RIM #40for40 Refugee Posts:
See all posts below, in honor of the 40 year anniversary of the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980–now 40 years old in 2020! Posts highlight the following pattern:
“Story Mondays” & “Story Fridays”–Stories of Disciples’ work with refugees
“Action Tuesdays”–Actions you & your congregation can take NOW to support and engage with refugees
“Worship Wednesdays”-Prayers, Litanies, Songs, and Testimonies about and from refugees
“Tribute Thursdays”–Tales of refugees who are essential workers and healers during the COVID-19 crisis
DAY 1–Meet Irmgard Wessel, a Jew from Germany, 1st Refugee Resettled by Disciples, in Eureka, Illinois
Today is DAY 1 of #40for40 from Disciples Refugee &
Immigration Ministries! As this is the 40 Year Anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980, you’ll hear stories and receive resources on every weekday for the next 40 days about how you can speak and act to show you believe #RefugeesWelcome! We hope you’ll follow us every day!
Today, meet Irmgard Wessel (1925-2014), daughter of the first refugee family to be resettled by a Disciples congregation – Eureka Christian Church in Eureka, IL. Her parents, Louis and Grete, evacuated her from Germany, through England, before managing to escape themselves. After a year-and-a-half separation, Irmgard and her family were finally reunited in 1940.
Once reunited, they were sent to a hostel run by Quakers in the Midwest, to learn more about how to live in America. In that Center in Scattergood, Iowa, twelve Americans helped train thirty refugees. In the early 1940’s, a group from the local Christian Church of Eureka, Illinois visited the hostel. Members of the church had been praying for months to find ways to help the refugees they had heard about who faced difficult hardships.
The church felt their prayers were answered as they met the young Irmgard and her family, and they immediately invited them to come to their community in Eureka, Illinois. Once there, they helped to resettle the refugees in a local apartment; complete with beds, food, and other necessities. As the family remembers, “We were welcomed by the church, and came to know the congregation when we were invited to a potluck dinner.”
The town itself did its best to be helpful and prepare the family for a good life in America, even though residents were from a different religion and culture than Irmgard’s family. The town and the family enjoyed learning from one another! Irmgard eventually attended Eureka College on a full ride scholarship, and served as a social worker for over 40 years. Years later, she was awarded an alumni award from Eureka College, during the same year as Ronald Reagan likewise received an alumni award!
Irmgard’s grandchildren now operate a family foundation that helps support other refugees. In November of 2015, when one state refused to resettle Syrian refugees, Irmgard’s grandson sent a large contribution to the state who decided to accept and welcome the family. He did that, he said, in honor of his grandmother Irmgard “because she never forgot how the church in Eureka had loved and accepted her family when they were refugees.”
DAY 2–The US Refugee Act of 1980 & How We Can Support It
DAY 2 of Disciples RIM #40for40
: Why is Disciples Refugee & Immigration & Refugee Ministries sharing 40 posts about refugees over 40 weekdays? Because 2020 is the 40th birthday of the Refugee Act of 1980! The US Refugee Act • Created the U.S. resettlement program • Set the legal basis for asylum • Knew U.S. resettlement advances our foreign policy priorities & security. See: https://www.archivesfoundation.org/documents/refugee-act-1980/
DAY 3–Enjoy Sara Bereilles’ “A Safe Place to Land” about Refugees
Today is DAY 3 of #40for40 from Disciples RIM! Today, we offer “A Safe Place to Land,” a song about the refugee experience by Sara Bereilles, and featuring John Legend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN7ZVXppjuU. Bereilles wrote the lyrics during the refugee crisis of 2018. Over 37 more posts to follow, we will continue to honor the 40 year birthday of the US Refugee Act of 1980, by sharing posts that honor the contributions of refugees. On Mondays & Fridays, we’ll share stories of Disciples’ work with refugees. On Tuesdays we’ll share actions, on Wednesdays, we’ll offer music and prayers, and on Thursdays stories of refugee essential workers during COVID-19. May today’s music inspire you and your congregation to offer “A Safe Place to Land” for those escaping tragedies!
