Tonight we had a nice, intimate gathering with a great group of folks in Winston-Salem. The whole crew are volunteers with an organization called Open Arms (www.openarmsrefugee.com). The directors, Tim & Jody Cross, once lived overseas ministering to asylum seekers, and now they are mobilizing churches to love and serve refugees in the US. They have a great team of volunteers who are all very passionate about their work and you can see the joy on their faces. This team primarily reaches out to Karenni refugees from Burma. There have been 300 settled here over the past few years! They also know a few refugee families from Iraq and Nepal.
The executive director of World Relief High Point also joined us tonight. They are one of two resettlement organizations in this area, the other one being Church World Services. World Relief is the only evangelical refugee resettlement agency in the US, and works hand in hand with churches to welcome refugees. Together the agencies in North Carolina have resettled approximately 2,00-3,000 refugees in the past year. Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Cherie Grey, Laura K Moore, Refugee Ministry Connect Tour, Sandi Wisley, Winston-Salem Refugee Ministry
(from Cherie & Sandi)
Atlanta is a mecca for refugees! There are six refugee resettlement agencies: World Relief, Lutheran Services, Catholic Charities, IRC, Jewish Family & Career Services, and Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Services of Atlanta (Church World Services). They resettle between 3,000-5,000 refugees every year! In Tucson we only resettle 700-1000 every year, so that gives you an example of the magnitude of the operations here. They are welcoming refugee families primarily from Bhutan and Burma, but also a few every now and then from Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia, and other far away places.
Followers of Jesus in Atlanta have rallied to love and embrace these nations in our neighborhoods. At our Atlanta Exchange today there was a room full of people who represented 14 different organizations who reach out to refugees in Jesus name! It was a beautiful gathering.
We met someone named “Papa” who together with his wife, both in their retirement years, reach out and live among Burmese refugees. We met several representatives from resettlement agencies who have been giving their lives for over a decade to help refugees build a new life in America. Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Georgia, ministry in atlanta, refugee ministry in Atlanta
(notes from Sandi)
We woke this morning in Tennessee hearing the birds chirping in the huge green green trees surrounding the house outside our second story windows.
Windows were opened wide all night and the humid cool breeze surrounded us.
We are so overloaded with information, people, ideas and visions for the future! What a privilege it has been to be with people who are just as passionate about this ministry as we are! We seem to be able to bring them together and encourage them! Isn’t that great!? It was great to meet a pastor who opened his church to refugees during the big tornado that came through the area. The church members then worked side by side with Muslim friends to clear debris and comfort those who suffered loss.
We left Chattanooga this morning and headed for Atlanta, where we met with a journalist with World Magazine for an interview. She’ll be writing about refugees and we don’t know what she might come up with one of these days. Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Atlanta International Ministry
After an overnight stay in a questionable hotel in Jackson, MS, we headed for Tennessee. We were feeling pretty good because we got a good early start and took our time along the way with plenty of rest stops and lots of things to talk about in the car. According to our calculations, we would make it to Chattanooga about an hour early. We were nearing Chattanooga when we got a call from our Exchange host saying “Are you coming?”. That when we realized, to our shock and dismay, that there had been a time change! We were horrified!! We sped all the rest of the way there and arrived shortly after the last guest arrived and started setting up. I don’t think anyone even noticed that we were late because they were busy visiting with one another (thank you God!). When all was said and done we officially started the gathering just 30 minutes late. No one seemed to blink an eye. They are all used to running on international time. Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Refugee Ministry in Chattanooga, Tennessee International Ministry
Today was the best Exchange yet! We met in a small apartment that a refugee ministry has rented in an apartment complex where refugees live, and they use it as an office. It was the perfect size… nice and cozy. We had about 20 attend, and they were all excited to share with each other and to hear what we are doing. It seemed like most of them didn’t know each other, and it was exciting to watch them learn what one another was doing. Today we also had an opportunity to share more about what we are doing in our hometown, and people seemed to really like to hear it. We have been playing around with our agenda and tweaking it each time and it seems to get better.
Tags: 2012 Tour, dallas refugee ministry
Tonight our Houston Exchange was exciting with 25 amazing refugee workers who had lots to share… resources, stories, experiences. We loved meeting the folks who all have great passion, wonderful humor, experience, and so much joy and fulfillment in their work! It was a joy for all of us! Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Houston Refugee Ministry, RMC Tour
WHAT A FULL DAY!
In an email from Cherie:
Today we went on a Nehemiah Tour led by the church who is hosting us here. Using the verse Neh. 1:4 “When I heard these things I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven.” Our tour included a Muslim mosque, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple. We also had lunch in a Vietnamese mall that is entirely Vietnamese stores and restaurants. It was an incredible and full day! We learned a lot about bridges and barriers. The Nehemiah Tour is offered once a quarter to everyone who attends Sugar Creek Church. And then periodically the mosque and temple bring people to the church for a tour there as a learning opportunity and exchange. Many relationships have been built.
