Jesus Cares about Refugees

I watched a video on Youtube by Kristina Kuzmic that explains what many refugees experience on the 4th of July- being triggered by fireworks.

As I watched the video, I remembered what happened one day when the Blue Angels were practicing for an air show in my city. They were flying over the city and the sound of the jets caused the children in English Language Learners class to hide under their desks in fear. They thought the war their families had fled in their country had come to my city. Translators had to come explain to the children there was no war here and the jets were practicing for an air show.

A Yazidi family from Iraq was being taken advantage of by a woman who worked for the property management company they rented a house from. The woman came and collected cash giving the husband a receipt each time. She actually pocketed the cash. The husband showed me the eviction notice letter for lack of paying rent for five months. He showed me the receipts the woman gave him. I told him we need the police to investigate. The thought of interacting with police scared him, so I told I would go with him. Happy ending was that the woman was fired from her job, arrested, and the husband was sent an apology letter from the company.

Just a few real life stories of what refugees experience. If these stories do not cause you to feel empathy, then consider this- Jesus was a refugee. Read Matthew 3 about Joseph being warned by an angel to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt because the soldiers were coming to kill Jesus. The soldiers came and killed every male child under a certain age. Fleeing government soldiers who seek to kill you means you are a refugee.

My contention is that refugees have a special place in the heart of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Mistaking Borsch for Salsa

I love spending time with my Ukrainian friends. I have not done so much for quite a while because their church is thriving and my attention has been focused more on those who need me most.

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I will never forget when I joined my Ukrainian friends for a potluck dinner at their church several years ago. Many of my students were there. We were happy to see each other.

As I was going through the line for food, I saw something I thought was salsa. I should mention I LOVE salsa. But I did not see anything to put the salsa on. However, I saw some mashed potatoes next to the salsa, so I put some mashed potatoes on my plate and then poured the salsa on it.

A few of my students looked on with their eyes getting big with surprise. They said- “No teacher. That is borsch.” I asked what borsch is. They told me it is soup.

It was too late to change it, so I pressed on and sat down at the table with some friends. They watched smiling and laughing as I ate the mashed potatoes with borsch. (By the way borsch is a soup made of beets.) It tasted pretty good. I laughed with them and made it a bit of a comedy routine. I wanted to get more mashed potatoes with borsch because it tasted good and also because the comedian in me wanted to play to my audience, but the borsch was gone.

Sometimes we get so serious and somber, There are times that is appropriate. But laughter is a gift from God. Psalm 126 says:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.

There are times when God is in our midst that joy and laughter are very appropriate. I think perhaps I add the the cause of them at times.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Signs of Normal?

Life has not been ‘normal’ for three months now. One area affected has been Immigration and Citizenship applicants. Immigration halted interviews for U.S. Citizenship in late March due to the virus.

In the Citizenship class I teach, I have some students who have been waiting for an interview. One of them received a letter two days before his interview in late March that the appointment would be postponed.

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He received a letter last week informing him that he has a new appointment time on June 22nd. He is ready for it and I know that on June 22nd we will have a new citizen.

That is just one of the signs of ‘normal’ slowly returning.

We have had our class using Zoom since early April. While it has been good we could continue the class, it is not the same as being in the classroom in person. I found out last week that my Citizenship class can return to the building in July.

A few other examples of ‘normal’ slowly returning are my favorite hamburger place reopened this past week, we can get haircuts now- I need one- and schools are discussing being in the building in the fall.

The sign I am most excited about is that my home church will announce Tuesday evening the plan to return worship services and other ministries to being live in the building. It will be wonderful to see friends in person again.

What signs or return to ‘normal’ are you excited about?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What I Miss Most During This Time-COVID-19

There are some things I miss at this time of self isolating due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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I miss seeing people in the coffee shop and hanging out, telling my jokes to the people who work there.

I miss stopping in my favorite deli at Open Harvest to buy a little food and telling them a joke.

I miss interacting in person with my colleagues in the places where I teach.

I miss going to church on Sunday mornings.

But out of those things, it is not like my absence will mean that much or be a source of concern for anyone. Life goes on.

What I miss the most and what concerns me the most is my students and my friends who came here as refugees and immigrants.

I miss visiting them in their homes and sharing a meal, laughter, helping them with things, and being there for them. They are the ones who have been in touch with me to see how I am doing. They are the ones I am concerned about the most too.

