By Melissa Wuske
World Relief Resettles a Record Number of Refugees
World Relief, along with 1,180 churches, provided assistance to nearly 10,000 refugees in 2016, which was its largest caseload since 1999.
According to the 1980 Refugee Act, the President sets an annual goal for refugee resettlement, and President Obama’s plan for 2017, set last year, aims to resettle 110,000 refugees, including 13,000 Syrians, across the nation. World Relief, a Christian organization, is one of the nine organizations approved to resettle refugees in the United States.
States and churches are needed to successfully provide supportive communities for refugees. “We are hoping that Congress and states will embrace [resettlement efforts], but we are seeing the opposite,” said Jenny Yang, World Relief vice president for advocacy and policy.
Ed Stetzer, who helped lead the GC2 summit, a pro-refugee collaboration among evangelicals, challenged the church to take part: “While debate goes on, the church abides by another policy—the one Jesus gave when he said, ‘Do to others as you would want them to do to you.’ . . . It’s a countercultural moment for the church.”
Isolation and Addiction
Perry Noble, former minister at NewSpring Church in South Carolina, recently discussed the roots of his struggle with alcohol. “I chose isolation over community,” Noble explained. “I was a hypocrite—I preached, ‘you can’t do life alone’ and then went out and lived the opposite. . . . Isolation is where self-pity dominated my thinking, thus justifying my abuse of alcohol. Isolation is where self-doubt dominated my emotions, causing me to believe I just could not carry the weight anymore, and alcohol was necessary for me to make it through another day.”
Through professional counseling, Noble is addressing the choices that led to his problem and learning to embrace the importance of community for healing, rather than denying the need for help: “I chose isolation—all the while knowing that a strong community of people who really loved me would rally around me and walk with me through the valley I was in.”
Firefighting Magnet Schools
In Los Angeles a new magnet school program is helping high school students learn about the firefighting and emergency medical technician professions. It’s also hoping to help the fire department hire a more diverse workforce by getting a more diverse population interested in such work.
Currently the LA fire department is 97 percent male and 50 percent white. “We provide a better level of service to the public when we walk into somebody’s home for a medical call, and if they see a female or a Hispanic or an Asian person, they can connect with us better,” says LA Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas.
The program includes workouts with firefighting equipment, CPR, first aid, and fire science and technology classes, in addition to the regular high school curriculum. Wendy Gomez, a 15-year-old student, said the program “encourages me to do better in school, to stay focused.”
“I look at the bigger picture,” Terrazas said. “If we don’t hire them as firefighters, we are going to develop better citizens. We are going to help them, hopefully, pursue education. Go to college, the military. Whatever they decide to do.”
Florida Orange Groves Threatened
Because of a bug from China carrying a disease known as “greening,” Florida’s citrus grove population is threatened—90 percent of orange groves experienced some amount of infestation last year. In 2004, the state of Florida produced 240 million boxes of oranges. In 2016, that number dropped to 70 million.
“It’s not just a job or a business, it’s a way of life,” said grove owner Steve Johnson. “I’m the fourth generation to be here, and to give that up would really hurt.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).