A celebration

Refugees welcome

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She is young, energetic and smart. She wants to study genetics. Her English is broken, but she is absolutely determined to make it perfect. She realizes that coming to the US was a chance in a lifetime.

He is a gifted and talented musician. He writes music, plays multiple instruments, and sings beautifully.He is never without a smile. His heart’s desire was to experience at least once an Easter Sunday in a church with a choir and orchestra.

She is a mother of five. The years have not been kind to her and it shows on her weathered tired face. She had no schooling growing up, so learning English is a challenge for her. Nevertheless, she attends a weekly class in the hopes that one day it will come to her. She is determined her children will not have the same problem and insists they work hard on their studies. She cries and holds her English teacher when she learns her teacher is moving away.

He simply disagreed with the government. That did not sit well with authorities in his country, so he fled for his life. Now if he goes back, he would be a target for that as well as the fact that he became a follower of Christ. Single, lonely and already middle aged, he has spent the bulk of his young years simply trying to learn a new language, get a decent job, and renovate a crumbling house that he can call home. Youth spent, he prays daily that soon God will put someone in his life to love and have a family with.

Happiness is finally hers. When she fled her country, of her family only she and her sister remained. All the others had fled or had been killed. Leaving behind a beautiful home and precious family treasures, she takes her sister and boards a plane to she knew not where. Sister now settled with a family and a home, she can finally consider herself and marries. It is too late for her to have her own family. She has no regrets, however. Days are no longer filled with worry for younger siblings wondering if the bombs she heard fell on one of them.

He enters the row house he calls home and cries out, “Baba is home!” to his little girl. He cannot believe all the blessings God has bestowed on him…a wonderful wife, a child, a home, a job. He turns on the television to watch the news and his heart sinks as he watches the scenes from the Syrian refugee camps where members of his family now live. He wonders which was worse for them, living in abject poverty and horrible fear or this.

She did not agree with everything they were teaching her in her religion class. She did what most any teenager would do; she challenged her teacher. As a result she was beaten and locked in her room for a year. When the opportunity to escape came, she took it. Walking across three countries she finally made it to Europe. Yes, she knew that getting into Greece would not be easy, especially with the thousands who try to make their way there each year. But what choice did she have?

She sat at his bedside as he breathed his last. Her visit here was to have been short. She had only come to nurse her brother during his battle with cancer. She had so many questions. As she sought answers, she came to the conclusion that her only true hope was in Jesus. It would mean sure death if she returned to her country. Her only choice was to seek refuge in a new country. Her heart still aches for the loss of her loved one. Her heart aches for family who live on the other side of the world. She wonders when she will find a church here that will be family to her.

World Refugee Day is June 20th. These are but a few of the stories of my refugee friends. This year I will help with a celebration for them in our city. We will celebrate where they are and the opportunity for a life of freedom and pursuit of happiness. We will celebrate all the healing they have experienced from past trauma. We will celebrate their cultures and their languages. We will celebrate diversity. How will you mark World Refugee Day? What will you celebrate?

Nell Green

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About the Author
Nell Green currently serves as Field Personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Along with her husband, Butch, she has experience ministering primarily among Muslim peoples in Africa and Europe. For the past few years the Greens have been helping churches in North America develop multidisciplinary ministries to meet the needs of Internationals, share the gospel of Christ and become effective global partners.

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