My friendship with my refugee and immigrant friends are what gives me so much joy in life. Spending so much time apart from them has made me realize something. I do not want to retire- EVER.

When this crisis is over, the first thing I wish to do is visit my friends and see how they are doing, sharing coffee or tea with them and listening to their stories. That is the purpose Jesus has given me in life. That is how he has designed me to be. That is what I miss the most.

What do you miss?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Before And After Tag

I would like to thank my little sister Gail of gaillovesgod.com

Rules:
Use the image at the top of the post;
Answer the 10 questions;
And tag the people you’d like to answer the questions.

  1. Who was family for you growing up? Growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and mother with mental illness, borderline personality disorder, my concept of family was skewed.
  2. Who is family for you now? The Lord has not blessed me with a family of my own, but as Jesus said, whoever does the will of God the Father is my brother and sister. My friends at church are my family.
  3. Where did you grow up? I grew up in a middle sized city in the Midwest.
  4. Where do you live now? I live in the same city, but it is vastly different because we have so many people who have come here as refugees.
  5. What did you want to be when you were younger? First I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in my 20s I wanted to be a teacher, but was ridiculed for it by my grandparents.
  6. What do you do now? I teach ESL and have a part-time ministry for refugees and immigrants.
  7. What’s your earliest memory? I used to go down the stairs to sit in my dad’s lap late at night while he watched TV when I was 3 years old. That was before his drinking got bad.
  8. What’s one of your most recent memories? Experiencing the presence of Jesus in worship as we sang Holy Spirit.
  9. What do you consider your greatest achievement? It is not my achievement. Jesus has blessed me to become tri-lingual and to reach people from many cultures.
  10. What is your biggest hope in this life? To know Jesus and to share his love because those are eternal.

If they want to participate, I am tagging

Temi

Simple My Swank

Onyinyechi

Ruelha

Alison

No Passing Fancy

Alejandra

Tatiana

My Wonderful Karen People Students

In my Family Literacy Class, I have three women who are from The Karen People of Burma. It is a joy to teach them. They have taught me how to say good morning, thank you, and hi how are you in their language.

For Christmas they gave me a traditional Karen Vest. One of the teachers made more room it for me. Today I wore it in class for the first time. For me, it is an honor when people give me something from their culture.

I am proud of the three moms. One is also a grandmother. All three love to go to PACT Time, parent and child together, to observe their children in school. They are conscientious students and moms.

You can google Karen People Refugee Camp and see photos of what the camps are like. These moms have overcome a lot. They come to my class because they want to help their children as well as learn English.

They are part of the reason I get up in the mornings and pray. Each morning I pray and ask Jesus to bless my students. My students are God’s gifts to me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Being Blessed by Seeing Others Succeed

In recent days I felt led to share about seeing refugees and immigrants I have helped who are now enjoying success in life. It kind of brought me back to the beginnings of blogging for me. I shared about a young woman from Vietnam who is now a registered pharmacist and a young woman from Guatemala who is in college now. Today I would like to share about a Yazidi man who came here as a refugee.

A few months ago, I saw a former student come to the elementary school where I teach my Family Literacy Class of moms. He is currently working in IT for the school system here. Yesterday morning I saw him come to the entrance as I was leaving. I greeted him in his language and he smiled.

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He is a Yazidi. The Yazidi people have been oppressed for centuries because their religion is different than the majority religion in Iraq and Syria.

My city has the largest number of Yazidis in all of North America. I love having Yazidi friends and students. There is a special place in my heart for people who have been oppressed.

So when I see him come to the school where I teach, it is always a source of joy for me. It always blesses me to see my Yazidi friends experience success in their new lives here in America.

Because Jesus spent the early years of his life on earth as a refugee, I believe refugees have a special place in his heart. I am grateful that Jesus led me to the work and ministry I have now in reaching out to, teaching, and helping refugees.

But it is no time to rest on my laurels. There are more souls to reach out to and show the love of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year when Martin Luther King Jr. Day draws near, I like to show my students the video of Dr. King’s famous I Have A Dream speech. I explain about the terrible segregation and discrimination that Dr. King and others worked to end. I explain that his speech happened while Congress was considering the Civil Rights Act and that they benefit from Dr. King’s work and the work of others because we have a law against discrimination.

