April 25, 2012

We are so thankful for all your help inviting people to "Welcoming the Stranger:

a Biblical perspective on loving all our immigrant neighbors." We have some other ways you can help us with the event, by volunteering:

Set-Up: at 6p, we'll start getting the building ready (putting note cards on every seat for people to write their questions, etc).

Greeters / Ushers: at 6.30p, we'll have greeters there to welcome people, answer questions, hand them a flyer with volunteer opportunities. The greeters will then help us pick up the note cards with audience questions and sort them for the Q&A time.

Clean-Up, 9-10p: Church of the Good Shepherd is letting us use their building for free. We'll be putting tables back where they belong, picking up trash, and otherwise straightening the building. Please email Tim McGee at TMcGee@wr.org to help.

April 25, 2012

We're excited and thankful to have Matt Soerens and local leaders gather together to talk about loving all our immigrant neighbors. But we need your help. If you are excited about this event, please take a few minutes and help us out by praying and spreading the word. Prayer: please pray for Matt's travels, for the pastors gathering together Friday morning, and for everyone on Friday night to listen and respond to one another in Christ's love. Please invite all your local friends to the event through our facebook event and ask them to invite others too.This is probably the easiest and best way to help spread the word. Here are a few more ways to help spread the word:You can use these tweets / status updates (or write your own):

Flyers: we have full and half sheet flyers you can print off. Bring a stack to pass out to friends at church this Sunday. Blog: please re-post or re-blog either this or our previous post about why we're excited. Short blurb (to include in emails, facebook invites, etc):

Did you know that 1 out of 7 Durham residents are foreign born? World Relief Durham is hosting an event on April 27th (7-9p) to help churches consider what it means to love our immigrant neighbors, especially when “immigration” has become such a volatile topic. The event, called "Welcoming The Stranger," will be at Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham and will include a time for audience questions. Matt Soerens, a national speaker and author from World Relief (and the National Association of Evangelicals), will be the main presenter. Details can be found on their website: www.wr.org/durham/welcomingthestranger.

[if you are not in Durham and want a broader statistic you can let people know that 1 out of 8 US residents are foreign-born].

Volunteer: we will need people to help us set-up Friday evening and clean up after the event. This is a great chance to serve with your small group. Email TMcGee@wr.org for more info.

Thanks for all your help!


April 25, 2012

We need everyone's help promoting our "Welcoming the Stranger" event on 4/27 and so we wanted to give you a list of a few reasons why we think this event is so important and exciting for evangelical churches in the Triangle. In no particular order, here are a few reasons: Why It's Important:

  • only 9% of Protestants claim that their faith is the biggest influence in thinking about immigration.
  • the future of the church in N. America depends on immigrants:
    • immigrant churches are the fastest growing churches in the US
    • by 2050, White Americans will no longer be the majority of residents in the US
  • Through Christ, the Church does not respond out of fear but with love (1 John 4:18), which requires concrete relationships with others, not avoidance.
  • Our own salvation depends on "foreigners" (Gentiles) being welcomed into another people, Israel (Eph. 2:11-22), who were themselves "foreigners" in Egypt (Lev 19:33-34).

Why We're Excited:

  • Over 12 churches and organizations have joined us as co-sponsors.
  • Matt Soerens is a knowledgeable, experienced, and disarming speaker on these matters.
  • A panel with local experts will be answering your questions (a Q&A time after Matt speaks).
  • We'll highlight ways you can concretely love and serve your immigrant neighbors (volunteer opportunities).

How You Can Help:

  • Pray. Pray that people would come and that Christ will be present and glorified.
  • email your pastors and church leaders: invite them to the pastors breakfast and ask them to promote the event to the church.
  • volunteer (we'll need help setting up and cleaning up the event; you can also volunteer with us to work with refugees and immigrants in the Triangle). Email tmcgee@wr.org to volunteer.

