City Stories: Refugees in Dallas

I need to share an experience from my week with you. My day started off as just an ordinary summer Tuesday, with emails, phone calls, and scheduled appointments scattered throughout my day. Little did I know my day would become anything but ordinary.

The ordinary became the extraordinary for me when Amy Flickinger and I knocked on the door of a family of eight Syrian refugees who had arrived in the United States just the week before. As the door opened I did not know what to expect.

We were immediately greeted with the warmest faces I had ever seen. They were not just happy with the gifts we brought; they were ecstatic to have visitors in their home. I hadn’t really thought much about what it would feel like to travel across the world with only a suitcase. Not only do you no longer have familiar things but you also don’t have cherished friendships. Our presence in their home was the most meaningful gift we could offer at that moment.

We entered into this foreign environment, in a neighborhood not far away from our own, thinking that the most important things we had to offer were the material items we associate with a comfortable home. And they were very grateful for the gifts for their sparsely furnished apartment. I helped set some things up and the mother insisted on feeding us dinner and welcoming us to stay a while in their home.

As we managed to stumble through a simple conversation with the help of Google Translate, I quickly realized that this family from Syria was a lot like everyone else I know. They want to be with others who are interested in them as people and not as a project. Household items are good but the power of presence and time spent with this new family was so meaningful, maybe as much to me as it was to them.

So often we feel like we have nothing to give. It feels overwhelming to take on one more obligation in our lives. But by abandoning my schedule for a brief moment of my life, I was given the opportunity to enter into the world of a family setting up a new life right here in our area.

Restoration is coming along side this Syrian refugee family to support them as they make their home here. Some of you will want to be a part of their circle of friends, the familiar faces that they see on a regular basis. Others may want to provide material and prayer support from a distance. We want to offer them the resources they need to be secure and successful here in Dallas and gladly except donations for their benefit. But the greatest gift we might be able to offer to them, and to anyone else, is our presence in their lives.