The Refugee Next Door 

“All ten of my children and my husband were killed in my village. I was left for dead. This was because we believe in Jesus. God will always be worth it. Now I just adopt anyone I meet from my country here in the United States. I am ‘Auntie’ to many. God is so beautiful.” 

I choked back tears as I cherished her smile so wide it could be seen from two states away. The dear woman next to me was considered royalty to many countrymen yet she is alone with almost nothing. 

Refugee. It’s no longer a political statement to me. It’s no longer something to vote for or against. It’s a people to embrace, serve and enjoy. “Refugee” includes a story, a heartbeat and utter love towards the smallest consideration of relationship. 


“I asked Refugee children who arrived here to Clarkston, Georgia, recently to draw their homes as an art therapy excercise. All of them drew their homes in flames, their family’s bodies disfigured and they drew just all around absolute loss. They smiled big because I brought paper. They were overjoyed because of paper.” 

While in Clarkston, I learned the heartbreak of hearing innocent children recount the death of family members as if everyone understood having war in their backyard. As they wrapped up their story, they would lean in for a hug, look at me and then ask if I’d play Tag. 

They’d laugh like they were listening to Jimmy Fallon when told an intentionally lame joke. Even the non-Christians had hope in their eyes because they knew English & had achieved their dream of being in America. 


“What brought you here?” The southern man drawled as he sat next to me. As I explained the week long trip to help various missions in their projects for the refugee community in Clarkston, his face grew grey, unwelcoming and fearful. 

“Ma’am, we have refugees here?”

“2,500-3,000 refugees from around the world every year are brought into Clarkston, Sir. It’s a need that won’t go away.”

“Why aren’t you afraid of terrorism? What if they kill you?  None are from Syria, are they? You know what they’re all doing in Europe, right? You’re f*$!in’ crazy. Thanks for what you’re doing to help… people.” 


I learned to step past the fear of broken borders, unknown languages and misunderstood religions. I grinned from ear to ear talking to a Muslim devotee about traffic. I giggled over my tired yawn with a Hindu follower. 

As Americans, we fret over borders, terrorism and being “run over” by foreigners. Humbly, to those of you that claim Christ, I ask you to remember God commanded us to love even when we didn’t understand the person or people receiving and needing that love. 

We’re called to love people and trust God for our protection and needs….. So, the question isn’t whether we accept the refugee population around us. 

The real question is: Do we want to put actions to our words when we say that God is big enough to keep us secure when we stretch out on a limb to obey His commands? Or are we just too spoiled by our easy lives to even try?