Who knew! There are literally thousands of refugee families from across the globe living in Houston within a few miles of each other. Partnering with Interfaith Ministries, 21 members of South Main Baptist Church and 3 children arrived at the Youth Center on Saturday, April 30, in spite of early morning predictions of heavy rain to prepare baskets of rice, beans and fresh produce and deliver them to 50 newly arrived families.
Once all of the baskets were prepared, Butch Green, SMBC member and local CBF missionary along with his wife, Nell Green, provided an overview of the next step - to deliver the baskets to the families. Butch provided some very helpful suggestions on how to introduce ourselves to the families, as well as what to do and what not to do. We prayed together and split up into delivery teams.
Hart Brupbacher and I delivered baskets to 7 families, all living in the same apartment complex in west Houston, near Beltway 8 and Harwin, not far from some of the other delivery locations. Our families were from Iraq, Iran, Somalia and Columbia. We found each apartment on our list, knocked on the door with the basket of food in hand and waited. To our surprise, all but one family answered the door, 3 families invited us in. We experienced genuine hospitality from these families, when we were there to extend the love of God to these new Houstonians!
One family in particular impacted us deeply. We met 6 members of the family -- mother, son of approximately 20 years, daughter of approximately the same age, daughter in fifth grade, and two young children 5 years and 20 months. Their native language was Arabic but the fifth grader (Ala) and the two young adults (Aws and Miriam) spoke English well.
Aws told us that he worked 16 hours a day to support his family. His father, who we did not meet, was recently injured on the job and unable to work. Aws has dreams of getting his high school diploma, going on to college and getting a good job. After our asking, they mentioned a couple of needs -- a microwave, a table and clothes for the young children. The mother wanted very much to learn English. I asked about whether the children had books and they said no. We offered to take these needs to our church and get back with them in the near future.
I couldn't help myself and ordered some children's books that are in both Arabic and English. I am planning to connect Aws with an organization very near their apartment that might be able to help him with an on-line GED program and help his mother with an ESL class.
We delivered the books the following weekend and shared the information about the nearby GED and ESL classes. What a blessing this experience was! We came bearing a "welcome" gift and received a much greater blessing.