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Church helps resettle 121 Afghan refugees

Two men building furniture

Over the course of a year, Birmingham and Berkley First UMC helped furnish 34 homes that now house 121 Afghan refugees in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Chairperson of Church and Society Ministry, Birmingham and Berkley First UMC

In the summer and early fall of 2021, Afghan refugees were arriving in the Detroit metropolitan area in search of a new life. In many cases, these families arrived with only the possessions they could carry, and they desperately needed the touch of a helping hand.

In response, the Church and Society Ministry of Birmingham and Berkley First UMC partnered with two local social service agencies, Samaritas and Cass Community Social Services, with the goal of resettling Afghan refugees in comfortable and well-furnished homes.

Group of people
A perfect picture of teamwork: Volunteers from Cass Community Social Services who drove the delivery truck and helped move the furniture partnered with Cass summer interns and volunteers from Birmingham First UMC (including their Duke summer intern). ~ photo courtesy Carol Driscoll

Samaritas has extensive experience with refugee resettlement in Michigan. Once Samartias found housing for a refugee family, they would put us in touch with the family, and then our church volunteers and Cass Community Social Services, with their truck, driver, and movers, would proceed to fully furnish each home.

We initially set out to help just one family, but then God multiplied the growth, and our congregation and friends of the church stepped up in a wave of generosity and support. So many people donated house furnishings when the need was presented to them.

That same spirit of generosity provided the resettlement program with over $25,000. Those dollars enabled us to purchase needed furnishings beyond what was donated and to cover the transportation costs of picking up the furnishings from donors’ homes and delivering the items to the homes of refugee families. Additionally, UMCOR provided us with a Mustard Seed Migration Grant in support of our Afghan Refugee Resettlement Program. For all these organizations, we give thanks and ask the Lord to bless their work!

Bunk beds
Birmingham and Berkley First UMC’s Refugee Resettlement Program helped furnish this room with bunk beds for a family of 11 (two adults and 9 children). ~ photo courtesy Carol Driscoll

The Refugee Resettlement Program was truly a churchwide effort from the many members who volunteered, to those who donated furnishings, to the family that opened their business warehouse to us, all the way to our 4th- and 5th-graders who put together king-size welcome bags for the Afghan families we served. Amazing what small hands with big hearts can do!

After a full year of serving the Afghan refugee community, the Refugee Resettlement Program concluded on October 31 having furnished 34 homes that now house 121 Afghan refugees (men, women, and children), stretching from the northern suburbs through Hamtramck and Detroit and into the western suburbs.

As every United Methodist knows, service to others is its own reward. The 121 lives we touched by living our faith have enriched us with their gratitude and kindness.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we heard the Gospel of Matthew’s call to action and were blessed to respond: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me” (25:35-36, CEB).

Last Updated on November 30, 2022

The Michigan Conference