DAY 4–Celebrate Healing Art from Refugee Youth
DAY 4 of #40for40 from Disciples RIM: See & share these youth art images showing a world of love for refugees to heal COVID-19: https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/stories/2020/7/5f0ec22c4/young-artists-drew-world-kindness-defeats-covid-19-animated.html @DisciplesNews @DHMDisciples @DisciplesWomen #refugeeswelcome #RiseForRefuge #discipleswelcome
DAY 5–Meet Khadra Aden from Somalia, in Kansas City, MO.
DAY 5 of #40for40 from Disciples RIM (Refugee & Immigration Ministries): Meet Khadra Aden, a refugee from Somalia. Khadra, her parents and some of her siblings fled their homeland during the civil war in the early 1990’s. Her father determined that his family would be safe only if they left their beloved country. After living in a refugee camp for several years, they were able to come to Kansas City through the sponsorship of Khadra’s sister, who was already living in the United States. The sister helped them settle into a small apartment in Kansas City, MO. Her father instilled in his children the importance of work and helping others. Khadra graduated from high school and got her first full time job in housekeeping with a Marriott hotel. She rode the bus across town, her hours were long, but she did what she could to help her family.
Khadra eventually attended community college, and for the last 15 years, she has worked at Della Lamb Community Services, a small agency providing social service assistance in KC. About 7 years ago, Della Lamb became one of three agencies to sponsor incoming refugee families in Kansas City. One of Khadra’s responsibilities was to find housing for the families, a formidable task. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Nancy Lear, Country Club Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) began helping to set up the houses and apartments. (They collect household goods, make up the beds, clean the bathrooms and kitchens and try to make warm, inviting homes.) Fortunately, through hard effort and constant prayer, Khadra established relationships with several landlords in the area, some of whom are refugees themselves. The families for whom she has found housing number in the hundreds, often finding places at the very last minute. She is a devout Muslim who is very active in her mosque, and she thanks God for every successful placement. Khadra cares deeply for every family that Della Lamb serves.
Pictured are Khadra and her three children: Khadra’s daughter works in health care and plans to get a master’s degree. Her older son received a scholarship to the University of Kansas where he is a junior. Her younger son just completed his first year at Washington University in St. Louis on a full ride scholarship.
DAY 6–Meet Peter, One of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” in Kentucky
DAY 6 of #40for40 from DisciplesRIM: Meet Peter, one of the “lost boys of Sudan.” As an 11-year-old, Peter was separated from his family by war, and fled violence with other young boys in 1997. He shared about his journey with Disciples Women of the Kentucky Region, saying, “What was my food? It was a tree. It was a leaf. It was mud.”
The boys first stayed for six years with other refugees in Ethiopia, surviving day by day, and sometimes seeking safety in the river. As violence continued to encroach there, Peter was tragically shot in the face by soldiers. After that, the Red Cross in Africa provided some assistance. He and other boys then found their way into a U.N. refugee camp in Kenya, where they lived for about 10 years. “There” he said, “we were given 5 gallons of water two times a day—to be used for cooking, showering, and drinking.”
His injuries prioritized him for resettlement through Kentucky Refugee Ministries, and he eventually found his way into the welcoming arms of Jeffersontown Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) near Louisville, which has worked with many refugee families over the years. Church members helped Peter get the multiple surgeries needed to repair the damage to his face and teeth from being shot.
“In Africa” he testified, “Red Cross was my family. But here, Jeffersontown Christian Church is my family.” And indeed, the love between Peter and church members is mutual. Rev. Linda Jones, then KY Regional Minister and Jeffersontown Christian Church member beamed, saying, “Peter, his new wife, and three children have brought so much love into the church. He says he has ‘found new life.’ But through him, the church did too.”
Pictured are Peter, in center of left photo, with Rev. Linda Jones (L) and Kentucky Refugee Ministry’s (KRM) Co-Sponsorship Developer Maha Kolko (R) at the Disciples Women Spring Gathering in Frankfurt, KY. in April, 2018.
DAY 7–Take Action to learn about refugees
It’s Day 7: “Action Tuesdays” in Disciples #40for40
posts of actions to take as Disciples to support refugees! View this video from our
DAY 8–Learn About Hospitality Through The Ages
Refugees teach us constantly about hospitality, and remind us of the value of generosity throughout cultures & history! #RefugeesWelcome #40for40
DAY 9–Thank Refugee Essential Workers
Today is DAY 9 of #40for40
posts by Disciples RIM–in honor of the 40 Year Anniversary
DAY 10–Meet Cecelia, a refugee from Liberia, in South Bend, IN.
