Headlines have grabbed our hearts with stories of Europe's growing immigrant crisis - and people are responding. The Pope's recent call for Catholic churches to open up their churches to express Christian mercy in housing a refugee family is one such response. (See http://on.wsj.com/1JZM6pt.)
To pray for others -- with prayer that is selfless, unbiased, unambitious, impartial, and universal -- sets a lasting foundation for actions based on that prayer. My husband and I have shared our homes and our lives to over 20 individuals in our almost 30 years of marriage and it has enriched our lives immeasurably. Was this hard? Did we have to give up a lot in order to make room for others? We did make changes in our lives to do this, but our home became a multi-layered blessing because of it.
My favorite story is about a family of refugees whom we befriended.
My older son brought home a new boy from middle school, and we soon became friends with his family. Their story of how they came to the US was dramatic. Exiled from their war torn country after the husband was kidnapped, the family was forced to leave with only the clothes on their backs.
There were immigration issues and then resettling and acclimating to a whole new culture that had already taken place by the time we met them. The mother did an amazing job of caring for her four children in the two bedroom apartment they were given. And when we met, we realized we had a wonderful opportunity for sharing support and love with this family.
What helped me become a better help to that dear family was all based on prayer. These three ideas were foremost:
1 - that we are all children of God (Romans 8:16)
This gave us an immediate connection one another. There was no sense of burden or heavy obligation, only a sense of newness and adventure. There was no fear, anxiety or sense of strangeness as we all embraced a new opportunity for friendship.
2 - home is the center, though not the boundary of the affections (Science and Health 58:21)
The mother made a wonderful home for her children while they waited for word about the husband. They kept their heat up high as it reminded them of home, and were able to find familiar foods that brought them all comfort. We learned how to make some of their meals and my husband enjoyed some of the richest coffee from freshly roasted beans. As they had never seen snow, we helped them get warm outdoor clothing for a cold Minnesota winter. We went to the local YMCA so the kids had some fun activities they could feel a part of. My mother taught both the girls how to swim. We shared our prayer and they attended church and Sunday School with us a couple of times. By going beyond our familiar boundaries of home, we were all blessed.
3- God setteth the solitary in families (Ps 68:6)
Months into our friendship, we got work that would mean a move to the East Coast. As I continued to pray, affirming that God's grace and comfort were continuous, I gained a confidence that God would indeed supply all good and continue to do so for both of our families. No one can be outside of God's care - no one is isolated. I knew the husband could never be outside of God's care. My prayer included a desire to see our friends' predicament in a new light. I could trust God to take care of His family. In fact, a week before we were to leave, we heard that the husband had been found and was returning to the family. The day we were to leave was the day he was reunited with his family.
Whenever we have the opportunity to give, we are also getting the opportunity to grow in grace, in wisdom and experience. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 79: "Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us." We certainly found this to be true. Giving shelter - and all the comfort, joy and companionship that is included - certainly gave us a stronger, more loving sense of home that embraced a much wider circle than we ever imagined possible.
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016