Thank you for all your help. Here's a short video for World Relief's "Mission on Our Doorstep" conference that happened in March: 

2012 Mission On Our Doorsteps Promo Video: Chicagoland & National

April 25, 2012

RACE DAY is almost here. In case you've missed it, here are a few practical details.

1) This is part of the Great Human Race, so there will be quite a large crowd of people. Here's a map of the event: http://www.thevolunteercenter.org/graphics/UploadFile/5299/NGmap_.pdf

2) Meet us at the World Relief Durham table before 8a. At 8a, we'll be walking to the main stage for the opening ceremony at 8.15. We'll have a big sign, so you can find us there too.

3) We never heard from anyone on shirts, so I will be wearing a red shirt and encourage others to do the same.

4) If you haven't registered for the competitive run, you can do so starting at 7a for $30. For us walking, the event is free. 5) Please encourage everyone you know to support our efforts. http://www.active.com/donate/ghr2012/worldreliefdurham We can keep receiving donations through April, so if you haven't asked your friends to support you for what you will do, you can ask them to support you for what you did!

April 25, 2012

Are you driving anywhere for your spring break? If so, you can help potential victims of human trafficking while you drive. How?

It's really simple. Download this packet with posters focused on labor and sex trafficking. Every poster has the human trafficking hotline that people can call to report tips or seek help for themselves. Print posters off. Buy tape. And then just drive to your destination.

Put the posters up in the bathrooms at truck stops, gas stations, and restaurants along the way. Sex trafficking often happens at truck stops and people who are victims of labor trafficking are often moved from place to place throughout the state. It's really that easy. While you are at it, use facebook and twitter to spread the word to your friends about the reality of human trafficking in North Carolina. Tag us to let us know what you're doing!

Here's an overview of the Poster Project on Prezi (thanks World Relief High Point!).

Make sure to check out our post on our 5k walk for more information and resources to use as you drive for justice this Spring Break.

April 25, 2012

GUEST BLOG POST, FROM NATHAN CLENDENIN. ORIGINAL VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE. USED WITH PERMISSION (and gratitude!). Since Help Portrait started a few years ago, I’ve wanted to be part of something like that: giving away photos to those who’d never otherwise be able to have them done. I was always a bit daunted by the organizational/event planning type stuff that would go into pulling something like that off. Fortunately, World Relief Durham decided to put one together, and Stephen Garrett, Carolyn VanHouten and I jumped on the idea! We also met some really great photographers at the event, which was held at All Saints Church. These first two guys are both from Kenya but didn’t know each other until they met here as refugees and became fast friends. I believe they said they’ve been here about 6 months. I’m terrible with remembering names, especially ones I hard a hard time understanding in the first place… But two really nice guys. This young man is from Bhutan. In between groups we had a little bit of fun…

This last image I did from the parking lot because Janga (the man sitting proudly on his moped) showed up a little bit late. Luckily, Stephen and I were still talking shop in the parking lot and were able to take his picture. Kudos to Stephen for convincing Janga to bring his moped into the photo and turn on the head light! That’s his daughter with the guitar. They’re from Bhutan and have been here for two years. They seem to be doing very well.

Can’t wait for next year! [UPDATE: Photos from other photographers are up. Check them out. ~WRD]

April 25, 2012

About 40 refugees joined more than 20 volunteers a couple weeks ago to learn more about potential jobs and build relationships as they look for work in Durham. The John O’Daniel Exchange building was a busy place on Saturday, as World Relief Durham hosted our first Employment Skills Workshop.

Volunteers from the community shared their knowledge, skills and resources with refugees anxious to find employment.The refugees separated into groups based on language and rotated through five different sections. David Benfield, owner of Brightside Bamboo, a company he started over a year ago, showed refugees a slideshow of what working for his company entails. Hillary Winter helped lead a session on working in the restaurant industry, drawing on her experiences as a server and hostess. The other three workshops offered the refugees information about how to find and keep a job in housekeeping, sewing, and landscaping and construction. The volunteers also made a point to emphasize employment basics.

