The Bible instructs us to welcome the stranger. A United Methodist congregation in Boise, Idaho is helping refugees resettle, including refugees from Syria. Church members from Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church are reaching out to those new to the United States to offer practical and personal assistance to families displaced by violence.
(Locator: Boise, Idaho)
Child: “I’m gonna ride the scooter!”
The Al Aboud children are able to enjoy the cul-de-sac in front of their new home in Boise, Idaho - freedom inconceivable in their homeland of Syria.
(Man pumps bicycle tire) “You want to ride Osama?”
Since the family of seven arrived here in August 2016, four young couples from the Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church have been helping in practical and fun ways, taking them to area parks, attractions and restaurants.
Zach Stuckey, Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church: “We’ve learned so much about what’s happening in the Middle East, from a different perspective from broadcast news in the United States, from actual people that grew up there. And what we’ve found is that they’re just like us. They’re just exactly the same people as we are. They just happen to live in a place where people are bombing each other right now.”
Annie Stuckey, Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church: “We’re very protective, all of a sudden, of these people that three, four weeks ago were strangers. And now, they’re our friends. And we have been working together and getting to know these other couples from our church that we didn’t even know very well.”
Zach Stuckey and his wife Annie welcomed the Al Abouds into their home for ten days to give them a break from two months in a local hotel.
Najwa Ibrahim Ajaj, Syrian Refugee “We say to Zach and Annie so much thank you for him and we ask Allah – God – to give him every day hope.”
(Woman greets family at door) “How are you?”
Cindy Todeschi created the church’s refugee assistance program in 2016. More than 100 volunteers help with move-ins, English tutoring and mentoring. Boise has been a resettlement community since the 1970s. About 1100 refugees arrive each year, only 10 percent from Syria.
Cindy Todeschi, Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church: “I think it’s important that we realize it’s biblical that we welcome the stranger and that we receive people into our communities that are seeking refuge from war and persecution. In fact, Jesus and his family were refugees. And so, when we put ourselves in their position, I think it isn’t a political issue, it’s a discipleship issue.”
The civil war in Syria began in the Al Aboud's hometown of Daraa in 2011. After surviving a year, they evacuted to Jordan. They passed more than three years of extensive security screening before being allowed to seek refuge in the U.S.
Najwa Ibrahim Ajaj: “If the people in America has bad thoughts of Muslims, we want to change this to give him the right, beautiful ideas about Muslims.”
Cindy Todeschi: “As a society, we have so much to offer, so much to share, I don’t think we can keep it to ourselves. Seeing these brave people from all walks of life and all places on the globe come here and just want to be a part of our community, I mean, they bring so many gifts and talents. It’s just going to enrich our society completely.”
This video was first posted on October 20, 2016.