Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 13, 2021

Welcoming Afghan Refugees

There is, perhaps, nothing more comforting than home — the geographical context that plays a key role in our growth and development as human beings. We all are shaped by the particular worldview considerations of the people and the place where we are raised. Our lives are also impacted by the respective challenges associated with those places.

For more than 40 years, the people who call Afghanistan home have suffered because of conflicts, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food insecurity, and the pandemic. In that relatively short period of time, approximately 6 million Afghans have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Nearly half of these have fled to other countries while the others remain internally displaced within their own borders.

Afghan refugees are the third-largest displaced people in the world behind Syrians and Venezuelans. Most recently, according to the UNHCR, an estimated 570,000 Afghans have been forced to relocate within the country since January 2021 because of insecurity and violence. The intimidating presence of the Taliban will only make things worse in the months to come.

The recent departure of American troops from Afghanistan precipitated a whole new wave of people fleeing their homes. The news images of desperate people clinging to a military plane departing Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul was heartbreaking. Few people will ever know that kind of desperation or appreciate a longing for a safer future that would cause you to risk it all.

The lives of those leaving Afghanistan will be forever changed as the waves of their diaspora wash them up on other shores, including ours. They will face many challenges as they settle into their new homes in places unfamiliar and strange. They will miss and long for family members they may never again see on this earth.

The greater Houston area will become home for many of the families who have fled Afghanistan. Over the next several months we expect several thousand refugees to arrive in Houston. Working with two of the local organizations that welcome refugees to our area, Kingsland is positioned to help.

At present, our Missions Ministry and our International People Groups Ministry are working together on two initiatives.

First, we are recruiting Welcome Teams who will be assigned to serve refugee families — starting with meeting them at the airport. Each team will walk with their assigned family for several months and assist them with everything from getting their kids enrolled in school to navigating the fourth largest and most ethnically diverse city in the country.

Second, we have asked our church family to assemble four distinctive welcome kits with essentials that each arriving family will need. These include a personal hygiene kit with bath towels, a tablewares kit, a cooking kit, and a household cleaning kit. Each kit will also contain a personal note of welcome and encouragement. We hope to provide several hundred of these kits over the next two weeks.

We are motivated to help because we love Jesus who consistently moved in the direction of people in need. The arrival of Afghan refugees offers yet one more opportunity for our compassion to intersect with desperate need. We look forward to loving and serving our new Afghan neighbors.

You can learn more about Kingsland’s Afghan Refugee Response on our website.

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