By the time we arrived, the park was bustling.
Tables overflowing with home-cooked food and desserts, a not-so-regulation game of pick up soccer, an arts & crafts corner—it was hard to believe that most of us were meeting each other for the first time, not to mention that many had just recently arrived from conflict zones and refugee camps.
The picnic was hosted by our Refugee Cause Based Group in hopes to create shared space with our newest neighbors.
Centered around a shared potluck meal, the primary goal of the event was to simply be comfortable together. Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds.
For many of those I met on Saturday—families who have had to leave behind the concept of home because of violence and war—the feeling of being in new and unfamiliar spaces is familiar. But for those of who have the benefit of relative stability, experiences of displacement—like sitting at a table of six Arabic-speaking women with very little shared language—are few and far between.
The idea of navigating displacement is central to the invitation of Jesus.
As one who experienced displacement by becoming a man, Jesus is our model of setting aside the insulation of privilege to extend dignity and grace to our neighbor.
Of the many stories to come out of Saturday, I was most moved by hearing of a community volunteer who stopped by the house of a family after the picnic had concluded to pick up a few items. To her surprise, she found the Flood volunteer who drove the family home drinking tea with the family.
The volunteer spoke no Arabic and the family spoke very little English, but they sat together to share a very human moment.
When we think of the significance of what we do as a church, we often think of events like the picnic that happened on Saturday. But these events are only the vehicles that allow us to do what that Flood volunteer shared with that family over a pot of tea—to extend God’s love and presence to each other.
About the Author:
Jeremiah Kim is one of our pastors on staff here at Flood. His self claimed mission in life is to surround himself with abuelas that will make him homemade tamales every day. Jeremiah and his wife Yena live in South Park and help lead our South Park/North Park Neighborhood-Based Group. Find more of his writing at: JeremiahK.com
Refugee Cause Based Group
This group focuses on serving the refugee community in City Heights.
For more information email [email protected]