Refugees in Portland

Imagine living in constant fear for your life, and for the lives of your family, that your only choice is to run.

Portland is beautiful. People take such pride in living here. It is safe. It is unique.

It is home.

Now imagine being forced to leave.

This is the harsh reality for millions of people all over the world. They have no choice but to courageously step into an uncertain future as they leave all that they know behind.

Refugees are proven victims of persecution that flee their homes in search of safety.

Long-term violence and other difficult living conditions brought on by conflict force them to leave their homes, their family, their friends, and all the belongings that can’t be carried on their backs.

They have experienced trauma in war zones, undergone unimaginable persecution and tragedy, and know nothing but fear. Yet they cling to a distant hope where violence is replaced with peace.

Portland is one of the top cities in the United States for receiving refugees.

About one thousand refugees are placed here every year, with the majority coming from Iraq and Somalia. Due to this massive need in our city, refugee care has recently been added as a local initiative of Hear The Cry.

Most refugees arrive with next to nothing, knowing no one, and lacking cultural familiarity.

Understandably, they’re afraid and unsure of how to start their lives over.

While they’re provided with a small amount of funding for an apartment, food stamps, and other provisions, what they need most is the support of community. They need people willing to help them adapt to their new life, in a new city.

Consider a family of eleven from the Central African Republic…

Violence and unrest has led the family to a Chadian refugee camp. Four years pass when they finally receive the opportunity to come to the United States.

Two parents and nine kids board a plane for Portland, Oregon.

From the plane window they get their first look at the new landscape they call home.

They are greeted by a small group of people carrying food, water, and hope.

The coming weeks are spent teaching the family how to use light switches, store food in a refrigerator, use running water, use kitchen appliances, and function on a daily basis with the amenities of American life.

The months and years that follow are filled with learning how to go grocery shopping, use public transportation, pay bills, speak English, and integrate into a new culture that is worlds away from familiarity.

Now five years later, the family has adapted to life in the States. The parents have jobs and driver’s licenses. The kids are receiving an education and planning for a bright future.

One boy plays basketball and wants to be an actor when he gets older.

One girl writes poems about Africa with a perspective that should be heard by the world.

The youngest two dream about becoming astronauts and the fastest runners in the world.

But most importantly, the family is safe.

They finally have the freedom and peace they have desired for so long. They know they are loved.

And the people that helped them? They were able to make lasting friendships and step into a story greater than themselves.

With thousands of refugees living here and more arriving weekly, we have a unique opportunity to help them, honor them, restore their dignity, and love them well.

You can embody an extravagant type of love.

Imagine welcoming a family at the airport with signs and balloons, giving them a ride to their new home, and helping them in their first few crucial weeks.

You can offer a level of hospitality that will profoundly impact their new lives.

Refugee Care Information Night

Wed, June 10, 6:30 PM at Bridgetown, 909 SW 11th Ave. Portland, OR.

There are many ways to help, from donating furniture, to creating welcome boxes, or providing financially. Our vision is to see every refugee adapt to life here comfortably, experience God’s love, and enter into the Kingdom of God.

Come to the Refugee Care Information Night and learn how you can get involved with serving refugees in our city. If your missional community is looking for a mission, this is an incredible opportunity.

We pray that every refugee would be able to say, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Mathew 25v35)

 


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Author: Tyler Hanns

Creative & Communications Director