Note--this is a guest post from Benjie Biscoglia, who is heading up our efforts with World Relief.
This Sunday we’ll be kicking off our support for World Relief as they begin resettling refugees in the suburbs around Trinity. Susan Sperry, executive director of World Relief Dupage/Aurora, will be speaking during adult Sunday about their mission and providing an update in their move to our area. While Susan will address many ways that we can serve individually, there are a couple of initiatives that we are introducing that will allow us to serve together.
Good Neighbor Kit: Think about the biggest piece of luggage that you own. Not the light “long weekend” bag, but the big, clunky suitcase that only gets used for the “whole family” vacations. That type of bag is typically what holds all of the worldly belongings of a refugee coming to Chicago, refugees who often once were professionals or tradesmen with lives about as comfortable as ours.
One suitcase. If you had to leave home tonight, what would you pack? What are the “essentials”? Do you take the extra pair of shoes or the photo album? What do you leave behind in hopes of replacing later?
Last Sunday, we introduced a poster with Velcro puzzle pieces identifying all the items in the World Relief “good neighbor kit”. A complete kit will enable one resettled family to get started here. It includes the obvious things, like plates and vacuum cleaners, that refugees can’t practically bring with them, but it also includes smaller, maybe mundane but no less essential items, like stamps, bedsheets, and dish soap. If you would like to donate any of these items, please take a labeled puzzle piece and bring back the item listed on your piece. We’ll begin collecting items this Sunday through November 27.
Friendship Partners: We’re all familiar with the challenges and annoyances of moving to a new place. Imagine trying to set up your utilities or pay your bills in another language or just the intimidation factor of simply learning the culture.
This week, I picked up a young lady from Iraq whose plane literally landed 3 innings into Game 6, but she had never even heard of baseball! She speaks very good English, but had no idea what the announcer was saying on the radio or why everyone was cheering. What do you think she thought all of the “W” flags were for?
World Relief has set up a program where a group of people can partner with a new refugee family to help acclimate them to their new home. Serving in this program is fairly open-ended as it varies according to the needs of the family and the group that is serving. Last year, our small group partnered with a family from Burma.
Over the next four weeks, members of the Wheaton/Glen Ellyn small group will visit with the other small groups to talk about our experience as Friendship Partners. We’re not suggesting that all of the small groups should adopt a family (that’s a decision for each group); we just want to talk about our experience.
Please pray for our church’s involvement with World Relief, and should you have any questions or other ideas regarding support of refugees, feel free to contact me or Matt Potoshnick.