Refugee Resettlement Office in Sacramento “Opens its doors” to UMC’s
Robyn of ODI and one of her wonderful interns.
“Learn How Your Church Family Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Refugees Making Their Home in Our Sacramento Community!” was the title and purpose of the April 14 church outreach event co-hosted by Church World Service refugee resettlement affiliate Opening Doors, Inc. (ODI) and UMCOR’s Refugee Ministry.
Representatives from more than 10 local congregations heard compelling presentations from leaders who said their lives were changed through their work with refugees. David Blicker, ODI executive director, shared the African principle of ubuntu—“a person is a person through (other) persons," and how it can be experienced in a meaningful way by welcoming newcomers.
A common theme stressed throughout the evening was the power of each individual—regardless of time availability, language skills, income, or age—to make a difference in the life of a refugee.
Participants of the Opening Doors outreach event.
“Can you be a friend? Can you Teach? Play? Listen? Smile?” ODI Volunteer Coordinator Robyn Papathakis asked participants. “Then you and your church family can make a difference in the lives of refugees coming to make a new home in Sacramento!”
Staff members of UMCOR’s Refugee Ministry and Opening Doors, Inc., hope the workshop will be the first step toward establishing a vibrant, faith-based co-sponsorship program for refugees in Sacramento.
Refugees Hit Hard by Chile Earthquake
Years of armed conflict have caused more than 3 million Colombians to flee their country, and many have resettled in Chile. UMCOR provided funds through the Refugee Response Advance #982540 to PROSIR, a project of the Methodist Church of Chile, the Chilean government, and FASIC, a Chilean ecumenical human rights organization, to help expand PROSIR’s micro-enterprise project and increase job opportunities for Colombian refugees.
The February 2010 earthquake in Chile caused a significant amount of damage. A significant group of migrants and refugees residing in the Chilean capital were among those affected by the quake. They are among the most vulnerable groups because in addition to the uncertainty surrounding their homes and jobs, they also are faced with the burden of social isolation, prior trauma, and xenophobia.
UMCOR has provided a grant to PROSIR for emergency direct services, including food, clothing, and housing assistance, to the most vulnerable individuals and families. The grant also helps refugees re-establishing the small businesses they had started through the micro-enterprise project.
Your generosity allows UMCOR to offer this assistance in Chile and to vulnerable refugees around the world. Support Chile Emergency, UMCOR Advance #3021178 and Refugee Response, UMCOR Advance #982540.
To read more about UMCOR’s response to the Chile Earthquake, click here.
Church Sponsorship Developer Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, in Phoenix, AZ
By Rev. Donna Buckles
Donna receives Spirit in Social Ministry award from Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.
Watching wonderful relationships being built between church sponsors and refugees is the most rewarding part of being a church sponsorship developer. Refugees rely on their sponsors to teach them how to navigate American culture. Church sponsors learn about the terrible situations people face in other countries and about the reality of life in a refugee camp. Cross-cultural learning on both sides is significant.
My years as a pastor doing mission education and leading mission trips, prepared me to work with refugees and to offer refugee education to church members. I tell the churches that they can experience cross-cultural ministry in their own backyard.
I am encouraged by the way church members continually want to be of help in resettlement. In the past three weeks, three churches told me, “We are ready to sponsor another family.” They find the experience of serving on a resettlement team to be inspiring and challenging and it offers them the opportunity to be the hands of Jesus.
*UMCOR Refugee Assistance Grant program: Each year UMCOR's Refugee Ministry makes grants available to organizations and congregation-based projects serving refugees, immigrants, detainees, and asylum seekers. The purpose of these grants is to build capacity, provide direct assistance, and encourage and honor the commitment of those who, in the biblical sense, welcome ‘the stranger’.
The deadline for proposals is: Monday, August 16, 2010, at 1200 pm EST. Grants are limited to a maximum of $5000, , with special consideration given to requests for smaller amounts. Funds donated to UMCOR’s New Hope for Newcomers Advance support the Refugee Assistance Grants program.
If you would like an application, or know of an organization that might be interested in applying for an UMCOR Refugee Assistance Grant, please contact us at UMCORRefugee@gbgm-umc.org or call 212-870-3888.
* Isaiah 58 National Solidarity Vigil and Fast for Arizona: Isaiah 58 reminds us that God calls us to prayer and fasting to "loose the bonds of injustice" and "let the oppressed go free." From June 6 to August 1, 2010, the Vigil will mobilize people of all faiths to pray 24 hours a day as a public witness protesting the Arizona law. Participants sign up to pray for a 30-minute slot and endorse a statement, critical of the legislation, directed to state and federal officials.
You’re the experts – we need to hear from you!
Thanks from the UMCOR Refugee Ministry Team
- Emergency Response
- Immigration and Refugees
- Sager Brown Depot
- UMCOR Field Offices
St. Paul UMC, Louisville, KY
Imagine your family of four—Mom, Dad and two —teenagers—arriving in Louisville, Kentucky, from Iraq. You each have a suitcase and a tote bag. These are your only belongings and this place is your new home. You don’t speak or read English and the English alphabet isn’t familiar to you.
About every year and a half since 1995, St.Paul United Methodist Church in Louisville, has sponsored a refugee family through Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM). “KRM is celebrating our 20th anniversary this year and the congregation of St. Paul has been walking with us on our journey the entire time,” reported Lee Welsh, sponsorship developer for KRM. “They have co-sponsored Haitians, Somalis, Bosnians, Vietnamese, Sudanese, Iraqis, Palestinians, and many others.”
Most recently, St. Paul co-sponsored the Al Hamidi family from Iraq, who arrived in February. The aim of the three-month church sponsorship is to act as guides and friends to those newly arrived and to assist them in becoming self sufficient as soon as possible.
Congregation member, Susan Stopher, served as one of three volunteer team leaders for the Al-Hamidi family. She first became involved with refugees when St. Paul UMC sponsored a Somali family back in 2004. Susan has continued to be awed and humbled by the courage and hard work it takes for refugees to establish new lives in the U.S. “Escorting a family on the bus to a local grocery, reminds me that much of what is a necessity to my family isn’t really a ‘need,’ but merely a ‘want.’”
Susan is thankful for the generosity and welcoming spirit of the St. Paul congregation. “Even after all these years of refugee ministry, each time the announcement is made that we are sponsoring another family, within days we are able to furnish an entire apartment, and people volunteer to assist in many different ways. Working closely with other St. Paul members is a special blessing of being involved in the refugee ministry.”
By Mary Lynne Ball, Refugee and Immigration Ministries Coordinator, OR/ID Conference
I often think about how I would feel if I were chased out of my country and couldn’t go back for fear of being killed. What would I do if I had to learn a new language, customs, occupation, and laws just to survive. I would want someone to help me and my family. I try to be that someone for the refugees I work with.
My interest in other cultures and my desire to help others led me and my husband to take a Cuban Refugee family into our home in 1995. They stayed with us for seven weeks, and we still consider them part of our family.
As a member of Meridian United Methodist Church in Idaho, we have helped resettle nine Congolese refugee families (a total of 51 kids and parents). They area blessing to our congregation and to my family.
Today my service to refugees varies: driving instructor, ‘taxi driver’, listening ear, teacher, babysitter, counselor, adviser, nurse, mom, grandma, agent, or friend. All things any mom/grandma has lots of experience in.