When Amira first visited VOR, she felt cold and dismissive toward Christians. After all, she once taught the Quran to children at her local mosque. “What could followers of Jesus bring to the table when it comes to knowing God?” Her animosity sparked some tension among the VOR community and even conflict with one of the staff. As Amira continued to attend ESL at VOR, she began to share more about her life: feelings of isolation at home and anxiety about the long overdue asylum decision. Still, Amira kept a cautious distance from everyone with a hardened heart.

Then, one very hot summer day, Amira asked a VOR staff member Viola to bring her home. Viola replied, “Yes, of course.” During the ride, she asked hesitantly if she could be dropped at the school near her home. Again, Viola replied, “Yes.” Feeling incredulous, Amira said, “You’re willing to be here for me while I wait to pick up my daughter?” In the same way, Viola said, “Sure.”

After that day, there was a noticeable change in Amira’s demeanor. Everyone at VOR felt the transformation. Amira began to develop trust and became a regular at VOR. From there, Viola continued journeying with her. In particular, she helped Amira apply successfully to a training program in early childhood education. After 6 years of focused effort, Amira started her work at a school. She loves attending our community events and brings her daughter along. Once, she even asked if she could sing the song __________ (need Viola to fill in).

Last week, again in Viola’s car on the way to an appointment, Amira reflected on something that happened recently.

“I posted about VOR on my Facebook page. I wanted to express my gratitude. My life started with VOR. VOR helped me with driving, with jobs, and everything I need.” In response, her friend posted a public comment about Islam and Christianity. And Amira found herself actually speaking up for Christians! “I wrote back, encouraging my friend to trust Christians more. If you want to start your life here in America, start with VOR and followers of Jesus.” How amazing it is to witness Amira’s change in attitude, from animosity to advocacy! It’s humbling to see how God can use our everyday choices to be kind and generous to show Christ’s love and soften a hardened heart.

And the story continues…