The following is an email a friend sent to me about a recent experience. It’s one of those examples of God going KAPOWEE right in the heart.
Tonight I took part of my Karen Burmese family (they are refugees and have been in America approx 4 months) to a Harvest Festival at a church that I presume was an ‘outreach’ event. This church delivered flyers to the little girl’s school and that is why we were there. As the family and I walked towards the entrance at the church, and several people that worked at the event walked past us, no one said hello or acknowledged us. After I talked to a lady and found out which classroom we needed to go to to check in, we went to the classroom and I signed us in. Then the 8 year old had to guess how many candies were in the jar, the ladies kept repeatedly telling us to hurry up and put in a number (which was directed to the 8 year old). We were told to hurry because the group had already left for the hay ride, and there was an edge of irritation in each of the workers’ voices. I eventually told one of the ladies that I was the only one that spoke English and that the 2 I was with were refugees and did not know English. We passed on the candy jar guess and I went and stood about 2 feet away from some of the workers with my family. We were there for approx 5 minutes and no one spoke to us, and I tried to engage one of the church ladies in conversation.
As the night continued on and more events took place, no church workers spoke to us, no little kids even tried to talk to this little girl, they just stared.
As I drove the family home, I started to cry. My heart was broken tonight. I was saddened by the response of the “church” to this family, that also happens to be brothers and sisters in Christ. This response also made me question how would I or any other “church” person respond to someone new at church or new at a church event or anywhere else for that matter, that looked different than us, ie, not white skin, has multiple tatoos, smokes, crazy hair colors, etc. God has placed MANY refugees in America and a huge chunk of them happen to be in Phoenix. How many of the body of Christ are loving each of these people? Are we helping them to adjust just as we would hope a national would help us adjust if we were transplanted to a new nation? Are we sharing God’s love and glory with each and every person our lives cross paths with?
Ask yourself, if a person from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Burma, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, or any other country came to your church, what would you do? How would you respond? Would you go and greet this person and try to make conversation with them and let them know they are welcome and that you love them even if there is a HUGE language barrier? Or would you stare, and avoid them, and just pray that some other person will talk to them? [You GJ people are not exempt from this challenge 🙂 God has brought part of the nations there too.]
That is my cry, that is the compassion God has placed in my heart, my burden for the lost, my cry for the nations.