June 20th, 2010. World Refugee Sunday.

June 21, 2010

This past Sunday, June 20th, was a special day for multiple reasons. Not only was it a time to celebrate Father’s Day, but also a time to recognize the 16 million refugees in the world today.

As a member of Mennonite Volunteer Service (MVS) I am able to work with LIRS this year, due largely in part to the support of North Baltimore Mennonite Church (NBMC). The large community house that I live in, Reservoir Hill House of Peace, is a building and ministry sponsored by NBMC in partnership with the Atlantic Coast Mennonite conference. While NBMC supports the volunteers that live in the house, the Church also supports and sustains the Asylum Seekers Housing Network (ASHN).

ASHN provides people who are currently seeking Asylum in the United States with a place to live, legal support, ESL classes, transportation funding, a food stipend, and volunteer opportunities.

This past Sunday, Father’s Day and World Refugee Day, at North Baltimore Mennonite Church, MVS and ASHN came together for a service celebrating the lives and stories of asylum seekers, refugees, and newcomers to the United States. Each week during the Sunday worship service NBMC has a “mission moment”. A member of the congregation shares about a project or ministry that they are involved in. This week I was asked to give the mission moment and speak on my time with LIRS.

I began by explaining what LIRS does. I discussed our involvement with refugee resettlement, children’s services, legal services, and newcomer advocacy. I got to show the World Refugee Day video I made (see below).

After I had finished sharing, some of my housemates, two men from the Democratic Republic of Congo who are currently ASHN clients were interviewed. I LOVED listening to them speak. I got to learn a lot about their lives, their stories, their travels.  I heard one of them speak about family, what it has been like to find family in the United States. As I sat in a pew, watching them speak and listening to their words, I felt many things, but overriding all other emotions was a deep sense of honor. I felt entirely honored to call these men my housemates, my friends, and a part of my family in Baltimore.

After the service I went to see them and was greeted with hellos and hugs. My time spent at North Baltimore Mennonite Church on Sunday morning was an absolutely perfect way to spend the morning of world refugee day.

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