December 11, 2014

It may be cold now, but summer will be here before we know it! If you are a college student or recent graduate, consider spending your time off working with refugees in Memphis. Here are some reflections from one of the summer 2014 interns:

Last summer I was an intern with World Relief Memphis. It seems like my world expanded in a whole new way through interacting with the refugees here in this city. There were challenges and wonderful experiences, but I will not forget what it is like to serve the refugees in Memphis and build close relationships with all the people involved.

There are various ways that I was involved with refugees last summer. One of the primary ways I was involved with refugees is through providing transportation. There are many appointments they need to be taken to, so I spent a lot of time taking them from place to place and learning about their life and families. Another way I was involved with refugees was through setting up their apartment before they arrived, and picking them up from the airport. Most of the people we picked up from the airport seemed exhausted from their long flights, but they were relieved when they saw they had a furnished apartment and could rest. Most of the refugees were entering into a completely different atmosphere than what they were used to before, and it was difficult to see some of them try to adjust. It truly made me feel compassion for the refugees and I saw how important it was for me to pour myself out for them every day.

Over the course of the summer there were many challenges as I worked with refugees in Memphis. One of the main challenges was the language barrier in communicating with some of refugees. We had many experiences that were frustrating. Others were funny. In the end, we managed to make it through each situation. Many times I wanted to share the gospel with them, but often times we were only able to go so far before everything was lost in translation.  Another challenge was gaining the trust of the refugees. Some of the families seemed to naturally trust us, and desired to seek for our help in so many ways. However, sometimes it was very difficult to gain the trust of others. This was completely understandable since they are in a completely new environment and may not know anyone around them. I continually wanted to show them that I was there to serve them, and wanted the best for them. There were several challenging things we encountered this summer, but it was all worth it to be involved with the refugees this summer.

My faith grew during this time as well through realizing how I can do nothing apart from Christ. Each and every day I was met with new challenges and I began to see over the summer just how weak I truly am. The Lord taught me that I needed to completely trust Him in every aspect of my life and be humble in relying on His power. I also realized how complicated I often make following Christ. During the summer I really wanted to grow closer to the Lord, and tried many things to do so. I tried my best to make sure I was spending time in the word, time in prayer, and reading great devotionals. Through this I did not realize how I had not been following the Lord with simplicity, but I had been evaluating every small piece of my life. It was like I was trying to micromanage my spiritual life. Then the Lord taught me that the one thing I needed to be focusing on have having Him on the throne of my heart. If I had just been focusing on making sure there was absolutely nothing to compete with Him in my life, then everything else would fall into place. This was a very important lesson for me to learn, and I pray that I continue to grow closer to Him as I follow Him with simple faith.

Please pray for me this school year as I am in my first teaching position at the Brinkley Heights Urban Academy. It has been a difficult transition, but I am very excited about it at the same time. Pray for the children in the school and that I would be a witness for Christ to them every day. Also pray for the opportunities I have had to continue to reach out to the refugees here in Memphis, and that I would not soon forget everything I experienced over the past summer. 

 

-Jonathan Jones