Our Volunteer and Outreach Specialist for the past 2 years, Melody Ward, is leaving her position this month and she wanted to share these closing thoughts with you. We will miss her dearly—she has a passion for welcoming refugees and a gift for helping church members and volunteers connect with new refugees in a way that transforms everyone.
I am a fairly outspoken person. I am passionate and articulate and gregarious. You rarely have to guess what I’m thinking or feeling…I wear my emotions on my sleeve, my face reads like a book, and every other cliché you want to apply. But this weekend I found myself stunned and unable to lock down the precise words for the gut punch of hate from Charlottesville, Virginia. Shock, sadness, anger, disbelief, denial—they all swirled around me, seeming to paralyze.
“What can I do?” has ticker-taped across my mind. I can’t sit back and stay silent. I certainly can’t fix the whole world, but I can’t let it go unchanged. What can I do? I can love and I can listen and I can act right where I am. I can make way for the disenfranchised in my circle–we can all do that. And we can draw the circle wide.
Working with churches and community groups who draw the circle wide has been a great honor. To see “regular” people give their time, energy, money, and love to refugee families through co-sponsorship has been humbling and exciting and challenging and wonderful.
Co-sponsorship is one of the BEST, doable and practical ways to destroy hate and to work to restore dignity and humanity to the disenfranchised right here in the Twin Cities. Refugees are victims of hate and persecution in their homeland and most refugees have lost or left behind family members. But with co-sponsorship they gain a different family, and begin a new journey of dignity and self-sufficiency.
Co-sponsorship breaks down the walls of misinformation and presupposed ideas about a particular people group or religion or official term like refugee. Co-sponsorship isn’t just a journey of checked boxes and tasks. It is a journey of shared humanity, mutually beneficial friendship, being with, and clearing the way for the marginalized as they put down roots here in peace and joy.
The past 2 years working as the Volunteer and Outreach Specialist with MCC has been a privilege. I feel grateful to have been a part of such a great organization, refugee resettlement team, and community. Many, many churches have welcomed me to share about refugee resettlement, to work and fellowship with them, and even once to preach!!
I keep telling myself that I am not leaving, merely stepping back for a while. As I invest my passion, energy, and self into my large family for a season, I hope to stay connected as a donor and a volunteer with MCC, and also as a friend to and advocate for refugees. I won’t stay silent against hate. I won’t freeze in denial, and I hope you won’t either. Thank you!!
For more information about the co-sponsorship program at MCC Refugee Services, please click here.