By Marc and Kim Wyatt
A family of 9 refugees from Afghanistan moved into their own home today. Volunteers from Heritage Baptist Church in Wake Forest and St. John’s Baptist Church, Raleigh joined us for the big move. And a big move it was.
When we arrived at Welcome House to gather the family and their belongings, the 8 bags of luggage they brought from the Middle East had grown to 20! You see we gave the family all the linens, blankets, comforters, pillows, towels, plates, glasses, pots and pans and more from Welcome House to them for their new home. It was quite a sight to see. Bags and people spilled all over the sidewalk as we sometimes stopped traffic in our semi-organized moving parade. But we survived; no lost bags or people.
Our caravan of cars, vans and trucks wove our way through the streets of downtown Raleigh to the new apartment just south of the I-40 loop. We only lost two vehicles temporarily but all made it eventually to the right address.
When we arrived to the new apartment community, the children could hardly wait for the cars to stop. They found the playground immediately. It was such a sweet sound to hear their laughter and shouts of joy as they began to explore the neighborhood. Our small union of movers went to work taking whatever items they could manage up the sidewalk and stairs into apartment H; their new 4-bedroom home. Like busy bees everything was out of the vans and into the house lickity split.
While the girls and their mom began deciding where things should be placed, I took Pastor Richard Wynne, Ali, the father and Weiss, the eldest son to our storage unit so the men could pick out their living and dining room furniture. There is something sacred and dignified about picking out your own stuff, you know.
Ali smiled as he selected his new lightly used brown sofa and the rocking chair that had been recently donated by a retired couple from North Raleigh who were downsizing. I’ve been doing this for some years now, and every donated household item has a history; is a treasure from someone’s story. And now that brown sofa and rocker will have a new chapter in a new family’s story.
When we returned, school was out and the neighborhood was filled with children running and playing and laughing. One of the daughters ran up to me and said, “My new friend is also from Afghanistan!” She was so happy. God is so good!
We learned that, in fact, there are several Afghan families along with other resettled refugees and immigrants who live in the community. It’s one of those hidden communities that we so often miss, tucked away behind a gas station yet filled with the mosaic of God’s image, people he so loves that he sent his only Son…
One neighbor brought over a home-cooked meal for the whole family to enjoy. When the mother saw that her neighbor was an Afghan mom just like her, dressed like her, a woman who spoke her language and knew what she was going through, well, the mom began to cry. I believe they were tears of happiness. She and her family are now home, safe and sound after such a long, long journey. No more fear of persecution or death. No more longing for a place to be family. No more wondering when and if life would change for the better.
In those covered dishes, her new neighbor gave her much more than food.
Week one of Welcome House has passed. In three days a new family, 8 from the Congo will arrive. And when they do we will welcome them home. Thanks be to God.
Welcome House Raleigh is a temporary reception home for refugees who do not have a place to live upon arrival. We provide a safe home, settlement assistance and bridges into the community. Our main goal at Welcome House is to share the love of God in Christ Jesus through the ministries of hospitality and friendship.
To learn more about how you and your congregation can partner with field personnel like Marc and Kim Wyatt and support ministries like Welcome House through participation in the CBF Offering for Global Missions, visit www.cbf.net/OGM.