After enjoying such a special year of interacting with our friends from Eritrea and learning to love the work of World Relief, Doug and I got the opportunity to go on a four day mission trip with our church to Clarkston. While there, we were hosted by Global Frontier Missions, a group operating in Clarkston doing mission training.
During our weekend, Doug and I were burdened and excited by the possibility that we could spread the word about loving the refugees in Clarkston to our church community and private school community in North Atlanta – only 25 minutes away, but worlds away, in truth. The opportunity to share in God’s heart for loving these precious people from all over the world was compelling to us. We both love to host friends, we both delight in making connections with people, and we both were growing in our heart for the refugee as well as for our friends who could be so impacted by the power of a real live, flesh and blood, one-on-one relationship with a family from another country in need of friendship. The time with Global Frontier Missions also painted for us the amazing picture of God’s heart for the nations…His desire to see every tongue and tribe glorifying Him and coming to know the power of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in their own lives. The fact that 2500 refugees come to Clarkston each year means that there are hundreds of opportunities to serve, love, care for, and befriend these families with the knowledge that God’s heart beats for the under-known, under-served, and under-resourced.
Concurrent with the vision for spiritual hope and healing and social connections and encouragement for the people of Clarkston, God was also deepening our desire to see economic hope come to Clarkston. How amazingly difficult to spend many years in a refugee camp, only to arrive with a few months’ assistance, no transportation, potentially limited language skills, and a family to feed and clothe and educate. Daunting does not even come close! The lengths to which our amazing Eritrean friends have gone to get to jobs (1.5 hour commute each way to a chicken plant, working a midnight shift, in a room that is below freezing), to attain transportation (trying over and over again to pass the driver’s test – practically sleeping with the driver’s book and then using a connection in Arizona to eventually attain the license…all of this was legal, but the irony of the Arizona connection was not lost on us), and to feed, clothe, and care for their family has been remarkable. Doug happened to have a job during this season of our life where he could offer employment to over 30 refugees. His heart to see stable employment that provides a career path to these men and women is deep and relentless. We desire to see God’s economic justice to work itself out through one on one relationships where those with connections, capital, ideas, and hope can translate those commodities into real, sustainable, job creation for refugees.
As we returned home from our four day “trip” to the city 25 minutes away, the vision began to take root. God sent crazy affirmations our way, but more than the amazing, “I see you and know you” things that God did, our gracious Abba was allowing the vision to grow in our hearts. The verses that we both come back to, over and over, are from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, which says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God,who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Doug and I have believed and continue to believe that God is asking us to be ambassadors to Clarkston – to carry a message of reconciliation (socially, spiritually, economically) to Clarkston and to our North Atlanta community by creating a conduit through which we can introduce the two worlds to each other, one family at a time. Our vision is to connect friends to friends…native to alien…believer to brother and sister…child to child…sojourner to sojourner…lost to found. And that, in doing so, many would find common ground at the foot of the cross.
Please pray with us for protection, vision, and great strides in building an “embassy” in Clarkston!