Welcoming the Stranger

A thank you goes to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service for hosting an Advocacy Day this past Wednesday. This Service helped the Kittamaqundi Community Church Seeking Refuge Focus Group to welcome and support an Afghan family over a year ago, a strong relationship that continues.

After a morning training, I joined a Lutheran Services member and a congregant of a nearby synagogue to visit the offices of three Maryland Congressman and meet with staffers. Admittedly, I was hoping to team up with others who had done these kind of visits. Alas, none of us had and we all had to step up to contribute to the conversations. Having to do so helped us all to gain confidence and find a voice as we related stories and made our “big asks.” It was a sweltering day in downtown D.C., especially in my black collar shirt.

My momentary discomfort has been nothing when I consider the refugees who have to brave resettlement. I think of unwelcome offices, foreboding paperwork, impossible odds. I think of the extreme heat of border crossings. I consider the violence of places like the Red Zone of La Esperanza, Guatemala. Barb Lorraine spoke to us in worship today at Kittamaqundi Community Church about UPAVIM (United for a Better Life) and their phenomenal work to empower women surrounded by gang violence and extortion.

Additionally, a member of the KC Community offered a rendition of “Home of the Brave” (Karen Drucker, JD Martin, and David Roth) reminding us that “when you come for my neighbor, you come for me.” Another KC member was able to share about her experience participating in a protest this summer. She stood with others on the Gorman Overpass of I-95 highlighting the plight of separated families.

This month at Kittamaqundi Community Church, we are considering James’ instruction to be “doers of the word,” knowing that our doing comes in a wide variety of forms as an expression of faith . We acknowledge that our lack of doing leads to neglect in this world. Our doing is an expression of the unmerited grace and love that we receive from God. Through our “doing,” we participate in the building up of Beloved Community. We tend to and stand in solidarity with those on life’s Jericho Road–both those we happen to encounter in our everyday, and those we must go out of our convenient way to know. 

UPAVIM kids

UPAVIM schoolchildren.

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