Refugees – our new neighbors

Imagine… living in fear of forced labor camps, debilitating taxation, no representation, and State sponsored physical and sexual abuse. Imagine… your family targeted because of your ethnicity. Now, ask yourself, “What would I do to protect my spouse, my children, myself from torture, persecution and death?”

This is the life of a refugee. This is the life many of the refugees coming to Minnesota have experienced. They have fled for their lives – leaving their homeland behind completely – their homes in Somalia, Laos, Burma, Liberia, Bhutan and many other places. And through the efforts of the UNHCR and the U.S. Deptarment of State they have been transplanted to Minnesota.

burmese refugee camp in thailand 2Nem Lam Din, a Karen women (an ethnic group in Burma) lived in a refugee camp in neighboring Thailand for many, many years. Her family was not allowed to leave the refugee camp – they couldn’t legally work, buy food or explore the countryside.

Last year, the United States welcomed Nem Lam Din, offering her family a safe haven – a new place to call home. Our government invited them to replant their lives here as legal residents.

Imagine… what refugees face as they arrive in America. They step off the plane with fear and trembling – as they walk down the long airport concourse with all of their possessions in one bag – they have no idea what awaits them. “Where will we live? What will we eat? Who will be our friend?”

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Volunteers from a church made Din’s family welcome in their homes, in their neighborhood and in their church. In time, Nam began to ask questions: “What is this love that you are sharing with us? Where does it come from?” Volunteers were able to answer and tell her about a God who loves her and died for her – a God who empowered His Church to welcome strangers – to welcome refugees like Jesus, who was a refugee with his parents in the land of Egypt.

This is the story of the Church at work. This is the story of World Relief Minnesota partnering with that Church. Imagine… befriending a refugee.