Hope House: Annie’s Story

Annie, age 22, comes from a rough family background. Raised on the streets by alcoholic parents, she became a Christian when she was miraculously healed of a brain tumor. Annie moved to our metropolitan city to try to find work so that she could support her mom financially.

Annie was introduced to a young man who was the only son of a reputable family from her homeland. They got married, but only two weeks into the marriage, he started drinking and became physically violent. He refused to reform, deciding instead to return to their homeland.

Shortly after his departure, Annie discovered she was pregnant. Due to her previous brain tumor, Annie was not strong physically. She had a hard pregnancy. In early February 2022, after a difficult delivery, she gave birth to a baby boy, David.

Annie is not sure how she will be able to keep working to support herself. Fearing shame, Annie often suffers from panic attacks, yet she has been unwilling to reach out to other believers from her same ethic background.

Our staff has provided help with practical and medical needs as well as spiritual and emotional support. Pray that Annie’s family will find freedom from addiction and that they will experience healing in Jesus’ name.

Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the Hope House maternity home ministry in Eastern Europe. We have set a goal to raise $20,000 for this life-giving ministry to migrant women.

To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

Hope House video

Refugee Friday

On Fridays, pray for the RAIN Alliance in Columbus, Ohio, as it reaches out to Middle Eastern and other refugees.

Since 2010, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (CCF), a C&MA church in Hilliard, OH, has been reaching out to local disadvantaged families, immigrants, and refugees. We have a team of dedicated volunteers who have been involved in building relationships and providing resources to underserved people.

AFGHAN REFUGEE FAMILIES

We, as a church body, were moved by the recent suffering of Afghan people and their subsequent attempts to resettle. We began seeking the Lord for direction on how we might be able to show the love of Jesus in practical ways to Afghan families that were soon to be assigned to the city of Columbus. This unexpected influx of Afghan refugees has created new opportunities for us as a church family to develop ongoing relationships with our new neighbors with the hope that they will see the gospel of the Kingdom made manifest through the love and kindness of Jesus Christ and His followers.

Our vision statement says: “We are a Spirit-led, compassionate, and relational refuge who boldly proclaim in word and deeds of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom to all peoples and the coming generation.” God has and is placing the nations right within our midst! We look with anticipation, for the harvest is truly ripe.

In December 2021, our newly trained welcome team of 21 people were expecting an Afghan family of seven as our first new opportunity to serve Afghan refugees. Within two weeks, through the help of a realtor in our church and the grace of God, we were able to locate a townhouse. Our team began getting it ready for our family, and on December 15, an Afghan family began the process of settling into their new home.

We registered the family in ESL classes, registered their children in school, and began looking into job opportunities for the father. The family does not have a vehicle, and public transportation is minimal in our city. Our goal is that the father would have transportation for work and that the vehicle we purchase would have enough room for the family to go shopping together.


INDIVIDUAL REFUGEE CARE

Six years ago, Adela* came to the United States from Iraq with her husband and children, resettling in the Columbus/Hilliard area. She attended ESL classes and was introduced to RAIN Alliance volunteers. When a need for a translator emerged, this amazing woman volunteered to help. In time, a friendship blossomed between Adela and a female volunteer. Adela started English Conversation class at CCF. Eventually, she came to church with her children as well.

One year ago, Adela had a recurrence of a cancerous brain tumor that was compounded by the stress of COVID-19 while attempting to teach her children at home on e-learning. When her husband found out that Adela was sick, he left her and the children with no support. Adela had to quit work due to her illness. She has been taking chemo medication for the tumor in hopes that that the tumor will dissolve so that she can go back to work again, and of course, we continue to pray that the Lord will heal her.


Presently, Adela and her two children are living without virtually any income except for food stamps and the help that she has received from us and two of our partners for her rent and other necessities.


We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Alliance Women to make a difference in the life of our sister and others like her. We invite you to join us as we pray God’s heart for Afghan families, Adela, and her children as well as other refugee friends.

Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the RAIN Alliance ministry in Ohio. We have set a goal to raise $25,000 for this hands-on ministry to refugees. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

To learn more about the Refugee and Immigrant Network (RAIN) of the Alliance, please visit www.rainalliance.org.


