Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Mary McClear, the Director of Missions at Crosspointe Church, had always wanted to get her church involved in helping refugees. She and a few other church members felt God leading their hearts to the cause and decided to attend a volunteer training session at WRD this past January. Mary then organized a Good Neighbor Team, and in April, her team of seven began to serve a family from Somalia.

When asked about a challenge she ran into while serving the family, she responded:

"The challenge always seems to be healthy giving. Healthy giving of your time, and healthy giving of your resources. Because as Americans, we just wanna give. We don't wanna teach them, we just want to make it easy for them. They’ve struggled for numbers of years in a refugee camp so we wanna just give and make it easier for them. But I try to teach the people of the Good Neighbor Team that that isn’t always healthy. That’s been my main struggle. I do reference and ask them to read, “When Helping Hurts.” It is such a good book… And it is not being mean…I’ve had to say this a couple of times but it’s not being mean. It’s about helping them to live without assistance, always. And it does tug at your heartstrings sometimes.”

Mary also talked about a powerful lesson that continues to stay with her today:

"What surprised me--this is the thing I still keep thinking about--happened the very first night that they (refugee family) met us. We were standing in their apartment introducing ourselves. And at the end of the night, after going through everything with them, I said, "We're your new friends. We are your friends now." And [the mother] said through the interpreter, "You're not our friends, you are our sisters." They felt that connection immediately--it brought tears to my eyes. I am not sure I would say that. If you sent me to Somalia with my family, I would look at you as friends, but to feel the connection and the closeness to call you my sisters, I'm not sure I would do that. Because we are so, as Americans, distrusting. We immediately think, "What do you want" and we have to make sure we trust someone before we befriend them. But they are just an open book. They just openly love. They openly accept us as their sisters without fear or questions."