Ever since I was young, I planned to go to the mission field someday. I made a promise to myself never to own a business, as I wanted to live a life that impacted people around me. I saw owning a business as a trap: the lure of money, success, and wealth would only distract me from the real purpose of life.
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:10–13).
Since we served with EMM and MCC in Cambodia for seven years, the people of Southeast Asia have been close to our hearts. Living with our Cambodian brothers and sisters, we worked with education, youth ministries, and the local church. During that time, our priority was learning the language, culture, and story of the Khmer, a people who had lived through genocide and 20 years of war. Our end goal was to encourage and build up local leadership among them.
Lancaster City has recently become known as “America’s refugee capital,” following a report by the BBC which said that Lancaster takes in 20 times more refugees per capita than the rest of the U.S. Meet Barbara Witmer, one Lancaster City resident whose longstanding commitment to refugee resettlement has affected hundreds of lives.
Sally and I knew El* would be the first woman to arrive for worship every Sunday morning. She’d be out front of the church with her headphones on, dancing wildly to “Stomp” by Kirk Franklin.
In the 1970s, a Marxist military group called the Derg gained control of Ethiopia by force. There followed several years of civil unrest, in which gunfire seemed to resound beyond every horizon, friends and neighbors were divided by fear and betrayal, and the church was forced deep underground.
What does “welcoming refugees” mean to me?
Tuesday night, on the last day of January 2017, I stood on Penn Square in the setting sun with 2,000 of my neighbors in support of refugees and immigrants in our city and in our country.