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Each time I watch the speech, I get goosebumps. I was a child during the Civil Rights movement. I was only ten years old when Dr. King was killed. But even as a child, I admired him and what he stood for.

The church should be the place where equality is the norm and not the exception. The only way to become a Christian is through the cross of Jesus. We are all sinners who need forgiveness and we find it at the foot of the cross of Jesus. There are no elite people before the cross of Jesus.

Paul wrote something revolutionary 2,000 years ago. In Galatians 3 we read:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”

There is to be no dividing line in the church. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Christian’s thought should only be does a person we meet know Jesus or not.

God has blessed me with the wonderful opportunity to share his love with people from all over the world. My childhood days of feeling inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., becoming best friends with the only African American boy in 7th grade, becoming good friends with two Native American brothers in 10th grade, set the tone early on for what would be my future calling from God to share his love with people from diverse cultures.

I am thankful for the impact Dr. King had on me as a child.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Hassle That Led to A Blessing

It seemed like a hassle to me at first. I tried to use my Pro Air Asthma Inhaler, but it did not work. For some reason lately, Pro Air Abuterol inhalers are not dependable when they get down to the last 20 doses. I was supposed to have 12 left, but when I tried to use it yesterday- NOTHING.

So I called the pharmacy for a refill. It meant driving there between classes I teach in the late afternoon as in driving across town from where I teach.

When I got to the pharmacy, I noticed that she was the pharmacist. She is one of the young people from Vietnam that I helped when I had a group of young Vietnamese people that I helped. She graduated from the university in my city and went on to pharmacy school in a nearby city. She graduated and passed her tests and is now a registered pharmacist.

I felt SO PROUD of her. I know how hard she worked and to see her working as the pharmacist filled me with the pride of a dad watching his daughter succeed and achieve her dreams.

She even bought me some ice cream- Chocolate Ice Cream 🙂

Do you know who is thrilled when we achieve more than we thought we could? God. God loves us. He is heavenly father. When we depend on God and reach higher than we thought possible, he is cheering us on. God delights in his children. He empowers us through his Holy Spirit.

I am so thankful that Jesus called me to the work and ministry of helping refugees and immigrants because it gives me a whole new appreciation of what Jesus said in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

Jesus has blessed me with sharing his love and the love of God the Father with people from many cultures.

For me caring about someone means caring about the whole person, so when they achieve their dreams and I could help in some small way, it is a huge blessing for me.

I am proud of all of the young Vietnamese people from that time. Yesterday was a wonderful reminder for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Sharing A Meal

The first time I was a guest for a meal in the home of someone from another culture was in April 2000. My student was a kind elderly man from Afghanistan. He had a long white beard because in his culture men did not shave after their first son was born. He was 71 years old when we began lessons to help him understand English better for day to day life.

He had a heart attack and a quintuple bypass, so I did not meet with him for five weeks. I called his son and offered to have lessons in their home. They all quickly agreed.

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The first time I went to their home, while we were studying, I heard the noises and smelled the smells of food being prepared. His son came out to talk with me saying, “My mother wants to know if you would like lunch.” Never being one to pass up a home cooked meal, I said yes.

The son left. The daughter left. The wife brought out the food, a big plate of rice that had raisins, almond slices, and carrots in it, chicken, beef, and a plate of veggies. Then she left. It was only my student and me.

I began to eat realizing that my student could not eat any of it because he was on a restrictive diet. After I finished my first plate, yes first plate, he laughed and filled it again for me without asking. I finished that plate and he filled it again for me. I finally put my hands on my stomach and said I could not eat anymore food. He laughed.

When I got back to my office, I told the receptionist I would be busy and to hold calls. I went into my small office, locked the door, turned my chair so the back was facing the door, and opened my pants because I was so stuffed. I worked on the computer for several hours.

Hospitality in other cultures is wonderful to experience. Whenever I visit people from other countries, the meal is an experience to cherish. I also think about how Jesus spent a lot of time in the homes of people. Often he was criticized for doing so.

Sharing a meal is a wonderful way to build friendship and connect with people. Jesus understood that when he was on earth and understands it now. In Revelation 3 Jesus says”

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

For now that eating would pertain to the spiritual food of the Word of God, the bible. But in the future there will be a huge feast for all who believe in Jesus. We will sit down with Jesus for the feast.

Jesus longs to come into our homes and share life with us. The question is if we will let him in.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.