By Amanda Atkin, associate minister of Faith Formation
Greystone Baptist Church
I was sitting in the sanctuary alone one Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the remnants of the Children’s Musical. It was wonderful; I was so proud of the kids. But as I reflected on the experience, I must confess I was touched by something a bit deeper.
You see working with the Welcome House-Raleigh, which is part of the larger Welcome House Community Network, has opened my eyes and heart to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. Through this ministry of hospitality, I was drawn to serve in ways I had never imagined.
Eighteen months before that music-filled Sunday, I found myself volunteering in a Kindergarten class where over 50% of the students were English as a Second Language (ESL). One of the kids that I spent time with (let’s call him Tom) was truly struggling. Tom was a refugee kid and new to America. He was non-verbal, unable to follow the simplest directions, didn’t read, didn’t stand in line. He was lost. But on that Sunday, Tom sang in the children’s musical.
You see, some good Christian women went to his apartment complex and sat with him in the afternoons. They read to him and asked him to read to them. They showed him how to make addition pyramids. A nurse, who is also involved in Welcome House-Raleigh, dove in and started unraveling his many health issues–ushering him and his mother to a myriad of doctor’s appointments. Relationships formed and support was offered and life started changing for Tom.
I sat in my church’s sanctuary crying tears of joy and hope. We took notice, and my little friend, Tom, was able to sing and dance. His mother walked into our church and we greeted her by name because she is a friend.
This all happened not because I volunteered at a school or some ladies from my church decided to tutor refugee kids or even because a nurse offered help. It happened because we all did our part, where we could, when we could, as the Spirit led. We quite simply welcomed Tom and his family into our community as a neighbor.
Tom’s family could use your prayers. Life is way hard for them, but they are doing it–making a new life in our country and in our neighborhood. There are hundreds of stories like this popping up all over North Carolina because of Welcome House Community Network.
I am a part of this ministry because it makes a difference. I know because I’ve seen it happen.