Meet Cecelia, who arrived from Liberia with her mother, her son, and her half brother. She and her family found a home with First Christian Church, South Bend, IN. This is their story, as told by Lori Krase-Cayton, who now serves with the CC(DOC) in the Upper Midwest.:
Pictured: Cecelia’s Naturalization (with FCC members cheering her on!)
I first started working with refugee resettlement through Refugee and Immigration Services of South Bend as their Sponsorship developer. When I learned about my first family arriving after I started the new sponsorship development position, I asked if FCC would be up to the task of sponsorship and helping me to walk through my first experience with it.
The congregation embraced Cecelia and her family wholeheartedly. The family stayed at my own house for the first couple of weeks – until we were able to secure an apartment for the family and get it furnished. The church provided all of the furnishings and stocked the kitchen. Numerous members signed on to help with errands for the family and took on anything from doctors appointments to ESL classes to enrolling the boys in school. Cecelia felt very strongly that she wanted to worship with her sponsoring congregation, so volunteers also jumped in to help with transportation to church activities.
Like many refugees, Cecelia is an incredible woman who has thrived in pursuing her dreams and goals through resettlement. She started working as soon as she possibly could and had saved up to purchase a house within a couple of years of arriving. While the formal relationship of resettlement is a very brief period, that meant nothing to the members of the congregation. They have stuck with Cecelia’s family as life-long friends – even after the congregation closed its doors. A big group from the church witnessed Cecelia’s citizenship ceremony together, greeted her newborn son with her, and attended her son’s final high school soccer game. More recently, Cecelia’s mother passed away and those same friends have held her up and grieved along with her.
Not all sponsorship experiences turn into lifelong friendships, but those of us that have been touched by Cecelia’s life, as well as Jonathan, Patrick, and Annie’s, feel blessed beyond imagination.
DAY 11, August 17–Hear About Ridglea Christian Church’s long work with refugees in Fort Worth, TX
It’s Day 11 of RIM’s “40for40” posts; honoring refugees and our Disciples faithful work with them, and the 40 Year Anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980! Meet Ridglea Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fort Worth, TX., whose history of working with refugees goes back generations. Pastor Allison Lanza of Ridglea recalls:
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
I remember my grandfather telling me the story about his friend from Vietnam. Years ago, when refugees from Vietnam were seeking home and safety in our community, our church, Ridglea Christian Church, partnered with a Vietnamese family. Together they worked to make sure this phenomenal family had a place to live, friends, and community as they were learning a new language and culture after having escaped violence and fear.. My grandad volunteered to help drive the dad to work. Even with the language barrier, they became neighbors and friends. This became my model for what it means to be a good neighbor.
Our congregation has continued this work ever since. Each year, we partner with Refugee Services of Texas Fort Worth to welcome our new neighbors home. When we find out a family is on their way, we fill their apartment with everything they might need – furniture, bed spreads, toiletries, supplies for the kids, and a stocked kitchen with food that tastes like home. We greet them at the airport to be a friendly face when they arrive usually after days of travel and years in a refugee camp after having had to flee home when violence became overwhelming. Strangers become neighbors who become friends.
If ever I must escape home with my family and flee to a place where I am a total stranger, I pray that someone, like my grandfather, will meet me with a smile, and a home set up with my comfort foods, and a reminder that I am not alone. And, I know and trust that they will. That is what neighbors do.”
Day 12, August 18–Use this Toolkit to take action for refugees
It’s Day 12 of RIM’s “#40for40” posts; Now’s the time the administration chooses how many refugees to welcome in 2021. Please see this “August Recess Toolkit,” & we pray you’ll use it to meet with district staffers & advocate for the restoration of the refugee resettlement program: AugustRecessToolkit2020
Day 13–Share these hymns about the God of outcasts and refugees
On Day #13 of #40for40 from Disciples RIM, we lift up one of multiple hymns about the God of outcasts and refugees who flee for their lives; from Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. See words here: Carolynshymns and sing with tune here
Day 14– Meet Leu, a refugee essential hospital worker in Alaska, trained by Catholic resettlement partners
Today, as we continue to celebrate the 40 year birthday of the US Refugee Act this year!) our Disciples RIM #40for40 post shares the story of Leu, a refugee essential hospital worker in Alaska, trained by Catholic resettlement partners. THANK YOU, Leu, for underlining how much refugees offer to economic, social, spiritual, and human fabric of each state in our nation!! Read full story here.
