Whether your ancestors came to this continent on a slave ship, fought alongside the US in Vietnam such as the Hmong, left an English prison as mine did, sailed from Finland to work the iron ore range, emigrated from Poland to dig in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania, came across the Rio Grande to work the farm fields, we are an immigrant people. Only the Lakota, Ojibwe, and other American Indians can claim this land as “home.”
We weren’t the first people-on-the-move. Others have had an immigrant background. One of them? Jesus. Joseph gathered his new family as Herod began slaughtering infant boys. Who welcomed them, saving the young family? Egypt. Interesting, and so it continues today.
Today, 20 million people are declared refugees by the UN. The need for refugee resettlement is the greatest it has been since WWII. Refugees are fleeing oppression and threats to life. In the United States, the government partners with private organizations and faith communities to assist in the work of refugee resettlement. Partnership with the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) by congregations like ours is a vital to addressing the plight of refugees. Through MCC, Episcopal Migration Ministries helps relocate refugees. Remembering our own heritage, listening to Jesus’ instruction to welcome the stranger, St John’s has responded to the refugee crisis by partnering with MCC to sponsor a family. The family possesses refugee status (rather than economic immigrant) by the Department of State. They are entitled to reside and work in the US.
The Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) has matched us with a Karen family of 6: Mom, Dad, sons 19 and 13, and daughters 11 and 7. Another adult daughter may join them. Their family name is Kaw, and they are Christian. They fled Burma in 2007 and have been in the Ban Mai Surin refugee camp in Thailand, awaiting resettlement for the past 9 years. After extensive vetting, they have been accepted for resettlement in the USA. This is our opportunity to help them settle in St. Paul, which has become a home to the Karen community.
We will be asked to provide essential furniture and household items, initial meals, transportation to appointments, help with language and orientation to public transportation, schools shopping etc. We are researching the Karen culture and language to learn how to serve them best. Volunteers to help with any of these efforts will be greatly appreciated! And, there will be financial requirements. A donation site has been set up to accept online contributions. Your donations are solicited, and we ask that you alert your friends and family to this opportunity to welcome this and future refugee families to our great country! Of course, donations by check or cash are appreciated. Mark them for the “Refugee Project”.
Finally, please continue praying for the family. They are leaving all they know and arriving in a whole new culture. We ask for your prayers for the Thar Kaw family, members of the committee and volunteers.