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Why We Welcome

It was August of 1998. Our family wearily stepped off the tarmac and into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Over 24 hours had passed since we boarded the plane on our first leg of the journey in Boise, ID. We walked through a maze of dark hallways, through doorways, past security guards. The air was filled with conversation, but not in a language we understood. We followed the line of others before us with no idea what the next step would be, which direction the hallway might turn, or what might be asked of us in another room. 

Finally, we stepped through a set of double doors into an open space, and a young woman stepped forward towards us with a smile. She held a photo in her hands… a picture of us. She introduced herself. Her name was and is Norah Moyi. “I’m here to help you through customs and get you home.” Such a kind face. Such a warm smile. Such reassurance that we would indeed be safe in this new chapter of our lives. 

Today, I cannot express the thankfulness that I feel for those who met my wife and me and our two young daughters at JKIA in the late, late hours of that day. Over 25 years have gone by as I write these words, yet I still carry Miss Norah’s face clearly in my memory. 

Welcoming others is a gift. Whether it is into a country, into our home, into friendship, or into our arms. The people at World Relief have it down. This is their heart as an organization. In the several avenues in which we have partnered with them, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of welcome. Beyond the tired faces, I’ve seen hurting souls, unsure of where the next home will be in the next days or weeks. 

World Relief alongside community partners step in, interceding for people who have had to leave behind their family, careers, their comfort, facing a future marked by question marks. 

As a community pastor I have had the privilege of seeing many individuals and families walk into our church as immigrants, refugees or asylees.  Through partnerships with World Relief, I’ve observed anxious hands finding solace in the rhythm of a sewing machine and hearts healing as they cultivate the soil in a shared garden.  A little bit of their anxiety, a little bit of their hurt, a little bit of the sadness attached to what they left behind melts away. Here, the potential for a new beginning unfolds—a place they might call “home.” 

Welcoming others is a gift. The folks at World Relief are givers. 

-Pastor Ev

Pastor Everett is the Senior Pastor at Hillside Church in Kent. Hillside Church has a longstanding partnership with World Relief Western Washington as a dedicated partner, volunteer support, and home to both our Community Garden and Commercial Teaching Kitchen.

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