The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has a long history of answering the call of Christ to welcome the stranger and live out the numerous scriptures that tell us to love others. In Leviticus, and many other places we hear the word of God, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
According to Disciples Home Mission’s website, “Since 1948, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has resettled more than 37,500 refugees and assisted countless people facing immigration problems.” We have several mission sites that are dedicated to assisting refugees and I have personally led several wonderful mission trips to Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries in Southwest Texas to stay and work at a refugee site.
Congo Family Seeks Sanctuary in Oklahoma
Last summer, Rev. Mary Heath, who chairs the Oklahoma Commission on Refugee and Immigration Ministries in Oklahoma, received a call from ministry partners in Texas about a family seeking sanctuary. This family is currently settling into a new life in Oklahoma. They escaped the Congo and it has been a tumultuous journey that has taken a few years from the time they left until their arrival in the United States.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been in a horrible civil war for years. It is a place where families fear the warlords will take their young sons to be raised to fight and they fear their daughters could face an even worse fate. The father of this family of 5 was a teacher and humanitarian worker whose life was threatened for helping people, serving the least. The family speaks 6 languages, and thanks to tutors are now learning English as their 7th language. They speak 3 African dialects, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. We are thankful for the work of OCRIM, the Spero Project, and Catholic Charities for the assistance this family is receiving in tutoring, mentoring, and so much more.
Laws Prohibiting Work
Did you know that when a family seeks asylum in the U.S. that a recent Federal law prohibits them from working anywhere from one and a half to three years of their residency in the United States? They can’t even apply for a work permit in the first 150 days, then must wait for one year after they formally apply for asylum, and then it can take 30 days once they get a hearing to approve the work permit. These rules have changed over and over again in the last several years making it almost impossible to know what to do and when.
The Challenge of Immigration Hearings
The problems are many. Oklahoma recently closed down the one and only immigration court forcing applicants to go out of state, and it can take months or years for them to even get a hearing in another state. In the meantime, if a family member works to try to provide for their family they are breaking the law and can face immediate deportation. Could you imagine the hardships that places on a family who has already left everything behind, carrying all they can in 3 backpacks? To compound things, the family just had a fourth child born in October.
Will You Help?
Western Oaks Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) supports the work of our Regional Church, and our Commission on Refugees and Immigration Ministries. As part of our support we are raising the money to pay at least one month’s rent of $654 for this family from the Congo. I am challenging you to help raise enough for one month’s rent and living expenses. Will you help us to be a beacon of hope to this family and others?
You can donate by sending your check or give online to the Regional Church through Givelify. Designate donations to Refugee Immigration Ministries (RIM). Or you may mail a check make payable to the Christian Church in Oklahoma, 301 NW 36th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Please note RIM on the check.
You may find out more ways to help by calling Rev. Mary Heath at Edmond Trinity Christian Church. 405-348-8019. Also visit our RIM Resources page here.
Rev. Daniel U’Ren, Sr. Minister
Western Oaks Christian Church