With little forewarning, God has uniquely positioned Covenant Life Church to co-sponsor, along with Bethany Christian Services (Grand Rapids) the Al Masri family from Syria. The family had fled Syria due to the war and had been living in an urban setting for refugees in Lebanon for 7 ½ years! They have a married daughter with 2 children, ages 2 and 5, whose family was originally supposed to accompany them to the U.S., but there was last minute paperwork that was not completed. They also have a married daughter in Lebanon whose husband is “missing. The Al Masri family is very sad to have left them behind and prays for them to come quickly. Additionally an 18 yr. old son is in Holland. Here is the family :
AL MASRI, Ali S
AL QAFAF, Kholoud
AL MASRI, Malak
Daughter (22 -non-verbal and special needs)
AL MASRI, Moayad
AL MASRI, Marah
Mervat (husband missing. Has 2 small children: Yahya and Ali)
Mariam (husband is Ahmed. Children Farrah (5) and Moaz(2)
This was the family that was supposed to leave Lebanon together with the Al Masri family but didn’t get their final exit papers.
Son in Holland (18)
Bethany Christian Services held a ZOOM Refugee Resettlement Orientation Meeting on 7/15/21 which was recorded. It was very informative and encouraging. The link is here. The meeting starts at the 6:05 minute mark.
Here is a KEY DEFINITION: Refugee
“A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.”- Bethany Christian Services Orientation Manual
***It important to note that refugees have already been thoroughly interviewed over many months of appointments and have already been granted asylum in their host country before ever leaving their refugee “camp/place of residence.”
Bethany’s model for resettlement is that in 6 MONTHS, a refugee family will have an “independence day” celebration at which time they will have graduated out of the “sponsorship “relationship with Bethany and the co-sponsoring church, and transition into friendship-only relationships. This means that all of our focus on these first 6 months needs to be TRAINING for the family, not “doing things for them.” Every aspect of our daily chores, responsibilities and errands needs to be TAUGHT to the Al Masri family. Covenant Life Church, this is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY for each of us to take what we are passionate about and plug into teaching or sharing that skill with this family.
*Hospitality: Can you be a friend and visit them? Have tea with them? Have them in your house?
Include them in fun activities (ice cream, Putt Putt, bike rides, beach walks, outdoor music, museums, Meijer gardens, parks, ANYTHING!)
* Can you host a regular time at CLC during the week which Kholoud and Ali could be brought to? Ali is a carpenter by trade!!
*Can you drive? Can you drive to appointments?
*Can you use Harbor Transit? Can you teach them to use it and accompany them as they get used to it?
*Can you assist them with finances, organizing files for taxes? Help set up simple budget?
(I have the financial information for this, but need someone willing to train them in it, explain how to save on utilities; not sign up for expensive cable services, etc. This family will receive a BRIDGE card for Food Assistance from DHS. Hopefully coming soon).
*Can you practice English with them?
(There was no schooling provided for their children in Lebanon: Marah has never been to school in her life; Moayad had 2 years of school in Syria. Ali and Kholoud have been trying to learn some English on their own. Both of them say they can read English better than they can remember words for speaking. They are ALL anxious to learn the language). They are already enrolled in ESL to start this week in the mornings by Zoom.
*Are you a Teacher? Could you tutor them in math and English? In Money?
*Are you affiliated with Love In Action? Could you connect them with an appointment with Client
Services and be with them to learn about all the services LIA provides? Food Trucks, Operations and donated health equipment, Stores and good quality clothing and household items. I can give you the name of an Arabic speaker who could accompany you or be on the phone during such an appt.
*Do you need something you do from your own home? Could you collect all of the Match Grant volunteer sheets, which record donated items and hours to the family and are used to determine additional $ $ for the family from the government? This is crucial as this family’s budget is very tight!
As you can tell, there are many ways for our CLC family and community supporters to welcome our newest neighbors! THIS IS NOT A SOLO MINISTRY! Just as our CLC mission partner from Spain has a TEAM that works among refugees in Spain, we need a TEAM at CLC- a BIG Team!
And to all who have been a part of this ministry already, from airport welcome to hotel visits and meals; from move-in day furniture pick-ups and deliveries to kitchen cleaning; from bunk bed crew to blinds and new toilet installation; to extra gifts for the family; to translating via What’s app, etc…..THANK YOU!!! Their older uncle , who lives in England, has communicated to CLC members how VERY APPRECIATIVE the extended family is for the warm welcome the Al Masri family has been given.
From the abundance with which we have been blessed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit, may we generously bless the Al Masri family and be the fragrance of Christ to them!
Lead Volunteer for CLC Refugee Resettlement Team
Want more info on how to get involved?