Raft Amad

To Make Way for Peace

It’s been an invigorating year and 3 months and I continue to have the privilege of working with World Relief Sacramento. NOT ONLY THAT, but I now have received the gift of living within one of the most concentrated Arabic and Afghan populations in Sacramento.

I love it. God has blessed me with relationships here. I met and made a dear friend, Adara , whose family came from a well-off life in the middle-east to escape violence and threats and find refuge here in the states. They are one of the loveliest families I have met, embracing me with their arms and hearts– every inch of my outer and inner being.

Day by day work continues to be of service to the refugee community and seeking to ask Jesus’ Church in Sacramento follow His command to LOVE THE STRANGER in both practical and relational ways.

Today, work sent me to make a home visit to a recently arrived family from Afghanistan who was temporarily staying with the husband’s well-to-do uncle and aunt in Tracy, CA. I took my friend, Adara, with me as a companion for the excursion.

God continues to bestow on me a gift of being received by others in a way that allows for stories to be told and lives to be shared.

As is polite and tradition in Afghani culture, the family’s uncle invited me and Adara to stay in his home for lunch after our staff-to-client relations had concluded. I evaluated the remainder of the work day and decided that we could graciously accept the offer.

Lunch brought a time of traditional Afghan eating–sitting with crisscross legs and knee to knee with each other on the floor while our food lay in front of us on the eating mat. It is a beautiful place of fellowship.

The uncle, whose name was Qader Qudus, eventually shared his story of being here since 1982, his complete successes in working his way up the economic ladders and later facing imprisonment and injustice here because of the way he was compassionately transferring donated money from individuals and churches to poorer students and communities back in Afghanistan. He was suspected of money-laundering for drug dealers and even terrorist activity and held for over two years, though they could not find any evidence against him.

With tears in his eyes, he told us “I know God had a plan for me through all of this.”
My heart broke and stretched at the same time.

Friends, if the heart of a Muslim man (or woman) can tread these paths, there is certainly something beautiful and cultivating of peace to be learned from and loved. It is worth building peace and understanding between followers of Jesus and followers of Islam. Truth may find its own way to the surface if unconditional love and empathy pave the way.

Let us begin to love our neighbors, share a meal, and ask them their stories.

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Inshallah

Three and a half months in and I am still in constant learning mode when it comes to my work with beloved refugees in the Sacramento area. Within the agency they’ve been called “clients”, “refugees”, “immigrants”, etc….but I prefer to call them brothers and sisters. You might find this hard to believe, but even with each paper signed, each check written and each checklist filled out, relationship grows with these folks. I tell my friends and mentors all the time how much it amazes me that any form of authentic relationship could possibly be developed with those whose case files I handle. I’m their advocate, their counselor, their resources hub, but their friend? That is the work of the Lord.

Half these folks I speak of do not speak English. One hundred percent of them have lived in my culture, at most, for 3 months. Thank God I have darker hair and complexion or I might shock their kiddos more than the site of me already does. But these are my friends. We eat together, talk together, learn together, laugh together, sit in silence together. If that’s not friendship, what is?

One of my dearest family friends is a couple who is expecting their first baby girl this next week! This beautiful couple has embraced me as a sister in the most loving way possible and I can’t believe that after only 3 months I am just dying to meet their new baby girl and hold her. It’s as if one of my own sisters is having a baby and I’m becoming an Auntie! So excited for the time I’ve spent with this couple, soon to be trio, and excited for the time that’s yet to come. We thank God together for things and I get to express my love and loyalty to Isa Al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah)— a prophet to them, a savior to me. L

If any of you have ever had friends amongst the Muslim community, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Inshallah”. This Arabic phrase, in English, means “If Allah wills”, or “If God wills”. Many time they will tell me “Yes, Emily, I’ll be back at the apartment by [this time], Inshallah”. Perhaps it seems silly or just simply traditional to some of you, but I had to think about this. They are acknowledging every turn, every action of their life to be in the hands of God. If not already a wonderful demonstration of faith, is it not at least a good reminder of the sovereignty of God?

James 4:15 says, “…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or do that.’ “

There are things I learn from my dear Muslim brothers and sisters. There is a measure of respect and belief in God that sometimes I find lacking in my own life, even.

I encourage anyone who may read this post to reach out of their bubble and into the life of another whose worldviews or ethnicity you don’t share. There are many things to be learned from such relationships.

Until next time, dear friends, Inshallah.

Amelia MaySun

 

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Past, Present, Future.

That moment when the past is suddenly related to the present. I won’t call myself prophetic by any means, but I do love to put on display the things God was doing with me 6 months ago that I couldn’t connect to anything related to my life—until now.

In April 2014, one month prior to graduation from WJU, I was sitting in the local park having some quiet time of reflection and listening. I kept hearing the word “sojourning” in my heart. There had been a measure of people speaking it directly to me combined with an attentiveness in my moment of listening that spurred my writing of one large metaphor.

