Welcome Home Bakhtyari Family!
"Continue to love each other as siblings. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." -Hebrews 13:1-2
Is your hair a little messy today? If so, it's probably because it's been tussled by the winds of the Holy Spirit since last Tuesday, because she has blown through here fast and furiously!
It feels like just yesterday that we were hearing of the city of Kabul falling to the Taliban and wondering what we could do immediately to provide aid. In those days following August 15th, 2021, all we heard was that a LOT of Afghan refugees were headed to Wisconsin, and that at some point they would need resettlement...somewhere, not necessarily here here in the Fox Valley.
Well...in the time since then, a LOT has changed. First, the refugees (nearly 13,000 of them were taken to Ft. McCoy here in Wisconsin, where they were to remain until being resettled. Second, in that time, they have been vetted--thoroughly-- because that's America's process. And Third, they were paired with a resettlement agency-- which it turns out, is in our back yard, where they will indeed be resettled.
Since August, we had folks here at Christ the King continually asking, "How can we help?"
They weren't asking because they wanted to provide immediate, short-term relief they were asking because they felt called by God to provide welcome and housing to those who had experienced trauma and been run from their homes.
So after many phone calls to World Relief, things started moving QUICKLY. Here's a run-down of what all has happened since last Tuesday.
Tuesday, November 30th - 13...that's right, THIRTEEN people from Christ the King showed up for a meeting with World Relief Fox Valley, our most local refugee resettlement agency, to hear about what it means to be a Good Neighbor Team that's directly involved with resettling refugees in the area
Wednesday, December 1st - by 11:00am (so, less than 15 hours after the previous meeting ended), we got word from World Relief that our Good Neighbor Team had been paired with an Afghan refugee family-- two parents, and 6 children ranging in age from 7 months to 18 years old
Thursday, December 2nd - Sunday, December 5th - EMAILS! PHONE CALLS! TEXTS! SIGN-UP GENIUS! STUFF ARRIVING AT CHURCH! All those things were flying around so quickly, it was difficult to know which way was up. World Relief had secured housing for the family, then passed us an extensive list of all the things that would be needed to furnish the house....and YA'LL. SHOWED. UP! Never in my life have I seen an entire household of THINGS come together as quickly as they did through YOU!
We're talking truck and trailer loads of furniture, clothing, household supplies, hygiene supplies...everything a family would need!
Monday, December 6th- The Good Neighbor Team got. to. WORK. Together they helped turn a house into a true home for this family who would be arriving with literally NOTHING, in a completely new place, where everyone speaks a different language than their native one.
Tuesday, December 7th - The Bakhtyari moved into their new home!
Can you imagine though--what that was like for this refugee family? Just a few months ago they were terrorized out of their homes for fear of safety of their own lives, and as of Tuesday, they have a SAFE place to live.
When I think about how God's love has come to life this past week through this congregation and through the Good Neighbor Team, I have been moved to tears more than once. THIS is the work God has called us to as a congregation. THIS is love. THIS is what is what it means to love our neighbors.
As of my writing today, we actually know very little about the Bakhtyaris but we are ready to learn. We are ready to stand alongside them as they begin to settle into their new home, their new life, their new everything. They have some challenging days ahead of them for sure, and the work of the Good Neighbor team is by no means done, BUT for now we are certain that God is present with them!
We have gotten word that in the next 10 weeks, World Relief is going to be resettling 160 more people in the Fox Valley area, and there is STILL a great need for people to serve on Good Neighbor teams. If you are feeling called to walk alongside someone as they piece together a new life here in America, PLEASE do reach out to Pastor Nate or myself! Peace be the journey,