The good work of refugee care

World Relief poster“(God) creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesian 2:9, The Message

I believe with all my heart that refugee care is good work. A few weeks ago I posted the news that the ESL classes at my local World Relief (WR) office are in jeopardy because they have not received federal funding. Last Tuesday I sat in a meeting with other WR volunteers and listened as the ESL director outlined a plan that will provide as many refugees and immigrants with regular classes while still cutting costs (and staff) dramatically. Despite the great stress she was under, Sue smiled at us and reminded us that God is at work. He will provide. He so clearly cares for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed, and the foreigner. She said something like this: The decreased government funding gives the church a chance to step up and in with their money and their time. It pushes us to be more generous and creative.

Hear, Hear!

poster backAt the bottom of this post, I have links to both the national and local (western suburbs of Chicago) World Relief websites as well as specific ways to support WR DuPage/Aurora.

But before I get to that, I have links to four articles: the first three specifically related to refugees, the third about cultivating a generous heart toward all those in need.

The first is a Q&A with World Relief DuPage’s Executive Director Emily Gray. PLEASE read this article. Emily is informed and wise and above all, seeking to be likeminded with Christ.

5 Objects to Fuel Your Prayers,” is a great article about concrete ways to remember those in need. It’s specifically about refugees, but you could use the same techniques to remind you to pray for the poor, the persecuted church, victims of sex trafficking, those suffering from mental illness, orphans, etc.)

WR fundraisingGrowing in generosity with the Believing Poor” is by Elizabeth Drury. It challenges our views of generosity that do not extend past our wallets, that don’t impact our comfort levels.

What Refugees in Your Neighborhood Need from You” gives a bit of an inside look at how difficult it is to be uprooted and transplanted (often several times) and how the body of Christ can step into that difficulty.

~~~

For those outside Chicago’s western suburbs: visit the international home page of World Relief and click on the “Get Involved” tab to see if WR has a location in your area.

For those IN Chicago’s western suburbs: The ESL arm of WR DuPage needs volunteers. If you have some morning hours free beginning in January or would like to tutor a refugee one-on-one, email me at jenunderwood0629@gmail.com and I can get you connected with the volunteer coordinator. You don’t need any experience or qualifications other than the ability to speak English, and it is truly a blessing.

If you’ll take a look at the poster I have pictured above, you’ll find information about items needed for Good Neighbor kits. The back side (with items needed) is the second picture. One of WR’s dropoff locations is at K’Tizo–my favorite tea/coffee shop. You can drop off items and get a yummy drink!

The third picture (sorry it’s so small) is a “Quick Guide to Fundraising for World Relief DuPage/Aurora.” If you live in another location but have a WR nearby, I’m sure you could use all the same techniques to fundraise for your area location.

 

 

Advertisements

World Relief ESL classes followup

This is just a simple followup to the entry I posted a couple days ago about World Relief’s ESL classes being in jeopardy. A few minutes ago I wrote a simple letter to the Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner, through the illinois.gov website. If you, too, are an Illinois citizen and would consider doing the same, click on the link above to go directly to the contact page. Then, after filling in your personal information, you can copy and paste all or a portion of the letter below into the comment section. It will take you all of 2 minutes, tops!

Dear Governor Rauner, I am writing on behalf of World Relief DuPage, an organization that serves refugees and immigrants in the DuPage county area. I am asking you to approve the release of federal funds that support Adult Education. I am also asking you to pass a compassionate state budget that keeps in focus the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities, including immigrants and refugees. Thank you for your consideration.

Thank you!

Jen

World Relief ESL classes

IMG_1263Two weeks ago I walked into the Job class of World Relief’s ESL program and was immediately asked a question. “Hi Jen, we’re listing all the different ways people in our class say good morning in their languages. Can you add one?” I looked at the board. “Good Morning” was written there in English, Arabic, Burmese, Nepali, and Massalit.

“Buenos dias!” I said, and the teacher added the Spanish greeting to the list.

Four mornings a week, refugees and immigrants from all over the world gather for ESL classes in the basement of College Church in Wheaton, IL. Their preschool-aged children attend language enrichment classes while their parents study.

During break times a beautiful mix of different languages can be heard in the hallways. Refugees from Asian countries converse in halting English with Africans and Middle Easterners. The older women often huddle together, their clothing carrying the wonderful scents of cooking spices. News of babies born and jobs found is shared. Individual rejoicings turn into communal celebrations. When someone grieves, the others say little but their eyes speak a language of shared suffering.

I LOVE this place. I love what it stands for–a church that is giving of its space to those who need it and an organization, World Relief, that serves the most vulnerable. The teachers at World Relief are some of my heroes.

The students are my heroes.

They face odds I cannot imagine, and they do it with quiet bravery.

These basement classrooms are a sanctuary for them. They find and form community here. They meet Americans who welcome them to their new country, who tell them, “This can be your home. You are safe here.” Their children are nurtured and cared for.

These ESL classes are in jeopardy. Because the state of Illinois has not passed a budget, World Relief has had to operate its ESL classes since July without the federal and state funds it should have received. World Relief cannot continue this indefinitely, and plans are being made to cut the semester short and scale down the classes offered in the future.

If you are a reader in the DuPage area, please visit this link to World Relief DuPage’s Advocacy page and read more about this issue and action steps you can take. Pass it along to anyone else you know who might be interested.

And please pray.

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                                                                    from The Book of Common Prayer

Mudroom Blog, World Relief, Refuge, and Ink 180

PLEASE read all four parts of this post!

puzzle 2+I have a piece (unpublished here or anywhere else) up today on the Mudroom Blog (a place for the stories emerging in the midst of the mess). It’s titled “The Missing Pieces.” Below is an excerpt from the middle of the piece. Follow the link above to read the entire piece.

I sometimes aim for “tidy and orderly.” But after I get a little ways down that road to craziness/denial/anger/hypocrisy, I realize my missing pieces are actually a gift. They’re good. They check my tendencies toward sterility. They bring me back to need and the deep, true longings of my soul.  

They bring me back to Jesus. 

+World Relief (WR) is an organization that ministers to refugees around the world. I volunteer at local WR ESL classes. These classes are in jeopardy because the state of Illinois has not passed a budget for the state year that began July 1, so the funds that are meant to provide for ESL classes are not released. PLEASE visit the World Relief advocacy page to read more about this and advocate for this very important ministry.

+Refuge for Women ministers to women who have left the adult entertainment industry. The first R for W recovery home was opened in Kentucky, and now funds are being raised for a R for W home here in the Chicagoland area (it’s desperately needed). R for W Chicago is hosting Shoelapalooza, a fundraising event, this Saturday from 1-3 in Crystal Lake, IL. The slogan is “Step into a new pair of shoes and help a woman step into freedom.” You can also learn more about R for W Chicago at the event. Prices are reasonable and every dollar spent goes to Refuge.

+Willow Creek is hosting its quarterly Anti-Trafficking Forum, and the speaker is Chris Baker of Ink 180. If you’re interested in hearing more about the incredible work Chris does and more about anti-trafficking work being done in this area, follow the link above to learn more about the event.