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Creating a Circle of Welcome

Creating a Circle of Welcome

by Jackie Richards on November 27, 2018

I’d like to introduce you to a beautiful family that some of us at Shandon are getting to know. There’s a Mom, a Dad, four children ranging in age from 2 to 13 years, and a baby on the way in January. There’s a 25-year-old aunt who lives with them. They are learning English, looking for work, and adapting to life in a foreign culture. They know and follow Jesus Christ, having lived through some of the most horrendous experiences imaginable. And they need your help.

They are the first of what we hope will be several families that Shandon members will have the opportunity to befriend and support through Circle of Welcome, a partnership program with Lutheran Services Carolinas that provides community support for refugees who resettle in North and South Carolina.

Our family is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), scene of the world’s most violent human rights abuses in recent years. The U.S. has welcomed more than 10,000 Congolese since 2001, and expects to resettle tens of thousands over the next five years. A supportive community is key in successful resettlement for refugees, and that’s what Circle of Welcome provides.

As you can imagine and might know firsthand, it’s extremely overwhelming to come to a new country where everything is different. Things that we take for granted here are completely new experiences for them. Many don’t have cars, and get around by foot or bicycle. American grocery stores are completely foreign. Some have never seen a can of food, and certainly don’t know what a can opener is. Women wash clothes by hand, and can’t even imagine a washing machine or dryer. The way they do things are not wrong, just different from our society. And, then there’s the whole language barrier. DRC speaks Swahili, and learning a new language is hard!

Shandon’s Circle of Welcome team is learning how to communicate with hands and Google Translate, which often doesn’t translate well. We’ve even learned a couple of Swahili words! Most importantly, we are finding the common language of love and friendship. We are hopeful that our interactions will help them improve their English language.  

The father is the kindest man ever, and needs a job to support his family. The job search is difficult because he does not yet speak English, but he is eager and willing to work. His sister, the 25-year-old aunt, is also eager to work, and mastering English incredibly fast. Please let us know if you have any job leads for our new Shandon family.    

Our Shandon team takes this ministry seriously and prayerfully. We have all had a couple of hours of training through our LSC partnership, as well as extensive background checks. Please pray for this Congolese family, and pray that we will serve them in a way that glorifies His Kingdom.  

If you’d like to learn more or get involved in ministry to refugee families, please contact me! I would love to help you get involved! You can reach me,  Jackie Richards at or 803-447-1953.

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