This summer we are featuring Restoration members who are actively ministering to others in our community and around the world. Justin McGee has been a part of Restoration since 2012 and serves in many ways during our worship service. Justin shares his experience on working with the Almoustafa family and how his perspective has changed since he first began working with refugees.
1) Describe your outreach or ministry.
Our ministry to the Almoustafa family is three-fold. We support them family practically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As refugees from Syria, their eventual assimilation into the US depends on their ability to access the resources available to them and advocate for themselves. Because of this, we have modeled for them how to receive the practical support available to them – i.e., filling out government paperwork, taking them to doctors appointments, registering for school, etc.
One of the most important components to our ministry is meeting their emotional needs. Their lives have been in flux for more than 7 years. Relationships, finances, health, etc. are unstable – whether it be here in Dallas or their lives back in Syria and Jordan. I’ve even heard the mother say that we are her best friends because we are there. Our constant presence in their lives — the sipping of their tea, the eating of their food, the playing with their kids – hopefully provides for them a semblance of continuity and community in the midst of chaos.
Lastly, we support them spiritually. The fusion of the practical and emotional prepare their hearts to meet the Lord – one day. We have conversations about out faiths (they are Muslim), but what has become increasingly evident in that we cannot force them to follow Jesus as much as we wish we could. It has left us to completely and totally depend on God to transform their hearts and minds. When that will happen? Of course, we don’t know. But in the meantime, we talk with them, we pray for them, and we love them as best as we can.
2) How did you get involved originally?
Almost four years ago, Restoration began dreaming about how they were going to join God in the restoration of its city. The church formed a committee to discern God’s calling for us as a community. A handful of committee members – including myself – had done refugee ministry in the past, and after some prayer and deliberation, we decided to pursue refugee work for the church. We found Gateway of Grace, a local ministry that mobilizes and trains churches to adopt and support refugee families, and a week after forming a team, Gateway of Grace knew of a Syrian family arriving that week. On April 20th, 2015, the Almoustafas arrived at DFW, and the rest is history!
3) What has motivated to you to continue to be a part of this ministry?
If I’m honest, it hasn’t always been easy to stay in the ministry. The ministry is difficult, tiring, and consuming, and there have been moments when I have had to step aside for a few months to take a breather. But, I would say my motivation has changed over the years. Originally, I felt a sense of calling to the ministry. But, the hue of transcendence eventually faded from the work and morphed into a utilitarian duty – something that must be done because someone must do it. Lately, though, I have tried to distance myself from the notion that I am the great, Christian, white man here to do work and to redeem this family. Positioning myself in this way places me outside of their family and their life, and in my own imagination and theirs, it situates me above them and not with them. Instead, what motivates me now (on a good day) is friendship and love. I want to see them and be with them just like I would want to see and be with any of my friends.
4) Are there ways that people at Restoration can become personally involved in your ministry?
Our team is in need of a woman with free time during the day, so we can have someone spend time with Siham, the wife/mom of the family. She spends most days alone with the two youngest children while the others are at school or her husband is at work, and it would be a blessing for her to be able to connect with someone in a meaningful way on a regular basis.
5) How can Restoration pray for you?
Muslims who are coming to Jesus all around the world are having dreams and visions pointing to the nature and work of Christ. I know this phenomenon is no longer common in our experiences in the western world, but for whatever reason, this is how God is making himself known to those in Middle East. I think we – as a church – should pray for God to reveal himself in dreams and visions to all three of our refugee families.