The Most-Welcoming Neighbors

God desires to show his love and generosity through His church. Through the faithfulness of missionaries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a refugee was able to experience a part of God’s heart for him through their campus church.

Read More

The Most-Welcoming Neighbors

Hannah & Carson Witte | Oct 13, 2017, 12:00 PM

God desires to show his love and generosity through His church. Through the faithfulness of missionaries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a refugee was able to experience a part of God’s heart for him through their campus church.

As missionaries with Reliant at New Life Church in Ann Arbor, our heartbeat is to be a part of God winning students to himself as lifelong disciples. We love getting to lead house churches on campus for students at The University of Michigan (U of M) and leading students to greater love and trust in Jesus.

This past school year, God gave us the opportunity to watch Him go above and beyond to bless a refugee family in our community. It was easily one of the most amazing things we got to be a part of this year!

Washtenaw County, the county where U of M is located, has long been approved by our government to be a part of resettling refugees. This year, our county was slated to up our intake of refugees (most from the Middle East), and God has been leading New Life to partner more and more with different families who are resettling in our community. In the spring, we saw 200+ students get trained in being able to volunteer with refugees, and though the intake of refugees has been slowed by the travel ban, we are thankful for every opportunity God gives us to be a welcoming neighbor to those starting life anew in our community.

In March, we had a week where our whole church prayed for refugees during our weekly small-group times. Among the many things we prayed was for a man, Mohammed, to receive transportation. It was taking him three hours to get to work each day walking and taking buses. That same week, God unexpectedly blessed Carson and I with a new vehicle. As we received this blessing from Him, we began looking into whether we could give one of our older vehicles to Mohammed and his family.

We took our truck into our local mechanic, and after an inspection, they told us that the truck wasn’t fit to donate and that it probably wouldn’t last another month. We saw God’s timely provision for us with the new vehicle, but we were pretty disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to give our truck to Mohammed. However, half an hour later, the auto shop called to tell us that they sell used cars and that one of the mechanics, who knew we had been wanting to donate the truck to a refugee in need, had offered to pay half the cost toward a car for Mohammed if we could cover the other $1,500. As we prayed about it, we saw that we were in the perfect position to be able to meet this need of Mohammed’s. We were connected literally to hundreds of people in our church community committed to welcoming and blessing refugees in our county.

We asked students and fellow staff to consider giving. In just three days, God raised $2,100 from 46 individuals for Mohammed to get a car! Mohammed told us that his mom is back in Afghanistan and needs a very complicated heart surgery that she'll have to travel to India for. We were able to give him the extra $600 to use toward his mom getting the surgery. In addition, some of the local agencies were able to cover his car insurance for the first six months.

Mohammed’s case worker sent us this:

“He is so excited; he still can't believe this is really happening! Your incredible generosity came at the perfect time. Your kindness has given him such hope and relief. He and his family had a traumatic and tragic experience in Afghanistan and spent years in refugee camps in Sri Lanka. Starting a new life in a new culture takes tremendous energy and determination. It's easy to become discouraged, but when something this wonderful happens, it changes lives! You've done an incredible, generous thing that will have long-lasting impact...practical, emotional, and spiritual!”

Mohammed was in tears when we picked him up to get the car and was really moved that we would give extra money toward his mom’s heart surgery. The night after we got him the car, he texted us, “Thank you so much. I can't sleep tonight. I don't know how I can say thank you" (with lots of cry-face emojis afterwards).

There just aren't strong enough words for us to describe how in awe we were of our God who is powerful, faithful and generous beyond all measure. We love how God mobilized so many people to bless one man. We were so humbled considering that on Saturday of that week we were wondering if it would all get raised and on Tuesday there were more gifts given than we hoped for. It was such a powerful experience for our students to get to be a part of. Jesus' words, "It's better to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) have never rang more true or powerful for our community. God's grace is life-changing! This unexpected blessing has helped us to form a powerful connection with Mohammed, his wife, Zahra, and their young daughter, Kausar. We invite you to pray with us that God would continue to work in their lives and draw them to Himself.