A Refuge Thanksgiving

“Why do you treat us better than our own people?” Ibrahim asked his new friends. After being injured by a missile, evacuated to an unfriendly Jordanian hospital, and pressed into a refugee camp, Ibrahim confessed, “We weren’t looking to the future–we were just alive.”

Now relocated in Louisville, with help from Refuge he and his family have been matched with a Welcome Team from a local church. Only weeks ago, Ibrahim experienced his first American Thanksgiving as five refugee families and five Welcome Teams feasted together at Refuge facilities. 

Welcome Teams are one of the primary ways Refuge helps churches to embrace refugees. We partner with local resettlement agencies who are desperate for help with the thousands of refugees arriving in Louisville, especially during their tumultuous first three months. Welcome Teams are trained to serve refugee families from the moment they set foot in Louisville’s airport.

One of the translators at the Thanksgiving meal noticed that the families arrived nervously, but soon relaxed as the Welcome Teams met them and communicated with unmistakable warmth. Conversation and laughter really began to flow when the food arrived. Fittingly, it had been prepared in large part by a recently naturalized Iraqi refugee. Afterward, two volunteers from a local church led the families in a simple art project meant to help them process their children’s challenges with transitioning to a new culture. 

Near the evening’s end one refugee marveled, “Christians are more thoughtful than anyone we have known.” Without suggestion nor coercion, he even asked for a Bible to read. Thanks to a few local churches, these refugee families were given a Thanksgiving welcome they’ll never forget.

Photo credit: Denver Post