On my second day as a summer intern at World Relief, the four other interns and I spent an entire morning and afternoon visiting the homes of refugees in Memphis. We hopped from apartment to apartment hoping to make new friends and to receive advice for understanding and helping refugees who are resettling in the US.
Each home received us with warm smiles, delicious tea, and many stories. One Syrian family even went so far as to prepare an amazing, authentic lunch for us to eat! Each family shared their experiences as they’ve adapted to the States and offered us tips for the different cultures we would encounter during the internship. Some refugees even told us memories of their life back home.
Many of these refugees have fond memories of their countries—how beautiful the green mountains are, how delicious a traditional food is, or how fun celebrations with their families used to be. Every refugee, however, has lost much in the way of violence. All have been displaced, forced to leave their homes and possessions behind. I met some families that have spent as many as 20 years in refugee camps. Even more, many of these people have lost family members due to conflict. Some have died and others are somewhere back in Africa or the Middle East, without contact or a means to bring them over to the United States.
In my life, I’ve had times that were hard for me, and I got through them because people came around me and loved me. These refugees have experienced and are experiencing hardship that I cannot fathom. They absolutely need people to come around them. Being an intern at World Relief showed me firsthand that it’s not impossible, or really even too difficult for that matter, to support and love those who are from other continents, cultures, and religions. So many are happy to invite an American into their homes and share what little they may have, be it tea, food, smiles, and stories. The majority of foreigners have never been invited into an American home, and I know from experience that a meal shared in our home with them would be a great delight and honor! However we can join in their lives and share the same love that Jesus has for the multiplicity of peoples throughout the world, we should seek to do it.
My involvement at World Relief prepared me for the next year that I will spend in Jordan. God used this time to give me experience with Muslim and Middle Eastern culture. If you’re interested in learning to love and share with people like these in your present and in your future, there is no better place than World Relief. Also, please pray for me as I’m in Jordan!