Members of Sligo SDA Church have been reaching refugee families in their area - ultimately, they crave to put the word "local" back in local-church. They believe that the Church is the greatest vehicle God has chosen to bless the world around them. One of the ways the Sligo Church members seek to bless their community is by supporting refugee families in their neighborhoods through the support of NAD Campassion.
For the past three years, church members have been serving refugee families who have been uprooted from their homes and are now learning to adjust to a new culture, a new language, and a new way of doing things here in the United States. Sligo Church volunteers simply want to show Christian love to people who so desperately need to know they are warmly received here in their new community.
By providing much-needed supplies to families who often struggle to pay for rent and groceries, Sligo members have put compassion into action. They have visited nearly 40 different refugee families who come from countries such as Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan and are now living in Maryland. They have provided them with food, cleaning supplies, furniture, school supplies, and small toys for their children as a gesture of kindness and hospitality. As this project continues to be a work in progress, the leaders of this ministry regularly explore other initiatives based on feedback they have received, while helping families acclimate and thrive in their new community.
One of these new initiatives includes having a special dinner with refugee families. The meals are prepared by Sligo church members in partnership with the Hyattsville SDA Church. The dinner takes place during Ramadan, the monthlong celebration for Muslims around the world, at the Hyattsville Church hall. At the dinner, refugee families have the opportunity to share stories of how God has been taking care of their families as they have resettled in a new land. "Despite the challenges they’ve faced, this special dinner has given each family a reason to smile and make new friends," said Pastor Joseph Khabbaz, the Youth and Young Adult Pastor for Sligo Church.
This ministry has helped volunteers realize, in a greater sense, what it means to be truly poor and in desperate need of help. Living in the West, we can easily fall into the trap of defining poverty in economic terms. Volunteers have come to realize even more clearly that poverty goes beyond economics and speaks to the brokenness of human nature. We are just as broken as the refugee. God's people are unable to reach their full potential and be who God created them to be without God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Our nature is spiritually poor and destitute and we rely each day on the riches of God’s grace.
According to the Pew Research Center, last year alone, nearly 23,000 refugees had been resettled in the United States. And, while this story takes place in Maryland, it is very likely that there are new neighbors in your community who need to feel Christ’s love and compassion.
Pastor Joseph Khabbaz is the Pastor For Youth and Young Adults at Sligo SDA Church