By Kim Wyatt
With more than 232 million migrants in the world, including 16.7 million refugees, we live in an age of unprecedented human mobility. These movements of people allow us the opportunity to extend hope and hospitality to those fleeing hostility or drawn by the promise of a better life for their family. Here in North Carolina’s Research Triangle approximately 1,000 refugees resettle each year. Regularly I meet women and men who ask how they can help.
I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Karen Holland. Karen is a C.P. with a local law firm and member of White Oak Baptist Church in Clayton, N.C. I have been inspired by how she responded to God’s call in her life. Let me share a bit of it with you.
In December 2013 I received the following email from Karen:
Hey Kim! Hope you and Marc are doing well. I spoke with you at the Dawning’s Retreat about possibly speaking at White Oak Baptist Church in February. We would love to have you come speak at our Women on Mission Sunday on February 23, 2014 at which we also incorporate Marsha Stearns Marshall Day of Preaching.
We like to emphasize the “normal” person who can do so much. Because the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has been so great at allowing us to “touch” the field personnel, hearing your story helps make it real to folks that they can also find ways to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Also, I think I mentioned to you that we are doing our CBF Offering for Global Missions emphasis right now and that one of our inserts was about your ministry. Ann, who was also at the retreat, shared a little about your story and encouraged folks to give and pray for your ministry. I hope you felt a boost in encouragement that day as we prayed for you guys!
I was able to make that engagement. And yes, I was very encouraged by all I experienced that morning.
Some time passed and then I heard from Karen again in June of this year. She wrote:
Hey Kim! I hope you are doing well. White Oak Baptist wants to try something new this year and I could use some guidance. We would like to have a small presentation regarding World Refugee Sunday on June 21. I recently became very interested in what is going on in the Mediterranean. I started following the UN Refugee Agency on twitter and have really had my eyes opened to how many people are displaced and the dangers they face in trying to find a better life for their families. I have asked if I can have 5 minutes on June 21 to bring this to the attention of others.
Honestly, before I started following them on twitter I had absolutely no idea how large some refugee camps can be. It is absolutely mind-blowing and heart breaking. I think people’s eyes need to be opened. While I do want to point out what is going on overseas, I think people pay more attention if it is closer to home. I know you guys work with refugees in Raleigh, just on our doorstep. What are ways that are available to get involved with refugees and issues that affect them close to us?
Thanks for any help you can offer!
Karen was given a few minutes during worship to present a mission moment on World Refugee Day. Something happened that morning that she didn’t expect. Her husband, Andy, and daughters, 15 year old, Emma, and 12 year old, Mattie, responded to the call to serve.
The Holland’s joined me in my work with newly arrived refugees a couple of weeks ago. Together with volunteers from CBF churches English as a Second Language Classes are led every Monday and Wednesday in a classroom of the First Presbyterian Church a block from the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants downtown Raleigh Office.
I asked Karen to share a few words about her family’s experience that morning. She wrote:
I really wish I could’ve recorded our conversation after leaving the day we attended the ESL class. It was all we could talk about.
The kids enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing the people from a variety of cultures all there to learn English.
We were all impressed with their eagerness to learn. Some of the students wrote down every word they saw and repeated every word they heard. They had a hunger for learning new things and showed pride when they got something right.
The courage they have to have to start over somewhere completely new and unknown is amazing. To think how intimidating it is to even shop for groceries without knowing the language and without recognizing some of the foods makes me admire their courage even more.
The Gospel compels us to demonstrate the kingdom we proclaim through faith and the character of our life together as the church. In the context of ministry here in my home state it is inspiring to serve alongside folks like Karen and her sweet family.
This is made possible in part because you have invested your time, prayers and money in CBF Global Missions.
Thank you for helping Marc and I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are among the most in need of good words and deeds in our community.
Kim and her husband Marc serve as CBF field personnel ministering with internationals in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.