By Karen Morrow
“And now for the rest of the story,” was the way Paul Harvey would begin telling about a recent event. All events have a back story that often is left untold. Refugee stories are no different. We often see the story that is unfolding here in the U.S. when there is often a lifetime of experience and achievements left unknown.
Jean Marie is an example of this. I met him while teaching a conversational part of an English class for Congolese refugees. Jean Marie, a refugee himself, was the lead teacher. He was a certified translator who spoke multiple languages, a very gracious and educated man.
This summer, through a grant, we were focusing our Ready for School program on Congolese preschoolers and their families. An integral part of the program was to have a Congolese mentor/encourager who would walk alongside the families.
We registered 10 families and all the learning packets were prepared. As we were about to launch the program our mentor had to step back due to some health issues. Without a mentor the program would not be possible. For days, I fretted as I considered cancelling the program and returning the grant money. Then the Lord brought Jean Marie to mind. Would he even consider directing the program and mentoring the families?
I hesitantly called him and, after explaining the program, I asked if he would even consider working with the program. He immediately responded, “Yes, he would love to.”
He then went on to tell me that he was classically trained as an educator and that he had worked with the French Embassy developing a Montessori-styled preschool program in Africa.
Jean Marie was and is exactly who we needed for our summer program. His face lights up as he tells of working with the families and how the Ready for School program is meeting a real need in his community.
I encourage you to take the time to develop relationships with your refugee neighbors and learn the rest of their stories.
Karen Morrow is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel ministering among internationals and refugees who have been forced to flee their home countries due to violence and persecution and are being resettled in Texas. Learn more about her ministry at www.cbf.net/morrow.