On Mission

Moving To Action: World Refugee Day

Refugees have been close to my heart for some time now. Traveling to the Middle East a few years ago to see a little of their world was not only eye opening but heart breaking. We see and hear a lot on the news but how can we as mamas know where to even begin… honestly, I sometimes just stay stuck in the “heart break” stage.

My super fun friend Misty works with World Relief, an organization that walks alongside refugees and helps them get settled in their new homes. She was kind enough to answer my questions and help us know what we can do.

It’s also World Refugee month during June leading up to World Refugee Day today, June 20th. Will you take a minute to read and respond as God leads your heart.

 

Photo Credit: World Relief Organization

“America is so great. The mail comes every day here.” 

I have never sat back on my couch and been in awe of our postal system- I am certain it is because I take amenities like receiving the mail daily for granted, but this was the first thing a refugee mentioned when asked about first impressions of the U.S. Since 2015, over 450 refugees have been resettled in Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg County. Each day at work, I have the opportunity to serve refugees daily and partner with them as they begin to rebuild their lives in a place they have never known. As an employee of World Relief and a major fan of On Mission Moms, there are a few things I want you to know about the refugees we serve!

1. A refugee does not choose to come here. 

A refugee, by definition, is someone who has been forced to leave their home country because their lives or safety have been threatened. Today, over 65 million people in the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes. International law defines a refugee as someone who leaves their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for one of these five reasons: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, membership in a particular social group (UNHCR).  For more info, be sure to read, “What is a Refugee.” 

Refugees are not the same as any other kind of immigrant or asylum seeker. Resettlement is the last option for a refugee, and they are placed in a variety of countries. Generally (there are a few caveats) a refugee does not get to choose the country they will move to. An extensive vetting process makes the Refugee Resettlement Process the most difficult way of entering the US. The average processing time for a refugee’s case is just over 18 years. This means that if a person is a part of the small percentage that has the opportunity to go to another country, they will wait years before the move actually comes to fruition. 

2. Not all refugees are the same.

Refugees have all experienced persecution but because they come from all over the world, they are very different from each other. They are light skinned and dark skinned and Christian and Muslim. They are eating things we have never heard of but also passing you in Costco. They dream of having families or growing up and being mamas. They dream about the career they will have and have hopes for their children. They want a family and a safe, peaceful life for themselves. 

A volunteer, Jim, recently stated, “As much as we’re different, we’re a lot alike. Some of us have just been given better opportunities at certain times. We have the same basic needs, the same desires for our families. So I really believe we have a responsibility to love and serve our vulnerable neighbor.”

3. Refugees make America better. 

The only thing that has really stood out to me as typical amongst our diverse population of refugees is their spirit of hospitality. More often than not when I walk through the door of someone’s home, I am given tea and water with a variety of accompaniments! I had to say accompaniments; there is not a better word that describes the plethora of snacks I am given. It has completely reshaped the way I think about hospitality and inviting people into my life.  

Extensive studies have been done to show how essential refugees are to the U.S economy. They pay more in taxes than the amount of help we give them in the beginning, and they are essential to filling vacant jobs to keep our country’s businesses going. 

Will you take a minute to read about the contributions of Refugees here? 

4. We need your help. 

  • GIVE. Our office has recently undergone some budget cuts. We are constantly doing more with less and need private donations more than ever before. Your donations could go towards things like bus tickets to get clients to work, stocking an apartment with groceries, etc. World Relief is holding a fundraising campaign for the entire month of June.  If you would like to donate to our local World Relief office, click here! 
  • Volunteer – Volunteer to be a “Friendship Partner” or “Language Partner” to another mom with little ones! 
  • Notes – Have your children write some notes to other littles for us to place in backpacks! These notes would be encouraging them as they prepare for their first day of school in a new country, where they don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language. 
  • Put together a Welcome Kit! We have a list of essential items that make up a “Welcome Kit.” Every refugee family receives one upon arrival. 

 

Where can we go to learn more about the Refugee process or how to be involved? 

For questions about our office or our work, please contact me. I would love to chat with you about the backgrounds of some of our refugees and how they make it to the Upstate. If you are willing to volunteer, I can connect you with our Volunteer and Church Mobilization Specialist to discuss our training process!! Our contact info is here! 

 

 

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Blog, Mission Ideas

Heading Back to School

It feels like this summer has FLOWN by for us! It was my first summer at home with the girls full time and in between visits with their cousins, Vacation Bible School, swim lessons, and play dates, we enjoyed just being together. If I’m honest though, I’m kinda sad that they will be heading back to school in just a couple weeks. I know that not everyone feels that way though! I have several friends who are counting the hours down! That may be me by next week! HA!

As we are gearing up for school this coming year, I am beginning to think of ways that we need to get ready. Yes, we will be buying the school supplies and the new backpack. (Who knew that preschoolers needed school supplies!?!) But I also want to prepare their hearts to go back too. I want them to see this as a new year, a new start, and new opportunities to see others around them.

