What others are saying…
The apartment across the hall had about 50 pairs of shoes outside the door. I asked a gentleman who was standing nearby how many people lived there. He shook his head and said, “No, only one family. These (pointing at the shoes) are here for devotion.”
He opened the door and I looked inside to see an apartment full of Bhutanese refugees praying. He invited me in and I sat down in an open chair by the door. After the prayer, the man beside me began playing the guitar and everyone started singing in Nepalese and clapping and smiling.
More and more people came into the apartment and miraculously an opening on the floor, or on the sofa, or on the table or even under the table would appear and the newcomer would sit down and begin to sing and clap. Not one person walked past me without extending their hand and smiling warmly. The second song they sang (I recognized the melody) was “Seek Ye First.” I sang along in English because no one could hear me anyway,
Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
They really sang out on the Alleluias. I was overcome with emotion and started to cry. I was so embarrassed but they just kept smiling and nodding their heads in agreement, or sympathy, or solidarity with me. I felt like they understood my tears. Then suddenly, this hits me, it was almost like I heard a voice, my own voice, say, “Oh, this is what church is.”
Individual one-on-one time has been the most impactful for me. I’ve been able to spend time with both Christian and non-Christian refugee families, and God has taught me beautiful things about loving and ministering to others in my time with each family.
I was able to spend most of a Saturday with a family who is in Nashville as religious (Christian) refugees, and this encounter stands out above other interactions as being particularly meaningful. After sharing a meal with the family, I was able to spend some time just with the mother and wife. She shared with me about her time spent alone in the U.S., a year and half before her husband and two children were able to join her. She quickly began crying at the painful memories of that lonely time, but her eyes lit up when she spoke of Jesus. Her deep, deep love for Christ was evident as she softly told me that she could leave her home, her closest friends and even her family, if it meant that she didn’t have to leave her God. “I couldn’t leave Jesus. I love Jesus.”
This sweet reminder of the reliance we each have on Christ ministered far more to me than my presence did to her family that day, and reminded me that missions is never a one-sided interaction. In my time spent with World Relief refugees, and in particular in my conversation with this mother and wife, God has changed and challenged how I view missions. He’s reminded me that I am there to love others for him, period. So much else of their situations is out of my control, and as much as I’d like to help in a more tangible, earthly way, He has shown me that my presence and open heart is all he needs to work good in the situation.