The Transformation from Stranger to Friend

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. The following story is a testimony by one of our Welcome Team volunteers at CCF.


I am part of our church welcome team that is hosting a family from Afghanistan. It is a privilege to share a few of the experiences that I have had with our new Afghan friends that God has placed in our midst. I was one of the team members who met the family in December as they arrived at the house that God had found for them.


When our new Afghan friends arrived at their new home, we were all smiles. We were happy and excited to meet them! The family, however, was understandably fearful, apprehensive, and guarded. As we entered the house with them and walked into different rooms, the children began to let their guard down as they came upon various “kid-friendly” items. Their little faces lit up as they discovered coloring books, crayons, cars, trucks, backpacks, school supplies, and balloons. Before we knew it, they showed us their appreciation with great big hugs!


An interpreter and I gave the parents a tour of their new home. We pointed out several important features pertaining to the doors, windows, oven, dishwasher, and other appliances. Immediately, the wonderful parents made tea and prepared a plate of nuts and berries for us. They were saying “thank you” in a universal language—food!


While the adults were busy in the kitchen, I played with balloons with the kids, which brought forth giggles and laughter from them all. At this point, their parents clearly did not want me to leave. I sensed that they were not only feeling comfortable with me but were literally experiencing the love of Jesus in those moments and hearing our Father’s “welcome home.”


Since our first encounter, I have had the privilege of helping them on several occasions. Last week, I went to help the mother learn how to use the washing machine. When I got to their house, she was confused. She had a pile of dripping wet clothes and a washer half full of water.

Think about it. She didn’t know English, and I didn’t know Urdu, and the phone app that we used for translating gave us some very “funny” and misleading translations. We laughed our way through it and eventually celebrated our successful outcome—she was able to use her washing machine. We bonded as we persevered through a very ordinary process.


I am grateful that God has allowed me to demonstrate the love of Jesus to this precious family from the other side of the world and that He would use common, everyday situations to transform our relationship from stranger to friend.


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.

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