New Neighbors, New Friends
by Rev. Christopher Cashen, OPC Evangelist to refugees in Clarkston, Georgia (August 2018)
Like any other community in the United States during August, families from Syria, Afghanistan, South Africa, Ethiopia, and beyond who are living in Clarkston, Georgia, are transitioning from what appeared to be a fairly relaxed summer to a structured school day. With the beginning of a new school year, we have restarted our after-school program again for elementary school students at Brentwood Apartments: a local apartment complex next to Clarkston. It is our hope that through homework help, songs, games and crafts, we will shine forth the brilliant love of Jesus Christ to these children, pointing them to trust in Him as we open up lessons from the Scriptures.
The first day of our after-school program was a bit hard. The prior week some of the children (at the school bus stop) had witnessed a young boy being hit and killed by a car on the busy street that passes in front of Brentwood Apartments. As a result, we had the opportunity to speak to the children about how they felt, and then about the knowledge of God, the presence of God, and the perfect plan of God. This seemed to given them comfort, as they were clearly affected by what they had seen and heard. The children then had the opportunity to pour out their hearts as they made sympathy cards for the family of the little one who died.
We continue to seek out families with material needs. In a separate apartment complex where we have been serving a Syrian family with after-school tutoring, we provided two newly arrived families with school supplies and are seeking to help them both with English speaking skills. A couple of pregnant refugee women have been assisted with transportation to and from medical appointments. And an Afghan family was simply helped with a ride to a nearby ethnic grocery store and pharmacy. On another front, we continue to develop a relationship with the youth at a local Ethiopian church where I have been teaching "Sunday school." A few of us recently took a Saturday morning to hike up nearby Stone Mountain with our friends from Africa.
Please pray that the Lord might bring more children to our after-school program, more adults to our English class, and more interested people to our Bible study. We thank the Lord for the access He has given us to the exercise room at Brentwood, and to the homes of the families who have welcomed us. Please pray that each of these separate but related efforts will lead to conversations about the spiritual well being of our new neighbors, and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.