Back Great Day of Service: BBC Group Throws Baby Shower for Refugees
September 23rd, 2009
We've been hearing it for a while, but the increasing numbers continue to prove it's true—refugees from all over the world are coming to the United States in droves and making their homes in Nashville. They step off the plane onto America soil, overwhelmed and confused by unfamiliar surroundings, and begin a new life with next to nothing.
When the members of The Presson Class at Brentwood Baptist, a young married adults class, signed up for the Great Day of Service that took place last weekend, they initially planned to help set up apartments for these refugees through World Relief—something they also did last spring.
According to Karen Barnes, a member of the class and the class small group leader for women, there's a moratorium of refugee arrivals in Nashville every year around this time until a new one is signed. Through this process, the government is able to control the number of refugees entering the country each year.
"We found out there weren't going to be very many refugees coming in this time, so we didn't really need to set up the apartments," she said. "The volunteer coordinator at World Relief said they've had a lot of need for baby items lately, so she came up with this random idea. She said, 'What do you think about throwing a baby shower?'"
In the beginning, the class committed to throwing the shower for three women who were either pregnant or recently had a baby, and they began praying that God would supply all the items needed.
Within 24 hours, they had gathered so many items from Craig's List and yard sales that they knew God was calling them to this task.
The class ended up taking on five refugee women whom they hosted at Brentwood Baptist during the shower. The refugee women came from various cultures and backgrounds including two Somali sisters, one Burmese woman, and a Bhutanese woman (who was a Christian).
Karen said, "We were able to give all of them a stroller, a pack and play, car seats, and other random items. One women even got a wooden crib."
The husbands of the class were involved behind the scenes, transporting the gifts, picking up donations, and taking items to World Relief. The women set up the shower, prepared the gifts, played traditional games with them, and essentially welcomed them into American culture.
"I really don't think any of them knew what a baby shower was before this," Karen said. "They may have had some sort of festival or party in their culture, but I don't know about the presents. They were so grateful by the end. We developed a bond with them. It was very touching."
World Relief is a ministry that helps resettle refugees—getting them set up in apartments, helping them with employment, and supplying them with basic living needs.
According to Karen, this ministry will see more than 800 people flood into the area throughout the fall. They are constantly looking for volunteers and welcome any donations.
As for The Presson Class, these young adults are already talking about what else they can do to serve soon.
"The girls group has started reading The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stern," Karen said. "It's all about 'What does God expect of me?' Christians go to church (check), and we're good people (check), but the hole in our gospel—the thing that's missing—is serving the poor, widows, orphans, and lost. So I've been thinking, 'Why are we not doing more?'"
Karen says this group dreams big. They're already talking about how they can reach the least and the lost. One option is to take shifts and pick refugee families up from the airport or hand out lunches to the homeless.
"You can sign up and go be there to pick them up when they step onto American soil—just being a friendly face when they arrive," she said.
"A lot of us volunteer and are involved in the church—and that's great—but we need to be out in the community," she said. "We just had a party with the world in our own backyard, so I think this is a permanent shift for us. Our generation is becoming more socially conscious and mindful of the starving, homeless, widowed, and orphans. I think we're on the edge of a great revolution."
To view the video clip about this event that aired recently on Fox 17, click here. To find out more about World Relief, click here.
By Kaylan Christopher