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May 17, 2016
Karen Guess

Last fall, I was a guest at a Women Doing Well Inspiring Generous Joy (now WDW Signature Event) event in Indianapolis. I wish I could bottle up the collective beauty of that room full of women who were “clothed in strength and dignity” and who could “laugh at the days to come.” I met numerous wonderful women – each of whom I would cherish to have as my neighbor.

Here where I live, I’m particularly absorbed by the beauty of that word: neighbor.

A relationship reveals a new passion


Karen Guess“Here” is my family’s town – Clarkston, Georgia. It’s home to around 5,000 refugees from all over the world and commonly labeled “the most diverse square mile in the country.”

We came to Clarkston by way of a friendship. Almost six years ago, our suburban family of five adopted a newly arriving refugee family from Eritrea. We met them at the airport and taught them how to use forks. They taught us so much more.

This one friendship blossomed into a passion for understanding refugee resettlement. We asked questions like: Who is a refugee? How do they get here? What about employment? What about language? What about transportation? What about education? What about their big dreams? These profound questions arrived fast and furious.

As we set about learning, God set about revealing an adventure for our family, one step at a time.

It wasn’t long before questions turned to passion, which became purpose. God led us back frequently to the same scriptures where we wrestled with our growing desire to be ambassadors, connecting the affluent world we lived in with the hidden riches of Clarkston. Then, we wrestled with the prospect of becoming neighbors, moving to Clarkston and living so that we could both give and receive in the diverse community.

I wish I could tell you the whole story of our move to Clarkston, because you’d realize that you and I have a lot in common. I carried boatloads of fear, a ton of misdirected control-freakish energy, and a true Gideon-complex. (You know, “Here’s another fleece, God…show me again, God…are you sure, God?”) By the end of the story, you’d no doubt be amazed at the grace of God for holding this fearful woman’s hand along the way.

Beauty shared

We’ve experienced so much beauty on this journey. We saw it that very first night at the airport with our new friends. We could even smell it in the spices they brought with them in their luggage.

The beauty remained.

In fact, it grew.

As we became students of the refugee, we became students of the beauty of the Kingdom. Our refugee friends share that beauty with us…the beauty of grace in the face of loss…the beauty of a shared meal…the beauty of deep patience…the beauty of humility and resilience…the beauty of dignity restored…the beauty of hope…the beauty of purpose…and the beauty of neighboring.

Jesus invites us to live the adventure of neighboring. He came as Immanuel, God with us. Today, let’s live in the beauty of His grace, the one who, “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14, The Message)

Start your own journey toward discovering your purpose at a Women Doing Well workshop.





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