by Joy McPherson

The Webster’s dictionary defines a refugee as a person who flees from his home or country to seek refuge elsewhere, as in a time of war, political, or religious persecution, etc.  Have you ever thought about what a refugee goes through to finally feel safe? In the early 2000’s, while Larry and I were serving our last term as career missionaries with World Gospel Mission, we visited several refugee/displacement camps in Uganda, East Africa.  People were living in cramped quarters; children were roaming everywhere; life was not easy, but they were surviving without fear.

During that time we also saw many people fleeing from their homes.  They were walking on either side of the road carrying their few possessions of large cooking pots which were on the heads of women with babies on their backs; children walking with them were carrying chickens and parcels of clothing and blankets.  Many slept at night in the roadside ditches.  Seeing these scenes in person, more than on television, brought tears to my eyes. There seemed to be nothing we could do except pray.

Then last year when we were again in Uganda for most of the year, I had the opportunity to be with many refugees from various African countries at Refuge and Hope International, a non-profit organization that has training in Bible, English, computer, culinary, business and auto mechanics.  Three days each week I taught two classes of English to older teenagers, to Moms who had between one and six children and even to several men.  There were those who had had good educations, but didn’t know English to those who had never had the opportunity to go to school.

One day while walking from the facility to our Mission office, one of the young men who was also walking from the Center to where he lived, joined me began and talking.  As I asked questions to get to know him better, he shared his story.  He had lost both his parents and a sister.  He had no idea where his brother was and whether he was even still living.  What could a person reply?!  I only thank the Lord for the privilege I had to work with those precious people.

Members of the Swahili speaking congregation at St. Luke (many of them refugees) participate in a meal.

God has opened the door for St. Luke to welcome refugees here in Lexington to worship.  Why not attend a service in our church at 12:30 p.m. and get to know our fellow believers?  Or, maybe you could help in the ESL class or drive the bus to get the students.  Even if you can’t speak their language, smiles and handshakes go a long way.  This is a new year; how would the Lord want you to serve?  Could it be to help a refugee family or an individual?

© 2021 St. Luke UMC
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