Eric & Jen’s Story
Eric and Jen struggled with a familiar sentiment at Mars Hill: the difficulty of finding a sense of place and responsibility in such a large community. With over 5,000 regular attendees, it’s easy to come weekly for years and still be surrounded by strangers. For some at Mars, a no-pressure sanctuary of worship, learning and healing is exactly what they need. For Eric and Jen, it wasn’t enough. They wanted to see a difference in world and to spread God’s love to those who need it most. That’s how they got involved in the Refugee Ministry.
It’s difficult to appreciate the absolute confusion and isolation of being a refugee. Despite the obvious cultural barriers of new languages, customs and technology, there’s also the frustration of eroded identity and pride. The Refugee Ministry at Mars Hill is closely tied in with Bethany Christian Services, and together they seek to soften the blow of being dropped into a foreign land. The approach is simple: pull together a team of caring individuals, each with a focus on specific needs like health, education, employment, finances, tutoring, and journeying. Then, help the family in any way possible.
Jen and Eric are tutors for a Bhutanese family, refugees from a Nepalese camp at the foot of the Himalayas. The family’s been here for several months, and Jen and Eric have been helping the parents learn English once a week. To say the experience is frustrating at times would be an understatement. One thing they did not expect was that the parents did not know how to hold pens nor did they understand the concept of a structured class or lesson. They were learning English from the ground up.
Jen was struck by the significance of these limitations. “It really opened my eyes to how vulnerable these refugees are.” She was also impressed by how they overcame their barriers, especially the kids. “The kids have never had a place to call home because they’ve been refugees their entire lives, but yet they’re so resilient and positive.”
While the tutoring has Eric and Jen outside of their comfort zones right now, they look forward to the day that frustration will go away. God has been teaching them patience in this experience. Jen especially feels that she can be selfish of her own time, and that this is program is helping to break that. Both are glad to have jumped in head first in the Refugee Ministry at Mars Hill and are eager to encourage others to follow suit.
“It’s great, especially if you’re interested in other cultures,” commented Eric. “It’s extremely rewarding. Whatever your fears are, just go for it.”
You can check out the opportunities available here.