Day 15–Learn about “Connect Fort Worth” from Rev. Allison Lanza, Director of Connect Fort Worth.
Day 15 of RIM’s #40for40
posts focuses on the amazing ministry of “Connect Fort Worth”–as we continue to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980:
Hear this story from Rev. Allison Lanza, Director of Connect Fort Worth, a Disciples ministry by Ridglea Christian Church that hosts mission trip groups from across the country:
“When I became a foster mom to a 3 day old little boy, without a clue what I was doing, I found my strength in Mama Rose. Mama Rose is one of the guest speakers for our church’s service learning ministry, Connect Fort Worth.
Mission trip groups come from across the country to learn to put their faith into action through service and justice in ways that are relational, sustainable and dignity-giving. Groups that choose the refugees & immigration track get to learn from amazing people like Mama Rose.
Mama Rose is on staff at Refugee Services of Texas Fort Worth and is herself a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She tells our groups about the days when her life was threatened, and how she escaped with her brand new baby straight from the hospital.
She walked and hid for days and days seeking safety in a refugee camp. She endured months and months of waiting and hoping and longing to be reunited with her family while there. She is now resettled in Fort Worth and her whole family has made it here with her.
That newborn baby, and all of her kids, are now thriving adults who are serving as doctors and students and in the military to protect and care for others. She spends her days helping refugees new to Fort Worth to feel welcomed, get settled, and find home again. She empowers our groups to speak up and stand out for refugees in their own communities. She is one of my heroes.
Each time I thought there is no way I can do this mom to a newborn thing as a single mom on a pastor’s salary and schedule, I remembered Mama Rose’s strength. I spent nights awake thinking about moms just like her putting their babies in boats to escape Syria, hiding from drug cartels at our southern border, fleeing unspeakable violence with nothing but what they can carry with them, because their love for their children would let them do nothing less.
We must as faithful people, pray and advocate and work for the day when strong mothers and beloved children of God all have safe places to live and be and thrive.”
Day 16–University Christian Church in Ft. Worth shares their work with a Congolese single mother with six children
Day 16 of #40for40
University Christian Church in Ft. Worth, Texas sponsored a single mother with six children from the Congo. This is that story, shared by Rev. Eldon Irving:
The chair of the church refugee committee invited my wife and me to accompany her and her family in welcoming the newcomers at the airport. The mother and her children had been on three long flights to get here, and arrived wearing several layers of clothes, each carrying nap sacks, and the mother carried her youngest baby wrapped in a blanket against her chest. She looked totally exhausted.
My wife offered, through the interpreter, to hold the baby if it would be helpful and alright with the mother. Once the interpreter shared the offer, the mother immediately unwrapped her baby and handed her to my wife. As greetings took place and plans were established, the children – refugee and American alike – took it upon themselves to start playing soccer together.
The church refugee committee had furnished a three bedroom apartment near other refugee families and paid several months rent. They also filled the cupboards and refrigerator with food in anticipation of their arrival. Members of the committee prepared a meal for the family, so they wouldn’t have to cook after their long journey to their new home (although the interpreter did show the mother, and two older children how to work the appliances in the apartment, while the younger children played with the toys the church refugee committee had brought).
Later, we took the family to buy new clothes and shoes. The mother was so delighted with her new shoes that she danced in them! The committee helped her to find a job and get the children enrolled in school.
According to the Texas Refugee Association, the purpose of sponsoring a refugee family is to set them up so they can be independent. This was achieved, and the mother and her children are now confidently self-reliant.
