Missouri Baptists have continued to help Afghan refugees resettling in the state following the Taliban takeover of their homeland last August. In this effort, Missouri Baptist churches have worked alongside Oasis International, a St. Louis-area ministry that aims “to love and care for those who seek refuge from a war-torn country.”
Last August, thousands of Afghan refugees fled to the United States after the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan — a country that, because of the Taliban takeover, has now been dubbed the most dangerous place in the world for Christians to live. See related story on how Missouri Baptists and other states have responded.
‘Overwhelmingly busy, but God is providing’
Denise Rhodes, a member of Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, and the Good Neighbor/media coordinator for Oasis International, said that, according to most recent figures, Oasis International has resettled 450 to 500 Afghan refugees to St. Louis. The ministry gave 25-plus new cars to new Afghan refugees, signed 18 Afghan women up for English classes, gave tens of thousands of dollars in grocery gift cards to refugees and celebrated 10-plus baby showers for Afghan families, supplying them with provisions to care for their babies.
“We have been overwhelmingly busy, but God is providing, as always,” Rhodes told The Pathway. She said Missouri Baptists have been heavily involved — and not only through the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association’s involvement in the Good Neighbor Initiative, a ministry that matches active members of area churches with families arriving from across the globe.
Missouri WMU, she said, provided a $5,000 grant to help with grocery gift cards, adding substantially to gifts that have come from other Missouri Baptist churches. One church collected 40 laundry baskets with household essentials, and others donated funds.
“Several Baptist churches did our Feed the Nations program to help deliver 40 lb. boxes of food to 400 refugee families in November, and then other Baptist churches helped deliver Christmas gifts to refugees, as well.”
According to Rhodes and her colleagues at Oasis International, Acts 17:26 teaches that God “draws the boundaries for men.” As the verse states, God made people from all nations and “has determined their appointed times and the boundaries from where they live.”
“We believe that every refugee that is in Missouri is here by God’s plan and for His purpose,” Rhodes said. “Oasis has helped people for 55 nations to date. That is definitely the world at our doorsteps. Many of these Afghans have never met a Christian, let alone been invited to a Christian home for a meal.
“It is a rare and amazing opportunity that God is creating for us to embrace people from a nation that was ‘very closed’ to the gospel and Jesus,” she added. “Now they are our neighbors — that is only something God can do! The question, as always, is, ‘Will we embrace it? Will we see what God is doing and join Him?’ It starts, most often, by supplying a daily need, like grocery gift cards or toilet paper, and leads to an opportunity to pray in Jesus’ name for their families back in Afghanistan who are suffering greatly with famine and no jobs. (This) leads to more opportunities to pray and let them see Jesus is alive and answering their prayers and more opportunities to share of God’s great plan of redemption for them, as well.”
To learn more about Oasis International’s Good Neighbor Initiative, visit http://goodneighborstl.com.