A Refuge for the Refugee
Jesus said, “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…” It wasn’t exactly a feast, but it was still a blessing for SGC to host a picnic for local refugee families during a hot afternoon in June.
With over 100+ people in attendance, including 30 guests from 5 different nations, the day was buzzing. Young children blew bubbles and climbed on playsets. Others got their nails done or transformed into super heroes at the nail and face-painting stations. A handful of adults and older kids braved the heat to play soccer, while the rest of us relaxed under tents to enjoy lunch. It was a full day. Pricilla, a social worker from Catholic Charities who helped bring our guests, repeatedly remarked how welcoming and intentional our congregation was. She reported that every family and individual expressed what a great time they had during the bus ride home.
We are so thankful for SGC members who joyfully served, engaged, and included our guests—you were a picture of our Savior’s heart. We received two testimonies that we’d like to share:
I recently researched and gave a presentation on Syrian Refugees and U.S. Immigration policy. So, when the chance to participate in the Refugee Picnic came up, I knew it was an opportunity to learn more and be involved in a practical way. When the guests arrived, I wasn’t sure what to do; I had to remind myself that this was an opportunity to serve and shouldn’t be wasted. I met a 15 year old Afghan girl who was very sweet and spoke coherent English. Once we met, we didn’t leave each other’s side and we’re now even connected through Instagram. Throughout the afternoon, I got to know a lot about her and discovered we had some common interests like shopping and history. There were a couple of specific things that struck me: she shared with me that her father had worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, but now works nights in a blue collar job to provide for their family of 8, who only live in an apartment. She didn’t seem embarrassed, but more proud that her father had a job; it reminded me that I am beyond blessed and that money doesn’t buy happiness. Also, it was humbling to see and interact with people who came here for refuge from pure horror, the thought of which can keep me up at night. Near the end of the picnic, I was able to briefly talk to her about religion. I didn’t go into much detail about Christianity but asked her to give me her insights into the Muslim religion. The last thing I asked her at the picnic was, if she was invited to church, would she come, and she said yes. I had a wonderful time at the picnic; it not only blessed the guests, but also blessed me. -Becky Finn
Words will probably do an injustice to describe Abdul's reaction after visiting the book table [where Frank provided Christian resources in several languages]. I was sitting at the table his family was at in-between participating in all the activities. He approached the table with an amazed sort of look and said a couple times, “I can't believe I just found a book in my language!” I told him if there was anyone he knew that would also like one it was ok if he went back and took more. He did go back and returned with a few other books. He sat down and began to read. I learned that the book Abdul had taken was written in Persian which is his language. - Becky Falzone
When the church loves in deed and truth, letting its light shine before our neighbors and among the nations, God moves. He doesn’t depend on elaborate venues or eloquent preachers to advance the Gospel; He can work through ordinary people at ordinary picnics.