Let me tell you a story about my friend Mwajemi.
I first met her about 10 years ago when she and her family arrived from the Congo. They had been in a refugee camp in Burundi, and if you can imagine something tough, double it, and you would be closer to the circumstances they endured.
Mwajemi and Riziki arrived with five children, little English and no money.
Somehow, we became friends and asked them to share their first Christmas in Australia with us.
Recently we were at their home to celebrate the graduation of their daughter, and many other Congolese people were present. Mwajemi decided to tell the others about the impact our welcome had on her back then. It was quite humbling to listen to her.
She recalled that Christmas day when they had all trouped into our home. ‘I saw a beautiful table laid out with food and thought to myself, “There must be some other important guests coming today”, but finally when no-one else arrived, I realised it was for us.’
It was a happy day, and we ate well and played games with the children.
Later that afternoon, Beverley (my wife) suggested that Mwajemi ‘escape’ with her to our bedroom so they could sit on the bed and have a girl talk. Mwajemi said, ‘This was the first time a “mtu mweupe” [white person] let me lay my head on their pillow’ (which bought a tear to my eye).
The many African people present knew exactly what she was talking about.
The whole family are now community leaders in Adelaide (employed helping other arrivals), and we admire them greatly, but she (graciously) wanted to point back to a day when her heart began to be restored.
We felt so humbled that God does his thing and gives us the privilege to join in – flowing with him makes life worth living.
Do we have a space at our table, or a place for a head to rest? It might just change someone’s life.
Craig Heidenreich is the Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator of the LCA’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Department.
This feature story came from the July eNews of Cross-Cultural Ministry, which is a department of the LCA’s Local Mission. To sign up to receive Cross-Cultural Ministry eNews, click here.
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