Bob has always had a passion and a heart for the refugees in his community. When approached to volunteer serving as an English conversation partner he didn’t hesitate. Read Bob’s story and learn how serving his community led to a true friendship.
Bob Rucker has always had a passion and a heart for the refugees in his community. And so, when his pastor encouraged him to check out World Relief North Texas, he didn’t hesitate to explore how he might volunteer. Serving first as an ESL teacher, Bob soon discovered that assistance with office/admin tasks was also needed and for him this was a natural step as he deepened his engagement. And what a gift Bob has been! From organizing files to helping clients apply for food stamps, Bob has done it all.
Now, it’s his nature to serve, to give of himself for the sake of others. And so, when Bob was approached by the North Texas volunteer coordinator about serving as an English conversation partner for an Afghan man, he didn’t hesitate. Bob was ready and willing to engage even further and began meeting with this young man once a week.
What Will We Have In Common?
Before they met, Bob was quite nervous thinking about what he would have in common with this young man from Afghanistan. His soon to be friend, Ali, had recently been studying for a test to become a truck driver. Bob imagined Ali would be a stereotypical truck driver, and thought ‘what would I have to offer in a relationship with him.’ Bob studied as much as he could about truck driving before meeting Ali in hopes to have something to talk about. To his surprise, they became instant friends.
“You know how you just hit it off with someone right away? That’s what happened. He’s a young fellow, 24, and I’m 77. Big age difference but we hit it off right away.” – Bob
Throughout the course of their friendship, Ali’s English has improved significantly through conversation. Bob has been able to find ample amounts of English support for Ali online. Ali has since passed his truck driving test, which he attributes to Bob’s prayers. Ali has also been able to share his experience fleeing Afghanistan with Bob. Both of them have experienced great loss in their life, and are able to support each other from a place of mutual understanding. Bob, a widower of 2 years, and Ali, leaving his entire family back in Afghanistan, having to run from everything he has ever known.
A Friendship So Deep…
Bob shared how special his friendship with Ali has been. Bob has many friends and family around him, but he never had any children. “I enjoy taking care of him because I don’t have any children. It’s just like having a son or a grandson. I really enjoy having someone to help.” The culture in Afghanistan holds great value and respect for the older people in their community, and this is definitely seen in the relationship between Bob and Ali. Ali greatly respects Bob, is always available to offer a helping hand, and simply to be a friend. Bob shared, “we text almost everyday to check on each other.”
As Ali and Bob have developed a friendship over several months and navigated news jobs, cultural differences, church, and supporting each other through loss, it is evident that he truly cares about Ali as his own son. Having someone to talk to about the things you have experienced can be so helpful in the healing journey. “I’ve come to realize that in the world I grew up in, I always had family. Ali’s family is in Afghanistan, he really has no family here” and it is for this reason that Bob is happy to be Ali’s family. Ali has also happily stepped in as part of Bob’s family. Bob was married for 43 years, and has experienced seasons of loneliness since the passing of his wife. His relationship with Ali has been a huge blessing in his life; “it’s nice to have someone to care for. If people took the time to get to know some of these people they would really be blessed.”
The Importance of Volunteering
Ultimately, Bob reminded us of a significant biblical truth, “the Bible clearly tells us to make the foreigners welcome. When I watch these crises happen on the news, it tears me apart. I thought, this is one thing I can do to help this whole situation. I can’t solve these problems, but I can do something.”
Ultimately, Bob has an understanding that God has blessed him, and he desires to bless others. He volunteers to help and to encourage others to help. Thank you Bob, and thank you volunteers. We cannot do this without you.