Our Missions Ministry spent the day holding a Book Fair for adult refugees and their families. These people have found themselves in Houston after fleeing their home countries because of war or other factors that threatened their very lives. They have found friends in the Christian workers who are helping them to settle into American culture and learn the language. Many of them are attracted to the love and hospitality that Christ followers have offered, and we were able to continue extending that love and hospitality through our Book Fair, in which we donated over 2,500 books!
After getting everything prepared and set up for the families, they began to come. I watched as their eyes got big when they saw the tables lined with books in three different rooms. Smiles were on their faces as they shopped and looked for books that interested them. I watched as the very first young boy, Muhammad, scanned the table and with a broad smile spreading across his face, he spotted one that interested him. He held it up high, finding what he had been hoping for, turned to his mom, and showed off his new Star Wars book.
Chesley Combs, one of the organizers of the event, spent the day helping families shop for books, and then she went outside to the story time tent to read to the younger ones. She read him a story that had a picture of a camel. The boy was excited to share that camels live where he is from and then began to describe his home in Afghanistan and the mountains that he missed. Chesley sensed that he must miss his home, but when asked, the boy shared that actually he really loves living here because he can walk to school by himself and not be afraid. Chesley then went inside with him where they shopped for books about Christmas and Easter, Christian holidays that he is only just now learning about.
The church in Houston has a great opportunity to reach out to these displaced peoples. Houston is the number one resettlement city in the United States, with three to five thousand refugees coming every year. The impact that living in a war-torn country has on children has been well documented by organizations such as UNICEF. In fact, last year was noted as the “Year of Fear” for children around the world, as more children were affected by crisis situations than ever before
For families like Muhammad’s, they can now sleep at night and send their children to school without having to live in fear. They have found friends in the Christian workers who are providing them the help they need to adjust to life here. Many of them are curious and interested in learning more about what these Christ followers believe. I look forward to continuing the good work of demonstrating the gospel to these refugee families.