A month ago I went on a two-day whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for refugees. It seems that the current administration’s view of our longstanding desire to do our share in welcoming refugees, has been seriously challenged. I was part of a four-person Colorado delegation made up of three clergy types, and a woman who came to Denver at age three as a refugee from Viet Nam. This was not an issue that I had paid much attention to, but as Ken Buck is the congressman representing Greeley and I am a pastor there, someone thought I might be useful. I am not sure how useful I was but in a very short time I learned a lot. I will say this about Ken Buck, I went to his office not wanting to like him. Although there are many issues we see differently, on this particular issue we stand together. I really did like Congressman Buck.
He told us the story of the “packing plant” raid where literally overnight hundreds of workers in Weld County were rounded up. Ken was the DA at that time. These workers were replaced by refugees from Somalia. “At first we had lots of challenges, like ‘yes, your 14 year-old daughter has to go to school.’ I can now say they have been a gift to our community”. He has agreed to help pass pro refugee legislation. I was able to share about Greeley First Christian’s connection with the Guatemalan community. This is how democracy is supposed to work.
The night before Rev. Joan and I went to Capital Hill, we met a group of young activists in an after-session. We took a 25-minute Lyft ride back into the heart of DC. Our driver, Ahmed, was an engaging young man. As we were driving along we asked him where he was from. “I am a refugee from Afghanistan. I worked with the US military and we decided I needed to take my wife and apply for refugee status”. “I can’t imagine what you have seen”. “I have seen plenty…Unspeakable horrors would sum it up. I am here now. I love this country. I get to become an American”. He told us of his wife and two small children. He talked about how driving for LYFT was teaching him so much about us and how grateful he was for the job. Our hearts were truly ‘LYFT-Ed’ as we shared a slice of our lives together. We told him that we were there to advocate for refugees. “Well, this is one person who is beyond thankful to be here”.
Oh, that we can still remain the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Onward and Upward, Mark