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Refugee Update 3/30/16

On Saturday, March 16th, a crew gathered once again in Pillar's basement to listen to a few stories: the story of our sister Rebecca Deng as she recounted her experience as a refugee from South Sudan, and the stories of a neighboring congregation, Faith CRC, as they've experienced refugee resettlement over the past decades.

Stories like these are those which remind us that we are part of a larger story, one that God has been and is working to accomplish in our world. And we are invited to be a part of that story of redemption. We have the opportunity to participate--and here's what you need to know right now.

Kat Schulte has been approved into the role of Director of Refugee Care at Pillar Church. Kat has emerged as one with a particular passion for and skillset in this mission. She will be leading and teaching us, as she herself is learning, what it means to be a congregation that not only "welcomes in the stranger" (Matt. 25) but also loves and empowers along the way. 

Kat is in the process of organizing efforts to support a refugee family who God has brought into our midst--the Mayom family. If you want to know right now how you can be involved in their lives, email Kat: katschulte@gmail.com or text: 616-430-9541.

Stay tuned to this page for more information coming soon.

Refugee Update 1/16/16

Pillar is in a process of continuing to discern where God is leading us in the way that we might be proactive in the worldwide refugee crisis. We've had the second of a number of planned meetings to open up the discussion around our action and what it might look like for us as Pillar Church and as representatives of the Church at large.

Saturday morning, about 40 Pillar members and friends met again in the basement to continue the conversation on the worldwide refugee crisis. We invited Deb Hoekwater, who is on staff at Bethany Christian Services, to help us gain a better understanding of the specifics of the process of refugee co-sponsorship.

After some learning and good discussion, we finished the morning together with a time of prayer. Those present were encouraged to consider the skillsets that they have been particularly given and gifted by God for the sake of his glory, and to prayerfully consider if they may be called to serve in this unique way in our city and in our world. 

As we look forward, please pray for God to use each of us in the way God knows best.There are opportunities for volunteering, being on a more dedicated task-force, and for a larger role in the leadership of this opportunity. All are needed, and so please pray that hearts might be shifted in this direction and that God provides the workers who are needed.

See below for a few of the resources Deb shared with the group on Saturday. Some of this information may help in further understanding the refugee process and the needs of the situation should we embark on it. More information may be uploaded as it becomes available. Or, to learn more about Bethany Christian Services and what they do with refugee resettlement, check out this link: https://www.bethany.org/other-services/refugee-services/resettlement 

Our next step as a church will be committing to the different roles that are available for this process. As someone steps into place to lead the process as we pray will happen, we can move forward as a church as well as start connecting to and learning from other churches who are in this with us. A hope is that in a next meeting to come, we can hear more from those who are in the good world already and that we can start planning for those steps.

The handouts from the last meeting are included below.  Please email jenna@pillarchurch.com to let me know if you would like to be involved.  Blessings!

 Previous Refugee Crisis Updates

Pillar's congregation has been discerning and praying about how to respond to the worldwide refugee crisis. We are currently in the process of learning about the potential of co-sponsoring a refugee family with Bethany Christian Services. We are keeping our hearts and minds open to this possibility.

Over the course of a few months, we are meeting and learning together in a series of conversations. On December 12th, we met for a time of "Discovering" what it means to be a refugee. Kris VanEngen and Kate Kooyman from the CRC's Office of Social Justice joined us and presented information on this topic and helped answer questions.

One helpful tool Kris and Kate shared with us that day was a Power Point they created on the subject of Refugee Resettlement. If you're interested in taking a look at this document, see the following google docs link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1kF4h-ZY3ZNRFAwoczuFjHhnNegMDIBF4syj5NOsm9i4/edit?usp=sharing

Our next conversation, called "Dreaming", is taking place on Saturday, January 16, at 10am, with Deb Hoekwater, who works for Bethany Christian Services. She will give us a general overview on what it would look like for Pillar to co-sponsor a refugee family with Bethany. 

A hope moving forward from here will be to have a further conversation or two. More information will be coming soon, but this may include hearing from laypeople in the West Michigan area who have been already involved with refugee resettlement, and even conversations with refugees who have gone through this process already and who have found a home in the US.

Stay tuned.  Please keep your own heart and mind open to what God might be stirring in you, during this time of discernment.