It happened again today. I passed an elderly Nepali couple trudging up Tallmadge Avenue carrying a couple of shopping bags, and I found myself wondering what their story is. How long have they been married? Did they spend much time living in a refugee camp? What do they think as they head home with their groceries? I bet this isn’t the future they dreamed of on their wedding day. Do they believe the life they are leading now is better than the one they used to have? Who were they before they became whoever they are now? Do they long for ‘home’?
It happens a lot. I pass people in the street, or see my neighbors in their yards, or help one of our English students with a lesson, and I am acutely aware that I’m looking in on a story that God has been writing for quite some time. Their stories don’t start the minute they arrive in America, or the day they meet me.
Think about it. What kind of resolve and perseverance does it take to uproot your family, flee your home country, live in a refugee camp, and then do all that it takes to be allowed into the United States? These have got to be some pretty amazing people.
We live on a corner. The window over our kitchen sink faces that corner. I can look out at any time and see the world literally at my doorstep. Just this morning in the space of time that it took to do the breakfast dishes I saw two Afghan men, each out for a morning stroll, meet on the sidewalk and greet each other warmly with a kiss on the cheek. They chatted for a moment before continuing together. Soon after that, a friend from the Congo walked by with two of his sons. The youngest son fell behind as he distractedly kicked a stone up the street. Before long, my Burmese neighbor, a mother of seven, passed by my window. She was probably heading to the food pantry.
And these are just a few of the people that I happen to know. There are so many others whom I haven’t met, but who would love to know and be known by you or by me.
Friends, the world is in North Hill. There are so many refugees here who could use help getting used to life in America. They need English tutors, someone to help them figure out taxes, a helping hand to show them how to clean their gutters. An American friend who knows them by name and greets them warmly when they see one another. You can do those things. You can be a friend, a tutor, and one that shows Christ’s love. And eventually, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear some of their stories. I guarantee your life will be more abundant for it.
Written by Bena Paisley, CCC’s Global Outreach Assistant Director & Crossings Director
Here are several ways you can get involved with making Jesus famous in North Hill:
CCC’s ministry to refugees in North Hill. We desire to welcome refugees, assist them with the transition into American culture, and build healthy, long-term friendships with them.
Urban Vision’s mission is to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in North Hill by coming alongside children and their families as they discover Christ’s vision for themselves and their community, through relationships focused on building dignity, inspiring unity, empowering futures, and meet holistic needs.
LEGACIES OF SUCCESS
Legacies of Success is a Christian community development corporation created to help revitalize and stabilize the North Hill community by providing affordable housing and promoting homeownership.