St. Margaret's Afghan Placement and Assistance Ministryby Jan Thames on November 30, 2021
Hospitality and Hospitalitea
Our God, you have given us in your Word the stories of persons who needed to leave their homelands—Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Moses. Help us to remember that when we speak of immigrants and refugees, we speak of Christ. In the One who had no place to lay his head, and in the least of his brothers and sisters, you come to us again, a stranger seeking refuge. We confess that we often turn away. You have chosen that the life of Jesus was filled with events of unplanned travel and flight from enemies. You have shown us through the modeling of Jesus how we are called to relate to persons from different nations and cultures. We ask you, our God, to open our minds and hearts to the challenge and invitation to model your perfect example of love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Adapted from Justice for Immigrants, “Prayer and Liturgy Suggestions”.)
Following the early-November arrival of the Afghan family we are sponsoring--along with our partner St. Michael’s—these past weeks have been filled with a range of activities, all of which are focused on supporting and walking alongside this family as they build a new life in the U.S. They have participated in orientations to acclimate to their new surroundings and culture; learned about grocery shopping; gone to mosque services; engaged in ESL (English Second Language) classes; shared fellowship with their extended family members (who are also relocating in Little Rock); applied for Social Security Numbers and other official documents; received physicals and additional vaccinations; and tasted their first Thanksgiving dinner!
Just as they are learning, so are the St. Margaret’s and St. Michael’s volunteers. Perhaps one of the more formidable challenges is communication. Our sponsorship team members do not know the native written and spoken language of our new neighbors, and our sponsored family does not yet have a good grasp of the English language. Each day, however, brings the opportunity for new ways to share joy, laughter, and an appreciation for the humanity and humility of us all. We are learning to bridge the language gap through pictures, hand gestures, the occasional use of in-person interpreter services and phone apps.
We especially celebrate the sharing of the generous hospitality of many of you who have provided financial donations to provide for essential items or services to enable our new neighbors to move forward as they transition to their new home and self-sufficiency. We also celebrate the “hospitalitea” of this family who welcomes volunteers into their temporary home with unlimited cups of tea and goodies; our lives are enriched with their fellowship and generosity. This is truly a ministry where God’s love and presence is shown in those who differ from us, and a reminder of the God who created all people in His image.
Thanks be to God!