This past winter, Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA, welcomed Daniel and Rebekah Behrens to their congregation to serve as Missionaries in Residence to local immigrant and refugee communities. Even though they themselves recently arrived, the Behrens are already busy welcoming immigrants and also their own third daughter, Mary, at the end of June!
Daniel recently wrote an article for Ascension’s newsletter about the Gomez family, a Christian Cuban family he is helping settle into Pittsburgh, and how God worked through the Gomezes in their difficult journey. Daniel also shares about opportunities for parishioners to participate in ministry to refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. You may read the article by clicking the button below and scrolling to page six. How may God be calling your church to send missionaries and share the hope of Christ cross-culturally?
We have moved to snowy Pittsburgh! We miss the warmth and big sky and food of the Rio Grande Valley, but our time here so far has been filled with many good things. Our main focus in these first months of transition is seeking financial partners and looking for a house to rent, but in this update I wanted to introduce you to one of our new neighbors who makes me excited about our mission, which is to partner with the local church in Pittsburgh to extend Christ’s love and truth to recent immigrants.
“Amina” is a young woman from Afghanistan who arrived in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. She was halfway through her university studies in psychology and sign-language when she had to flee the resurgence of the Taliban. Her new landlord knew about the English classes at Church of the Ascension, the church with whom we are partnering in Pittsburgh, and she arranged for Amina to begin weekly tutoring.
Before our first meeting, I nervously wondered what she would be like, picturing a fierce yet tragic, robed figure, maybe like the iconic “Afghan Girl” cover photo from National Geographic. In reality, Amina was wearing a soccer hoodie with a puffy winter coat and snow hat. She had a big smile, a nervous laugh, and came across as a friendly, slightly shy, slightly sleepy college student.
Not surprisingly, I have heard that one of the hardest things for Afghan refugees is being separated from family. Amina is no different, leaving behind her whole family – her mom, four older siblings, five nieces, and five nephews.
After one of our first meetings, a woman from the church met Amina and walked with her around the church building. In the sanctuary, Amina saw the mural behind the altar depicting the Ascension and asked, “Is that Jesus?”
I feel incredibly privileged to spend time with Amina each week, to help her improve her English, and to be one of the first Christians she gets to meet in her new neighborhood.
I pray that as she adjusts to this new place, that she will come to recognize the risen Christ in the kindness of people around her. Your partnership is touching the lives of those like Amina who are far from home. Thank you for being a part of this ministry!
Almighty God, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer for World Mission Sunday from the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, p. 604.