My name is Laura Wood and my husband Rich and I have been attending Village Bible Church since July 1982.
Why did you decide to become involved with the Refugee Ministry?
In 2006 or so, our student ministry pastor Mario Arindaeng invited the teens to help tutor refugee children through World Relief. I went to a meeting with some of my children and decided to help. The next year I heard of a need for Good Neighbor Kits (GNK’s) for arriving refugee families through World Relief and I transitioned into coordinating that with Village. Our church has provided the necessities for 40-50 families since 2007!
That got our family involved with refugees: driving, visiting, tutoring, helping with summer kids club & hosting.
What have been your most memorable moments within the ministry?
It has been exciting to meet families from all over the world; some even stayed with us while they waited for an apartment! We’ve hosted a man from Cuba who came with only the clothes on his back, a Bhutanese pastor and his wife & 3 children, a Muslim family from Iraq (who insisted on doing all the cooking for a week), and most recently an Iraqi mom & 2 daughters (her husband a Christian “disappeared” one day and they do not know what happened to him).
How much time do you spend with the refugee ministry?
The time commitment with the Refugee ministry varies. If there is an apartment to set up, we request and purchase items, then the “set-up” time is around two hours, depending on how many helpers we have.
What are some of the biggest needs you see among refugee families?
There are many needs in the Refugee community. People can help pick up new families from the airport. Drivers are needed for doctor appointments.
Youth club volunteers are needed once a week for 2-3 hours. Many need help with English, so helpers for ESL classes and caring for the children of ESL students is important. There are also opportunities to tutor 1 on 1 in the refugee homes.
One of the biggest things that they need is connection in their new homes – so just being a friend is very important.
In what ways can Village become involved?
Village could be of service in any of these areas! Right now we have a few people who help provide and set up the Good Neighbor Kits, but that is about it. Lately Village has given necessities to help people get set up, but we have really not had contact with these new folks. We need people who will help reach out to them.
Give us one last thing that has impacted you and you believe would impact others at Village.
I have learned so much about people of other cultures & their hospitalities. It’s amazing to visit them & see how much we in the U.S. take for granted! We think we are blessing them, but it is we who are the blessed.