Welcoming Refugee Friends in Boise
by Nick and Laura Armstrong
After spending the day with a newly-arrived Muslim family from Darfur, Lynda Evenson looked at me and said, “Well, I'm hooked! I had a wonderful time with Mohammed and his family. His wife is beautiful, and his children are as cute as they can be!” Lynda and her husband Rudy are members of our first Friendship Partner Team. Friendship Partner Teams are made up of people who love Jesus and are committed to welcoming new refugee families being resettled in Boise, Idaho. This commitment is made with the hope of helping our new friends adjust to life in America and build lasting friendships.
Laura and I are currently facilitating an eight-part training course for people who are interested in being part of a Friendship Partner Team or would like to help a newly-arriving family with a more bite-sized commitment like helping to furnish their apartment, tutor English, drive them to appointments, take them shopping, or help them learn a new skill like painting a house. The training includes modules on building cross-cultural relationships and building bridges with people of other faiths. More than 70% of the people who come to Boise as refugees are Muslims from countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, the Sudan, and Iraq, so there is a great opportunity for the church to ‘wage peace’ in our own city!
Some of our new friends will also become involved in our church’s International Garden plots, where they can grow a variety of different vegetables to promote healthy diets and reduce the monthly grocery bill. We also hope to have some of our new Muslim friends participate in Peace Feasts, where Muslim and Christians share meals and learn more about each other’s lives. Our first Peace Feast was held on Thanksgiving Day as Mohammed and his family and two other Muslim families joined us for a traditional but Halal Thanksgiving meal!