Crossing the Road - Week 1
A Good Neighbor doesn’t stay on his side of the street or even in his own city sometimes.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”-Luke 10:33-37
Why have I started this journey to be a good neighbor to a refugee from Afghanistan?
As I reflect back I seem to have always been drawn to different cultures. I think the attraction stems from my not having any culture of my own growing up. I’m not Irish or Italian or Asian. I’m not even Scandinavian.;) I have always felt as though I was on the outside looking in. As if everyone else belonged except me. This of course led to a great deal of “finding myself”. In fact, this may be the reason I gravitate towards the stranger when I come across him. Whether a homeless person on the street or a foreign missionary out of his element, I feel akin to them and want them to feel they are known and welcome in a place they may view as not always hospitable to them.
So when I discovered Exodus World Services, who match Christians with refugees to be “good neighbors”, I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to fill out their contact form for more information. After that initial contact back in February, for more information, I had no Idea what the next six months would look like. To say it would be interesting would’ve been understating what was to follow.
After some prayer and research I felt called to befriend a refugee through the Exodus program. For the first three months I would have to fill out an application online and shortly after have what I would describe as a phone interview. Within the first month I had spoken to three different representatives. The level of personal attention was refreshing and unnerving at the same time. Then there was a level 2 background check that had to be completed. Finally, was a three hour training session over zoom.
The training session was very enlightening. It brought to light the level of hardship that a refugee has to go through before they get to the US. Hardship that is unimaginable to most Americans. They usually have to leave in the middle of the night, suddenly. Leaving behind family and friends and all that they own. Afterwards they are scrutinized by every government agency before they are invited to a host country. In this case the US invites them and try’s to help them get established by providing three to six months living subsidies. However, without organizations like Exodus to bring Christians along side them to befriend and help them get oriented to a new culture and language they have a greater chance of failing and staying a part of the system.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, and yet another phone interview, I was match with a refugee about 2 months ago.
In my next installment I will introduce you to my new neighbor from Afghanistan. An educated and interesting man that misses his wife and kids and worries about their safety daily.
Until then be a blessing and be blessed.