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A Path 270 Intern Shares Her Faith With Refugees

Over the next several months we'll be following Path 270 interns as they spend 270 days on three continents, serving alongside MTW missionaries and learning more about longer-term missions. 

It has only been 30 days since I left Birmingham, Alabama. And yet, even in such a short time, I have learned so much about the world and God’s people.

We are spending these first three months of our nine-month Path 270 internship ministering to the large refugee population of an American city. Although we are still in America, we are not in training. America is our mission field. Though we typically think of missions as going out into other countries to tell people about Jesus, by the grace of God the world is coming to us.

Over decades, hundreds of thousands of refugees have come to America. These men, women, and children are often demonized, but the overwhelming majority are simply here looking for safety and opportunities for a better life. By teaching them English, the basic skills needed to live and thrive in America, and spending time getting to know them, we can share the love of Jesus.

Carli

Just a few months ago I had never even heard of this city. I had never met anyone who had been a translator for the American army and had to flee their own country for safety. Now, I do life with these people. I drink black Turkish coffee, eat spicy Nepali snacks, watch cartoons in Arabic, teach a mother the words she needs to communicate to the doctor that her child is sick, and help refugees study for driving tests and citizenship tests, teaching facts about American government that I didn’t even know.

On the first two days of the Path 270 internship, my fellow intern, Abigail, and I learned about this journey we were embarking on. We learned about our personalities, and although Abigail and I are very different, we have a common ground—the hope we have in Jesus, the hope we have to share with a dark world. We learned about the different cultures we would be immersing ourselves in, the loss and grief of the refugee experience, and tools for growing in our relationship with Jesus.

In the months to come, Abigail and I will sometimes be in situations where we are the only ones that don’t speak the local language, but we will have each other to lean on, to remind each other that our friends’ pain is not ours to carry, but His.

Coffee, Hijabs, and Google Translate

Until recently, our team leaders had an apartment where they helped teach families English, offered tutoring, and shared Bible stories. Unfortunately, the apartment complex recently came under new ownership whose goal is to make the complex appealing and available for young working professionals. The missionaries had to leave and—you guessed it—the new owners want all of the refugees out too. In the meantime, this won’t stop what the Lord is doing here. We will now be going into local women's homes to teach English and tutor their children. 

To get things started and meet everyone, we invited many of the women to our team leaders’ home for coffee. One woman, Greta,* immediately got my attention. She walked in, took off her hijab (head covering), laughed about her dress having slits up the sides, stood up and twirled around. Many Muslim women in this community do not have a voice, never leave their homes, and spend much of their lives only able to show their face and hands in public. Now, she was in a room full of women who love her. If only she knew how much Jesus loves her.
 
A week later, I got the opportunity to go to Greta’s home to teach her English. An hour into practicing words like “chandelier," “dresser,” and “dishes,” she began to tell me more about herself. She told me about Syria and the dangers she faced before she left. She talked about her faith getting her through. No, she didn’t know those words in English. She used Google Translate.  

My faith looks different from hers. As a Muslim, Greta prays five times a day, washes her hands seven times before she prays, and tries to help others, all the while hoping that God will be gracious enough to let her go to heaven. In her religion, you spend your whole life trying to earn heaven, and never have the peace of the forgiveness, love, and grace Jesus offers us. I asked to pray for her and I lifted my hands and spoke in the name of Jesus over her life.
 
Greta is like many refugees and immigrants I have met. They are yearning for more, something greater that sustains and fulfills because God has put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Knowing God as Father and Jesus as Savior will offer that fulfillment. Nothing else will do. So I will continue to build relationships and love them as Christ has loved us, because in Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28).

Praise God for the work He is doing in the lives of lost people and for revealing Himself to them. Praise God for my fellow teammates, because the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). Praise God for His love and reaching down to save us. 

We’re taking applications now for the 2020–2021 Path 270 internship, which will begin in September. Learn more at mtw.org/path270.

*
Names have been changed to protect privacy and security.

Carli Kim Guin Feb 11, 2020
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