Watching the terrifying scenes from Afghanistan unfolding, Yvette began to mentally prepare. Soon there would be a flood of Afghan families arriving in her area, and she needed to be ready to speak their language. So she contacted the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.
As the Washington D.C. area director of a Christian mission organization – one that seeks to share the hope of Christ with Muslim immigrants – Yvette has had 12 years’ experience in making connections with people from an Islamic background.
“Sometimes that’s connecting people to services; other times that’s being available to Muslim friends, discipling new converts or praying with them. But it has to be in their heart language,” Yvette said. “That’s why as soon as I saw what was happening in Afghanistan, I thought, ‘I’m going to look on the LHF website and see if they have Dari [language materials].’ And oh goodness, you had prayer books and catechisms in Dari!”
According to the most recent numbers available, the United States evacuated more than 65,000 Afghans, and about a third of those families have already arrived on American soil (with the remaining 40,000 either waiting at U.S. military bases abroad or in other countries).
“It’s an evolving situation,” Yvette explained. “Three weeks ago, 1,000 people arrived. Then at the Dulles Expo [in Chantilly, VA], 8,600 more arrived! We have no access to these immigrants until they’re processed, but we’re working the other end, finding sponsoring people in our churches, who need to be ready to circle around as a community for these folks.”
As relationships begin to form with the new arrivals, opportunities to share the Good News arise.
“When I saw that the Dari prayer books were available from LHF, I thought: ‘This is how God is going to speak to people who have suffered great trauma and great wounding in their lives,” Yvette shared.
For Muslims or people from an Islamic culture, prayer is deeply respected. Thus, LHF’s Catechism and Prayer Book is highly effective for introducing new believers to Jesus, as it invites readers to pray through Luther’s Small Catechism. Ten dozen of those prayer books now have been shipped to the Washington D.C. area.
“God is going to use these prayers to heal them and come alongside them in this new journey in the United States,” Yvette said. “My prayer is that Christians will witness to them: ‘You will know them by their love.’ Pretty simple, right?”
Another great need: Spanish
Halfway across the nation, Natalie Valle was also checking the LHF Publications Database (www.LHFmissions.org/publications), this time for children’s materials in the Spanish language.
An email from her homeschooling group had alerted Natalie to large numbers of Spanish-speaking children from the U.S. southern border arriving at a nearby facility in her home state of Michigan. Donations of clothing, balls and toys to play with were requested, but Natalie thought of something else that would be needed.
“I thought of LHF right away because I knew A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, which I used for devotions with my own children, was available in Spanish,” she said. “I was also familiar with LHF’s ‘Jesus Never Fails’ booklet, because we’d given that out at community suppers. It’s a wonderful little booklet with a message that might be good for older kids.”
Soon, 100 Spanish Bible storybooks and 75 devotion booklets were on their way to the facility.
“It touches my heart,” Natalie reflected. “I’ve been told most of these children will be going to family members, but some will go to foster families. All over the country, wherever they go, these children will take the books with them! We have no idea what the outcome will be, but we know that the Holy Spirit is going to use His Word. God uses these things beyond ways we could even imagine.”