St. Paul partners with World Relief to resettle refugee family
The journey begins by fleeing their home – adults and children of all ages. They may have no time to plan and can take only what they can carry. Sometimes, it includes traveling by foot through jungles, deserts, war zones, with fear of attack from militia groups and animals – or capture and punishment by law enforcement.
Next is a stay in a refugee camp, a time that can last from 18 months to 20 years. Refugees remain there until a new country gives them permission to enter. The camps are where the paperwork, interviews, security checks, and medical screenings begin.
A refugee family in a far-away place is about to learn they are coming to the Quad Cities. St. Paul people are about to learn the joy and challenges of welcoming them. “Transformation of lives is what we are here for,” said Amy Rowell, the executive director of World Relief in the Quad Cities. St. Paul is embarking upon a new partnership with World Relief, to empower a refugee family who will arrive at the Quad Cities International Airport sometime in the coming months.
*See the bottom of this article for more on how you can help.
The number of people in our world displaced from their homes by violence and persecution is unprecedented in human history. By the end of 2014, nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced, with nearly a third living outside of their countries as refugees. By far the greatest force driving the crisis is Syria. Nearly half of Syria’s population is thought to be displaced or killed. Four million Syrians have now taken refuge in neighboring countries like Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon, struggling to build new lives for themselves in regions far from home.
The U.S has a history of resettling refugees: this year, the country will admit as many as 85,000 refugees from various parts of the world. In locations throughout the United States, including the Quad Cities, World Relief partners with local churches to help refugees integrate into communities, providing help with housing, employment, and cultural adjustment.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his/her homeland as a result of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and/or social class. Each year, approximately 225 refugees are resettled in the Quad Cities through World Relief.
Why does World Relief stand with refugees?
It’s biblical: Throughout the Bible, we are repeatedly told that God loves and cares for strangers, and that God expects God’s people to do so, also. Jesus was a refugee, and says that when we welcome a stranger, we welcome him. “The Lord watches over the strangers, and upholds the orphan and the widow.” (Psalm 146:9)
It’s foundational: World Relief began in 1944 as the War Relief Commission, the rebuilding response of churches throughout the United States to a war in Europe that had fueled an enormous refugee crisis. Facing the greatest global refugee crisis since World War II, it’s time for the Church to rise up once again.
It’s sustainable: Refugees are not just vulnerable, they are also resilient and resourceful. While they may have needs up front, refugees have a long-term positive impact on the communities that receive them. When refugees arrive at the Quad Cities International Airport, World Relief staff and volunteers are there to greet them, with an interpreter on hand. Their things are loaded up and the group heads to the family’s new home.
After a safety briefing, the family sits down to a hot meal cooked just for them, familiar foods from their homeland. A whirlwind first few weeks involve employment assessments, enrollment in school, visits to the health department for medical checks, connecting with friends and family, figuring out the bus system, visiting a free clothing ministry, starting to learning English and the laws, and understanding finances.
World Relief, through the federal government, receives money to help support the family for a set amount of time. Families also are eligible to receive public assistance as they work toward independence.
“People are strong,” Amy said of the people World Relief serves. “It is a slow process. But as they are learning about our culture, we have an opportunity to learn from them – their ways and their thoughts. It’s a growth opportunity for all of us.”
HOUSEHOLD ITEMS COLLECTION
A household items collection will be held beginning the weekend of June 18/19. Visit the house set up in the Gathering Area and choose an item or two to purchase new for a refugee family to be welcomed by St. Paul. Items collected beyond the family’s needs will go to fellow refugees arriving in the Quad Cities. Items must be returned to church by Friday, July 1.
REFUGEE FAMILY SUPPORT
In partnership with World Relief-Moline, St. Paul people will walk alongside a refugee family resettling in the Quad Cities. The family will likely arrive in July or August, from one of several nations worldwide experiencing war and poverty. Resettlement support usually lasts six-eight months, sometimes longer. Please note: Those who will have direct contact with the family will be asked to submit information for a background check, and take a 90-minute training led by World Relief staff, to be held at St. Paul.
Help needed includes: Home setup, shop for first week’s worth of groceries, prayer, transportation assistance, friendship partner, English tutor, support team leaders. To indicate interest in supporting a refugee family, visit stpaulqc.org/signups.