Professional attire, strong work ethic and English speaking skills apply to all areas of work, they pointed out. “We are ready to do any type of job,” one Somali refugee said. Most refugees come to the U.S. willing to work as soon as possible, and it’s easy to get discouraged when language barriers and the job market make the search difficult. Taking English classes and developing job skills are necessary, but often frustrating, steps that refugees have to take.

Around 40 refugees came out to the event on Saturday, all highly motivated and ready to learn. Many took notes during the sessions, and enjoyed standing up to introduce themselves in English. The Karen women enjoyed making bags in the sewing workshop, and many refugees were able get contact information from volunteers to help their job search. David Benfield recognized that refugees are hard workers, and exclusively hires Burmese refugees at Brightside Bamboo. He said he initially saw it as a good idea, and then it became his mission. He found that bamboo is an underutilized resource, useful as food as well as timber. One bamboo plant can be harvested hundreds of times, compared with about thirty for other hardwood. It is also protein-rich and can aid in weight-loss. Bamboo is mostly imported from China, although the Southeastern U.S. has a similar temperate climate, which can grow up to 400 varieties of bamboo.

David found a way to combine business with missions, and was able to speak to a group of Burmese men seeking employment at Saturday’s event. As an employer, David is looking for refugees with strong English skills. Alyssa, a Ph.D. student at Duke who is learning Arabic, met a refugee from Iraq who reads and writes English very well, but needs help with professional conversational English. Alyssa and the refugee decided to begin a language exchange in Arabic and English. Partnering up with refugees not only builds relationships, but can help them acquire important job skills through something as simple as practicing their English. Come meet refugees at our next event, Portrait Day on February 4th! Thanks so much to all the volunteers who made this day possible!

April 25, 2012

So, you want to Walk / With World Relief to end human trafficking in Durham. What are the next steps?

1. REGISTERFirst, you can find all the practical details here (when, where, route map, etc). Secondly, you actually will sign up through this site. For walkers who aren't interested in getting their walk timed, it's free (select "community walk" after you hit the button to register). All others have to pay a fee. Enter in your contact info. Type in "World Relief Durham" for the nonprofit you will support. You will also need to select "World Relief Durham" as the existing group you'd like to join. Once you submit the information, you will need to "pay" for the event (it's free, so it automatically processes it and emails you the receipt).

2. BECOME A FUNDRAISER There are three ways to raise funds through this walk. First, we have donation envelopes at our office (801 Gilbert St. #209, Durham 27701). People will write checks to the Great Human Race or to The Volunteer Center of Durham. Put World Relief Durham in the memo. Secondly, you can direct people to our online donation page. Finally, you can set up your own personal online site by clicking here. You will see a green banner near the top with the option to "create a team member fundraising team." Select it. The "active giving" site will prompt you for your username and password. Since this is your first time, click that you do not have them. Fill out the form. Once complete, it will now allow you to log in. After you log in, you will have the chance to create your own URL (website address). I recommend just using your first and last name, no spaces. You can then personalize your own site (name, tagline, message, goals, etc). Be as creative or simple as you like.

3. FUNDRAISE Now that your site is set up, you can email, facebook, tweet, write letters, print flyers, and do everything else to connect people to your own personal fundraising site so they can support you. If you used for first and last name, your webpage will be: http://www.active.com/donate/ghr2012/firstlast (so, for example, my own is: http://www.active.com/donate/ghr2012/timmcgee). Please encourage the people you contact to join us in the walk and/or raise funds on their own (you can raise money even if you aren't walking!). Flyers, the facebook event, and other promo material can be found on our previous blog post. One IMPORTANT NOTE: if it is at all possible to actually collect checks instead of having people donate online, please do it. The online donation subtracts almost 7% of the donation as a "fee." You can include this information, though, on your website as part of your message! Some final details about fundraising (other places to pick up envelopes, how to submit your donations, etc) can be found on the Great Human Race website. The end date for collecting checks (and getting your completed packet to us) is March 16th.

