In the book of Revelation, the disciple John has a vision of heaven where he describes a scene with “people from every tribe, nation, and language” standing before the throne of God. In a small way, we were able to get a glimpse of that at a recent Vacation Bible School outreach that we did in downtown Houston, reaching out to refugee families from Nepal, Eritrea, Bhutan, Taiwan, Congo, Sudan…the list goes on and on.
One of the biggest blessings we’ve experienced at LifeBridge is that we are homeless (we worship in a public school that we rent for Sunday mornings) — which means that we are forced to be “out there” involved in the day to day life of our community and city. For VBS, that reality led us to an apartment complex in downtown Houston that is 95% refugee families from all over the world.
It was the most amazing experience. Where do I even begin? Some spoke English, many didn’t. A number of them came back each day wearing the same clothes…possibly the only set of clothes they owned. Many were angry and ready to swing a fist at the slightest provocation…and yet those same children would melt into your arms and cling so tight to you if you would just pick them up.
For three evenings, a growing crowd of children would gather in a small schoolroom there in the apartments where we would tell them of Jesus, do crafts and games, and share stories from the Bible. On the last night we gave out over 60 Kid’s Bibles, with some tears shed because we didn’t have enough for all those who wanted one.
It was an amazing mission experience, right here in Houston. And, as God often does, He has challenged us to go deeper. For there to be any real difference in the lives of these refugee families, there will have to be continued touches, an ongoing relationship, and many more opportunities to share the love and message of Jesus.
Our next step is to team up with the Eritrean church again to get school uniforms for these children so that they can get into class in a couple weeks. In talking with the school that they will attend, many will be sent home that first day because they don’t have the required uniform. For so many of these refugee families, this presents a crisis. They know that education is the key to getting out of their desperate situation, but they have no money. What an opportunity for us to live out the ideal Jesus gave us in Matthew 25:35-36 — where Jesus said “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me.”
Details are still being worked out, but already there are people beginning to ask how they can help. If you are local, we will need LOTS of manpower as we try to get the right items to all the children. If you aren’t able to help in person, we will certainly need financial donations as well. Either way, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get involved.
God is doing some powerful stuff here, and I become more and more convinced that this is the kind of thing that should define our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.
Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again. — 2 Corinthians 5:15