Our City: Ministering to Refugees Part I

Justin McGee talks about how Restoration began their involvement with Refugees. This will be a two part article.

Restoration has a very simple, yet clear mission: to join God in the restoration of our life, church, and city. As we began to pray about how to develop and implement this vision in the life of our church, we noticed how these three elements of the mission overlaid the church calendar which orders our lives and worship as Anglicans. Therefore, depending upon the time and season of the year, you will notice on a Sunday morning or a digital newsletter an influx of language and opportunities geared around one of the three parts of this mission.

Following Pentecost and into the summer months, Restoration seeks to be reminded of what it means for God to restore our city (and world) and how we can be an instrument of Christ’s love to our neighbors. While this idea undoubtedly relates to our individual lives — jobs, families, and neighborhoods — when we instituted the church’s tripartite mission, we didn’t quite know how God was going to specifically shape the life of our church in regards to the “city.”

In order to determine the church’s direction for mission and outreach, we assembled a “city” committee in 2014 to think, pray, and discern God’s call for our church. We realized that God had already tilled the soil around us through other churches and ministries in the area, so we didn’t need to plow again. We just needed to find our seed and plot of land.

While researching the websites of other churches (in particular, Anglican and Episcopal churches) in the DFW area, we happened upon the refugee ministry, Gateway of Grace. Two of the members of the committee had experience with refugee ministry, so we set up a meeting with the executive director, Samira Page, to learn more about them.

During the meeting, we learned that Gateway of Grace is the largest refugee support organization in Dallas and is run by a former Iranian refugee. Samira, as a young, Muslim girl in Iran, had a vision of the virgin Mary but didn’t know who it was. When she fled to the US, she experienced the love of Christ for the first time through a Baptist church and eventually became ordained as an Episcopal priest. Gateway of Grace’s mission: “To educate, equip, and mobilize the Church to bridge socio-cultural gaps between Christians and refugees so that refugees can know the hope of Christ through words and deeds of compassion.” How do they accomplish this? By training churches, so they can adopt individual refugee families who are resettled into the DFW area from their disheveled home lands.

Our committee considered many different ministry opportunities, but we were all in agreement – our small, seemingly insignificant church should adopt a refugee family, and in particular, a Syrian family.

Providentially, as soon as we built a team, confirmed our decision with Gateway of Grace, and provided a family to support by Samira (from the day we had a team to the day our family arrived was approximately 1 week) the city committee learned the church already supported a couple who was serving Syrian refugees in northern Jordan! The synergy between what God was doing within the walls of our immediate community and the friends we directly supported abroad was undeniable, yet seemingly coincidental. It was obvious what God wanted our church to do, and who God wanted our people to love. Seeds were being spread and planted even before the local body decided to take root.

End of Part I