What is one of the biggest challenges refugees face when they come to Memphis?
Access to reliable transportation is crucial for refugees as they are attending English classes, important appointments, and other vital services during their integration journey. The World Relief Road-Runners program exists to serve families and individuals through providing transportation and building friendships along the way!
Rodney has been a road runner for almost 4 years, and I recently had the opportunity to interview him about his experience working as a Road-Runner. Rodney first heard about World Relief when a staff member came to speak at his church, and he decided to attend a volunteer training to learn more about refugees and immigrants. Before volunteer training, Rodney was unsure how he wanted to get involved, but he went into the meeting praying: “God, I want to be open to you. I want to be the person that you want me to be. I want to experience everything you expect me to experience!” When he learned about the Road-Runner program, he felt like God was calling him to participate, so he signed up.
Rodney drives a 15-passenger van to pick up clients for their regular English classes with the Connect Language Center, and it hasn’t come without its set of challenges. Sometimes he drives students that do not speak any English. Rodney poses the question “How do you love somebody that you really can’t communicate with?” While language is definitely a huge barrier in relationships, he is not discouraged, “I pray every day that God’s love will be conveyed through the way that I greet them in the moment and the way that I talk to them.” Rodney says that he relies on very animated expressions and a translation app to get to know the people he drives.
At the end of each class cycle, Rodney takes the students he drives on a fun outing to celebrate their time together. They have done everything from eating a meal at Rodney and his wife’s home, going out for pizza, or even riding go-karts together! “The Bible says: ‘they’ll know we’re Christians by our love,’ and I’ve tried to love the ears off every last one of them that comes through here. To be a friend, to laugh with them, to make them feel comfortable around here.”
When asked to reflect on his time as a Road-Runner, Rodney said “This one most worthwhile things that I’ve ever done in my life…It’s been good for me because it helps me to understand more the people I see in the world: the homeless person, the person on the corner asking for money and stuff like that. I can at least pray for every person that I see like that, and ask God to work in their life, and to draw them to Himself. Because if all is said and done and today is the last day, have I done everything that I could? Be the person that God wants me to be and say the things that He wants me to say, and love the people that He wants me to love?”
World Relief Memphis is so thankful for Rodney, his faithful service to our clients, and for his clear love of God!
If you have been wondering what you can do to help refugees and immigrants, we are in urgent need of 10 more Road-Runners for the current ESL class cycle. Please consider providing a much-needed service for clients as they integrate here in the Memphis area. Along the way, you will develop relationships that transform lives for all involved!
For more information and next steps, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Lydia Milton
Author: Grace Elder
Mobilization Intern at World Relief Memphis & rising Senior at Covenant College
Attend one of our monthly volunteer orientations to find out next steps for Road-Runners or one of our other volunteer opportunities:
Feeling called to make an impact but can’t donate your time? Learn more about joining our monthly giving program The Path.