Adventist Journal Online | Adventists welcome Afghan families to US with essentials

Adventist Community Services has been helping refugees for months.

When Afghan families arrived in the United States after their rapid evacuation from the war-torn country, Adventist Community Services (ACS) was ready to serve.

The ACS team at the Chesapeake conference first responded to the crisis by meeting with evacuees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in early September 2021. The ACS team delivered emotional and spiritual care as part of the its ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross.

Care and love for the evacuees

Most of the evacuees taken in were US citizens returning to the United States due to the early military withdrawal. Some of the returning Americans were also of Afghan descent, including some who had to abandon their families in the war-torn country.

“These are people who have to start their lives over completely,” Ignacio Goya, ACS director for the Chesapeake conference, said in September. “Many are in shock. We are there for them in these times of change, stress and loneliness. We are here to show them care and love and to let them know that they are not alone.

ACS team members also offered their support to volunteers and government workers working long hours in response to the crisis, many of whom felt overwhelmed by what they were seeing.

“No one has stopped to ask many of these people how they are do, ”Goya said. “Working in times of crisis is stressful. Imagine trying to help person after person on an eight hour shift for 10 consecutive days. Many feel frustrated because they simply do not have enough resources to help those who arrive the way they want. So we listen to them and cry with them and show them care and love.

The latest response efforts have shifted from providing emotional and spiritual care to organizing long-term support for evacuees.

Resettlement assistance

Three months later, ACS Chesapeake focused on providing food and essential supplies to 340 Afghan families resettled in the Chesapeake Territory (Delaware and most of Maryland) as they attempt to rebuild their lives in the United States. United.

“We don’t just give out food or a welcome basket; we share the love of Jesus with them, ”said Ignacio Goya, Director of ACS Chesapeake. “This is the raison d’être of ACS; this is the raison d’être of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Chesapeake conference churches have responded to requests for donations of essential items such as cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies and basic kitchen equipment. In partnership with ADRA, ACS Columbia Union and ACS North American Division, ACS Chesapeake team members organized the welcome basket donations and personally distributed them to refugees living in temporary accommodation in the area.

For those involved in delivering the welcome baskets, the interaction with the refugees was both heartbreaking and inspiring.

“Honestly, it’s life transformed,” said Kleyton Feitosa, pastor of the Living Word Seventh-day Adventist Church in Glen Burnie, Md. “You know, we’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures on the news, but it becomes real when you meet them and see the families and the needs. “

Feitosa added: “I discovered that [a refugee’s] his wife and kids were left behind, and it really broke my heart … But even with what’s going on in his life, he’s grateful; he is grateful; he is happy. He’s here and already thinking about how to possibly bring the family here … We hear so much about how we as Christians need to be satisfied, and we need to recognize and see the blessings around us. This young man taught me a lesson.

ACS Chesapeake continues to work in partnership with local government agencies to provide ongoing support and logistical assistance to refugee families.

“Our goal in these last days as a residual movement is to be the people who [are] looking for the needs of others, ”said Goya. “If you see a need, cover the need. Mingle and gain their trust and be prepared if the Holy Spirit [touches their] hearts to invite them to follow Jesus.

The original version of this story and this previous report were posted by the Visitor to Union Columbia.

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