by Rita Johnson, Associate Director
As a Persian-dialect speaker, Associate Director Rita Johnson is serving Afghan refugees in the greater Seattle area through holistic care and informal translation work.
Refugees in the US are assigned caseworkers to help smooth their transition. Refugees have an allotted amount of time to receive case-support from their caseworker, including help with employment and housing.
At the end of his allotted case-support time, Maloh*—an Afghan refugee living near me in Washington—was still unemployed. I spent time praying, asking God to provide a job coach for him via local congregations. Soon, God answered my prayers by connecting me with Michael via a church contact. I spoke with Michael and connected him with Maloh.
A few weeks later, Michael shared that he’d met four times with Maloh, who now has a library card and can access computers there to search for jobs. With good listening and professional skills, Michael helped Maloh select a couple of suitable jobs and apply for them. I praise God for answered prayer, and thank Him for Michael’s humble service and growing connection with Maloh. As immigrants and refugees seek to figure out the confusing basics of life in America, I pray that God would encourage many people to serve as gentle guides and provide these new neighbors with counsel, care and kindness.
On another occasion, I organized lunch for a small group—people from three congregations—at a local Afghan restaurant in our area. One goal was to support this business, and through its staff indirectly help their relatives still in Afghanistan. We had a great time of fellowship and conversation over delicious food. At the end of the meal, we asked to speak to the owner. Bahador* came and shared that he had recently traveled to remote western Afghanistan to help villagers suffering not only from hunger, but also from cold, as their dwellings were damaged in an earthquake.
While there, he encountered a group of children who had been sold as house-helpers to other families in order to provide food for their own families. Using his own resources, and perhaps donations from friends here in America, Bahador purchased back these eight children and returned them to their mothers. Bahador is a pragmatic businessman, but he was clearly impacted emotionally as he told us this story. He didn’t share much more, but I am sure that many tears were shed.
Both Michael (an American Christian) and Bahador (an Afghan Muslim) acted with grace and honor, going above and beyond to serve and care for others—even at great cost to themselves, both in time and money. I asked Michael to meet with Maloh at least once, and he went above and beyond. A group of us went for lunch and came away blessed by Bahador’s passionate story about his homeland.
Across the US, there are many Afghans and other refugees from unreached people groups who do not personally know a Christian. We pray that more people would follow the Spirit to more deeply engage in welcoming their international neighbors. We also pray that followers of Jesus would have more and more opportunities to share and demonstrate the Good News of God’s love with least-reached peoples in their communities. God continues to sow seeds of faith in fallow soil, blessings that we do not see until new possibilities begin to sprout.