Immigration & Thanksgiving – Hospitality & Gratitude. Welcoming the Stranger and Friend

 

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On Sunday, November 18th, 2018, Ms Enid Dukule shared the journey of her life as both a refugee and an immigrant. She gave a deeply-felt personal and moving story and shared this to the congregation at the Christ the King Episcopal church. Enid and the Rev. Diane Fadely both gave a Sermon on that day.

 

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It was the 2nd event in a series of Sundays dedicated to the theme of ‘Welcoming the Stranger in our Midst’.

Enid told the congregation, that she left ‘Liberia at a very early age, I had to traverse the world by myself. As a refugee, I was living in my own world. It was very painful just thinking of my family, not knowing if they were dead or alive’.

Enid immigrated to the US after a few years of seeking refuge in France and Abidjan as the civil war in her native Liberia Country continued to rage during the years of the 1990’s upheavals. But her long separation with her family in Liberia was agonizing and a haunting experience even whilst she was safe in the US.

She recounted her experiences of profound happiness and gratitude for a chance to reunite with her family

…” and the day I went to pick up my son and mother at the airport was another one of my very happiest days. My worries were over—so I thought. However, I soon discovered that I could not work or continue my education, because of my status in this country. This continued for many years, but the good thing was that all my children had the opportunity to get an education”

Her staunch faith in God, her drive for educational values and hard work ethics was vital in her chances to survive as an immigrant in the US.

“For several years I read books at home and went to the World Bank in D.C. to interpret books from French to English to keep myself busy while my children were in school. I hated that lifestyle but I had no choice at that time. All I could do all the time was to pray and ask God for a better situation”.

She experienced first-hand from her church the warm embrace and the example of welcoming the stranger.

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“I later moved to Maryland with my family, where I met and joined my church family, “Christ the King.” When it comes to the expression “the open gates to heaven,” this applied to me! They welcomed my family and me with open arms, and still do”.

 

Something to be thankful and show gratitude to God for.

Enid recognized the many wonderful elements of God’s care and love and was grateful for that. 

Amongst the many people who God placed in her life, was Mr Bobbie Joe. She is grateful to Mr Bobby Joe who introduced her to a lot of benefits that life in America can offer including a sense of hope through an immigration process that was deeply worrying. She considered Mr Bobby Joe as a mentor.

“He encouraged me to fight hard for my education. He told me that being a housewife is a good thing but that he saw a lot of potential in me to also achieve other things. He constantly encouraged me not to give up”.

Enid never took for granted these blessings and recognized the work and hand of God. She is aware that the provisions she has was from God and those who God placed on her path to help her. She believes that those precious moments of comfort, care, tranquility, and victory in her life and the lives of her family was through the intervention of God.. She recognizes the loving hand of God’s providence in her life and family.

Today, I have acquired an education up to the level of master’s degree (And now pursuing a PhD). However, one thing I know for sure:  My life today would not be as it is without the help and goodness of God and some of this society’s benefits. Being in America has made my life better in many ways—but the quest to constantly improve myself continues.

Enid concluded her sermon at the Christ the King Episcopal Church Intercultural Sunday on the theme ‘Immigration & Thanksgiving – Hospitality & Gratitude, Welcoming the Stranger and Friend’, by giving hope to other immigrants and refugees.

Being a refugee may mean being displaced and in an unfortunate situation, but it does not have to remain that way. My life is proof that sometimes a discouraged, displaced refugee can eventually become a happy, established, well-educated person with a bright future ahead of her”.

 

Biblical Reflection

Israel’s Only Savior

Isaiah 43:1-2

1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

by: Andrew  Greene

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