By a SEND worker ministering to refugees in the United States
It all began with a birth.
No, this isn’t another retelling of the Christmas story, though this birth also features a young couple facing a confusing situation and welcoming a baby far from their familiar home.
Struggling to connect with the refugees to the United States whom we are here to serve, we hosted a party. Vision, an Afghan lady 32 weeks pregnant with her second child, was one of the few people who showed up. We chatted all evening, and Susan told Vision she would be happy to attend her birth. In Afghan culture, women giving birth are supported by their mothers, sisters, aunts and other older women.
Four days later, we got a frantic call. At only 33 weeks along, Vision began bleeding heavily. Susan met her and her husband at the hospital. They were shaking in fear, convinced the baby would die. Susan was there as baby Lovingkindness was delivered and taken to the neonatal intensive-care unit.
Over the next week, Susan spent hours with this young family as they learned to care for their preemie, and the community of Christians around them rallied to help. They saw us praying for Lovingkindness, and they saw the results as he grew strong and began to breathe on his own. Long hours of sitting with this family in the hospital led to deep conversations about faith, God and our personal life stories.
There is nothing like a birth to deepen relationships! So God gave us another one.
A week after Lovingkindness was born, we received a call from another Afghan friend: “I heard your wife helps with births?”
Six weeks later, Susan helped Princess and Virtue deliver baby Jasmine into the world. Jasmine’s birth was complicated by an emergency C-section and troubles nursing. Susan’s daily visits with Princess helped make this difficult time more manageable. Another crisis, another deep relationship formed in a very short time.
Three days later, Vision took Susan to Sam and Sarah, who just had baby Poet. Sarah was having severe headaches after an epidural. Now we are well on our way to developing a good relationship with this family.
Eleven days later, Princess introduced us to her friend Springtime. She just found out she’s three months pregnant. Could we help her, too?
Many people fear a horrific act of terror. The refugees we work with know that fear all too well. Fleeing violence, they have arrived in the United States, hoping to build a new life. Fear has come with them, though: Fear of the unknown, fear of being alone in a crisis, fear of not being able to care for themselves and their children.
Susan’s presence at the births of these babies and in the foggy days following the births helps to offset these fears. These families have faced crises, but they have not been alone.
Vision’s husband told us that his friends criticized his wife for getting help from a church. “Look around you,” he responded. “Who is helping you? Is it the mullahs? No, it is the Christians!”
These refugee families also bring with them confusion, a crisis of faith. All that they grew up believing has turned so ugly, and many are questioning just what they really do believe about God.
By walking alongside them in life’s critical moments, we trust that we will have opportunities to witness about the God of peace to people who have fled terror.
In fact, we hosted four families at a barbeque to celebrate the Afghan New Year and Easter. We each took turns explaining the meanings and customs of our respective holidays.
We rejoice that we now have a group of families with whom we have good, trusted relationships. Families who discuss their belief in God and their hopes and fears, and with whom we can share our hearts without offending them. We are amazed that God has brought such open people into our lives, all through of the birth of a baby.
In an effort to inform our readers while also protecting our workers and people in their communities, names in this story have been changed.
- Helping new mothers is a significant way to develop trust. SEND is recruiting mothers and midwives to help refugee women. Click here to learn more.
- SEND is sharing the hope and light of the gospel with Muslims in eight areas, with two new locations soon to launch. We are looking for people to join us. Click here to find resources to help you engage Muslims with the love of Jesus.