by Molly Stawarz
Rick and I have moved eight times in last eight years, crisscrossing the country from Chicago to San Francisco to Birmingham to Minneapolis. Looking back, it feels a bit like we’ve been playing a game of real live pinball! In addition to the geographical distance we’ve covered, we’ve moved from one end of the spectrum to another on a wide variety of climates, traditions, and ideologies. For example, Chicago and Minneapolis are known for their dramatic changes in temperature, while San Francisco is fairly moderate all year. San Francisco is one of the most childless cities in North America, whereas Birmingham is filled with kids.
Another pendulum shift we’ve experienced involves refugees. Birmingham is the largest US city that does not resettle refugees, while Minnesota settles more refugees per capita than any other state. I am grateful to now be in such a welcoming state and excited for the opportunity to carry out God’s command to provide compassionate support to these new neighbors (Lev 19:33-34; Lk 10:25-47; Mt 25:35-40).
Arrive Ministries, is a Christian non-profit organization that is given government contracts to help refugees enter the US. They work with these families for three months getting them plugged into their new environment as much as possible. This includes finding adequate housing, gainful employment, enrolling kids in school and English classes if need be, amongst many of the other tasks that come with such a big move. In an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible for the refugees, they seek to match each family with a team from a church that will walk them through their first year of being in America. Church of the Cross is forming such a team and I’d like to make you aware of how you might get involved.
- Consider joining the Refugee Welcoming Team. We’ll be meeting once a month either for prayer, training or divvying up responsibilities so that the load of carrying for this family is shared and won’t overwhelm anyone beyond their capacity. We will be in regular dialogue with the refugee family and Arrive Ministries figuring out what their needs are and how best we can help. These meetings will take place one Sunday a month after the 10:45 am service. Our first meeting will be this Sunday, the 20th. It will last 30-45 minutes. Children are welcome and there will be snacks!
- If you’re unable to make a regular commitment at this time, consider helping out with various “one time” opportunities to serve. For example, before our family arrives, we will be helping furnish their house with bedding, hygiene and cleaning supplies, school items and kitchen ware. We will continue to keep the broader church updated throughout the year as these needs arise. But are open to suggestions from you all as well. Maybe you’d like to introduce the family to the zoo or take them out for ice skating? The opportunities for serving are only as limited as our imaginations!
Our main goal is to love this family with the love of Jesus. Yes, we hope to meet many of their material needs. But a main part of this ministry is relational. In befriending this family, we hope that we can support them emotionally, socially and spiritually as well.
Please contact me if you have any further questions or comments. Thanks so much!