The article below was published in mid-January 2022 to share about our church's ongoing ministry to Afghan refugees through our Faith Center–Harwin and our partnership with Houston Welcomes Refugees.
The world was captivated by the fall of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban late in the summer of 2021. What seemed like a world away eventually had a direct impact on the Houston area as Afghan refugees found their way to the Bayou City. Since then, our Missions team at Houston’s First has stepped in to help these families as they adjust to their new home.
Justin Seale, Director of Local Missions“Afghan refugees are being quickly resettled in cities across the United States, but the number of families being resettled has overwhelmed the local social services systems,” says Director of Local Missions Justin Seale. “In Houston, we have five main refugee resettlement agencies and they are all behind and are having difficulty catching up."
There are different resources and connections that Houston’s First has used to determine how best to help the refugees. Our Local Missions team learns about refugee families who need assistance from the Afghan families we already know and have helped, and by meeting families in-person in the apartment complexes where many are housed. We are also connected with families through resettlement agencies and other local organizations and churches.
Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Houston’s First family, we have been able to provide assistance in meeting some essential physical needs, as well as provide prayer for these families going through a challenging transition to a new country and culture.
Clark Reynolds, Minister of Missions“Staff members from our Benevolence, Local Missions team, and other individuals and families in our church are buying groceries for these Afghan families that are in need. Our two Food Pantries are open to families that need core food staples, and our Clothes Closets are available for much-needed clothing, too,” says Seale. “We are able to provide funding for other churches and organizations that have volunteers to help but not the funding to buy food kits for families in need. Through our partnership connections from Missions Pastor Clark Reynolds, our church has already sent funds to help Afghan refugees in other states through Send Relief, and we’ve sent funds to organizations helping Afghan refugees in Central Asian countries.”
Faith Center–Harwin Associate Kerrie Snow (*) shares the significance of our church family providing aid to the refugees.
“The Body of Christ has come together to show our new Afghan neighbors that we welcome them among us,” shares Snow. “Houston’s First has played a significant role on multiple levels in reaching out to care for and minister directly to these families. Our church is making a difference!”
Our Life Bible Study (LBS) groups have stepped in to help in various ways, as well.
“We’ve had many LBS groups serve with Houston Welcomes Refugees to feed Afghan families who are temporarily housed at extended-stay hotels, but who have no food, nor resources to get food. One LBS group has adopted an Afghan family and is assessing their needs and bringing the necessary help,” describes Seale. “Another LBS group has provided volunteers and created an extensive database listing Afghan families, a list of their needs, and a means of tracking what has been done per family per task. This database will hopefully provide some better organization to a very chaotic situation.”
All of these efforts have enabled Houston’s First to help numerous refugee families who have been through traumatic situations.
“Hundreds of meals have already been provided, and our church staff and members are probably helping over 40 families directly as of mid-December 2021,'' explains Seale. “Many more families are being helped by other organizations thanks to the funding Houston’s First is able to provide because of our generous church family.”
(*) Kerrie was interviewed by Executive Pastor Dr. Stephen Trammell during our Daniel Fast (Jan 3-7, 2022) as part of our online devotional moments. You can see their conversation here.
Contact Justin Seale here if you would like to be directly involved in helping these Afghan families.