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The Nations Have Come to Us: My Summer with Refugees

We’ve made it to Clarkston! My two teammates and I are settling into our apartment and approaching this refugee community just east of Atlanta with wide eyes and a huge lack of insight. I feel like an outsider. A rookie. An inexperienced child. 

Even though there are over 40 nationalities here, I feel like the foreigner. When I first drove into our parking lot, a couple dozen kids ran out in front of my car. As I slammed the brakes, I surveyed the scene. The children playing in front of me were from all over the globe.

I marvel at this diversity. We serve a very creative God.

An African girl who appeared to be 11 or 12 years old made laps around the apartment complex—once with a baby on her hip, then on a bike timidly waving hello, braided hair flying in every direction. I met my neighbor, a Bosnian refugee who seemed to be having some kind of religious gathering next door. Since I have been here— just a little over 24 hours—I have learned one important thing: I have so much to learn.

Great hospitality. Great need.
We visited some Iraqi women yesterday, enjoying Arab tea, learning a couple of words in Arabic, and meeting a dozen of their children. One woman quickly whipped up some delicious baked goods. (“We can only stay for a few minutes” is quite relative here.) We walked into her apartment, noticing the otherwise empty room crowded with people crouched on the ground. She had just recently sold her furniture to pay bills. In just one hour I observed great need. Physical need. Spiritual need. Emotional need.

I, on the other hand, am very comfortable in my clean, spacious apartment, sleeping on my comfy new mattress, budgeting easily for food, and driving my own car equipped with my iPhone to guide me wherever I need to go. I speak the national language and, even though I am new here, I am in a position of power. I cannot relate to what it means to be in their position.

One safe assumption: I know nothing.

A world of nations Clarkston is a melting pot.
I passed a church yesterday that listed seven different gatherings in various languages. There are over 70 mosques in and around the Atlanta area—a reminder to be careful about what we say and when to pray because of local religious group tensions. It really is a different world here. And all because the nations have come to us.

I am grateful. Expectant. Eager. Timid. Weak.

But He is strong.



Chelsey Bennett Dec 1, 2014
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