Yes, you heard me right. World Relief is setting up shop in Oshkosh, WI and bringing displaced families to my little neck of the woods.
It's exciting really, and saddening at the same time.
The prospect of new friends from different cultures is nothing short of thrilling. Our first family will be arriving on Valentines Day. They're from Burma.
But, the saddening thing is that they're coming under a refugee status. You don't just get refugee status. Something significant has to happen in the place you're fleeing from. There has to be persecution (religious, political, etc.), or a national crisis of sorts must occur for one to obtain this status.
For the last five decades or so, Burma has been a military state, they've only recently begun to make the long, weary shift toward a more democratic society... Currently, however, rebel groups continue to clash in Burma and over three million have fled to neighboring countries because of the violence, and extensive use of landmines within the state.
I know this is hard for many in America to comprehend. We don't spend our days in fear, generally. We don't have to worry about car bombs, or landmines as we walk our streets every day. We don't have to worry about our children starving, or being conscripted into "freedom fighter" armies. But these nightmarish things are real.
They're happening every day.
People are fleeing their homes, leaving everything they know, and searching for peace. They're looking for a place to call home.
I think we can all relate to the feeling of being far from home.
Desperately seeking the familiar.
It's stories like Burma, Uganda, Rwanda and Indonesia that remind me that we, as privileged citizens of one of the world's most prosperous nations, have a great responsibility.
Donald Miller said in his book 'Blue Like Jazz' that we're "to hold our hands to the wounds of this broken world. To stop the bleeding."
It starts here.
Showing love to a stranger, in a strange land. Letting them know that they can finally rest. Sharing life and love with them, and finding that these things are not rare commodities, but the very heartbeat of our existence.
It starts today.
I cannot wait to meet our new neighbors from Burma, and to welcome them to a place they can call home...