By Jaclyn Bonner
“It is the first time I have heard the children laughing,” said the apartment complex manager. Although the African refugee families and South and Central American immigrants are all newcomers to Houston, their residence lacks a sense of community and pride.
In one week, the Houston Refugee Project, with assistance of volunteers from Meadow Oaks Baptist Church in Temple, revitalized the fragmented refugee community through a children’s camp. Fifty children and adolescents ages 2-18 years old from diverse ethnicities laughed, played, and had fun together.
This brought their families together for the first time, fostering a feeling of community and empowering residents to better themselves and their children, said Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionaries, Butch and Nell Green. Several of these families comprise a portion of the 50 refugee families the Greens are serving in Houston. The Houston Refugee Project is the first outside organization to minister to the rundown apartment complex, noted the apartment management. It is potentially the refugees’ first exposure to Christ.
The Texas Baptist Hunger Offeringhelps provide food for welcome baskets, which the Greens and local churches deliver to refugee families. Gifts to the Hunger Offering are used to purchase pantry essentials like rice and beans, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. The baskets also include a small grocery gift card to enable families to shop for themselves and buy other necessary items.
In addition to relieving hunger, welcome baskets are a catalyst for initiating relationships. Building relationships proffers opportunities to assist refugees in navigating a new culture, language, and job market.
The Houston Refugee Project also focuses on assisting local churches with reaching the Muslim community. The week-long children’s camp has created the opportunity for continued community outreach in one of many refugee communities.
“There are many opportunities to be the presence of Christ here at this place,” said the Greens. English-as-a-Second-Language classes, children’s tutoring, and Bible clubs are additional examples of how this ministry is sharing Jesus and meeting practical needs.
The Hunger Offering partners with ministries like this to alleviate hunger and create strategic pathways out of poverty for families. The next 5th Sunday Offering is July 30. Give online anytime here.