As the realities of the worldwide refugee crisis have been on the hearts and minds of many, Hinsdale Covenant Church felt compelled to ask what we, as a church, could do to help. For answers, we turned to World Relief DuPage/Aurora (WRDA). With invaluable guidance and support from WRDA, Hinsdale Covenant recently devoted three weeks to a R.I.S.E. (Refugee and Immigrant Sunday Emphasis) initiative at our church. For our R.I.S.E. initiative, WRDA provided everything from videos to speakers and display materials, to help us welcome and empower refugees as they seek hope in our community. The response from our church members has been heartwarming.

During our R.I.S.E. initiative we welcomed Keith Draper, WRDA’s Church Mobilizer, and Susan Sperry, Executive Director, as guest speakers. We also heard from two refugees who were resettled by WRDA during a panel discussion. They graciously and eloquently shared their personal experiences in a way that truly touched (even changed) hearts and minds. As one church member observed later, “This is about people, not politics. When you actually meet refugees and come to understand what they have endured, the politics become meaningless."

WRDA staff also built a refugee tent facsimile in our Garden Court, a main area of our church where church members and visitors gather for fellowship on Sundays. The tent was a big hit! Our young families were particularly impacted by seeing what a family living in a refugee camp calls “home.” On the final Sunday of our R.I.S.E. initiative, every church member in attendance received a response card that listed a variety of ways to support our church’s refugee resettlement ministry and partnership with WRDA. More than 40 people responded by committing to support WRDA in some meaningful and ongoing way.

As our next step, we have scheduled a WRDA volunteer orientation to take place in mid-October at our church. We are also planning additional events, such as a movie night at our church (showing video clips or films that focus on the plight of refugees). We are incredibly grateful to be working with WRDA and look forward to welcoming and empowering refugee families who live in our community.

Alana Klimkowski
Director of Refugee Resettlement
Hinsdale Covenant Church