by Kaitlin Moser
One of my favorite things in the world is when God brings people from different backgrounds into friendship and fellowship together. I love it because it is a little piece of heaven on earth—a reflection of the peace we will one day see between people from all nations, as we worship before the throne of God together. There is something so beautiful about the Revelation 7:9 verse that is core to who we are as a church: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
God loves the people He created—of all cultures, ethnicities, and tongues. I believe wholeheartedly that we can more fully see His beauty and creativity when we come to know people from other cultures. God has invited people from all backgrounds to His great banquet feast (Luke 13:29-30), if we would only accept His invitation. He invited us to have a seat at His table; the Holy One of the Universe chooses to be in fellowship with us. What a precious gift this is.
This past year, the people of Eastbrook responded in a beautiful way to this love from God by making space at their own tables.
Eastbrook has a history of being in community with those who have been displaced or are seeking refuge. As soon as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in the summer of 2021, concern poured out from members of the church, prayerfully seeking a way to step in and help when suddenly this distant concern was brought to our doorstep.
Last fall, Missions Pastor Dan Ryan received a message from a congregant working in the English Language Academy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The university had received a request to accept a small cohort of women who had recently fled from Afghanistan. These young women were now waiting at a U.S. military base to be resettled in a new home community in the United States. They had begun English studies while in Afghanistan, a pursuit they hoped to continue at an American university before transitioning to an undergraduate program. The university was ready to welcome and support these women with their academics, but also knew they would need community and many additional resources. Given our history of working with internationals and the church’s desire to help the Afghan people, perhaps there was a way Eastbrook could help with this?
So many pieces would need to come together: housing, finances, resettlement benefits, social support. Despite the many unknowns, Eastbrook felt the prompt from God to say yes. Moving forward and trusting that He would bring the pieces together, we have seen Him continually provide beyond belief and prove that He powerfully shows up when we trust Him. Many Eastbrook families quickly stepped forward to host one of the students in their home. We have seen God beautifully match host families and students together, and have witnessed sweet friendships and bonds form in many of these homes. Through our 2021 Thanksgiving Offering, many people in the church were moved to give generously. We quickly raised the amount that we needed for the cost of the students’ Intensive English Program.
Despite a long wait for the students to arrive after their stay on the military base, they got here just in time to spend the holiday season with their host families and begin classes in the spring semester. As different needs have come up, several organizations have stepped forward to help the students in tangible ways. God has continually opened doors that we could not see at first, and He has provided each step of the way. We continue to trust Him to pave the way for the students’ undergraduate education.
Our God is powerful. He invites us to open our lives to others the same way He sacrificially gave His for us. And He promises to be there for the ups and downs of the journey.
Our group of women will soon be growing from nine to 11, and we already see doors opening for these two additional students to transition to Milwaukee and begin their studies.
We’ve also seen the powerful way that God can change our lives when we seek to bless others. Our host families, staff, and volunteers have been changed for the better by getting to know these beautiful Afghan women. The students have shared their culture with us and made delicious meals. They’ve taught us pieces of their language and educated us on the history of their country. They’ve broadened our perspective of world events and made us less self-centered by opening our eyes to the circumstances of those in other parts of the world. They’ve shared their laughter, kindness, and generosity. They’ve cared for their host families in unique ways. They’ve deepened our love for Afghanistan, and I am very grateful for that.
Please continue to pray for Afghanistan. Pray for safety and protection for the family members who remain there. Pray for peace in the land and hope for the people. Pray for Afghans around the country who are adjusting to life in the United States while their hearts are torn by the circumstances back home. Continue to pray for our group of Afghan women — for their health and well-being, their studies, and a sense of stability. Pray for hope and peace to permeate their lives.
Thank God that He has opened His table to us and has challenged us to do the same with others. We’re grateful that God has blessed us with the presence of these women at our tables during this season. ■
Kaitlin Moser has joined the Eastbrook Church staff on a temporary assignment to coordinate Eastbrook’s efforts to resettle our new Afghan neighbors. To help, or to learn more about how you can make space at your table and welcome the stranger (Matthew 25), contact Pastor Dan Ryan at email@example.com.