Furniture for Refugees
Contacts: Pastor Chad Delaney, Tim Bennett
In February of 2009, Mantua Center Christian Church (along with 3 other area churches) went to New Orleans, LA for disaster relief. This trip has been one of the catalysts for MCCC's increased passion for mission and justice ministries over the last several years. In the car on the way back from this year's trip, a small-group of people were vexed at something that the leader of the Westside Mission, Brother Vance Moore said. "Don't come back until you're doing the same thing up there that you did down here!" A challenge was issued and each of us were being called to respond locally in some way to all the experiences we had on our trip.
To try to meet this challenge we began brainstorming ways that we could try to get involved somewhere back home. It occurred to me in the course of our conversation that we had a wonderful resource for starting a ministry that could reach out to refugees in our home state of Ohio. At a previous call, I had gotten involved with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus, OH. We collected home items, kitchen items, and all kinds of furniture to deliver to the wealth of refugees that were being settled there. One of the gentleman in the car that day, Tim Bennett, works in the furniture business. Every week, he delivers furniture to folks and many times they will ask him to get rid of their old stuff. He gives it to people who have need that he knows, but he never really had an organized "giveaway" system. After our conversation, we decided our way of responding locally was going to be collecting furniture and then taking it down to Columbus to the refugees.
Over the next several months, Tim collected furniture for the mission and we made appeals to the congregation for furniture and home items. Our church responded wonderfully and Tim was able to collect a large amount of items. Amazingly, we were able to fill a 24-ft truck with mattresses, box springs, recliners, sofas, tables, chairs, end tables, televisions, and all sorts of kitchen items. CRIS leader, Karina Harty-Morrison, was our leader and she was wonderful to work with. We made an inventory of our list of items and she decided how they would be spread out amongst those who had need.
On May 24th, 2009, 6 volunteers from MCCC set out after Sunday Services to deliver the furniture--Caitlin Hurst, Sam Roubic, Steve Hurd, Mary Ellen Hamlin, Tim Bennett, and Chad Delaney. All in all, we were able to deliver home items to over 8 refugee families. We were invited into homes, shared smiles and laughter with their children, and connected with people that were so far away from their homes and without much of anything. The families were mostly from Iraq and Somalia, some of them had arrived only recently to escape from the violence and difficulties in their countries. As a group, we were humbled by their gratitude and hospitality. We were glad to help in this small way to help their transition to our country that much easier. Through the experience we realized even more that we are called as Christians to not just make mission a once-a-year activity, but part of our everyday life and consciousness. To follow God's call to be the Body of Christ that walks with, reaches out to, and serves those in need.