Photo provided by Ann Graber Hershberger

In Iraq in 2015, while visiting camps of Yazidi people displaced by ISIS, Ann Graber Hershberger and her family are part of a group that is served bread and special Kurdistan dishes shared by Yazidi women. 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 NRSV)

One of the themes of the biblical story is of uprooted people following the call of God or searching for safety and refuge. From Abraham and Sarah to Mary and Joseph, to Paul relating to house churches made up of immigrants, the people of God are on the move.

With the exception of people whose ancestors inhabited the land before current national lines were drawn, those of us in the U.S. reading this issue are here because of migration.

Some people came from Europe due to war, economic need or religious persecution. Enslaved people were forced to migrate from Africa. Others came, for a variety of reasons, from all over the world.

This issue shares stories of people on the move and the creative and hope-building ways that they are received and hosted and work together to survive and thrive.

Read these stories slowly. You will likely be doing this in a warm place, with food and in safety.

Learn from Augustine Bidali’s story of becoming the caregiver for his brothers. Imagine your church responding, as the South Sudanese Episcopal church does, to manage hunger and to address trauma and broken relationships.

Consider how your community can learn from the mothers’ care groups that are improving children’s health among both newcomers and long-time residents.

These stories are repeated in our own communities. My husband Jim and I have visited or worked in camps for displaced people on three continents but have also hosted refugees in our home for weeks at a time.  Often, we have been hosted for meals by migrants who have been forced to leave their home communities or countries, and we are amazed at the human instinct to share as part of the resilience and determination to start anew.

May we echo Abdoul Nassir Sawadogo’s declaration as she and other mothers work for better health in Burkina Faso, “We are blessed to be together in this.”

Ann Graber Hershberger

MCC U.S. Executive Director

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