Here are some ideas for us as we head back:

  1. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!  Begin praying even now before you go back. Pray with your kiddos for their new school year. Pray for their teacher. Pray for their friends who they already know and for the new friends that they will make. Pray for the administration of their schools and for those in authority over them this coming year. Invite and encourage them to pray for these things too! Meet up with other parents and friends and prayer walk at your school too! I know locally there are several prayer walks that happen at schools at the beginning of each year. Join one or organize one!
  2. Look for the NEW Families! This is fresh on my mind this year because my girls will be the new kids this year. We’ve loved our previous preschool but when I resigned my position, we also made the decision to move them to a preschool that was closer to where we lived. As my four year old was chatting with me before bed the other evening, she shared that one thing she was nervous about was not having any friends. She’s four and already feels the pain of not knowing anyone. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the third grader or the eighth grader or even the senior in high school. Let’s be parents that open our hearts and our lives to the new and encourage our kids to do the same! Encourage them to play with them, invite them in, make them feel at home. And let’s do the same for the new mamas too!
  3. Be FOR your child’s teacher! I believe that teachers have one of the hardest jobs – hands down! Not only do they have to be at their best all day for 20-30 children at a time, they have to answer to the authority over them, and meet state and national requirements, all the while keeping parents pleased too… whew, that’s tough! Let’s do our best to offer encouragement to our teachers, to be patient with them, to back them (maybe even if we don’t agree with them). You can do that by asking them what they need, showing up to offer help when they need it, sending a goody or two (even when it’s not a holiday), thanking them. We never know what battles our teachers are facing – they are people just like you and I and sadly, many people forget that during the course of the school year.
  4. Be involved! Sign up to go on that field trip. Help with that class party. Check to see if you can read to your child’s class. Ask how you can be involved. As believers, we have lots of opportunities to shine the light of Christ in our child’s classroom. Don’t miss those opportunities. For mamas that are working, many times there are morning activities for children who have to arrive early. Several years ago, I had a fun opportunity to go and read to kids who arrived early at a local school. It was early but it was fun and all I had to do was read, which was about all I could muster so early! ha Look for ways to use your gifts too. Some schools have book clubs, drama clubs, art clubs, computer clubs,  running clubs, and so on… Just ask how you can get plugged in! And keep asking!
  5. Serve kids and families in need. There are many kids who will come to school with your kiddo who may or may not have enough to eat or clean underwear.  They will head out on Friday unsure of what they will eat over the weekend too.  There are ministries that provide a backpack of food for a child to take home on Friday and return on Monday to receive it again the following week. Donate canned goods, your time or financially to those ministries. Also many schools have food pantries or keep extra clothes for those families that need assistance. While teachers and administration can’t give you specific children and families, they can share the needs with you.  Just be sure to keep your eyes and your hearts and your hands open. Also, just know that many teachers take it upon themselves to buy that new pair of shoes for the child in their class who’s shoes have fallen apart. So maybe you could send a teacher a gift card to help with those items too!

I’m mostly new at this heading back to school thing, so what ideas have you put in to practice to help you and your kiddos get ready to head back to school! Let’s share our ideas and encourage one another as a new school year kicks off!

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission

Service Opportunity: Family Prayer Room

On the third floor of the Bridge, a community ministry center located in the Northside, there is a Prayer Center. A place where you can go and pray, get quiet before the Lord, and hear from Him. It’s a quiet, sweet place set aside for individual and group prayer times.

Steve Wise, Minister of Missions at First Baptist Spartanburg, has quite the plan for that place and would love to see a family prayer room become a part of the Prayer Center. That’s where we, as On Mission Moms, come in!

We’ve been asked to help plan and prepare that room for families to use as a place to come, with their little ones in tow, and pray together. What would you like to see in a family prayer room? Maybe a chalkboard wall for the little ones to draw their prayers on while Mom prays, maybe some rocking chairs to rock in as the family prays and the baby snoozes, It’s a blank page and we get to design it!

So, let’s get together and pray, plan, and prepare to get to work! We will be meeting, Wednesday, May 23rd at 6:30 in the Bridge Prayer Center. Come ready to pray and dream together and then let’s get ready to serve and build a Family Prayer Room, where we can bring our little ones to be a part of praying for God to do big things in our home, in our city, and around the world!

Blog, Friday Faves

Friday Faves

Here are some interesting and fun resources that I’ve come across that I hope will challenge us all to be “on mission moms”.

  1. One Mom’s Aha Moment

This mom SO inspires me!! We are surrounded by great opportunities to engage the nations right here in the US! They are coming to us! One of my dearest friends from North Africa (funny story how I met her and her precious daughter!) lived in the States for 14 years and do you know that NOT ONE person ever invited her and her family to visit with them in their home… NOT ONE…  This young lady is from a family of great influence in her country in North Africa and just think, if someone would have shared Christ with her here, if she had believed and then returned back to her home country, the impact that she could have made in her own country, among her own people… blows my mind… but alas… no one ever shared with her…. for 14 years…

2.  Working with Refugees can be a bit intimidating – how do you start, what do you say and do… here are some great websites:

Make It Personal 

Pray 

3. I came across some GREAT books this week at the Library that talks about Refugees and Immigration (it’s not exactly clear about whether the family were refugees or immigrated… there is a DIFFERENCE!) But one thing I love about reading these books with my girls is that it begins to help them understand that their world is bigger than just the little friends that look like them and talk like them and in this case has a name like them…  These are not necessarily “spiritual” books but great nonetheless!  I may have even shed a couple tears as I read this… oh “allergies!”

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The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

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Goodbye Havana, Hola New York by Edie Colon 

 

4. You just gotta watch this with your little ones! My girls and I have been loving this and singing along and maybe even having a dance party or two…

 

5. I’m super excited about this new book from Kristen Welch!  I shared a couple weeks ago in a Friday Faves about her other book, “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World”… and it is such a good book. I’m looking forward to this one! You can preorder it now and it comes out May 1st.

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Soooo… lets get to “shining” friends – sharing Jesus with our families and friends!

 

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Oh – and if you are a local mama, don’t forget to sign up in our On Mission Moms facebook group for the upcoming event on April 14th! Bring your little ones and let’s serve together. Space is limited and we will be emailing you the address and more details once you sign up. It’s gonna be FUN!