This Lent, our church will be once again collecting a special offering to benefit the hundreds of refugee and immigrant families that live here in our community. And this year, the funds will be used to support two distinct services offered through World Relief’s local ministry, which include:
Trauma Counseling for Refugees
Many refugees have faced extreme trauma in their home countries, whether it is violence experienced or the terror of a harrowing flight from their homes. And once here in the U.S., the adjustment to their new lives can be just as stressful as they attempt to navigate a new culture with a foreign language. To help these refugees and other immigrants overcome this trauma and lead healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives, World Relief’s Counseling Center offers one-on-one mental health counseling, pro bono psychiatric services, and group therapy for adults of all ages.
In 2014, after 7 long years of waiting, Suhad and her family were approved to resettle as refugees in Illinois. Her husband, who had suffered from arthritis in his knees for years, underwent two knee surgeries after they arrived. Everything went well, and he was recovering, until the afternoon he went to take a nap and never woke up. He was only 68 years old and had suffered a heart attack. Suddenly, Suhad’s world was turned upside down as grief took over, but she only knew a handful of people at the time, having been in the U.S. just eight months, so she had few people to turn to. Thankfully, a World Relief therapist was able to counsel her through those difficult months. She took up art to focus her mind on happier times. Between her art and her counseling, she was slowly able to regain a sense of purpose and meaning, despite the many terrible losses she had suffered.
Citizenship Clinics for Refugees & Immigrants
For refugees and immigrants that have been driven from their home countries, few experiences give them a greater sense of pride and hope than becoming a U.S. citizen. To help them complete this complicated process, World Relief’s Immigration Legal Services (ILS) team hosts citizenship legal clinics at which up to 100 immigrants can be screened and complete their applications. These clinics are made possible with the generous assistance of dozens of volunteers and pro bono attorneys, and they are held in space provided by local churches.
For many years, Jahan was persecuted in his home country because of his religion. His family was threatened, his social media accounts were monitored, and he was imprisoned and tortured several times. Even as a young boy, he dreamed of some day moving to the United States, where he had heard that he could be free. When he was finally approved to come to the U.S. as a refugee, he was thrilled to have the freedom to openly live out his faith as he had always dreamed. Five years after arriving, Jahan eagerly applied to become a citizen at one of World Relief’s citizenship clinics. As he was leaving the courtroom after taking his citizenship oath, he said, “I am so happy to have the rights and responsibilities that come with being a citizen, so I can give back to the country that has given me so much.”