"Seventeen years ago, I was forced to leave my home and my country-not because I wanted to, but because I could not stay.  There is a war, and now I am a refugee.  Here, in the camp, there is not always enough food and nowhere to live but inside this fence.  Always, I feel tired of waiting and fear for the safety of my family.  This life journey has been difficult, but I have learned many things about myself that I never knew.  I am a survivor.  Soon, my family and I will take a plane across oceans and continents to come to a place with a strange name, odd people, and different food.   I am one of the lucky ones, ONE MORE to leave this camp for a new life. I do not know what it will be like.  I feel nervous, but I know there is HOPE.  I am not sure what I will have to do to give my family success and a new life.  I have so many questions.  Where will we live?  Who will teach us the language?  And who will help me find work?  When we arrive to this place called Jacksonville, will they accept us?  Who will be our friends?" 

The story above is all to common for our new arrivals.  The journey of a refugee is one of courage, survival and triumph. Refugees are ordinary people who have survived extraordinary circumstances!  They have fled persecution and experienced first-hand the tragedy of war.  Only 1% of all refugees in the world today will have the chance to be resettled in a new country where they begin the healing process and start their lives again.

After three months of slow arrivals due to tightened security measures from the UNHCR, the pathway has been opened for a steady flow of new arrivals.  In April, World Relief Jacksonville received 4 singles and 5 families.  In May, we will receive 7 singles and 5 families.  These refugees are coming from Bhutan, Burma, Cuba, Eritrea and Iraq.

The first six months in America for these refugees is the most crucial for their long term success.  Having a friend to spend time with, ask questions and learn from will assist them on their path to self-sufficiency.  World Relief Jacksonville is looking for church groups and individuals who will become "friendship partners".   There are many ways you can adopt a refugee as a "friendship partner".  Here are some suggestions: apartment set up, airport reception,  English tutor, home visits, cultural orientation and Christian discipleship.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a friendship partner please contact Molly Tidwell, Volunteer Coordinator at mtidwell@wr.org or 448-0733 ext. 112.  Church groups and individual volunteers can be friendship partners.  We can't wait for you to meet your new friend!

Genesis 33:10  “...if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!"