*name changed

There is Still Room

For many of us, summer is a wonderful time for slowing down, savoring the longer days, and enjoying a relaxed ministry schedule. For others, summer is a busy season of navigating multiple opportunities for family, creative, and recreational activities. If you happen to have some extra time for reflection right now, I encourage you to make space to think about hospitality and generosity and to let that sit in your soul for as long as necessary.

The verse chosen for our second year of Belong is this: “There is still room” (Luke 14:22). This simple statement infers a desire to fill an empty space.

In response to this declaration, I find myself asking a variety of questions: Do I have room in my schedule and in my heart? Do I have a desire to extend hospitality and generosity toward others? If not, why not? Am I overscheduled? Is there something I need to stop doing in order to create space for obedience to God’s next prompting? Have I adopted a “poverty mentality” that causes me to believe I must guard and hoard precious resources such as time and agency?

Perhaps these next few weeks will provide opportunity for you to consider these same questions.

Scripture is full of imagery of abundance. The story begins with a generous and creative God filling a space that was “empty and void” with a delightful variety of plants, animals, and sources of light and life. I read commands such as, “Enlarge the place of your tent . . . do not hold back” (Isa. 54:2) and “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10). I read promises such as, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10) and “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

Do I believe it? Do I trust my generous and good Father to provide all that I need, even to an overflow for others? Will I believe that God is willing to do what He did for the widow of Zarephath in Elijah’s day when “the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry” even during famine (1 Kings 17:16)? Will I, like Jesus, receive and respond to the commission to go to other towns, to unfamiliar places, to people who have not yet seen or heard the good news of the Kingdom (see Luke 4:43–44)?

These reflections are worthy of my time and my response. For this season, I will allow my Good Shepherd to lead me to green pastures and quiet waters to refresh my soul. Then, when it is time for me to get up and be guided along the right paths for His name’s sake (see Ps. 23:2–3), I will be one who is welcoming in my demeanor and generous in my spirit.

There is still room—for His glory and the good of others. Amen.

Every Chair Filled

Twenty years ago, my husband and I planned our wedding. After three years of dating, we had six months to pull together a wedding and banquet, not only for our families but also for the people in the church we served. It was a whirlwind of decisions about what would honor God and tell our story while honoring all those who had invested so much in us.

We had a sacred wedding ceremony and a joyous party after. A gaggle of children circled around us as we danced together. The stress of planning was so worth it! Yet, out of all the invited guests, one didn’t show up. There was no explanation or notice, just an empty chair. What could have possibly been better than our wedding?

The story of the great banquet we read about in Luke 14:12-24 is a rather uncomfortable scene. Jesus, sitting with self-important religious leaders, has just finished correcting them for choosing the best seat for themselves and for only associating with people who offer them reciprocation and social mobility. Then Jesus tells this story to religious leaders—I wonder if we can relate.

The master has prepared a banquet, but not everyone invited comes. First to be invited are the “important” people. Maintaining their many possessions and managing their highly demanding jobs and family responsibilities are their priorities. Those invited talk about life in terms of schedule and exhaustion. These people forfeit their invitation.

Second to be invited are those who are outcasts—the poor, the lame, and the blind. Some of them attend, but for the others, maybe life was too hard, or they didn’t feel worthy to attend.

Next to be invited are those who aren’t notably poor or influential but just needed to be persuaded to come.

The last character is often overlooked—the servant. He oversees the inviting, bringing in, and compelling people to attend the banquet.

From the time of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been planning His wedding feast—thousands of years, millions of moving pieces working toward a banquet where everyone is invited but not everyone will attend. We must use caution to avoid being like any of the invited who find excuses to bail out. Instead, let’s be more like the servant, an intimate of the master who invites, brings, and compels others to attend the wedding feast—the great heavenly banquet.

There are enough seats for everyone, and the Master will have every seat filled. Our Great Commission charge is to make sure everyone that wants to come can!

After all, what could possibly be better than the wedding feast of Jesus?