Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Training in Clarkston

Sorry for not posting in a while. We've been training almost nonstop since arriving in Clarkston last Saturday, so I finally found time and internet to post this. There are 22 interns total, along with several leaders and the permanent GFM staff here in Clarkston. Clarkston itself is a city outside of Atlanta. It used to be a white middle-class suburb until the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. The government decided to begin to settle refugees here because of the international community that the Olympics attracted and because there were lots of apartment complexes as well as access to public transportation. Unfortunately, this has lead to a lot of racism from the residents of the area, and many of the refugees here have never had a positive interaction with a white American.

The GFM team lives in the apartment complex with the refugees. They engage in relational ministry by mentoring refugees, inviting them into their homes, helping them with navigating American culture, and simply being their friend. Many of these people are incredibly lonely, both for people willing to be their friends and for their home countries. But this is also a wonderful opportunity for God to use us to reach out to the refugees here. They are open to our friendship and to the gospel because of their situation.

One of the things I like the most about Clarkston is the diversity here. You walk out the door in the morning to five or six different nationalities and languages all within eyesight. I've met Bhutanese, Somalis, Nepalese, Iraqis, Ethiopians, and Indians all within this small town in the middle of Georgia. When you drive around the city, most of the restaurants and stores sell ethnic food and goods. All the signs are in different languages, and there is a huge Farmers' Market with food from all over the world. It literally feels like a different country here.

One prayer request that I have is for my friend. She is a young Bhutanese woman I met yesterday at another apartment complex while signing refugee children up for our summer camp. Though she didn't have any children, she took us around to all of her relatives and told us that she would hand out the camp information to everyone she knew. She was very sweet and so helpful to us. If you could just pray that God would touch her heart, that would be awesome. Also pray for our team. The training has been very intense, so just pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional rest for the entire team of interns as well as the energy to go out and make friends in the community. Thanks for your support and making it through this long post!

1 comment:

  1. Jess...this sounds amazing! Who would have thought that you would have the opportunity to reach people of the 10/40 window in the south of the US. I'm enjoying reading about and praying for your ministry. I bet that some of your past international experience as a foreigner in other countries has helped you to understand and love these lost and lonely people even more. Lisa