A few years ago, Church World Service created a short video titled A Future with Hope. The video invites congregations, and people of faith, to partner with CWS in the unique face-to-face ministry of welcoming refugees – acting as friends and mentors as refugee families resettle in the United States. The name for the video is inspired, in part, by a reference to the Biblical verse in the book of Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. . .to give you a future with hope.”
Hope is essential for all of us, and it is especially important for refugees starting new lives in a new home. Hope has the power to move people from violence and persecution, to peace and healing. Hope can move people from economic hardship and separation from families, to reunification and stability.
This week, at Christmas, we are invited to celebrate hope. Moreover, we are invited to celebrate how even the smallest bit of hope – revealed in the tiny, and all too vulnerable, package of a new born baby – can completely change the future.
I can imagine a future with hope when I hear about Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC, of the American Baptist Churches and the Alliance of Baptists, joining CWS in our Angels-to-Angels letter writing ministry to children and women living at a temporary shelter in Texas. This shelter was opened as a result of the upsurge of Central American refugee children crossing the Texas border. The women and children are now awaiting resolution of their asylum claims. Calvary is one of over a dozen congregations that have responded by sending cards of care and prayer through CWS’ Religious Services Program. Sending a message that someone, somewhere, is with them in spirit and wishing them well.
I celebrate a future with hope when I learn about congregations like Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville, Kentucky. Members of Christ Church have been welcoming refugee families through the CWS partner agency, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, since 1989. In the past five years they began a new tradition of hand delivering holiday gifts to each of the families they have welcomed over the years. This year, the number of gifts will total over 80, which includes a gift for every child, in every family. Adam, a Palestinian refugee from Iraq was one of those children.
There are many ways to celebrate hope. The promise we receive at Christmas is that even things that appear to be “small,” can inspire great possibilities. This week let us pray for all those standing in need of hope and for a bright future for us all.
If you and/or members of your congregation are interested in participating in the Angel-to-Angel letter writing program please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in learning more about the family residential shelter and how you can help support this work click here.
Joya Colon-Berezin is the Ecumenical Relations Coordinator in CWS’s Immigration and Refugee Program.