The online fundraising keeps going even after the run! Please email me (tmcgee@wr.org) with any questions.

April 25, 2012

UPDATE: We still need volunteers to greet, direct refugees to the right place, provide refreshments, and just assist as needs arise. Please SIGN UP to help out.

Having your portrait taken is always a memorable event. We want to share this joyful–and occasionally awkward–experience with refugees in Durham. On February 4th, we’ll have a free portrait event, similar to Help-Portrait. Refugees and will be able to come and have their individual or family picture taken by local photographers for free.

The event will be on Saturday, February 4th in the afternoon (1p-4p). The location will be at All Saints Anglican Church, on 15-501 and Garrett Rd, in the shopping center next to Oak Creek Village Apartments.

We need all kinds of volunteers to help with this event.Photographers (and assistants), videographer (to capture the event, interview refugees, etc), event planners, administrators, and general assistance (working to set-up, tear down, and just hang out with refugees while they wait). We’ll need some financial contributions (to cover the costs of printing the portraits) and food donations (snacks!). We’ll also need to access to various equipment (lighting, for instance). Finally, we hope all of our volunteers who are connected to refugees can let them know about the opportunity and help them get there.

We’re excited–there’s a lot to do but it’s a wonderful opportunity to serve and build relationships with our refugee neighbors.

Spread the word through our facebook event page; sign up to volunteer; email Emily Paules (epaules@wr.org) and Tim McGee (tmcgee@wr.org) if you have any questions.

Download a flyer to give to refugees.

April 25, 2012

Employment Skills Workshop: a great opportunity to meet refugees and help them gain skills for employment! As you know, jobs are hard to find these days, especially for people with little English or previous work experience. We're putting together our first ever Employment Skills Workshop to assist refugees as they look for work. This is a great chance for you to help refugees and also to raise awareness and excitement in your church and your community. Here are the details:

What: A series of practical workshops, running in rotation through the afternoon, led by community members who love refugees!

Why: To elevate refugee employability by giving them practical, hands-on training and/or experience with some categories of entry level work.

When: Saturday, January 21 From 12-5PM. (The Workshops can run from 1-3.30PM.) Setup from 12-1 and tear down from 3.30-5.00PM? Where: The World Relief Durham office (John O'Daniel Exchange - 801 Gilbert St. Durham, 27701)

Who can be involved: ANYBODY!

What does this look like: If you have any experience in any of the categories below (even in your own home), you are fully qualified to help a refugee learn what you know. Once you sign up, we’ll connect you with the team teaching the topic you choose and you can work together to plan to teach the basics of your topic in the workshop (each workshop lasting from 30 minutes to no more than 1 hour). Topics to be taught in workshops:

  • Janitorial (home/business cleaning)
  • Hospitality/Restaurant
  • Dishes/Laundry
  • Car Wash
  • Handyman/Maintenance
  • Construction
  • Sewing

Other Needs:

  • Refreshments for the afternoon
  • Photographer/Videographer to document the event

This is a wonderful chance to continue empowering refugees and also to introduce others in the community to the refugees living in Durham. We’re encouraging volunteers to bring at least one friend who you think would benefit from seeing this vibrant ministry in action. Given the urgency of this need—jobs!—we are working diligently and quickly to pull this workshop together. Emily Paules is our staff person coordinating all of the details for this event. Pleases contact her at epaules@wr.org to let her know of your interest and what specific workshop you would like to lead or be involved in. Of course the information covered in the workshop needs to be very basic, so anyone should be qualified to do any of these (with a couple of exceptions). We've got a streamlined process put together for this to make it as simple as possible for you to be involved. So take the first step and let Emily know of your availability, and she will get you plugged in. We look forward to great things with this upcoming weekend. Thanks for your involvement!

