serve them! You never know who will come to Christ as a result of just loving people! You can be assured, the opportunities are much higher, when we become intentional with His love!

Tomorrow, visiting Somalia...without any pirates.



At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to a concert where Isreal Houghten said that to be a missionary doesn't always mean going across the oceans...there are plenty of people here, refugee or not, who need the light of Christ to penetrate their dark world. What an inspiration you are, that you would continually remind us of that fact!!

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful stories! Thanks, Brent.

Santa Cruz, CA


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