Houston is full of international people, maybe up to 32 different countries are represented here. It’s overwhelming to think of so many students, immigrants, businessmen, and refugees in one very prosperous American city!
After the tour we went straight into The Houston Exchange.
With approximately 25 refugee workers from all over the city, we heard a variety of stories covering different things that they were doing! We especially loved hearing what Urban Catalyst is doing in loving and serving their Muslim neighbors. Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, RMC Tour, San Antonio Hindu Temple, San Antonio Nehemiah Tour
San Antonio Exchange–our very first! :D
There were 30-40 people in attendance and 3 main organizations represented. In San Antonio there is only one resettlement agency (Catholic Charities) and most find it hard to cooperate with them, although they have tried. Most of the agencies represented are doing ESL as their main mode of ministry. Cherie and Sandi were instrumental in helping local people meet each other and learn what they are doing.
(San Antonio Exchange)
In an email, Cherie shared: “I wasn’t nervous before the whole thing started as I thought I would be. In my heart and my mind it was a pretty big deal, but I didn’t feel the usual anxiety, just peace. We met lots of incredible people. The whole thing went pretty good considering it was our first Exchange ever. Still LOTS of room for improvement. I felt discombobulated and unorganized, but it will be easy to work out the kinks and have a much improved Exchange next time. I hope to debrief and process the whole thing together with Sandi when we are in the car tomorrow and really work out a good plan. We went out to dinner afterwards and visited with some of the folks in a more intimate setting and I really enjoyed that time. But now I am all “peopled out” and wishing for a quiet corner somewhere by myself. Sandi is probably wondering why I’m not so talkative tonight. Actually, I’m exhausted.”
The next day Cherie and Sandi slept in a bit then had breakfast on the river walk. Fun! Then the 4 hour drive to Houston and they were both so tired still they could hardly think straight. All the stress of packing and preparation really did them in and finally caught up to them! The long days and constant pace of things is pretty grueling. Though the tour has nearly just begun, bodies are worn and eyes are tired. What fleeting rest there is, is used to recharge for the next full itinerary. So there you have it. Pray for adequate prep and refreshment as Sandi & Cherie hope to do each exchange with energy, grace and joy!
Tags: 2012 Tour, Refugee Ministry Tour, RMC Tour, Texas Refugee Ministry
Sandi & Cherie are off! They arrived safely at their hotel and should have their first ‘RMC Exchange’ tonight! I (Laura) am functioning as the ‘journalist’ for the tour so I get to have a phone pow-wow tomorrow morning with the tour executives :D Meanwhile, I’m sure they’d appreciate prayer as they engage with fellow refugee workers tonight. Tonight will be the very very first RMC Tour Exchange…E V E R. The excitement. The nerves. The thrill. The sheer unpredictability of it all–I’m just a journalist sittin’ back at home getting butterflies just thinking about it. (sigh)
SO…since i don’t have pictures YET…here is a picture of Cherie speaking at last week’s local refugee fundraising dinner. I believe her exact words when this picture was taken was, “let us celebrate what God has done and is doing for refugees!” This woman’s heart for these people–gosh, it’s pretty incredible. :) | lkm Continue reading
Tags: 2012 Tour, Refugee Ministry Tour, RMC Tour
This morning we received an awesome email to encourage our RMC Tour 2012 Team and this crazy adventure we’ve taken on! James Grunau – Canada Facilitator for the Refugee Highway Partnership, and Executive Director of Journey Home Community in Vancouver, Canada wrote…
“It has been my privilege to serve on the Refugee Highway Partnership Global Leadership Team, a network of refugee-serving individuals and ministries from around the world. We are committed to keeping refugee issues as a Kingdom priority and on the agenda of the church worldwide.
That role has connected me with Cherie Gray in working together as part of a team to plan some “Refugee Roundtable” events for ministries and churches in North America. (Join us for the 2012 Roundtable in Minnesota!)
If networking/connecting is a spiritual gift then Cherie has it! Her enthusiasm is contagious and her love for God and refugees infectious. If you are close to any of the centers that Cherie will be visiting on the upcoming Refugee Ministry Connect Tour, I urge you to do yourself a favor, register and be part of the event. At the very least you will be inspired and encouraged (have you discovered that refugee ministry can be a lonely road?) and be prepared for even more – you just might get connected to others in your area who are also serving refugees, people you weren’t even aware of.
Tags: 2012 Tour, RMC Tour, Sponsors