Ministering to refugees

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 23rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. We’ve not admitted as many refugees into the United States as we have in previous years. The numbers have been dropping pretty dramatically over the last three.

But the number is not zero, and those who have come settle most often in Texas.

Jobs and a low cost of living are part of the reason. But so is the weather. In Texas, it can get hot, and the weather’s more like Iraq, Congo, and Burma than, say, Wisconsin.

EICHER: And it’s not just the weather that’s warm in Texas; it’s the welcome, too. Churches and nonprofit groups serve these vulnerable people. And today, Katie Gaultney brings us the story of one woman who gets her whole family involved in ministry to refugees.

AUDIO: [Sound of kids playing]

KATIE GAULTNEY, REPORTER: You might say Chrys Mundy has her hands full. Full of good things, she would tell you. Seven of them, to be exact.

Mundy homeschools her seven children—ages 13 and under. And twice a week, she loads her crew into their 12-passenger van and drives 20 minutes to For The Nations Refugee Outreach. That’s where Mundy teaches adults English literacy.

At the center, recent arrivals get practical and spiritual instruction.

AUDIO: Adam… and Eve… Ate…

Chrys Mundy started volunteering at the center in 2015. Getting to know her students made the distant concept of “refugee” a reality for her.

MUNDY: I think a lot of people, when they hear the word refugee, they think of a problem to solve or an issue. And when I hear the word refugee, I see the faces of all these people that I love. And that changes everything.

Faces like Azam from Iran, or Fam from Burma. Her students understand Mundy’s faith motivates her:

IDRIS: God put something in her heart to welcome people. I love it! I’m glad.

That’s Idris, from Sudan. He’s learning English in Mundy’s class. Many of the center’s clients have become Christians, but plenty are Muslim. Mundy had initial safety concerns. Then her family made their first visit.

MUNDY: And the first time we left, my kids had lipstick marks on their cheeks I had to wipe off. When we left, they had been kissed so much. I was like, oh, these are really dangerous people. They’re kissing you to death!

Mundy’s world has grown through her work with refugees. She and her husband Mike keep a giant world map over their dining table. It reminds the family to pray for their international friends.

Oliver, the Mundys’ 13-year-old, knows the company he keeps isn’t typical of many blond-headed boys in Dallas suburbia:

OLIVER MUNDY: We go to a community Bible study, and they asked, “Do you have friends from a different country?” “Oh many, many, yes.”

The love between the Mundy family and Chrys’ students is mutual. A grandfatherly type, Abdul Karim calls himself her “Iraqi father.” During class one day, he called for Oliver.

MUNDY: He said “this, the big boy.” And I was like, “yeah, he’s my oldest son.” And he did this very formal blessing over him. And he took off his watch and he put his watch on my son, and there wasn’t a dry eye. I was like, what, what are you doing? And he was like, your big boy, this is. And he told him, you are very important.

In the classroom, Mundy hears it all from her students: famine, war, crime. One woman fled South Sudan on foot, very pregnant, trying to make it through the desert to Egypt. And then there’s the wildlife.

MUNDY: One of my students once told me about what to do if a chimpanzee attacks me. Do not look at it in the eye. It will kill you. You just say, I do not wish to fight you. Be very polite. He is a gentleman. He will go away. But I just shook my head, and I was like, he just told me what to do if I’m attacked by a chimpanzee.

It would be easy for Mundy to say she’s too busy to help refugees. But she says anyone can find opportunities to show Christ’s love.

MUNDY: Just be a friend. Truly. I mean, don’t make it complicated. They’re in a time machine basically fast forwarding 150 years to modern life. And so just helping them, finding out what their needs are. It could be as simple as reading their mail. I’ve had students bring me stacks of mail where they’ve got a Social Security card and a bunch of ads, and I’m like, you can throw this away, don’t throw this away.

Mundy offers other suggestions: Go with them to the grocery store. Share a meal. Babysit. Fill out medical forms or job applications with them.

The paperwork is a foreign concept, and not just because of the language barriers. She recalls one highly educated Iraqi’s irritation over the cultural differences in buying a home:

MUNDY: In Iraq, I go, I see the house, I go to the men. I say, I want this house. I give him money, we shake hands, it’s done. Here I have to pay to say, yes, I want this house. I want to fill out the papers, I have to give them money. Maybe they say, no, you cannot have this house. And it’s gone. And he was like, what in the world are all these papers?

Relational ministry is a balancing act. Mundy struggles to know where to draw boundaries and wonders sometimes if she’s helping her students at the expense of her family. But the benefits of involving her family in her ministry far outweigh the challenges.

MUNDY: And so sharing the gospel and our lives with these people is such a privilege. It’s a lifestyle. It’s just bringing my kids some days I won’t lie, some days it’s hard. Some days getting everybody out the door, but I feel like this is an education for them that they couldn’t possibly get in a book. So I’m thankful for that.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Katie Gaultney, reporting from Dallas, Texas.

Find an occasional bonus feature called One More Thing here.

(Photo/Katie Gaultney)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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