It occurred to me that day that the life followers of Jesus are called to is very reflective of a sojourner’s lifestyle. That’s not to say that Jesus followers are all called to the mobile, gypsy life or can’t be planted in one physical place for a lengthy time, but it’s more to say that there’s an element of realizing this physical world–the here and now– is not our ultimate home; it’s not our ending up. Our physical life is just a journey through seasons, trials, joys, healthy and unhealthy relationships and everything in between. But the way I could grasp this best was by the thought of what an actual sojourner (traveler)’s life would look like.
[See here: https://capacityforculture.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/sojourners/ ]

One of the Afghan ladies and her daughter--2 out of a 6 person family we resettled in Sacramento.

One of the Afghan ladies and her daughter–2 out of a 6 person family we resettled in Sacramento.

What I did not know when I wrote this was where I’d be in 6 months from then. I had no idea I would have the privilege to come alongside actual physical sojourners–refugees–as they settle in a new land and a new season of life. There’s an amazing connection with them because I strongly believe I will be in their shoes someday–standing in a foreign land with a language barrier, feeling out of place, and with so much less to my name than I had in my own country. That proverb: Do unto others as you would have them do to you— it’s never felt so concrete as it does now. I doubt I’ll be a refugee, but I will be a sojourner and I will go through frustrations and culture shock and struggle hard to learn the language just so I can function on the baseline level in society.

Now I say all this and I can’t say I’ve heard the audible voice of God speak this over my life, but it seems like every time that concept begins to fade away in my mind, something arouses it back to life.

This past weekend I received one of those little reminders.

My extroverted side collaborated with my fiscally-sensitive side and decided I would bounce from one friend’s house to the next in order to save money on gas and cram all my needed social activities into one four-day time span. I think I ended up seeing 7 different friends over 100-something hours. And for those of you who have done that, you know that you’re never going to be fully satisfied with what you pack or where you sleep. There’s always something lacking somehow. The tiniest taste of this “lifestyle” reminded me that it’s okay to get away from my comforts, that humbly asking for meals or soap or borrowed clothes from friends is necessary, that I’m not going to get the best sleep or get to eat within my diet limits. It’s time to be flexible, humble, grateful and full of joy apart from circumstances–that’s just how one must thrive in that scenario.

At the end of it all I realized this was yet another small taste of the less-than-comfortable life I await in the future. I cannot wait to have the privilege to walk in faith–letting the Father lead me from season to season or dwelling place to dwelling place. Delightful will be the day that the Lord teaches me how to live with the bare minimum or at least start from that point in a foreign place where the sojourner mindset is the only attitude I know I must adopt.

By the way, shout out to my brothers and sisters in Christ–we are called to LOVE THE SOJOURNER:

Deuteronomy 10:19

19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Blessings upon your days ahead,

Amelia MaySun

 

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Capacity for Culture

I believe we all have more capacity for culture than we dare to believe.

…or dare to notice.

It’s that moment that we want to greet a stranger in their native tongue just because we know how to say “hello” in what we’re guessing is their language.

It’s those wandering thoughts that imagine what it’d be like to belong to a different ethnic community other than your own.

It’s the normalcy of seeing various skin colors, hearing multilingual conversations, smelling identifying fragrances and odors all around us and being used to it because the state of your city is diverse.

These are all proofs of the capacity we have, but don’t these observations and thoughts get kept to ourselves most of the time? What if one day you actually boldly greeted a stranger in a different language… What if you intentionally moved to another neighborhood where you were the minority…What if you asked someone what language they were speaking, complimented their clothes or asked them what they were cooking. What if…

Have you ever thought about the benefit that boldness, that intentional move would entail? A new friend? New knowledge? Grown empathy? New questions to wrestle with in your mind?

Get out of your comfort zone and embrace the natural capacity you have for culture.20141020_185736

God did not design humans to cling to their definitions of normal, nor their self-created boundaries, nor their own personal theology, but to cling to each other. And “each other” stretches far beyond your own religious community, your own race, your own political party, your own economic status. Dismiss your social stigmas by first asking yourself what your stigmas are. Who, what, or where are you subconsciously sidestepping with the excuse that you don’t have the gifting, the desire, or the capacity to embrace other cultures.

Ask someone this week what they believe about God, how they feel about the immigration issue, what their story is. And maybe, in return, they will have the opportunity to reach back out and ask you the same thing. What a blessing.
Or maybe, in return, you will begin to learn more about another human being, another culture, and perhaps become an advocate for them or their community in some way shape or form. Jesus stepped off His throne in Heaven and embraced humans here on earth, becoming an advocate for us to God. Why shouldn’t we humbly do the same?

Shaw Bakhir,

Amelia MaySun

 

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