April 25, 2012
He secures justice for the orphan and the widow; he loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. Therefore you are to love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:18-19

A refugee wanted us to meet with his friend. We asked if this friend was another refugee. He said no. His friend was a man who immigrated to the U.S.A. years ago, and whose visa had expired. This friend was now an undocumented immigrant. After we asked what he wanted to meet about, the refugee shared: this man's boss knows his friend can be deported. He makes him work long hours, for very little money, and threatens to turn him in to the police if he complains, tries to leave, or tells anyone. He's very scared, but I told him he could trust you. World Relief began working in Durham with refugees over three years ago. Over the past year, we've started working with two other highly vulnerable displaced populations: undocumented immigrants and people sold into modern day slavery in North Carolina.

We’ve moved in this direction because we believe that is where God is calling the local church to serve. These verses in Deuteronomy pull together two threads present throughout Scripture. God is present and active on behalf of vulnerable social groups, people who lack social networks to provide for their basic needs. God also passionately defends and provides for foreigners (immigrants, strangers, sojourners). He commands Israel to do the same, reminding that they too were foreigners (and vulnerable slaves) in Egypt. World Reliefs empowers churches in Durham to work right at this intersection, among the most vulnerable of our foreign-born or displaced neighbors.

Why? Because God has a deep, passionate commitment to act on behalf of foreigners and the vulnerable. We expect God to be especially present and active at the intersection of the two groups: refugees, undocumented immigrants, and victims of human trafficking. We simply want to be where God says God will be, participating in the work God promises to do. For immigration, right now we are relying on broader World Relief initiatives like Undocumented.TV and Welcoming the Stranger to encourage churches to approach undocumented immigrants--and the question of immigration reform--in light of verses like Deuteronomy 10:18. We are building partnerships that will allow us to more effectively continue this advocacy work and also provide legal guidance to immigrants throughout RDU in the next year.

With human trafficking, we had our first awareness event in August and have recently restarted the client care aspect of our work. We will continue promoting awareness in our community, reaching out to potential victims, and caring for those who are liberated. Throughout these changes, our work with refugees has only grown stronger, as has our commitment to work in relationship with local churches. We are excited to continue following God's passionate action among our most vulnerable foreign-born neighbors. Join us as we follow the God of the displaced.

April 25, 2012

Last Sunday, I worshiped with the Hanmaum Church in Durham, a Korean-American church. It's always fun to be in a church where I need an interpreter. They also fed me some great food, including kimchi, so that's a bonus. Earlier that week, I met with a Kenyan pastor. Their church wants to work with refugees from Nepal. He told me of a recent meeting he had with a Burmese pastor in Raleigh. Apparently, this Burmese pastor was trained by a Korean missionary in Thailand. It's a small world. And that is what I'm thankful for this year. I am thankful for all the unexpected and unusual connections among diverse peoples right here in Durham.

God is obviously doing things far greater and more unpredictable than we could ever imagine. Over the last few months, we've posted a series of interviews in which refugees tell us their own stories. We're so accustomed to refugees coming that we forget how amazing it is: their voices were silenced and lives threatened, and now, they are here, our neighbors, speaking to us freely. Each voice, each life, is a gift. For them, I am thankful. Here are a few other things, in no particular order, for which I am thankful:

  • Our case management grant for survivors of human trafficking was renewed.
  • We are exploring ways to support vulnerable immigrant populations, both with legal services and advocacy for immigration reform.
  • Almost all of the refugees we've resettled this year have church volunteers or partners.
  • We continue to find jobs for refugees.
  • A coalition of churches and volunteers has formed in Raleigh to help us start resettling refugees there.
  • The two AmeriCorps members with our office are doing amazing work.
  • We started a partnership with Durham Tech's nursing school to provide refugees with more extensive health education and assistance.
  • Our staff, who wonderfully guide refugees through the complex process of resettlement and demonstrate remarkable compassion throughout.
  • Our volunteers: you all amaze me with your willingness to open up your lives to strangers (Matt 25).

I am thankful, most of all, for all the clear reminders that this is not "our work" but your work, the work of the local church. Every success is your success. So thanks for letting us join you in this strange work of God: "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ" (2 Cor 5:19).