When Mira followed the Spirit’s nudge and responded to VOR’s call for Care Team partnerships, it was a simple act of obedience to God. Little did she know that, fast forward 3 months, a property two doors down from where she lived would become available to house an Afghan family of 9 (!!) and God would stir many more hearts in her church community to respond in support of their new neighbors as one body…

1. How did you meet the S family? “When we received a letter from VOR introducing Care Teams, we began to pray about that. We brought it up to our church leadership, our missions ministry, and the whole congregation. We prayed for everybody to be on board with this journey of adopting a family. We kept praying and communicating closely with Joe (VOR Executive Director), waiting for a good fit. Some close matches and weeks later, the S family (with father, mother, and 7 kids) got introduced to VOR. In the waiting period, a 3-bedroom home (owned by the Korean congregation at my church) “happened to” become available. It had already been reserved for another purpose so we didn’t think the church would consider renting it to the Afghan family. Still, we prayed and invited others to pray. Miraculously, the church said YES on the same day! This home is two doors down from me, and within walking distance of many church members – it really makes a difference on the level of care we can consistently provide for the S family after they moved in! We are so thankful. The S family had been declined many times by 2-bedroom apartments and was about to be kicked out from their temporary housing, so it was God’s perfect timing for a home and a church community to open up for this new family of 7 children and 2 adults to find refuge. Truly, God answered all of our prayers!”

2. How did God first burden your heart for serving refugees? “Our family lived overseas in a Muslim country for 12 years before moving back to America four years ago. Shortly after our return, a friend shared with us about volunteering with VOR. Having lived among Muslims for years, we were interested and reached out to Joe, who arranged a visit to our Friday Bible study group to share about VOR. Joe also brought two guests from Iraq and Syria who shared their testimonies. That was our first step toward learning about refugees and asylum seekers.”

3. What was your first experience(s) serving refugees with VOR? “Trunk-N-Treat at the Harvest Festival in 2021! We came with around 12 people from our church – it was such a fun and easy way to start meeting refugee families! It was refreshing to have a safe space for everyone to be open about their religion while enjoying warm community moments together.”

4. In the way you experienced it, how did your church community journey through the process of catching the vision, sharing the burden and responding collectively? “Volunteering with VOR helped us learn that it is not just about “every single time we go and serve”, but the purpose is to build relationships and come away with a friendship that lasts for a long time after the event, so that we can really care for the person. What we find crucial is to invite volunteers to come back to church on Sunday prepared to share about their experiences. God has used each sharing to touch the hearts of different members (e.g., moms with young kids) in the congregation to realize that they, too, can take a step.”

5. Now that you are journeying so closely with the family, can you share some special moments with us? “With the family living literally two doors down, I see them every day and have spent so much time together – and God has grown our hearts and a deep love for them. I’ve found them to be so open and positive, humble and thankful. Their generosity and hospitality are amazing. They’re always calling their relatives in Afghanistan, Germany, Pakistan, calling their friends from refugee camps and hotels, and introducing us to them! As much as we’ve welcomed the S family into a new home, they have also opened their family and community wide to us.”

6. Anything you’d like to share with the Christian community about Afghan refugees (especially new arrivals like the S family)? “God is bringing them here to us. If we cannot go to their countries, then this is a simple way to take God’s glory to all of the nations, because they are right here! Our responsibility is to embrace and to share. They really do need help and they are really open to it. In particular, there is a short window (1 to 2 years) when refugees tend to be more open to people from outside their Muslim or cultural networks. It’s a wonderful time for us to pour out Jesus’ love in action, and this will be kept in their hearts for a long time, whether or not they respond to the gospel right away. There’s no time to lose to look beyond our selves, to live for God’s story and God’s purpose in loving other people.”

7. What do you see as some of the most urgent needs that the family is facing? Jobs, driver’s license and a car, English, and good friends. For the kids, good teachers who will embrace them, include them, and love on them, and compassionate friends at school, even if just one or two, will mean a lot.

8. How can we pray for you and the Care Team? “Pray for more people to join the Care Team. May God cultivate our hearts to care for others. Life gets busy and everyone has so much on their plates, but it is the work of the evil one who wants us to be so busy that we only look at ourselves. May God turn our hearts outward to see other people. Our Bible study group is looking forward to joining the S family for iftar on the 29th – we’ll be spending the evening learning and ministering – please pray!”

Pray along with Mira: “Dear Lord, We lift up the S Family to you! Thank you for bringing 9 of the 12 family members to America. We pray for their daughter who is still stuck in Afghanistan. May you grant protection for her and one day allow them all to be reunited. Lord, please help the family to adjust well to this country. Grant them the ability to all learn English quickly. Will you bring good friends and relationships into their lives. May they meet many Christians who will show them the love of Jesus and share the Good News with them. During this month of Ramadan, we pray that YOU will give them visions of Jesus and that they will ask questions! May they come to realize that Jesus is the only Way! Amen.”