Six years ago, God changed the course of our family. And it happened in what appeared to be a most ordinary way: we had lunch with newly resettled refugees from Nepal.
In the space of one afternoon, we encountered the world of the refugee, one we’d never even considered. My husband Doug was drawn in; I was intrigued but hesitant.
I resonated with the plight of integrating into a totally foreign culture. Just after college I moved to Japan, not knowing the language or people. It was isolating and confusing. That experience made me think: What would it be like to be a refugee in a foreign land…with nothing?
And as a teacher, I love opening doors of understanding so the prospect of walking with refugees into the new context of American culture appealed to me.
My hesitation was this: as a busy wife and new stepmom, I was paralyzed at the thought of forming time-consuming relationships in a community far from my home. I was daunted by the prospect of encountering limitless need I could not fill.
So I said no. But God kept telling me to say yes.
Six months later, He brought me to a place of willing obedience, revealing a new purpose for our family. We signed up to volunteer with World Relief Atlanta, “adopting” a newly resettled family from Africa.
Through that relationship, God deeply stirred my heart.
Experiencing divorce gave me a passion to see His beauty come from life’s ashes. The life of a refugee has so much pain, along with so much potential for redemptive beauty. This, coupled with empathy for those living in an unfamiliar land, drew me to the hidden beauty of Clarkston, Georgia, and its people. God taught me that our relationship with our refugee friends was about “walking with” them rather than “doing for” them. He is the only Redeemer, but we could walk with them in the journey.
Eventually, God called our family to move and live as neighbors in the refugee community where our new friends lived.
God’s plan prevails
God called us to Clarkston. It was a quick call and a slow move.
It took Him one weekend to give Doug and me the simultaneous word “ambassador” and the desire to exercise hospitality in Clarkston. We wanted to open doors of opportunity for others to be touched by relationships with refugees as we had. But it took Him a year and a half to open up the path to get here.
We sat with our kids and planned, we prayed and planned, we planned for the home we live in now, and we planned around an entire neighborhood that God saw fit to give us to steward. (We ended up in possession of a partially constructed, bankrupt subdivision along the way.)
But, really, His plan is the one that has prevailed over and over.
- His plan for us to humble ourselves to be neighbors.
- His plan to bring neighbors into the subdivision who are above and beyond our wildest dreams.
- His plan for us to learn about the beauty of courageous people risking everything to begin again.
- His plan to reveal Jesus as the most intimate neighbor and the most inviting Welcomer…as the one who says over and over, “Come unto me.”
Our family believes God owns it all. This gave us the courage to plan, knowing we are God’s stewards. He owns the neighborhood where half of our life savings resides. It’s His money. It’s His city. It’s His world. What a gift to be able to live in it and to see His hand of grace.
What about you?
Do you see purpose, passion and plan compelling you to live a generous life, a life that reflects the very character of Christ?
Here are a few questions to help guide your prayerful thoughts to God:
- Purpose: What has God uniquely created me to do?
- Passion: How might God use my past to do good for others?
- Plan: Is there a reason I resist planning? What has God entrusted to me, and what will I do with it?
Discover how you can nurture your purpose, passion, and plan at one of our upcoming workshop.
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