ACS Chesapeake Welcomes Afghan Families with Essential Items
Story by Evan Knott/ Chesapeake Conference
When families from Afghanistan arrived in the United States following their rapid evacuation from the war-torn country, Adventist Community Services (ACS) stood ready to serve.
Chesapeake Conference’s ACS team first responded to the crisis by meeting evacuees at the airport to offer emotional and spiritual support. Three months later, ACS Chesapeake has shifted its focus to providing 340 Afghan families resettling in Chesapeake territory with food and essential supplies as these families attempt to rebuild their lives in the United States.
“We’re not just giving food or a welcome basket; we’re sharing the love of Jesus with them,” says Ignacio Goya, Chesapeake’s ACS director. “That’s what ACS is all about; that’s what the Seventh-day Adventist Church is all about.”
Churches across Chesapeake Conference responded to donation requests for essential items such as cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and basic kitchen equipment. In partnership with ADRA, ACS Columbia Union, and ACS North American Division, team members from ACS Chesapeake organized the donations into welcome baskets and personally distributed them to refugees living in temporary housing in the area.
For those involved in delivering the welcome baskets, interacting with the refugees has been both heartbreaking and inspiring.
“It’s been life-transforming, honestly,” says Kleyton Feitosa, pastor of the Living Word church in Glen Burnie, Md. “You know, we’ve been hearing the stories and seeing pictures on the news, but it gets real when you actually get to meet them and see the families and the needs.”
Feitosa continues, “I found out that [one of the refugee’s] wife and children were left behind, and it really broke my heart. ... But even with that happening in his life, he’s thankful; he’s grateful; he’s happy. He’s here and thinking already about how to eventually bring the family here. ... We hear so much about how we, as Christians, need to be content, and we need to recognize and see the blessings around us. This young man taught me a lesson.”
ACS Chesapeake continues to partner with local government agencies to provide ongoing support and logistical assistance to refugee families.
“Our purpose in these last days as a remnant movement is to be the people that [are] looking for other people’s needs,” Goya says. “If you see a need, cover the need. Mingle and win their trust and be ready if the Holy Spirit [touches their] hearts to invite them to follow Jesus.”