Members of Meridian Arabic Church (Alliance) in El Cajon, California, minister Christ’s love to the thousands of refugees who have flooded their city. The Family Welcome Center has the opportunity to serve approximately 90,000 people from 10 ethnic groups. Since the center opened in August 2016, 150 families have arrived from Syria.
“El Cajon is a great mission field,” says Pastor Mkram Shahatit.
A Thriving Ministry
The center offers many programs to assist these displaced people to help them get on their feet. Staff members help them with translating mail, citizenship applications, phone calls, doctor’s visits, and more. The ministry also includes computer training and three levels of English classes. Mkram counsels and prays with the refugees.
Besides these services, several annual events have been planned: a back-to-school night, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas celebrations, and an Easter program.
About 200–300 people attended each outreach last year and heard Mkram’s message that the only hope for anyone is salvation from the Lord Jesus—a gift to all nations. Already two families have accepted the Lord, and they now worship at the church every Sunday.
The center’s staff has connected with more than 400 families and will follow up with them in the near future. “We use this ministry to create a bridge of friendship so that God will give us opportunities to share the gospel with people once they are open to it,” Mkram says.
Jesus Moves to Save
The refugees’ experiences are similar to Mkram’s own testimony. When he still lived in the Middle East, Pastor Mkram rejected the gospel when a local C&MA church shared it with him.
After Pastor Mkram moved to the United States in 1987, God used a woman in Chicago to bring him to Christ. “The Lord Jesus loves you and wants to save you,” she told Mkram when she met him at the supermarket where he worked.
Pastor Mkram thought this message was unique to the C&MA church he had known back home and was surprised she knew it as well. The woman continued to share the gospel with him, and he finally accepted the Lord in 1988.
Though Pastor Mkram may not be a refugee, he is part of the diaspora whom the Father is moving from their homelands to the United States. Mkram desires to help other displaced people experience the Lord as he did.
“God is shaking the whole world. He’s bringing thousands of families here,” Pastor Mkram observes. “He wants us as a church to leave our comfort zone and help these people because He has brought them here to be saved.”
Learn how to effectively serve the refugees in your community by attending Pastor Raed Awebdeh’s three-part seminar, “Welcoming Refugees into the Alliance Family,” at Alliance Council 2017 in Columbus, Ohio, May 30–June 4.
Or read “Immigrants and Refugees—Why Do We Care?” by Rev. Rosilio Roman III.