Day 17, #40for40: Faith Leaders & Faith Organizations/Congregations, SIGN ON HERE BY MON., AUG. 31st urging the administration to commit to resettling 95,000 refugees in FY 2020:
(In picture, young Laotian girl dancers, who were born to refugee parents, pose years ago in Fresno, CA.–demonstrating their love for both their traditional culture, as well as for new cultural influences in the U.S.) #RiseforRefuge #RefugeesWelcome #Welcome95k
Day 18–With appreciation to previous longtime Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries Director, Rev. Jennifer Riggs, see & pray these worship resources
Day 18: With appreciation to previous longtime Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries Director, Rev. Jennifer Riggs, see & pray these worship resources: Worship Materials
Day 19–Read Rita’s story, a refugee essential worker in Missoula, Montana
There are over 176,000 refugee healthcare workers in the US. Rita is one of them, from Missoula, MT. See her story & more from partners at International Rescue Committee: Rita’s story
Thank you, Rita, and all refugees–and share with your legislators you WANT the US to return to resettlement of our historic number of 95,000 refugees annually, as we approach the new fiscal year on October 1st!! Congress must consult with the President about these numbers in the next month! #refugeeswelcome2021
Day 20–Meet Glenda and her daughters Yessica and Merai, who began attending Carthage Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
It’s Day 20 of RIM’s #40for40
posts, honoring the 40 year anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980: Meet Glenda and her daughters Yessica and Merai, who began attending Carthage Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is the story of that meeting as told by Rev. Alan Dicken.
Our neighbor (lives a couple doors down from the church) Glenda is from Guatemala. She used to come to our weekly free Friday meals and our monthly food pantry and clothing distributions. She became a familiar face that everyone looked forward to seeing – in part because she always brought her two daughters, Yessica and Merari, to the church with her. Yessica was a little older and a little quieter, but as soon as Merari learned to walk, she learned to run up to you with arms spread wide and give you a big hug – expecting you to pick her up!
After a few years of talking with Glenda, she shared that she had fled Guatemala fearing that violence would take Yessica from her. So she came to the United States and settled in Cincinnati because she knew a distant cousin who lived here. Glenda told her story with tears in her eyes and shared that she didn’t know if she’d ever be able to go back to see her own mother ever again.
We offered support for her and her family beyond the normal outreach distributions and soon Glenda felt comfortable enough that she began attending services on Sunday. We started having one song per week be in Spanish and made sure our communion invitation was in English and Spanish. Folks at the church certainly fumbled over some of the new Spanish hymns, but soon learned to love the enriched worship experience. One of our elders recently shared that, “Whenever I hear the invitation to communion in English and Spanish, I’m reminded that this table is truly open to the whole globe and I am forced to see Jesus so much more broadly than I had before!”
Glenda, Yessica, and Merari have read for Advent and lit candles on our wreath, they have volunteered around the church, brought some new flavors and dishes to our monthly luncheons (back when we had them before the pandemic), and have transformed our worship services forever. More than that, they have put faces and stories on the highly politicized immigration narrative. After watching Yessica light a candle on our advent wreath, and seeing Merari run in for another “pick up” hug, one of our more conservative members said to me, “You know I used to hear the news about immigrants and think one thing, but after seeing this family here as a part of this church, I realized, ‘Oh no! We need to help these people and show them the love that Christ has shown us!”
Shortly after Glenda and her family began attending services, Cincinnati congregations from across multiple faiths united to form the Cincinnati Sanctuary Congregation Coalition. Made up of Jewish, Christian, Unitarian, and Muslim congregations we decided to pool our resources to offer support for asylum seekers who may be in need of a place to call home in the United States. After having gotten to know Glenda and her family, this was one of the easiest congregational votes we took. We were 100% in favor of joining the coalition and now we take turns with other congregations from around the city to support a Congolese family that is staying in a sister congregation here in the city.
Glenda and her family have opened our hearts, changed our worship, impacted our outreach, and have forever shaped our understanding of how global Christ’s call to love your neighbor really is! #DisciplesAndRefugees
Day 21–Meet Swa Dit and his family from Myanmar, sponsored by Saint Andrew Christian Church, Olathe, Kansas
Day 21 of RIM’s #40for40
posts, honoring Disciples’ work with refugees, during this 40 year anniversary year of the US Refugee Act of 1980!:
Meet Swa Dit, a refugee from Myanmar, and Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the congregation that sponsored his family!
Saint Andrew Christian has a long history of supporting refugee families through mentoring and befriending, through tutoring English, and coaching those pursuing citizenship, collecting housewares, furniture, and other items necessary to setting up a household and have helped make apartments and houses ready for the new families, and providing transportation to jobs and services. In 2016, the church officially created Hand of Welcome, a missional subcommittee to help the church stay in touch with community agencies to keep informed of the needs of local refugees and to keep our congregation aware and engaged.
