and bring the homeless poor into your house…
Reflection by Lynn Clarke
I’ll never forget the unbridled joy on the faces of the children as they raced into their new apartment. Their arms could barely hold the new, donated pillows and bedding for their bunk beds. The family had been homeless, travelers and strangers, for nearly four years. Now they were home, in their own place, and miraculously all still together, with no one lost on the way. They knew few words of English, but their delight needed no words to be bright and clear as sunshine.
West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry formed in 2015 in Charleston, West Virginia. We welcomed our first families, asylum seekers fleeing persecution in West African countries, in December of 2018. We shared our community and our resources with strangers who were chased around the globe, outcasts everywhere they went. Until we welcomed them.
Do we have less because we shared what we have? No. We have more. More love, more friends, more stories. More hardworking, taxpaying families in our community. More children in our schools. We hope to continue welcoming refugees and asylum seekers — the homeless poor to use Isaiah’s words — and to continue growing from strength to strength as we do.
Questions for Reflection:
How do we help others feel ‘at home’?
What talents and treasure do we have that could help with the work of welcome?
Who would we turn to, if we needed help in welcoming a stranger?
Lynn S. Clarke serves as Special Counsel in the Charleston, West Virginia, office of Bowles Rice. She focuses her practice on advising employers on ERISA and tax compliance for employee benefit plans and executive compensation planning. Lynn provides guidance on benefits matters and executive compensation to clients involved in mergers and acquisitions. She has extensive experience with business succession planning involving employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), insurance and other compensation planning methods. With extensive experience in tax planning, Lynn provides advice to non-profit entities on governmental plan compliance and tax matters.
Lynn currently represents ten asylum seekers pro bono. She is assisting them with cases in removal proceedings in Immigration Court and with administrative matters through U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.
Lynn is also very involved with volunteer activities in the community. Currently Lynn is serving as a Board Member and Past President of the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry (“WVIRM”), an organization with members who are of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths, or secular persons.
Supporting Asylum Seekers: A Toolkit for Congregations:
This toolkit provides guidance and resources for congregations who want to support asylum seekers and welcome their newest neighbors, focusing especially on longer-term support and sponsorship models. Request the toolkit.