Voices from the Frontline: Sheida’s Story
Fast forward to today. Recently, I was asked by our dear friend, Nazareth, if I could help out delivering food and grocery bags to the VOR families that were Farsi-speaking. Since the quarantine, like many, I have a lot of open time, so I said yes.
My first day consisted of delivering food to five families. I got to meet mostly the wives coming outside with their kids. I got a friendly and customary Middle Eastern invite for a cup of tea by almost every family. On my drive home, I thought to myself: “Only within 15 miles radius of my house, there is a whole new world of refugees – each with a unique story to tell!”
Emad has been in USA for several years. He is a engineer, speaks good English, and wants to be able to work in USA as an engineer. He is a devout Muslim who in each delivery insists on getting only halal meat whenever possible.
In one of my deliveries, the conversation came to be about God and he mentioned that, as a Muslim, they are told to believe in both the Old & New Testaments. So, I asked him, Mr. Emad, if I gave you a New Testament, will you read it? And he said, of course!
Only a month ago, VOR was just a ministry name to me. But now I am meeting the faces and hearing stories behind VOR and many families are becoming part of my prayer, thoughts and heart.
Voices from the Frontline: Joe Shares
“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat…”
How does a family with three to nine children survive when Mom and Dad are not able to work or have had their work hours reduced? This is the situation that many refugees and asylum-seeking families are experiencing here in Little Arabia, Anaheim. When we started providing groceries, a little over five years ago, about forty families a week, who could have foreseen the need for help grow to over 200 families a week?
We have been able to serve so many families because of the generosity of food distribution volunteers who give of their time to sort and deliver groceries. Mariners Church supplies over 3500 lbs. of non-perishable food each week as well as supplying volunteers to sort and deliver it. Charitable Ventures provided a $10,000 grant. Branches HB recently committed $400/week and will send volunteers to help sort and deliver food. There are also many-many individual volunteers coming to serve and donors who gave and are giving to feed so many.
Without a doubt, God has called on VOR to practically express His love and care for those far from Jesus through one of the most basic needs we have as humans. However, God is doing much more than filling stomachs. Since we are delivering groceries to each family, we can distantly connect, mask-to-mask 😉, to every family. We can discover how the family is doing and offer to pray with them. Just last week, I was delivering food to an Iraqi mom. She showed deep signs of worry. I asked how her family was, and she immediately told me about her very ill son, Fadi. Even though there happened to be another family near, I had the sense that I should ask her if I could pray with her. So, in the middle of her neighborhood, we stood praying for her son. I hope to find out how he is doing this week!
Please pray that God continues to work through our compassion for refugees, testified by the food we are delivering, and for God to open the hearts and minds of many people who do not know Jesus Christ.
Do we miss the ‘good ole days?’ I know that I do. I miss the halls and rooms at VOR Learning Center being filled with children and adults eager to connect and learn. I miss the muffled yelling coming through our office wall from our kids ‘engaging’ with their childcare volunteers. I miss hearing stories and widely variable topics of discussion coming out of the ESL classes. I miss praying with students. I miss the monthly Birthday Celebration. I miss listening to volunteers share excitedly about the experiences they had with students and children. I guess you get the picture, huh…?
For now, those days will have to wait, but in the meantime, we are pleased to announce that we are going to launch Online VOR services beginning on June 1st. While face-to-face is the best way to build relationships, we are preparing to host online gatherings that include Children and Teen Times, ESL Classes, US News and Culture, Job Coaching, 1-on-1 Tutoring, 1-on-1 Conversational English, Knowing God Bible Exploration Groups, and more!
To gather our community together under “one roof,” this coming Tuesday, we are hosting an Online VOR Launch Party & Birthday Bash via Zoom. If you are interested in serving refugees online, please CLICK HERE to sign up!
ImpACT Anaheim: Will you be a P2P Fundraiser for VOR?
On Wednesday June 17th, VOR will be one of 9 non-profits participating in ImpACT Anaheim: a unique giving day with a focus on underserved youth. VOR’s goal is to raise $10,000.
The event has the potential to help refugees (and VOR) become more visible in our communities, but we need YOUR help by being one of our Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Fundraisers! As a P2P Fundraiser, you will receive your own page to personalize with your own connection and memories of VOR – it can be as elaborate (like this) or as quick-and-easy (like this) as you prefer! Then, you simply share it with your friends via social media or email to spread the word!
What to do next? Click the button below and select FUNDRAISE!!
- Pray for the health of refugees and their family members around the world, volunteers, staff, partners, and the general public in light of the COVID-19 situation. Pray for protection for families currently in refugee camps who have heightened needs and stress due to reduced NGO presence, resources, and medical care.
- Pray for each food delivery interaction and may God provide divine opportunities to bring His love, healing, and gospel.
- Pray for VOR staff and volunteers. Wisdom, discernment, stamina, and grace to work with refugee families.
- Pray for the launch of VOR Online, wisdom in planning and implementing services that address the real needs of each family.
- Pray for many to be moved to volunteer via online services (children and teen, job coaching, ESL, Bible exploration, etc.)
- Pray for refugee family members still in their country of origin awaiting approval to join their families in the USA.
- Pray for safety for family members of refugee families still in conflict zones, war zones whom are externally and internally displaced.
Tuesday, May 26: VOR Online Party & Birthday Celebration 10:45am to 1pm
- Wednesday, June 17: ImpACT Anaheim, Donate Online and Encourage Your Friends to Help VOR Youth and Families!
- Food Distribution: Sorting | M W Th | 11:30 am to 3:30 pm
- Food Distribution: Delivery | M W Th | 12:30pm to 3:30pm
VOR Online Services:
- Children & Teen Time | M Tu W | 10:00 am to 11:30 pm
- ESL Intro to Level 4 | M Tu W | 11:30pm to 1:00pm
- US Culture, News, and Hot Topics | M Tu W | 1:00pm to 1:30pm
- Job Coaching | M Tu W | 1:30pm to 3:00pm
- Online Free Time | M Tu W | 3:00pm to 5:00pm
- Conversational English, Tutoring, Job Coaching, Social Time | M Tu W | 8:00pm to 10:00pm
- Friday Night Teen Time | F | 8:00pm to 10:00pm