A look back — and to the future

In September 2008, I saw the needs of refugees arriving in the Houston area. Having lived overseas for several years, I knew how frustrating it is to try to learn a new language and a new culture, so I quit my job in December 2008 and began trying to meet the needs of Bhutanese refugees arriving in the city from the back of my SUV. I had no previous knowledge of their culture, the story of their persecution or why they came to America, but I sought to meet practical needs and love them as God had laid on my heart.

I’d be the first to admit that I made a lot of mistakes that first year, but God blessed me anyway. The friendships I formed and the people I have grown to love will forever be in my heart. A local management company gave us an apartment and set up a donation room so newly arriving refugees could shop for what they needed. Eventually, Kids’ Club began and now has expanded to Saturdays and Sundays. 

But in 2014, Bhutanese refugees began leaving Houston and moving to other cities to join families. My heart was broken because I knew I’d miss them and their children I had grown to love for more than five years. I saw them come to the city speaking little or no English, secure jobs and then become U.S. citizens. Some have even purchased homes in the Houston area. 

As I prayed, ‘Lord, now what?’ I met refugees from other countries who also needed help with practical needs and help navigating our culture. The ministry has now expanded to three apartment complexes where we offer English classes. The vision for the future includes computer training as God provides volunteers with those teaching skills. People from all nations have arrived in Houston. Perhaps there is something you could offer the refugees: Teaching classes? Inviting a family to your home for the holidays? Opportunities abound. The nations are here. Will you answer the call?