In the words of Howard Thurman:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
More than fifty years ago, members of Nassau Church led a grassroots movement of our congregation to welcome our first refugee family. Since then, countless Nassau members – recently including Tom Charles, Sue Jennings and Ann Youmans – have worked together to welcome twelve refugee families from eleven different countries into our midst. This opportunity to witness to our faith and act on our convictions has been a deeply meaningful experience.
Today, Nassau members are continuing this important ministry by preparing to welcome a family from Afghanistan. The New York Times recently reported that 11,000 people who fled from Afghanistan as it fell to the Taliban are being temporarily housed in tents at Fort Dix. All of them are awaiting resettlement to towns across our country as their health and security screenings are completed and they become fully vaccinated.
Church World Service is one of the organizations that is working to assist in this Afghan Placement and Assistance process, and we are once again partnering with them as a community resettlement sponsor. We have just been informed by them that they have identified a family that is a good match for us, and we have agreed to sponsor them. We expect to welcome them into our community on or about January 5th. The family is larger than those we have hosted in the past, with six children — ages 11, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 23 — so our tasks in welcoming and supporting their resettlement will be somewhat different than before, including helping the older children to find appropriate educational and work opportunities. We are very excited to begin this work.
If you have been involved in one of Nassau’s previous resettlements, you know that it takes many, many volunteers and lots of generous support for the effort to be successful. A network of volunteers from across our congregation has begun making these preparations. This group has already found appropriate housing and furnished it with donated furniture. We are grateful to Princeton Theological Seminary for its support for this housing, and we thank everyone who has already volunteered in this effort and to hose of you who have already generously provided housewares, furniture, and other items.
The Nassau Generations newsletter on Friday, December 31, contained a link (also found below) to a “SignUp Genius” list for additional donations to meet the needs of this large family. As we find out more about their specific needs, we will continue to add items to that list. We thank everyone who has already responded to help us welcome this family. Monetary donations can be made using the “Give Online” link below by choosing the “Refugee resettlement” fund.
One important note about this resettlement – it is vital that we respect the privacy of the family and the confidentiality of their arrangements, given the circumstances of the Afghan resettlement. Unfortunately, there is a very real risk that politics and fear could threaten the security of the family as they seek to begin a new life in our community. We all need to commit to do everything we can to keep them safe by protecting their privacy. This includes information about their individual names, as well as their address and living arrangements.
We are very likely to need your help and support over the coming weeks and months in several areas, such as clothing, transportation and food. These needs will be communicated through Nassau Generations and listed on the SignUp Genius.
Please join us in prayerfully considering how you can join in this important resettlement ministry.
The Refugee Resettlement Team