It’s been over a full year since the first Executive Order that began a time of chaos and reductions in the refugee program – and kicked off a wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. We have talked a lot over this last year about the struggles, and we know they continue. But I don’t want to just focus on loss, because as we’ve been taught, that is not the whole story.
Like many of you, I have prayed intensely in this last year for God to use His power in changing our circumstances, and I continue in those prayers. Some of the things for which I’ve cried to God have not been granted yet, and sometimes my heart hurts because of it. In those times I have reminded myself of a simple phrase: And if not, he is still good.
He is good. And I am learning to go to Him in true gratitude for His goodness. But while things don’t always go as I wish, He has provided every staff member of World Relief, and through all of you, ample evidence that He is still good and that He is blessing and affirming the work he has called us to do:
- 3 new office directors joined World Relief last January – Chitra in Seattle, Mark in Spokane and Kerry in Upstate SC – showing amazing faith in spite of circumstances.
- God allowed us to welcome 7,565 refugees and SIVs, who have fled some of the most violent conflicts in our world, to a place of safety and opportunity
- We were able to serve 7,955 participants in other refugee programs
- 10,723 immigrants got quality, low-cost legal services and were able to receive the rights of law
- 4,948 other immigrants, beyond our work with refugees, were served throughout offices to find stability and to be helped on the journey toward integration
- We were instrumental in filing 2,565 citizenship applications that will give a permanent belonging to immigrants, many of whom have no other home
- We educated 731 people about human trafficking and how they can help stop slavery
- 23 former slaves were directly served in our programs to enter a new life free of their oppression
- We processed some 6,500 new volunteer applications, a record number, and prepared this army of volunteers to love our immigrant neighbors
- We provided education or training in 523 churches, calling God’s people to welcome the stranger
- 314 church teams were formed and launched to deeply love and care for immigrant families
- As we invest in the future, we had 189 individuals attended 40-hour immigration training to prepare to represent immigrants and advocate for their rights
- In addition to our network of U.S. offices, we supported 52 church-based ILS programs as we empower the church to serve more deeply
In preparing these numbers for our upcoming annual report, we can say that despite all of the negative we have seen this year, God has worked through World Relief’s U.S. Ministries in the lives of:
- 31,900 Direct Beneficiaries
- 48,900 Indirect Beneficiaries (family members, congregants, community members, etc.)
Numbers are impressive, but we should not see these as numbers but lives – people with hopes and dreams, people made in the image of God and people God loved enough to leave the glories of heaven and come to this broken world to show how much He loves them.
And, His love is such that as the Good Shepherd, He reminds us that He would do it all for just one of us.
He is still good!
Prior to becoming the SVP of U.S. Ministries, Emily Gray served for six years as the Executive Director of World Relief’s offices in DuPage County and Aurora, Illinois. She is a former full-time missionary to Central America and is a founding member of Mission Lazarus, also serving on Mission Lazarus’ board for 15 years. Emily is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, earning a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Abilene Christian University, a Master of Social Work from Boston University, and has completed doctoral hours at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has been married for 30 years to Cary, a Computer Scientist, teacher and scholar of Christian hymns.