Baptists From Alabama and North Carolina Reach Refugees in Georgia

Ten-year-old “Lily” was born in a refugee camp half a world away. When her parents were granted asylum in the United States, she was excited and curious about what life would be like. The camp had no schools and Lily knew education would change the course of her life.

The family was placed in Clarkston, Ga., an eastern suburb of Atlanta home to immigrants from more than 60 countries. Lily speaks no English and the 100-plus languages spoken in Clarkston confused her even more — but school was about to start and her excitement knew no bounds.

But this refugee girl with no schooling, who could speak no English, was going to be placed in fifth grade. On top of that her parents were handed a list of required school supplies costing more than $100.

Even working multiple jobs how could they begin to afford that for their five children? And the entire family was only beginning to learn English so how could they help her with homework?

The best news of all arrived when an Alabama Baptist volunteer knocked on Lily’s door. Elizabeth Beavers of Crossroads Baptist Church, Warrior, Ala., was distributing flyers advertising a back-to-school event the next day, Aug. 3, at nearby Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC). The flyer announced the church’s ministry center would be providing backpacks filled with all the needed supplies — for free — and there would be registration tables for English classes and tutoring, as well as a host of other necessities such as free shoes, reading glasses and health screenings.

As many as 3,500 people came to the ministry center at CIBC, according to David Creswell, a Send Relief missionary with the North American Mission Board.

In addition to a warm welcome, each family was offered a New Testament and about 160 volunteers — many of them from Alabama — had opportunities to explain the good news of God’s love to a multitude who had never even heard of Jesus.

Gospel witness

The 2,166 backpacks filled with more than 35,000 school supplies were provided by the 2018 “Christmas in August” campaign of national Woman’s Missionary Union, Creswell said.

But the event not only provided desperately needed resources and a gospel witness to refugee and immigrant families, it also gave the Lord an opportunity to speak to volunteers’ hearts about how He has brought the lost nations of the world to their own backyard.

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Source: Baptist Press