Next Worship Gathering: Sat, Jan 15, 6:30, the St John room of Faith Community Church, 3450 CR 210, St. Johns, 32259
“You go nowhere by accident.” Remembering that, according to Pastor Jesse, is vital to living intentionally, living missionally.
On December 22, my husband and I drove 45 minutes to the Jacksonville International airport to welcome a newly arriving refugee family from Myanmar (Burma) as a Friendship Partner with World Relief Jacksonville (www.worldreliefjacksonville.org).
Friendship partners walk along side refugees for 3 – 6 months (informally often longer) offering them support with life skills, language instruction, transportation assistance and friendship, helping them adapt to the US culture and supporting them as they become self-sufficient.
The day prior, we received the family’s portfolio, learning among other things that the wife’s father and aunt had arrived in Jacksonville about two years ago and of course, family would be greeting the new arrivals at the airport as well.
Their family did indeed arrive… all seven of them!
Doubts crept in… What kind of welcome could I offer when her mother, who she hadn’t seen in years, was there to greet her?
Doubts crept in… What kind of support could I offer when her folks already successfully navigating the Jacksonville landscape were there for her?
Doubts crept in… Is this a waste of time? Counting travel time, this Welcome is going to take all evening… for what? This family is pretty much set – they have a lot of extended family in the area. What’s my role in this? (Spoiler alert: I was incorrect and God has a work for us to do here but I’ll save that for another post.)
I go nowhere by accident. Really? Really.
While waiting for our family to arrive I spent time getting to know a staff member of WR. She’s new to her position but has been volunteering with WR on and off over the last several years, focusing on ministry not just to refugees but to victims of sexual trafficking as well. She has a heart for Jesus and for helping the Kingdom break in here and now but she’s had some struggles as of late. Nothing too serious but you could tell they were becoming increasingly burdensome.
Before saying our good-byes I was called to offer prayer… The three of us stood, arms around each other in a little huddle in the parking garage of the Jax airport, praying. Praying for her, that she may be sustained in doing God’s work. Praying for our new arrivals as they reunite their family and begin this part of their journey. Praying for ourselves, that God helps us do right by these people.
I thought my purpose in going to the airport was to welcome a refugee family and that was certainly part of it but my task that night was bigger than that. We got to walk along side a missionary too.
I go nowhere by accident. Indeed.