Drs. Umer Akbar and Mayss Bajbouj-Kinjawi were in worship on January 13th for an informative presentation about the work of AHOPE (Americans Helping Others ProsEr) in refugee resettlement in Rhode Island. We learned about the spiritual connections for folks of Islamic faith to charitable work, and we had a chance to reflect on our own reasons for reaching out, including the injunctions in Matthew 25. After worship, they led a Question and Answer time for congregants who wanted to learn more.
In the recent disagreements about immigration, refugees have gotten shuffled into the mix in sometimes misleading ways. To receive refugee status, folks go through a lot. They have two years of evaluation and verification, and once they are granted that special status, they have often exhausted a lot of valuable resources. You can learn more about the process here. Luckily, at the end, there’s AHOPE! AHOPE works to connect people to communities and to living spaces. It provides mentoring services to folks who need them. They even manage to pair family members with appropriate gender and age matched volunteers to help them get up to speed in their new country.
Refugees are not terrorists. They are often fleeing terror in their own countries. They need a great deal of help to get on the road to safety and prosperity, but once they do, they often contribute greatly to the communities they join. Many churches in the 1970s and 1980s remember receiving refugee families from different war-torn countries in Asia, so there’s historical precedent for folks lending a helping hand. A freewill offering was taken after Dr. Akbar spoke, and I’m grateful the FFC Compassion Ministry set up this important opportunity. Several members of Franklin Federated expressed an interest in helping out. I’m grateful we supported them, and I’m grateful the congregation was exposed to this special message.
Pastor Charley Eastman