Even during this time of fewer refugee admissions and resettlements and in spite of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, Saint Andrew Christian manages to continue their support of refugees, including their sponsorship of a refugee family from Myanmar through a Community Supported Agriculture program. This is that story, as told by Jane-Elyse Pryor, the Chair of the Hand of Welcome committee:
“We are just wrapping up our fourth year with Swa Dit and his family, with whom we connected through a Catholic Charities program called New Roots for Refugees. New Roots teaches refugees how and what to farm in our local environment, and the education includes learning how to market the produce they grow.
“Swa Dit graduated from the four-year program, and his family held their first “farmer’s market” at Saint Andrew in 2017. Every summer since, we have contracted with them for 18 weeks. Church members buy shares in the cooperative and pick up their produce after church every Sunday. Individuals can purchase any remaining produce not sold through the subscriptions.
“COVID has prevented us from holding church services for several months now, but it has not prevented our family and CSA supporters at Saint Andrew from holding the market each week, May to September. It’s held on the church patio, and it has become one of the few opportunities we have for people to gather with others on Sunday. The patio space allows social distancing, and everyone wears masks. And this season, we established a relationship with a Sunday food pantry operated by a Seventh Day Adventist congregation. Using funds from our Mission Committee budget and with donations from the congregation, we have been able to purchase the unsold produce every week and take it to the food pantry.
“The CSA partnership is one we are particularly proud of because it is truly a win for the refugee family, for our church, for the food pantry. And it has survived the pandemic.”
Day 22–Urge Congress to welcome 95,000 refugees next year
On this Day 22 of RIM’s #40for40
posts in honor of the 40 Year Anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980, the US administration is currently considering how many refugees to welcome in 2021! NOW is the time to speak up! Urge Congress to hold them accountable to welcoming 95,000 refugees next year: Click here to take ACTION
Day 23–Pray this Prayer for Refugees & Migrants, by Evelmyn Ivens
For today’s 23rd of RIM’s #40for40 posts, I invite you to pray this prayer for refugees & migrants by Evelmyn Ivens: Click Here for prayer. Also check out her article, “Virgins, Nuns, Preachers” about women in Latin American Christianity: Click HERE.
Day 24–Honor of the 40 Year Anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980 by supporting refugee meatpacking workers
Refugee Posts, Day 24–in honor of the 40 Year Anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980!: Thru the US, many workers in meatpacking plants are refugees from Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, & more who take on food production jobs to feed their families & ours! As we enjoy grilling, let’s urge health & labor care for refugees who take risks for us all #RefugeesWelcome
Day 25–Celebrate Iowa’s five term Republican Governor Robert Ray, a Disciples of Christ elder from First Christian Church in Des Moines, who encouraged resettlement of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees in Iowa
post in honor of the 40 year anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980 celebrates five term Iowa Republican Governor Robert Ray, a Disciples of Christ elder from First Christian Church in Des Moines, who encouraged resettlement of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees in Iowa. We are excited to remind ourselves, and also @ChuckGrassley who leads on the Senate Judiciary Committee, of Gov. Ray’s long support for refugees!
In 1974, Gov. Ray convinced President Ford to allow Iowa to accept all 3,500 Tai Dam refugees escaping Southeast Asia to come to Iowa. In 1979, he wrote to President Carter, urging Iowa be allowed to receive 1,500 additional refugees. Governor Ray’s mid-Western and Christian welcoming work led him to be thought of as perhaps the legislator with most influence over Southeast Asian refugee policy. His work is chronicled in The Good Governor: Robert Ray and the Indochinese Refugees of Iowa by Matthew R. Walsh.
Governor Ray well demonstrated the historically bipartisan and deeply faithful nature of refugee resettlement. At the 1979 CC(DOC) General Assembly in Saint Louis, Governor Ray urged all congregations around the country to ‘” just say that you believe in Jesus, SHOW ME by welcoming refugees!”
Governor Ray extended his influence to support the resettlement of refugees through his service as the national chair of the National Governors Association, and in the Republican Governors Association. He likewise served as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland in 1979.
As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we are deeply proud of Governor Ray’s heritage of faith and hospitality. Decades later, our spiritual calling to open arms and neighborhoods to families needing protection remains constant. This letter shouts out our readiness to welcome 95,000 refugees annually, for the good of our congregations and communities: Click HERE
In honor of Governor Ray, please call your Senators and Representatives TODAY to share your ongoing love for refugees, and hope for a return to our historic US average of committing to welcome 95,000 refugees annually!
