Imagine a 12-year-old girl or boy whom you might know. Maybe this is a neighborhood child, or perhaps one of your own children or grandchildren. In your mind, what is this child doing on a normal day? Going to school? Eating lunch with friends? Arguing with a sibling about what tablet game they will play after school?
Today I would like to introduce you to another 12-year-old girl. Her life is a little different than the one you might have just imagined for the student you know.
We’re going to call her Z, which is the first letter of her name. She was born in Iran, but her family had fled from Afghanistan and was never fully accepted into Iranian society. So, like millions of other refugee and immigrant families, Z’s family began the long journey towards a better life. They came through Serbia, hoping to eventually get to Germany.
As they had been for many weeks, Z’s days were filled with walking. One day, Z and her family were walking through a park, looking and feeling out of place and afraid, when staff members from an organization called Info Park noticed them. The aid workers offered them hope in the form of a safe space to rest and a bowl of warm noodles, which Z described as “the sweetest food she has tasted in years.”
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in God,” the Psalmist sings (Psalm 34:8).
By your gifts to Week of Compassion, Info Park is able to assist refugees to find a place of respite and a bite to eat when they are hungry.
They also help young girls like Z inch closer and closer to the goals that seemed impossible as they navigated borders, checkpoints, and life as exiles. Your gifts provide for learning centers where girls and boys can escape the life of refugee camps and experience the normalcy that children in many parts of the world take for granted.
Assisted by your generosity, Z embarked on a path towards education that she and her mother had dreamed of. Her days became filled with learning--first at Info Park, then at a German school in Hamburg.
Just one month after enrolling in school, she won the Hamburg regional competition for best writing skills among newcomers to Germany. Two years earlier, she didn’t know a word of the language, but now Z is excelling in school and dreaming for a future that is “more than we can imagine!”
*Since July 2016, nearly 170 women and girls have attended German classes at Info Park with support from Week of Compassion partner, Church World Service. Teachers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland inspire students to gain confidence, knowing that if they work hard they will have more opportunities.
Looking for engaging ways to feature Week of Compassion in worship? Try this prayer station, and be sure to visit our website for resources. http://www.weekofcompassion.org/special-offering/
Setting: This station could be set up in a lobby or fellowship hall as a reminder of the offering or as part of your worship space.
Intention: Through the display of images, participants are able to connect with the work of Week of Compassion. It is an opportunity to pray for the work and it serves as a reminder about the special offering.
Materials and Setup: Pictures, printed or cut out from the 2019 Resource Guide, that reflect the work made possible by the Week of Compassion offering. Include the captions that describe the work depicted. Display them on or above a table that also has pens and paper, a bell or chime, and (if appropriate in your space) candles for lighting.
Include printed or projected signs with the following prompts:
Meditate on each picture.
Consider how God used our Week of Compassion offerings to help restore and strengthen communities in ways beyond our imagination.
Offer prayers for the people in the pictures and their communities and for the work we do with them through Week of Compassion.