The faith community continues to play a central and crucial role in the welcoming of immigrants and refugees to the United States. One of the primary reasons that CWS was established in the aftermath of World War II was to afford churches and denominations the opportunity to work ecumenically in the resettlement of refugees.
Local congregations across our nation reached out and offered new homes to those who had suffered the ravages of war and were forced to flee their homes. With every “wave” of refugees to come to the U.S., Hungarian, Cuban, Vietnamese, Polish, Soviet, Bosnian, Iraqi, Burmese, members of the faith community have offered their hospitality, goods and generosity in welcoming the stranger. They have done this in partnership with CWS.
The theme of welcoming the stranger courses from the beginning to the end of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Turning away strangers is likened to turning away God. The gospel of Matthew reminds us very pointedly that when we offer help and assistance to strangers, we are ministering to Jesus. “‘…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me’… ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40 NSRV)
In 1988, I was serving as the Associate Pastor of Fairview Christian Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Our church began working with CWS in the resettlement of refugees from Poland. In that experience, our congregation truly witnessed the life-saving hospitality of Christ’s church. The scriptures became real in a very new and visible way. What a life-changing event that was for me and a life-changer for those we welcomed. Thank you CWS!
Rev. Joseph Roberson, Associate to the Deputy for Operations, CWS