Day 26–Giving Thanks for Refugee Workers in Newton, Iowa
Day 26 of RIM’s #40for40
: Newton, Iowa was for decades known as “The Washing Machine Capital of the World” because of its production and headquarters for Maytag; until it sold to Whirlpool and closed in 2007. But, refugee workers are now helping Newton create its newer history!
Located about 30 miles east of Des Moines in Central Iowa, and now a town of about 15,000, Newton was awarded the National Sustainable Community of the Year Award (Small Community Category) by Siemens and the US Chamber of Commerce in 2010 based on their outstanding efforts to achieve complementary economic, environmental and social goals, as well as to improve the overall quality of life within their communities. And, a significant part of that story is related to refugee employment contributions—as told by Andy Elliott, member of First Christian Church in Newton, IA, and new Phillips Theological Seminary student!:
“I am a Commissioned Minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but my secular job is as a process engineering leader in Newton, IA with the world’s largest wind blade manufacturer. We have over 1,000 employees at 2 facilities in Iowa, and around 75-80% of these employees are refugees, or descendants or children of refugees.
We rely on these individuals so much to be a crucial part of our team to help us make continued strides in reducing the amount of fossil fuels that we as a nation rely on, as we produce blades for wind turbines. We have 32 different countries represented among our employees, and every year during diversity week, we hold a huge potluck to celebrate them working with us.
We love all of our employees so much, and we know as a company how important they all are to our facility. Truly, we would not be where we are today in Newton, IA, as a company, without these refugee families. I encourage our nation to allow the 95,000 refugees to be allowed into our country, so that they can help further our country’s abilities to produce and thrive.”
Day 27–Call Now to share your congregation’s love & welcome for #Refugees!!
For Day 27 of RIM’s #40for40
posts, pls call NOW to share your congregation’s long love & welcome for #Refugees
!! Ask Congress to hold the administration accountable to welcome 95,000 refugees next yr: Take ACTION now
Day 28–Pray for refugees affected by fire in Europe’s largest refugee camp on the island Lesbos of Greece
For post #28 on this “Worship Wednesday” for refugees from RIM, we lift up prayers for refugees affected by yesterday’s fire in Europe’s largest refugee camp on the island Lesbos of Greece.
As NY Times reported
today, the camp, with primarily Afghan refugee residents, “has long been a desperate makeshift home for thousands of refugees and migrants who have risked everything to flee war and economic hardship for a better life. They lived in cramped tents with limited access to toilets, showers and health care.
For years, rights groups warned that these squalid conditions would sooner or later prompt a humanitarian disaster.”
Let us pray: Lord of life, hear our plea for safety for ones who have been seeking protection desperately. Grant new space for life for all displaced through this week’s fire. Move in the hearts of the camp’s neighbors to build solutions for security and offer arms with opportunity. AMEN.
Day 29–Thank Refugees for their positive impact on the US economy & communities
Day 30–Heights Christian Church offers a “Wall of Kindness” to Latvian refugees in 1949, and continues to welcome today!
Both in its heritage & present, Heights Christian Church, OH has offered a “Wall of Kindness” to its neighbors!
Pictured here is the Wall of Kindness from today’s Heights Christian Church, OH , together with the Latvian Viburs family of refugees they assisted in 1949! The ministry of Heights CC in 1949 makes it one of the earliest images of our Disciples connections with refugees.
Even though this is the 40 year anniversary of the US Refugee Act of 1980, which established the processes of refugee resettlement and asylum which have guided our nation for the past four decades, the work of Heights CC demonstrates that Disciples were engaged in partnership with refugees since the years following the end of WWII. #ActionForRefugees #WeAreWelcomers #95KforUSA #RefugeesWelcome
Day 31–Remembering the Welcome by First Christian Church of Shawnee, OK of refugees in 1960
In July 1960, the US Fair Share Refugee Act was approved, joining the US w/ an international effort to close refugee
camps that had been open in war torn Europe since WWII.
19,700 refugees entered the US then, which represented one fourth of the total number of refugees in this group. Included among them was a refugee announced by this Western Union telegram, going to Shawnee, OK.